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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-19 17:38 [p.29419]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the issue of victims. Over the last number of years, we have tried to come up with thoughts and ideas on how to prevent people becoming victims in the future.
I realize this may not necessarily be on topic, but could my friend provide some thoughts on tangible actions that could be taken to prevent people from becoming victims in the first place, actions to which individuals could relate?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-19 18:18 [p.29425]
Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize that victims of crimes play a very important and crucial role in the whole process.
We had a very sad story not that long ago in Winnipeg North. When I say Winnipeg North, I am referring to the inner city, north end of Winnipeg. A very young man was at home with his grandmother. Someone broke into the home and the young man was stabbed and killed. This touched on a lot of emotions in the city of Winnipeg. It had a fairly profound impact with the amount of attention it gathered. People rallied around the family. The deceased young man was supposed to graduate this month from Technical Vocational High School.
A series of public meetings followed. The victim was of Filipino heritage. The community, particularly the Filipino community, really came out to support the mother and father, both of whom I have known for many years.
I have relayed this message to the House, because throughout the process, time after time, we meet with individuals who have followed the story. People really want answers to a series of different questions, everything from why it happened to what the circumstances were. They want to know about the perpetrator who caused the harm. It is really difficult for us to provide answers to everything they are looking for.
I think of the family members. It was difficult for me. I attended the meetings. I think of Imelda in particular, a dear family friend, and the emotions involved in that. It really heightens the importance. Sadly, a lot of crimes take place in our communities. It affects not only the victims of the crime, but family members and friends as well. They need to have some form of understanding of what has taken place and a sense of justice.
I sat on a justice committee for youth for many years. In fact, I was the chair of the Keewatin youth justice committee for a number of years. We talked a great deal about the importance of ensuring there was a consequence for young people breaking the law or for inappropriate behaviour.
One of the things I felt pretty good about was the committee looked at ways to put in place restorative justice. Restorative justice is where victims meet with offenders with the goal of a disposition to provide some sense of justice to the victim. Obviously, there is a huge difference when someone steals something, or a relatively minor offence, compared to an incident where the victim dies.
Through the years, going back to the to the days of the Keewatin justice committee, to the days in which I was the critic for justice in the province of Manitoba, I have always believed there needs to be a consequence for individuals who break our laws. However, at the same time, the victims need to be taken into consideration.
We reformed our military laws through legislation in the last couple of years. When I spoke on that, I highlighted that the fact that we were incorporating rights for victims within it. I cannot remember all the details offhand, but the principle of recognizing and appreciating the need to have victims as a part of the process is something the government, particularly the minister, have taken very seriously.
There are a couple of points I want to highlight. First, the government launched a communication and outreach strategy to provide victims with greater awareness of the services available and how they could access them, which is of great importance. We are in consultation with victims and the federal ombudsman for victims of crime, recognizing we can and should do better.
I will cite another piece of legislation we have passed. Imagine a victim of sexual assault decides to listen to the perpetrator's parole hearing for possible release. We can only imagine the state of mind of that victim having to listen to the parole hearing. Therefore, under the legislation we passed in the last year, victims can receive an audio recording of proceedings, which they can listen to on their own time.
Whether it is the enshrinement of victims rights in legislation, as we did with the military reform, or the example I just cited, the government has moved on these issues. I think we all recognize that there is always room for improvement. We can always do better. I think we all appreciate the importance of ensuring victims are recognized through this process.
I have had the opportunity to address an issue such as this. I mentioned this the earlier in a question for the member putting forward the motion. The best way to continue to move forward is to also look at ways to prevent people from being victims in the first place. As a government, we have been very successful, through a multitude of grants, budgetary measures and legislative measures, on things that will make a difference.
For example, Winnipeg North has some of the more challenging areas along Selkirk Avenue. There is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week drop-in centre. As individuals become engaged and involved at that drop-in centre or they become involved with the Bear Clan, we have seen less crime.
I look forward to continuing the dialogue with respect to what the government can do to ensure victims are taken into consideration in all legislative and budgetary measures that the government presents to the House. It is important and it really does matter.
I always appreciate the opportunity to share a few thoughts on the important issues Canadians have to face.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-03-01 13:04 [p.26032]
Mr. Speaker, it is nice to see that this legislation is at third reading stage. I had the opportunity to express a number of thoughts on the legislation at second reading in particular, and I suspect that if we were to check, I likely would have implied, because I know the minister's approach to legislation quite well, that the government is always open to looking at ways to change legislation. My colleague and friend from Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, who spoke just before me, referenced some amendments. That is a nice way to start my comments.
We have this wonderful process that allows us to go through second reading and into committee stage, and often amendments are brought forward at committee stage. What is interesting about this legislation is that it exemplifies how open this government really is to opposition amendments. My understanding is that amendments from the opposition provided additional strength to the legislation before us. That tells me, in good part, that committees can be constructive and effective in improving legislation, in dealing with reports and even in discussion. It is a question of having confidence in our standing committees and allowing them to do the fantastic work they can do. Today, Bill C-83 is a good example of legislation being enhanced, and as a direct result, all Canadians will benefit.
Bill C-83, to me, is a good example of how this government has approached the whole crime and safety issue, recognizing just how important it is that no matter where one lives in Canada, there is an expectation that government is going to do what it can to make our communities safer places to be.
This is legislation that would do that, and I do not say that lightly. The majority of people incarcerated in our jail facilities, we have to realize, will leave at some point in time. When they leave, we want to ensure as far as possible that they have the opportunities to succeed and never return to a prison setting. If we are successful in doing that, it means that in Winnipeg North and all over Canada there will be fewer crimes. With fewer crimes, there are fewer victims.
There should be no doubt that when people are guilty of something, yes, there needs to be a consequence for inappropriate behaviour. That is why we have jails, probation and an array of consequences for individuals who commit offences. We also need to recognize that one way we can improve safety in our communities is by ensuring, wherever we can, that there is a sense of responsibility by providing programming and services to minimize the number of repeat offenders. That is what I like about Bill C-83 more than anything else.
There are other aspects to the legislation that would also make a difference. One example is body scanners. I had the opportunity to tour provincial facilities and even some federal facilities in my days as an MLA. Some provincial facilities use scanning technology, from what I understand, and with this legislation, we would better enable body scans to take place in our federal institutions.
I think that is a good thing, because we often hear of drugs, among other things, being smuggled into facilities. This is one of the ways we will be able to reduce that kind of smuggling. It will be a safer environment.
We not only hear about this from individuals in the Ottawa bubble, if I can put it that way, but, more important, we hear it from our constituents and correctional officers. These types of things can really make a difference.
At times, the Conservatives can be somewhat misleading. I am trying to put it as kindly as I can. When they say we are not providing the funds necessary, it is important to recognize that the government is committing almost a half-billion dollars over the next six years to ensure correctional officers and inmates have the supports they need and our system will have a safer environment.
I find it a little odd that the Conservative Party and New Democratic Party do not necessarily support legislation that a sound majority of our constituents would want us to support. There is some really good stuff in here, like the one about audio recordings. I have used the example of someone who is a victim of a sexual assault and whose perpetrator will now go to a hearing. Under the current law, the victim is unable to receive the audio of that hearing. I am sure members of all sides can appreciate the emotions a victim of a sexual assault would feel when put in the same room as the perpetrator. Why would we not allow for that individual to have a copy of the audio recording at a later date? This legislation would allow that.
On the one hand, some very obvious things within the legislation would have a very positive impact. Then some wonderful little things would make a real difference for victims. Whether it is this legislation or the legislation on military justice, when we talked about the Victims Bill of Rights, there are really encouraging things in the legislation.
We are moving forward on a number of different fronts as we modernize. Whether it is the military justice or civil justice, at the end of the day, we want our communities to feel safe. We want to work toward minimizing the number of victims by preventing crimes from taking place whenever we can. We want to ensure there is a consequence to criminal activities. That is why we have different tools to ensure that takes place. I am encouraged by the attitude of the government, in particular, in trying to ensure we are moving forward on this front.
When it comes to the issue of segregation, it is interesting to hear the contrast between the Conservatives and the NDP. The NDP says there is no change in the segregation and the Conservatives say we are going too far on this issue. The reality is that this is a response to the Supreme Court's decision, and we are complying with that decision with the new system we will be putting in place.
Those structured intervention units are in fact a progressive way forward that will ensure that we meet the Supreme Court's requirements, while at the same time allowing more services to be made available. Again, we will hopefully minimize the repeat offenders. We do not want people who are leaving our institutions to be committing more crimes.
We want safer communities, and that is really what all of this is about, trying to get communities across Canada to be safer, more harmonious places to live. It is with great pleasure that I support Bill C-83.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-02-28 10:27 [p.25890]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to continue where I left off last Friday.
Just to recap, Bill C-77, which is before us today, aims to protect victims of military offences by providing needed updates to the current military justice system. Updating the judicial system of the Canadian Armed Forces can be a daunting task, but those in the service commit their lives to defending Canadian values and beliefs, and it is very worthwhile.
Whether on foreign soil or right here at home, they must regularly deal with the high-tension situations they are faced with. Therefore, their decisions and reactions can often be the difference between life and death, or war and peace. The importance of their work cannot be overstated. As such, they hold themselves to a higher standard. The armed forces judicial system is in place to maintain discipline and structure.
I am very proud to say that I represent Canadian Forces Base Shilo, our military base in Brandon—Souris, which is a very important part of our community. Many of us have family, friends and neighbours who serve on the base. They house the First Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and the Second Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. It is worth repeating that the base is the home station of the Royal Canadian Artillery, as well as to a component of the Western Area Training Centre, 742 Signals Squadron Detachment Shilo and 11 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre. Other supported units include 26 Field Regiment and RCA Brandon's reserve unit.
Westman is awfully proud to be the home of our brave men and women in uniform. They are an essential and prominent part of our community, and have been for many years. Many develop strong ties and settle here when they complete their service and return to civilian life and retirement.
Bill C-77 seeks to align the military's justice system with the Criminal Code of Canada. I am pleased to see that it has built upon Bill C-71, which was presented by our former Conservative government, and seeks to enshrine the rights of victims in the National Defence Act.
The main premise here is common sense, which is that victims of any alleged crime should have the right to feel safe when navigating the judicial system. Therefore, I believe it is our obligation to treat them with compassion and respect, and to provide a secure environment so that they may tell their story. Their testimony is essential in better understanding what has occurred, and it is paramount they be able to provide it without fear of consequences and reprisals.
Victims are often overlooked in criminal proceedings, with most of the emphasis being on the offender. It is important they be given their opportunity to be heard. The system is there to provide justice, not only for the accused but also for the victim.
In this regard, a key feature of the bill is that it strives to provide better protection for both victims and witnesses in military trials. Military communities are often smaller and more tightly knit. This serves to foster a strong sense of solidarity among those in the service. While they can be an exceptional advantage in the field, those strong ties sometimes make it very difficult for victims to speak out against their wrongdoer. Ensuring that due consideration is given to the safety and security of victims would help give them the courage to stand up and speak out against the injustice they have faced. They should be given every opportunity to be involved in the proceedings. At the conclusion of the proceedings, they should emerge fully satisfied that justice has been properly served.
An important part outlined in this bill is that victims have the right to rely on the assistance of others when dealing with the justice system. If victims are incapable of acting on their own behalf, they may depend on their relatives to exercise their rights. Victims can now look to their spouses, parents or dependents to be their representatives during these proceedings, to help them through the difficult times.
The justice system can be intimidating. It encompasses many procedures, rules and regulations. Victims may not always be fully aware of their rights and can easily feel overwhelmed. Giving individuals the opportunity to request a liaison officer to help them navigate the workings of the case should encourage more people to come forward.
We should ensure that these liaison officers are properly trained in order to guarantee that they can provide the most assistance possible. A lack of awareness of their rights or of standard procedure should not prevent people from seeking justice. It is important not only to provide safety to those who have suffered at the hands of others, but we must be able to reinforce their belief in the justice system in order to offer them better peace of mind.
This would be best accomplished by making the process as transparent as possible. I firmly believe that all victims have the right to request information about the military justice system. They have been directly affected by a crime. They deserve to be assured of the fair proceedings of the case. These are people who have been wronged, hurt and betrayed. They need reassurance and evidence that their belief in the justice system is not misplaced. They need to see justice served.
I understand that under certain circumstances there is a need for discretion. The military conducts many sensitive operations, and often information will be classified to ensure the safety of our troops and our civilians. Those cases notwithstanding, I believe, whenever possible, victims should be provided with information concerning their cases. They should feel completely included in those proceedings and not have to plead for the most basic facts. Victims should not have to rely on outside media or gossip to scrounge incomplete information on a case that may have deeply affected them.
The bill would achieve a good balance between aligning with the current military justice system and still supporting victims within that system. The bill is very conscious of the importance of the chain of command within the military, and it makes sure not to impact the system in a manner that would hinder it.
The declaration of victims rights contained in this piece of legislation is careful to describe the specific rights afforded to victims in this situation without creating any barriers that might impede the system. I am aware that circumstances in the military may differ widely from those encountered in civilian life, as I have said before. The bill would ensure that the victim's rights are properly represented within the important confines of the current system. It does not interfere with the more unique aspects of the justice system, such as the court martial process or the code of discipline.
With the bill, we are taking a step in the right direction when it comes to defending the rights of victims of military offences. However, there is one area of concern with the current legislation that I would like to speak to. It involves the long-term consequences that minor military offences may have on individuals when they retire from service.
Presently, there are uniquely military offences that do not have a counterpart in the civilian code. Among them are the five minor offences of insubordinate behaviour, quarrels and disturbances, absence without leave, drunkenness and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. These are infractions that can only be committed by members of the military, yet they can result in a criminal record in the civilian world.
People found guilty of insubordinate behaviour could retire from the military only to have this offence follow them into civilian life. As Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron said in his testimony to the Standing Committee on National Defence on this topic:
The consequences of having a criminal record are significant. Applying for employment or attempting to cross the Canadian border are but two of the everyday consequences that can have an important impact on a veteran's life. Do we truly wish to burden a veteran with a criminal record, when he or she has committed a service offence, which may have no equivalent in our criminal justice system or in Canadian society?
Imagine trying to look for work after leaving the military, only to be flagged with a criminal record due to being absent without leave. A large portion of veterans seek employment in the security sector, which requires security checks. When it is seen there is a criminal record, getting a job is all but impossible.
It is important to remember that we have a separate justice system in the military for a reason. There are unique circumstances that apply to our forces that require a separate process to properly address it. It would not be fair to our Canadian Forces members that minor offences that occurred in a very unique setting, a setting known to be high stress at times, remain with them and affect their lives long into the future.
Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron went on to provide a recommendation to the committee that stated, “The Criminal Records Act and the [National Defence Act] should be amended to only include service offences that truly warrant the creation of a criminal record.”
Based on his testimony, there was an amendment to Bill C-77 proposed by my fellow Conservative members who sit on the defence committee to address this issue. The amendment put forth would have ensured that those five minor offences I listed would not be given a civil criminal record, no matter the severity of the sentence received. The amendment was flagged to be potentially outside of the scope of the current bill. As such, the committee on national defence did get the opportunity to briefly study the matter, but I would like a more in-depth analysis on the topic.
I mention this because I firmly believe that it is an important issue that should be addressed, and that it would greatly benefit the present members of the House to examine. I wholly encourage members to study this subject, because it is a topic that should be reviewed in the near future so that we can do right by those who dedicate themselves to protecting us.
There is still much that can be done when it comes to providing proper justice to our brave men and women in uniform. The bill before us today would do much to help protect victims of military offences, but we must always strive to do more to help those in our armed forces.
Justice may be blind, but it should not be deaf. By better defining victims rights, we give a voice to those who seek justice. We give them a better platform to stand on and tell their story.
I will be voting in favour of the legislation, as I believe this is a non-partisan issue, and we should all unite to support victims of crimes. It is important we review Bill C-77 and we move it forward, as there are many good things in it, but there are still some things that need to be reviewed.
I hope that there has not been any undue pressure put forward on any of the persons involved in the formation of Bill C-77, considering that the former attorney general was there. We have already seen that undue pressure was put on her in many other areas. This is one situation where I believe that it is not appropriate either.
We need to make sure that we look at the Gladue decision. We are reminded that when sentencing is coming forward in those areas, the Supreme Court requires continuing to look at the situations facing our indigenous persons. We also must remember that there was a resignation that took place by the former attorney general when she was the veterans affairs minister, and also we are reminded that she was the associate minister of national defence at that time.
With that I look forward to questions.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-28 10:50 [p.25893]
Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to provide some of my thoughts and comments.
Over the last few years, I have witnessed a different approach to Canada's military, a positive approach. I want to take a more holistic approach in my address on this legislation. This is an important bill and opposition members have recognized that fact. They too feel this is good legislation.
The bill has gone through first and second reading, through committee stage and report stage. We are now into the third and final aspect of its passage, and that is a good thing.
Bill C-77 is long overdue. It proposes to make our military justice system a bit more in sync with our civil system. There is fairly universal support for the government in advancing the legislation in order to accomplish that.
I had the good fortune to serve in the Canadian Forces for a few years. Even though I never experienced it directly, indirectly I got a sense of military justice and the justice regime. I can recall first-hand during my boot camp days the supervisor, or the master corporal in this situation, telling us what our obligations were.
In the military justice world one has an obligation to show up when asked to show up. When members of the forces are scheduled to do something, they best be there unless they have some sort of medical condition or have a very good reason for not showing up. If a member is scheduled to be on duty, he or she is expected to be there. That does not necessarily apply with the same sort of weight in civilian life.
The previous speaker made reference to the idea of being absent without leave. An important part of the training that was instilled in me and thousands of others as we went through boot camp was that there was a difference between military life and civilian life. One of the issues highlighted with respect to that was the idea of the military's ability to provide discipline to ensure its members would be where they were supposed to be. When I reflect on that today, I understand the importance of that.
Serving in the military is very unique. It is an absolute honour and privilege. As a member of Parliament, as well as in my days as a member of a legislative assembly, I have always, without exception, acknowledged the fine work the women and men in our forces do, whether it is the air force, the special units, the navy or military. I appreciate and value their contributions to our society in both current and past military actions protecting Canadians. Whether in peace missions or fighting the mighty Red River when it has overflowed, our military plays a critical and vital role with respect to our country. We will always be there for our military.
Even though we have only been in government for a little over three years, we have not only talked about taking action, but has also delivered on a number of different fronts.
What we are debating today is just one aspect of that. It is about military justice.
Let me go back to the training I received. When we were told that we had to show up, that we had to be somewhere, the consequence of not being there could lead to a court-martial and a criminal record. Even though there might be a reason, a relatively weak reason at times, for an individual not being where he or she was supposed to be, it would potentially lead to a criminal record.
I believe, as I would have believed back then, that this is not necessarily a fair consequence in all situations. That is why it is a good that the legislation brings the consequences more into line with what happens in civilian life. For example, now much more discretion will be allowed if someone is found to have been AWOL or has not shown up where he or she needs to be at a specific time. This does not mean the individual will receive a court martial. The same threat level is no longer there.
Members of the forces are incredible individuals, with a very strong sense of commitment to duty and country. Ultimately this will have a minor impact with respect to service to country, yet can have a very positive impact on what happens when someone from the military retires.
As we have heard from other speakers, when members of the Canadian Forces decide to retire or have the opportunity to retire, whatever the circumstances might be, we want those members to have the opportunity to continue with successful employment into the future. Having a criminal record has a negative impact on the ability of service members or former service members to get employment for which they are eligible. It is not fair that members of the forces would receive a criminal record for a charge that someone in the civilian sector would not receive. In part, I believe that is why we see good support for the legislation from members of the opposition. We recognize that we can do more to reform our laws that would allow that kind of an issue to be resolved positively.
Insubordination is another example. In civilian life insubordination is treated quite differently than it is in the military. The legislation would also deal with that. This is an opportunity to look at good legislation that advances our Canadian Forces in a positive direction and to get behind it.
One encouraging issue in Bill C-77 is that we would ensure indigenous sentencing provisions would be taken into consideration. This has been taking place within our civilian population. This is different from what the previous government proposed. We need to understand and appreciate that the indigenous factor needs to be taken into consideration. We see that in our civil court system and it has proven to be successful. Therefore, I am glad to see that in this legislation.
There is something we often talk about in the House in regard to legislation on criminal matters. We often hear about the importance of victims and protecting or enhancing the rights of victims. It pleases me that we would establish something new with this legislation within the law on military justice, and that is a declaration of victims rights. That is long overdue. I am glad that we have a government that has incorporated into the legislation respect for victims rights.
What does that mean? It would allow, for example, the right to have information. It would also allow a right to protection. Equally important is participation in the process. Where it is possible, restitution would be of critical importance.
I had the opportunity to serve as chair of a youth justice committee. One of the more progressive changes we started to see at the tail end, before I actually had to leave the committee a number of years back, was the idea of restitution, or restorative justice. As much as possible, that is a wonderful tool that needs to at least be considered. When we think of victims and the idea of restorative justice, we need to incorporate victims whenever we can. It really makes a difference for victims.
I would like to give an example of what that sort of justice means to victims. A victim subjected to an offence is afforded the opportunity to participate by sitting down with the perpetrator and assisting in developing the consequence for that behaviour. At the level of a youth justice committee, dealing with young offenders under the age of 18, I had the opportunity to witness that on a couple of occasions. I was very encouraged by it. The victim was better able to get an appreciation of what had taken place and at the same time feel that the impact on the victim was taken into consideration.
With respect to other aspects of the legislation, it says the following:
It amends Part III of the National Defence Act to, among other things,
(a) specify the purpose of the Code of Service Discipline and the fundamental purpose of imposing sanctions at summary hearings.
This legislation would ensure that there is a quicker processing of justice. It would also “protect the privacy and security of victims and witnesses in proceedings involving certain sexual offences”.
Many Canadians who follow debates in the House might not be familiar with the fact that there is a civilian system of justice and a military justice system. Something I discovered in the discussions on this legislation was that in certain situations, a military person who commits an offence will go through the civilian justice system as opposed to the military justice system. An example is in regard to sexual assault. In certain situations, there is discretion in our system to enable civilian courts to deal with military personnel who are convicted of committing an offence.
I mentioned that I served in the military. I served in Edmonton, in air traffic control, as an assistant at the time, working out of Lancaster Park. Just south of Lancaster Park, in Griesbach, there was a military detention centre on the base. It was somewhat new to me, but people being held in custody for a sentence of more than two years would go to a federal facility for civilians. For any sentence under two years, offenders would be detained, in part, in military facilities.
The legislation would include the following:
(d) make testimonial aids more accessible to vulnerable witnesses;
(e) allow witnesses to testify using a pseudonym in appropriate cases;
(f) on application, make publication bans for victims under the age of 18 mandatory;
(g) In certain circumstances, require a military judge to inquire of the prosecutor if reasonable steps have been taken to inform the victims of any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecutor.
The legislation again highlights the importance of victims rights:
(i) provide for different ways of presenting victim impact statements;
(j) allow for military impact statements and community impact statements to be considered in all service offences;
(k) provide...that particular attention should be given to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders;
As I indicated earlier, that is completely new to the legislation, and I believe it has fairly good support on both sides of the House.
The legislation would also,
(m) provide for a scale of sanctions in respect of service infractions and for the principles applicable to those sanctions;
(n) provide for a six-month limitation period in respect of summary hearings;
As I said, this legislation has some new aspects that would further enhance what was introduced in the House a number of years ago. Members across the way appear to recognize the value of the legislation, and I hope they will allow it to go to the next step, which is the Senate.
The modernization of our military law is a positive thing, and it is part of a holistic approach this government is taking in being there for the Canadian men and women who serve in our forces. I am thankful for the opportunity to share some thoughts on the matter.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-28 13:47 [p.25916]
Madam Speaker, one of the things that are incorporated into the legislation is the issue of victim rights. This is something being welcomed universally and that is fairly significant. It takes into consideration a number of things that should be taken into consideration relating to victims. These are all very positive aspects of the legislation.
I am wondering if my colleague can provide his thoughts on the issue of having victim rights put into the legislation, which is really outside the law we have today. It is something completely new that is going to make a very positive change to the law itself.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-28 16:31 [p.25942]
Madam Speaker, at the onset let me just acknowledge that it is encouraging that we have all members supporting the legislation. That is very encouraging to see. It is in the best interests of our women and men of the forces and the broader community as a whole.
One of the aspects of the legislation that I like, and that we have not heard much discussed today, is the whole idea that within the legislation we are putting into place a declaration of victim rights. That is being very well received, virtually universally. The right to information, protection and participation and, where possible, even restitution, these things put the legislation more in line with civil law. Because we have not heard it in a while, I am interested to know what the members opposite have to say about that aspect of the legislation because it is very new to military law.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-26 13:11 [p.25789]
Mr. Speaker, let me contrast the member's statements to reality. The reality of this legislation is far from what the Conservatives are trying to tell Canadians and others who are trying to follow this debate.
Let us be very clear in terms of what this legislation will do. It will make our communities safer. It will ensure that there are fewer victims. It will also ensure that there is accountability for those individuals who are breaking our laws.
In this contrast between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, there is a significant difference in approach in dealing with the crime and safety file.
The Conservative Party likes to sound as if it takes a really tough position on crime and safety, and that has not necessarily proven to be the case. Conservatives have the spin, and they are very good at the spin. I give them full credit for that. However, it takes away from their ability to be able to deal with the issue when they take the position of voting against this particular bill. By doing that, the Conservatives are in fact voting against what I believe is in the best interests of the communities we serve. We all want to have safer communities, fewer victims, and accountability.
Let me give the House a specific example of what I am talking about in the rhetoric that comes from the Conservative Party. The speaker before me made reference to Terri-Lynne McClintic. We are all very familiar with that particular file. This is the individual who was involved in horrific criminal activities and the murder of a child, among many other things.
Members will recall that the Conservative members jumped over their seats, hollering and screaming about how the government dared to allow this particular individual to go into a medium-security facility, a place with no fence, a healing lodge. I can recall, as I am sure people who follow the debates of the House will recall, the type of verbiage coming out of the Conservative Party. It was all hype, and I do not say that lightly. Very horrific things events happened, and we saw members of the Conservative Party actually stand in their place and remind Canadians of just how horrific those actions were.
The government said it would look into the matter and that it would report back to the House. The government, through the leadership of the minister, in fact rectified the problem.
However, what I found interesting was that the very same sort of criminal activity that was causing the Conservatives to jump out of their seats and be critical of the government for not acting on had occurred on numerous occasions under Stephen Harper. Why did the Conservatives not care about those individuals, the criminals who were child molesters and killers? Instead, under Stephen Harper, those criminals were transferred, and some went to healing lodges.
We are not talking about one or two or three people; we are talking about a number of those individuals. The Conservatives had no problem being quiet on the issue back then. They did not raise it once while they were in government. However, they have a different approach in opposition.
I will give them credit. They are a pretty decent opposition party. They are pretty good at it. They know how to really ramp things up.
As I pointed out yesterday, I was in opposition for far too many years. I hope to see the Conservative opposition continue to be in opposition for many, many more years, maybe as many years as I was in opposition if we combine the provincial and federal levels.
I suggest that the bill will have a positive impact on all of our communities. The Conservatives believe that once a criminal goes into jail, that person is a real, superbad person in all cases and is going to be in jail for a long time. They do not believe in the importance of rehabilitation. They do not recognize that.
The reality is that a majority of the individuals who are going in are in fact going to be going out. If we can provide better rehabilitation programs within the prison system for that majority, there will be a greater likelihood that crimes will be prevented when offenders exit our prisons.
That is consistently overlooked by the Conservative Party, and that is unfortunate. This legislation is going to include the provision of additional health and other services, which will ultimately allow many prisoners to be assimilated into our communities in a better way. That is important to me and the constituents I represent, because we know that a majority of offenders are going to be leaving prison.
There are other aspects of the legislation, such as the body scanner. Maybe the Conservatives have singled that aspect out as a positive thing. I would like to think they have. It would ensure that there are fewer drugs entering, and that searches are less invasive when people visit or enter the prison. We have provincial facilities that already have it. This will allow it to occur in our national facilities.
There is another aspect that I would like to draw attention to, and that is the audio. Under the current law, if a person who committed a sexual assault is going before a board hearing, often the victims will attend because they want to listen in on that board hearing. If victims choose to do that, then they are not eligible to receive the audio recording of what took place.
Under this legislation, victims will be able to receive the audio whether they attend or not. I am sure people can imagine the situation for a victim of being in that room. They can imagine what might be going through the victim's mind, and they can understand that the victim is not necessarily at a stage where he or she can fully digest everything that is being said. That is one of the reasons, if not the primary reason, why victims would want to see this aspect of our law changed. This legislation incorporates that.
I spoke to the legislation at second reading and encouraged individuals to get involved by looking at the legislation. The minister indicated that he is open to improving the legislation. At the committee stage we saw many amendments brought forward, and they were not only government amendments. We had opposition party amendments, and even the leader of the Green Party brought in amendments. Not only were a number of those amendments brought in by opposition members, but they were also accepted.
The legislation we have today is even better than it was prior to going to committee, which speaks volumes as to how effective a standing committee can be if we take some of the partisanship out and people focus on improving legislation.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-22 10:25 [p.25672]
Madam Speaker, I must say that I value and appreciate the work the minister has done, not only on this piece of legislation but in all aspects of the department.
With respect to the legislation we have before us, it is very much a modernization of military justice. I love the aspect of victims rights being incorporated into the legislation. Could the minister share with us some of the work that has been done to put forward the legislation? I know many people from within the department and different stakeholders have had opportunities to provide input. Could he reflect on the many components that have ultimately led us to getting the legislation to where it is today?
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2019-02-22 10:29 [p.25672]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand to speak at third reading of Bill C-77, the amendments to the National Defence Act to add some new guidelines and strengths within the military justice system. The Conservatives have been calling for this for some time.
The Conservatives are committed to standing up for the rights of victims and ensuring that victims have a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. It was our previous Conservative government that enacted the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. We support enshrining those rights for victims in our military justice system. That is why, in the last Parliament, we introduced Bill C-71. That really is the foundation that Bill C-77, which we are debating today, is based upon.
The Conservative Party will always stand up for the rights of victims, and that is why are supportive of seeing Bill C-77 passed and enacted.
We have to ensure we restore the rights of victims and ensure they are at the heart of our justice system. That is why the Victims Bill of Rights would now be mirrored in military law, once it is passed through Senate.
I hope that some of the questions I still have about the bill, as well some of the questions we just heard about self-harm, may be addressed when the bill goes for further study and debate over in the other place.
I am the vice-chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence. At committee we heard from numerous witnesses. Those who support victims were very loud in their support of the legislation. It would give the victims: enhanced access to information through the appointment of a victim liaison officer, which is welcomed by victims in the Canadian Armed Forces; enhanced protection for those victims through new safety, security and privacy provisions, so victims do not have to be concerned about their information being used inappropriately through a violation of their privacy; enhanced participation by allowing victims to read impact statements at the time of sentencing of those who committed a crime against them; and, when possible, enhanced restitution through the court martial process consideration to provide restitution for the order of the losses to those who were victimized.
Our previous Conservative government took significant steps to protect Canadians and to stand up for victims of crime. We understand that the highest priority for any government must be to ensure the safety of its citizens, including those who are serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. It is a responsibility of government. As a Conservative government, we took that seriously. I am glad to see the minister has taken it seriously with the amendments in Bill C-77.
Putting the rights of victims back at the heart of the justice system is important and it is crucial to ensure fairness, to ensure that our justice system is compassionate and that it provides a balance, both to the rights of the victims and the rights of those convicted. It is about courtesy, compassion and respect, and that has to be included at every stage of the justice process, whether it is in civilian courts or military courts.
Our previous Conservative government was committed to reversing that trend and keeping our streets and communities safe for Canadians and their families. We had taken concrete steps to see that offenders accounted for their actions.
All of us on this side of the House were proud of our previous government's record, a record that includes the Safe Streets and Communities Act, the reform of not criminally responsible legislation, laws against sexual exploitation and, of course, cyber intimidation and bullying.
We, as Conservatives, believe that for far too long the criminal justice system was about the rights of criminals. We believe the victims have to be placed at the very heart of the justice system. They deserve, and should have, the right to information, the right to protection, the right to participation and, where possible, the right to restitution. That is encompassed in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which is landmark legislation that will be reflected now in the National Defence Act as it applies to our military.
Many people wonder why we have a dual system, one for civilians and one for our military members. I would like to use a quote that came from Maurice de Saxe, who used to be the marshal general of France in 1732. In writing about the science of warfare, he said:
...military discipline...is the soul of armies. If it is not established with wisdom and maintained with unshakeable resolution you will have no soldiers. Regiments and armies will only be contemptible, armed mobs, more dangerous to their own country than to the enemy...
We have witnessed that in modern times in other countries around the world. That is why in 1950 the National Defence Act was enacted to established a military justice system.
We already have what I consider the best of the best who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. Because they are the best of the best and because they are given the order to use lethal force when necessary in defending Canada and Canadians and those who cannot defend themselves around the world, they have to be held to a higher standard. We need to have a military justice system in place that reflects the law of the land in Canada, but still hold to that same standard, values and principles when they are deployed abroad.
As the minister already pointed out, some of the changes in Bill C-77 build upon the code of service conduct and Operation Honour in particular. We want to ensure we have effective ways to stomp out sexual misconduct, to eliminate harassment within the Canadian Armed Forces and to deal with intolerance.
The Gladue decision of the Supreme Court a number of years ago has been put into the decision-making process through the court martial system as well as through the summary hearings that have been put in place. We want to ensure that the ongoing defence of parallel military justice systems that has been supported by the Supreme Court of Canada continues.
In the Généreux case in 1992, the MacKay case and more recently in the Moriarity case of 2015, they have consistently held up that the National Defence Act and the criminal justice system is for the maintenance of discipline, efficiency and morale of the Canadian Armed Forces. It stands by section 11(f) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is that there is an exemption given to members of the Canadian Armed Forces and to the chain of command to carry out military justice on a parallel track.
I raised concerns at committee and when the bill was at second reading about the recent Court Martial Appeals Court decision in the Beaudry case, in which the judge advocate general requested to have that stand at this point in time so they could take that case to the Supreme Court and have it pass a decision on it. Again, we continue to see some people who do not believe the military should have its own justice system and that cases should be tried in civilian court except when they are deployed.
Overall, we need to continue to have that chain of command, the enforcement of the Queen's rules and orders and that those regulations are reflective of some of the concerns that were brought up at committee.
A number of very powerful witnesses appeared at committee. One person was Jean-Guy Perron, a retired colonel, He was a JAG officer and also sat as a justice on the court martial court. We also had compelling testimony given by the Barreau du Québec. It raised a number of concerns where there could be charter challenges down the road if we did not get this right.
One thing that was very evident was that the change of summary trial to summary hearing may reduce the burden of proof. Right now, the burden of proof is the same as it is in civil court, which is that it has to be beyond a reasonable doubt. That has been modified somewhat and the accused could fact even more difficulty going forward.
I will quote retired Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Guy Perron. He said:
Although a summary infraction is not an offence under the NDA and a summary hearing is not a court martial or a service tribunal; the failure “without lawful excuse, the proof of which lies on the person, to appear” as ordered, or to remain in attendance before an officer conducting a summary hearing, as a person charged with having committed a service infraction can lead to an accusation under s. 118.1 (Failure to appear or to attend), a trial by court martial and possibly a criminal conviction.
This is all in relationship to the summary hearings process. He went on to say:
Would “minor sanctions” be identical or quite similar to “minor punishments”? Most probably and, if so, the punishments of confinement to ship or barracks and extra work and drill raise concerns....COs can confine to ship or barracks for up to 21 days....This deprivation of liberty can be very strict and would be similar to conditional sentence of imprisonment (“house arrest”).
Since that would now be considered imprisonment through a summary hearing without actually having a court martial process, would the rights of that individual be violated by not having the right to a fair trial because it has been dealt with through the chain of command at a summary hearing?
Essentially, he is saying that house arrest or confinement to barracks is full incarceration as put by the Supreme Court of Canada.
I mentioned burden of proof earlier. Bill C-77 keeps the same sentencing objectives and principles as found in a criminal proceeding, most probably the same procedure for summary hearings as presently exists for summary trials in chapter 108 of the Queen's Regulations and Orders, and increases the punishment power, such as higher finds, of an officer conducting the hearing, while reducing the threshold of conviction from beyond a reasonable doubt to a balance of probabilities.
We had a lot of debate on the difference between “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “a balance of probabilities”. I feel somewhat confident that the JAG officers who were present did a good job of explaining the difference and that through the regulations of Bill C-77, when we get to enacting those, coming through the gazetting process, we should be able to mitigate the charter challenge risk and ensure that the rights of those who have been charged will be considered appropriately.
Perron goes on to say:
Under C-77, the accused is liable to be sentenced to a more severe punishment...based on a lower threshold of conviction. The summary hearing under C-77 offers less protections to the accused than what was present in C-71 and what is actually present in the summary trial process.
Therefore, I stress for the minister that now that we heard a very similar concern raised by the Barreau du Québec along with Mr. Perron, we need to incorporate those concerns in the regulation process. We had assurances at committee that this would be done. We brought forward amendments that were not accepted at that stage on how we dealt with it. However, I was glad to see at least one of our amendments that would to clarify the rank structure on who could do a summary hearing and who would review which officers, or NCOs or other enlisted members.
The one thing, which we have already discussed, is that we never did get to fully debate paragraph 98(c), which deals with self-harm. It was ruled out of order by the chair, but I want to thank the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke for bringing it forward. We had Sheila Fynes and her family at committee. They lost their son Corporal Stuart Langridge to suicide in 2008. He served in Bosnia and in Afghanistan. They feel very passionate that paragraph 98(c) of the National Defence Act, which deals with self-harm, adds to the stigmatization, such that those who want to hurt themselves will not come forward for help because they could be charged under the National Defence Act and at the very least be put in front of a summary hearing or could get a full court martial.
We were assured by all the witnesses that this section of the National Defence Act is rarely ever used.
For those who are concerned about those who malign themselves, those who literally go out and shoot themselves in the foot so they do not have to be deployed or who purposely sprain an ankle so they do not have to go on an exercise and carry an 80-pound rucksack and march for 40 miles over the next day, those who try to avoid service, avoid exercises, who do not want to go into theatre, there are plenty of other avenues under the National Defence Act to hold those people to account and bring them to justice for not following orders.
However, when it comes down to the mental health of our servicemen and women who are suffering with PTSD, who are dealing with anxiety and have been in theatre and have witnessed some horrific abuses and atrocities and violations against humanity, those individuals need help, and the last thing we want to do is stigmatize it and send the message that they will be charged under paragraph 98(c) of the National Defence Act for self-harm.
I hope the minister will take this forward and consider it and find a way to bring it quickly back to the House in a different bill, if that is possible. I am sure he would get unanimous consent at all three stages to delete that section of the act. Since it was found to be outside the scope of Bill C-77, I would suggest that we find a different avenue to do it and that we do it as quickly as possible and as compassionately as possible and in a way that will more than help those who struggle with the thought of suicide to step forward.
We have an incredible Canadian Armed Forces. One thing that we recommended through the defence policy review a few years ago, which is reflected in the Liberal defence policy now, is that the number one source of pride within the Canadian Armed Forces is their personnel, and we want to ensure that we give them the tools to do their job. Whether they serve in the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy or the Royal Canadian Air Force, these brave men and women do incredible work to keep us safe here at home. They stand on guard 24/7. Written on the wall in NORAD, whether down in Colorado Springs or at its Canadian operations in Winnipeg, is a motto that says, “We Have The Watch”, and they are on the watch 24/7.
We often forget that there are all sorts of threats coming at us, whether airborne, seaborne or even potentially on the ground, and because we have troops deployed across this country and around the world, we are safer here at home because they are standing on the wall in places like Latvia, Mali and Ukraine, along with many other locations. They are ensuring that we can continue on with our business, oblivious to what is going on in the world and to potential threats such as cyber-hacking, knocking down our financial systems or our energy sector and blocking off our naval routes to ship our goods back and forth over the sea. Our economy, our safety and our prosperity are built upon us as Canadians, but more importantly, they are defended by those who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces.
On behalf of all Conservative members and all members of the House, I thank them for serving, because they keep us, the true north, strong and free.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2019-02-05 17:37 [p.25306]
moved that Bill C-266, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (increasing parole ineligibility), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to speak to Bill C-266, an act respecting families of murdered and brutalized persons. This bill would amend section 745 of the Criminal Code.
This bill has been before the House before. To quote one of my previous speeches in the House, from 2014, in this bill I want to empower our courts “with the ability to increase parole ineligibility when sentencing individuals who have abducted, sexually assaulted and killed our innocent and often most vulnerable Canadians from the current 25 years up to a maximum of 40 years.”
The bill is not about creating stiffer penalties for sadistic murderers. These depraved convicts do not qualify for parole. My bill is about saving the families of the victims from having to go through the agony of attending unnecessary and traumatic parole hearings.
Let us be perfectly clear. Bill C-266 is not about mandatory minimum sentencing. The bill is in compliance with section 12 of the Charter of Rights. It is based on the discretion of the presiding judge through a recommendation to the jury. A judge could set parole ineligibility of between 25 and 40 years. It would not be prescribed where in there it would fall. The judge would have the discretionary power to make it anywhere from 25 years of parole ineligibility to 40 years.
This legislation is modelled after a bill brought forward in a previous Parliament, Bill C-48, the protecting Canadians by ending sentence discounts for multiple murders act, which we are seeing in use today at the McArthur trial as well as for the murderer who committed the mosque massacre in Quebec. That piece of legislation affords judges the opportunity to make the parole ineligibility periods for multiple murderers consecutive rather than concurrent. Most of those convicted of these multiple murders or these heinous crimes of abducting, sexually assaulting and murdering our loved ones never get parole. Therefore, why do we continue to put families through unnecessary Parole Board hearings? There is absolutely no need to re-victimize those families.
As I mentioned, I brought the bill forward in a previous Parliament. It was introduced on February 27, 2013, as Bill C-478. The bill made it as far as the committee stage, when I was appointed parliamentary secretary, so I had to withdraw the bill. Colin Mayes, our former colleague from B.C., then picked it up as Bill C-587. That bill made it through committee and came back to the House at report stage and third reading on June 2, 2015. Of course, it never made it to the final vote before the House recessed and the election took place.
This legislation would amend section 745 of the Criminal Code, as I have previously said. Increasing parole ineligibility from 25 years to 40 years would save families from having to go through the process of attending unnecessary Parole Board hearings and making victim impact statements, which are traumatic, to say the least, and heart-wrenching for those families. The bill would eliminate eight unnecessary Parole Board hearings families would have to attend.
Sadistic murderers often apply for parole every two years, starting at year 23, for the sole purpose of toying with the families, of revictimizing them and making them relive the gruesome killings that were committed.
The bill would change a number of subsections under section 745. It would be based upon the recommendation of a jury. The bill says that a judge would ask a jury at the time of sentencing if it wished “to make any recommendation with respect to the number of years that the accused must serve before the accused is eligible for release on parole”. When the jury was passing judgment, it could also recommend what the parole ineligibility could be. The judge would have discretion as to whether to accept that, and he or she could set it at a level he or she found appropriate. Judges on the board, when determining parole ineligibility, must have regard for “the character of the offender, the nature of the offences and the circumstances surrounding their commission”.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with a number of people on the legislation, along with Colin Mayes, the former member of Parliament from B.C. In the other place, Senator Boisvenu was a big help on this over the years. He founded an organization called Murdered or Missing Persons' Families' Association. This is something that he is incredibly passionate about.
Sharon Rosenfeldt's son Daryn was murdered by the notorious Clifford Olson and her organization is Victims of Violence. Susan Ashley is the sister of Linda Bright, who was killed by Donald Armstrong. Terri Prioriello's sister Darlene, also called Dolly, was murdered by David James Dobson. The organization Canadian Parents of Murdered Children has provided input over the years. This goes back some time.
I was interested in doing something for families. At the end of 2009-10, members will remember the terrible abduction, rape and murder of Tori Stafford. Terri-Lynne McClintic was arrested and prosecuted in 2010 and Michael Rafferty in 2012. During that time, while my heart was breaking listening to the Tori Stafford story, Clifford Olson was dying from cancer in prison and Sharon Rosenfeldt talked on the radio about how this killer had impacted her family over the years. He sent letters describing how he murdered her son Daryn. Because of that type of sadistic behaviour, tormenting families and using Parole Board hearings to feed his own sick appetite, it became clear to me that we needed to do something for families.
I knew full well that both murderers of Tori Stafford, Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic, will be applying for parole in the year 2023 after the murder in 2009. I think all Canadians would consider it unacceptable that families have to go through this ongoing saga of Parole Board hearing after Parole Board hearing.
We need to make sure the legislation targets the most depraved of society, the sadistic murderers out there who often prey on children and the most vulnerable, those who abduct, sexually assault and murder, often in a very gruesome manner. We are talking about people like Robert Pickton, Russell Williams, Michael Rafferty, Clifford Olson, Paul Bernardo, David James Dobson, Donald Armstrong, Luka Magnotta and we are watching the McArthur case unfold now in Toronto. This would apply to those individuals, particularly those who do not get consecutive life sentences. They could be given a 40-year sentence before they could apply for parole.
It is important that we talk about some of these families, like the family of Linda Bright, who was just 16 when she was abducted by Donald Armstrong in Kingston back in 1978. He has applied for parole numerous times. I have been talking to Susan Ashley, Linda's sister, and she said about the Parole Board hearings in the past, “My heart breaks having to live through this again. My heart breaks having to watch my Mom and Dad drag up their thoughts and pain from that deep place inside them where they tuck their hurt away”.
Linda's mother, Margaret, said during her victim impact statement, “This is not fair. We should not have to relive our tragedy. When I remember my daughter, let me remember her as a little girl. Don't make me think about the other awful time in 1978.... Let me tell you this has been the most difficult thing I have had to do in the last twenty years.”
Gary Rosenfeldt, who was Johnsrude's stepfather, has now passed away. His wife is Sharon Rosenfeldt. He said publicly, after going through a number of Parole Board hearings in 2006 and 2010, and even back in 1997, when there was still the faint hope clause, “What's really horrendous about this is this is only the beginning. We're going to have to do this every two years as long as Olson lives, and this is a very painful experience for myself, my family.”
It should be noted that Clifford Olson died in prison. He was never paroled. These individuals do not get parole.
Darlene Prioriello was abducted, raped, mutilated and murdered by David James Dobson in 1982. He is at the Bath Institution. Darlene's sister Terri has said this about having to go through these painful, repetitive and unnecessary Parole Board hearings: “Families have already been victimized once. They shouldn't have to be victimized every two years. Having to face a loved one's killer and to read what he did to her and how her death has affected our lives is something nobody should ever have to do once, never mind twice.” Unfortunately, that goes on.
We have had the Library of Parliament research how these murderers have been treated in prison and whether or not they have ever received parole. The best we can find is that some of them have been given day parole or temporary leave. They have never, ever been released back into the public on full parole. They are serving life sentences, and they will continue to do that.
A lot of people wonder how I came up with the 15 extra years in the 25 plus 15. Murder is 25 years without parole, abduction is a maximum of 10 years without parole, and sexual assault is a maximum of 4.6 years without parole. Added together, we get 40 years.
Let us be clear that I am not saying we are setting mandatory minimums, taking it up to 40 years. It is anywhere in between. The judge and the jury decide where the parole and eligibility should be set. It could be 25 years, 30 years, 35 years or 40 years. It is up to the judge and the jury to make those decisions. By respecting the independence of the court we are in compliance with chapter 12 of the charter.
We have seen this type of approach being taken with previous legislation. This judicial discretion is incredibly important, because the judge will take that recommendation, along with the regard he has to have for the character of the offender, the nature of the offences and the circumstances surrounding their commission. If the jury chooses, it can provide input as well.
I am looking forward to hearing the position of the government on this, as well as that of the NDP, but I am appealing to all members of the House to support the bill.
It should be noted that in the previous Parliament, all Liberals voted yes at second reading for this legislation. Many of them sit on the benches today, and are still here.
I want to make sure people understand that these depraved murderers, these brutal and sadistic members of society, will never be released back into society. They are not going to be released. The Parole Board of Canada continues to hold them in institutions, knowing they are dangerous offenders who potentially could reoffend, because so often they are psychopaths. Therefore, let us ensure we are not revictimizing those families by having them go to all these unnecessary Parole Board hearings and relive the murder and brutal details of how their loved ones were killed, all to the gratification of those incarcerated psychopaths.
I ask that everyone support this legislation. Let us get it to committee and let us hear from the victims organizations, the families who have been impacted and the families who are calling for this. Let us give them some peace. Let us respect their wishes and their lives so they do not have to go on and on living this nightmare.
As Yvonne Harvey of the Canadian Parents of Murdered Children said, “Although I have not personally faced the ordeal of a parole hearing, I have spoken to many individuals who have. I am certain that the primary intent of this bill, to spare the families of victims from having to attend unnecessary parole hearings, would be most welcomed.”
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-02-05 18:26 [p.25312]
Madam Speaker, as I have indicated in the past, it is always a privilege to share some thoughts on important pieces of legislation and motions that come before the House.
I listened very closely to my colleague across the way as he introduced his proposed legislation. He talked a great deal about the issue of parole hearings.
I could not help but reflect on another initiative the government brought in. I believe it was Bill C-83. Through this bill, the government made some changes regarding audio recordings in parole hearings. In the past, if a criminal was up for parole and a victim of sexual assault, for example, wanted to listen to the parole hearing in person, that individual would not be allowed an audio copy of what took place at the parole hearing. Through this legislation, the government recognized that as a problem and made the necessary correction.
I mention this because I believe that if members take a look at the issues in justice and at the legislation we have brought forward in the last three years, they will see that there is much legislation that takes victims into consideration, and that is just one example. Today, as a result of that legislation, the victim of a sexual assault would be able to go to a parole hearing and listen and also request an audio recording of it so that nothing would be missed because of the atmosphere the victim might have been placed in when listening at the parole hearing.
That is one piece of legislation. We had another piece of legislation dealing with victims. We reformed the way our military laws were being dealt with to ensure that they conformed with the Criminal Code. A Victims Bill of Rights was incorporated into the legislation.
I use these cases as examples because I have found, when in opposition and even in listening to the current Conservative opposition, that at times the Conservatives seem to want to use our justice system and the law as a way to create wedges and to look tough on crime. It is that sort of mentality.
A good example of this was referenced earlier today. In his speech, my colleague talked about first degree murder. It is a crime that the criminal courts recognize for what it is: When people are convicted of first degree murder, they are going away for a long time. However, he is right in his assertion that this does not mean that all murders are equal. Some are far more horrendous than others.
Let us stop and think about this. Members will recall that we had a huge debate not that long ago about Tori Stafford. She was the focal point of debate in the House for a great period of time. The government of the day was being criticized because Tori Stafford's murderer was transferred to a medium-security prison facility, and there was outrage from the opposition.
I raise this issue because on the surface, the legislation that is being proposed is fairly compelling in terms of support, but there are a couple of things that come to my mind.
First, the member who brought forward the bill was a fairly influential member of the Harper government as a parliamentary secretary. He was fairly well known among the Conservative benches. No doubt that was one of the reasons why he was elevated to parliamentary secretary. That bill did not proceed. In response to the questions posed to the member, he said that it was a timing issue, that there was not enough time. The bill sat for a lot more time than what he has given this government to deal with it.
One could question why the member feels the urgency is greater today. Was he told something that did not allow the Harper government to proceed with it? I would be very much interested in hearing the ongoing debate on this. Is that a part of what is often the case with the Conservative Party, that it likes to take a tough line?
That is the reason why I am giving the second example, which is the Tori Stafford case. Day after day, opposition members gave the false impression that this Liberal government was going about it in the wrong way. We were asked how we could do that. I heard the same thing at the local restaurant I go to on a weekly basis. People were starting to listen to what the official opposition was saying.
The Minister of Public Safety did great service to the issue when he had an internal investigation conducted and we came up with the right answer.
While some of the research was being done on the Stafford file, we found that under former prime minister Stephen Harper, other murderers had been transferred from high-security to medium-security prisons. These murderers committed not only first degree murders, but some of them committed multiple murders. After the Conservatives realized the double standard, it then became a marginal issue.
The Government of Canada did what it was supposed to do. The minister said that he would look into the matter and come back to the House, and he did. We were able to rectify the problem.
This Liberal government has been very sensitive to victims of crime with respect to the legislation we have brought forward. We have been progressive in our way of dealing with individuals in our jails. Unlike the Conservatives, we recognize that a good number of those who are in jails today will be back in our communities. Many of the reforms we have made will ensure that we have fewer victims in the future.
Our government has treated the public safety file seriously. We have not reacted to the degree the opposition has at times, which has not been in the best interests of public safety.
I listened to what the member said about this legislation. I am interested in hearing further debate on it, as this is only our first hour of debate. I would like to hear particularly from some Conservative members as to why they believe Stephen Harper did not recognize the value of the legislation, as it sat on the Order Paper for a few years.
I would also like to hear a response as to why the minister responsible at the time did not incorporate this in some of the judicial legislation that the Conservatives brought to the House. Why did the Conservative public safety minister not see fit to address this? Maybe we are missing something.
I can assure the House that the government is listening, will continue to listen to the debate, and will ultimately make a determination as time goes on.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-12-06 12:46 [p.24496]
Mr. Speaker, I too want to reflect on École Polytechnique and add some thoughts, given we are passing this legislation. People can reflect on where they were 29 years ago. I recall the day after, and I was sitting in the Manitoba legislature, when Sharon Carstairs, the first woman elected as a leader of an opposition party, talked about women and women's rights. This is more than just a woman's issue; it is also a man's issue.
When we look at the legislation, it would advance us on a number of fronts. We have a minister who is committed to looking at it from a much larger perspective in protecting society, with special focus and attention on women. My colleague may want to add some of his personal comments on the tragedy 29 years ago.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-11-28 16:58 [p.24114]
Madam Speaker, I would have thought the Conservatives would be a bit more excited about the fairly comprehensive changes in Bill C-75 that would serve our country well.
Prior to the last election, our government made some commitments, and we are seeing some of those commitments fulfilled within this legislation. That is a positive thing.
I want to pick up on the bigger picture of justice. If we were to canvass Canadians and many different stakeholders about their expectations of the judicial system, I would suggest that they would have three big expectations.
The first would be keeping our communities safe, which is also very important to this government, and I would like to think important to all members. This legislation makes significant strides towards keeping our communities safe.
A second would be protecting victims. When it comes to our justice system, one would like to think there is a vested interest in protecting victims. When I say “protecting victims”, I mean that we should be going out of our way to prevent having any victims in the first place. I will comment briefly on that shortly.
The third priority, or expectation, is accountability for offenders.
These three priorities would be accepted by all Canadians. Bill C-75 moves the ball further ahead on these three principles.
There is a difference between the Conservatives' approach to justice issues and this government's approach. Put differently way, there is a difference between the Stephen Harper approach to justice issues and the approach this Liberal government has taken on justice-related issues, whether in this or previous legislation.
We need to recognize that a vast majority of incarcerated individuals will leave our jails. They will go back into our communities. As such, we have a responsibility to ensure that our system allows for better integration. If we are successful at that, we will prevent having further victims in the future. We on this side of the House recognize that.
Listening to speeches given by members on the other side of the House, whether about this or other legislation, one gets the impression that once someone enters our jail system, that person is never going to return to our communities. There is a very good chance that many of those individuals will not return.
However, we must have a system that will work for Canadians by keeping our communities safe, by ensuring that we protect our victims, and ensuring that there is offender accountability.
It is just wrong for the Conservatives to give the impression that this government is looking at ways of minimizing the consequences for serious crimes.
Under this legislation, opposition members say that we would hybridize too many crimes. As a result, they are trying to give the false impression that there would be less serious impacts for those offenders when it came to the weight of the law and incarceration, fines or whatever it might be.
It is important to recognize that we have summary convictions and indictable offences. However, within this proposed legislation, there would be a third component, that being hybridized. We are saying that here is a list of crimes for which the Crown would have some discretion to help determine whether an offence would be an indictable offence.
During second reading, I had the opportunity to listen in on some of the debate. I recall one intervention that bears repeating, because I think most people who are following the debate could relate to the differences. This is what we mean by discretion. At second reading, I recall a Conservative member, and Hansard will reflect this, saying that “kidnapping is kidnapping” and is a serious crime, end of story. It is indictable, so lock up the person and put him or her away for many years.
There is no doubt that kidnapping is a very serious crime. Canadians recognize it as a serious crime. We as a government recognize it as a serious crime. The Conservatives ask why we would hybridize that particular crime. Let me give members a tangible example. I think the constituents I serve would understand why it is important that this be one of those hybridized crimes.
When we think of kidnapping, the first thing that comes to mind is an individual at a school playground identifying a potential victim, putting the victim into a van and disappearing and taking all sorts of horrific actions or maybe kidnapping an individual for the sex trade. There are all sorts of horror stories about kidnapping. I, for one, want those individuals locked up. However, there is a “but”.
For example, divorces occur every day, and some of those divorces are very emotional and involve young children. At times, with a divorce, there are all sorts of issues a child will often have to deal with. There might be a situation where a child has a bad week or a bad day and decides not to go home to the parent who has 100% custody but goes to the non-custodial parent. The other parent then says that the child has disappeared and has been kidnapped. One parent did not have the right to have custody of that child at that time, but the child went to that parent's home, perhaps in tears, or whatever the circumstances were. The point is, the child should not have been at that parent's house, and as a direct result, there is now a kidnapping charge.
I would like to think there is a big difference between that situation and the first situation I described. If members believe that what I just said is accurate and takes place in real life, they should acknowledge that there is a need to support the idea that for certain crimes, for certain actions, we need to incorporate hybridized crimes.
I have a great deal of confidence in our Crowns and the ability of our judicial system to make good decisions. What we are saying is that if a kidnapping like the first example came before the judicial system, I would suggest that the Crown would say that it was an indictable offence and the individual would have to go through a process where, ultimately, there could be years of incarceration, versus another case where it could be classified as a summary conviction. We have seen a number of those crimes that are now eligible, and I suspect that arguments could be made for each and every one.
When we looked at the legislation, one of the major concerns raised by the Conservative Party was the issue of hybridization. Hopefully they now have a better understanding. They raised the issue at second reading and then brought it to the committee stage.
I am actually quite pleased that we are at third reading today, in the sense that it has been a long process to get to this point. The Minister of Justice has demonstrated very clearly that this has been a project of consultation, working with a wide variety of stakeholders, from the beginning right up to the standing committee. Maybe I should expand on that point for a moment.
Our justice system is a joint responsibility. We do not have sole responsibility for judicial matters in Canada. We have shared responsibilities with the provinces. That means that the minister, with the assistance of the parliamentary secretary, and others, no doubt, canvassed and worked with the different provinces and territories to establish priorities that needed to be changed. Those changes, those priorities, are fairly well reflected in this legislation. The minister even went beyond that, in terms of consultations with indigenous people and other stakeholders, to formulate Bill C-75 so that it was ready for first reading, followed by second reading and committee.
That is where I interjected. My interjection was to comment that even when we, in opposition, brought it to committee, a number of changes were introduced by members after listening to the committee presentations. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights amended Bill C-75 at committee to, for example, remove the provisions regarding routine police evidence, which had laudable intentions but had some undesirable and unintended consequences, particularly for unrepresented accused. It removed the terrorism and advocating genocide offences from the list of those being reclassified. That is the amendment I thought of when I was talking about hybridized offences.
The Conservatives presented that issue in the form of an amendment, and we accepted it, which was completely foreign when Stephen Harper was prime minister. The Conservative Party never ever accepted an opposition motion. Not only—
Mr. Glen Motz: That is because you did not have any good ones. Those were horrible.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Madam Speaker, we had plenty of amendments, and they went absolutely nowhere with Stephen Harper. Under this government, there have been many amendments, even from the official opposition. This is yet another example of an amendment actually being accepted. Therefore, I believe that the Conservatives accept the principle of what is being suggested when we talk about hybridized crimes and the importance of that. It is a major aspect of the legislation.
The other aspect is preliminary trials. It is interesting to hear the Conservatives and NDP saying the same thing about preliminary trials. What caught me was what the critic for the Conservative Party said today. He said it was not really going to reduce waiting times. I do not believe that. The member opposite said he could quote X or Y, who are somewhat suspicious of it reducing waiting times. I do not believe it. Maybe the member across the way will have to do a little more convincing.
Preliminary hearings consume a great deal of court time. I am not a lawyer, but I used to be the justice critic in the province of Manitoba, and I can recall many of the frustrations of provincial and other Crowns in dealing with preliminary trials. I can remember a discussion I had with a judge on the issue. It was fairly well received by a good number of people who recognized that it would reduce delays.
The NDP and Conservatives said they were highly suspicious that delays would be reduced. The Conservatives were a little more affirmative in saying that they would not be reduced. They said it would only be 3% of cases going before the courts, so what good was it? Three per cent is thousands and thousands of hours. That would make a real difference.
Preliminary trials might have been needed years ago, but this emphasizes why it was so important for this government to do what it made a commitment to do, which was overhaul and improve the system. To give the impression that minimizing the number of preliminary trials will not reduce court delays is just wrong. I believe it is wrong, based on what limited experience, and I underline the word “limited”, I have on this issue. When I look at that number, 3% is a significant number of court cases, not to mention thousands of hours. I believe it would make a difference.
The Conservatives should be supporting this legislation because this is the type of legislation Canadians want. It would keep our communities safer. It would ensure that there was more justice for victims. It would ensure—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-11-28 17:20 [p.24116]
Madam Speaker, I talked about a comprehensive approach to deal with the issue of justice. For example, members will find that there is some legislation we have brought in that enshrines victims rights. They will find legislation we have brought in that will ensure mental health services are being provided in our institutions. At the end of the day, the priority areas are keeping our communities safe, ensuring protection for victims, and from my own personal perspective preventing victims in the first place, and ensuring there is a sense of accountability for offenders. To me, those are very much high priorities that we on this side of the House believe in. If we look at not only this piece of legislation but all the different actions the government has taken to date, we will find that we are going to have safer communities.
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