Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 15 of 23
View Rob Moore Profile
Some of these clauses are similar, but I'm just wondering if the department can give us a brief description of the effect if we choose as a committee to adopt clause 1.
View Rob Moore Profile
Mr. Chair, I want to just flesh this out a little bit because, frankly, in the context of the committee meetings we've had.... We haven't had a ton of them. I think we had seven where we heard witnesses, and today's meeting is our eighth. Just for clarification, when we talk about the mandatory minimum penalties in these sections, this is on someone who has already been convicted of the same offence, so now they've been convicted twice of, for example, weapons trafficking or possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking.
Frankly, a lot of the discussion that happened and witness testimony at committee were couched in the terms that this was someone who got caught up in an unfortunate incident or someone who had a few drinks and shot the side of a barn. For this section, are we talking about, for sections 85, 95, 99, 100 and 103, someone who has this as their second offence? Is there a minimum on their first offence? Do any of these...? This says, “second or subsequent”.
I guess I'm a bit familiar. In a previous government, when there was a mandatory minimum penalty of four years for certain gun crimes and because of the issue of recidivism, which is basically the same person committing the same types of crimes over and over, we brought in a change to the law that meant that, on your subsequent offence, it would be five years and then after that, seven. I think that's where it kind of landed. I think originally it was four, seven and 10, or something like that, but eventually it landed at four, five and seven, I think.
I just want the committee to be 100% clear, because I don't think it ever came up in our witness testimony. Are we only talking in this clause about someone who's already been convicted of a prior offence in the same section of the Criminal Code?
View Rob Moore Profile
I should be asking these through you, Chair, but I want to flesh out a couple of things here.
The list of offences that are subsequent is broader than the list of offences that predicate the triggering of the mandatory minimum. On those offences, for the first offence, is there a mandatory minimum attached to each and every one of those first offences? I think there is on some of them, but is there a mandatory minimum penalty at first offence for weapons trafficking and for possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking?
View Rob Moore Profile
View Rob Moore Profile
This legislation touches on a lot of different offences. There are different offences, different impacts and, I would argue, different levels of seriousness. Obviously, they're all Criminal Code offences, but, no doubt, we as a committee may feel that some of them are more serious than others. Of those five you've been speaking about—85, 95, 99, 100 and 103—is it possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition? I remember this case.... Is that the only one of the five that has been challenged and the mandatory minimum found unconstitutional?
To follow up, could you walk us through why this discussion isn't moot? While the mandatory minimum in this narrow case was struck down, it remains a trigger for the escalation for subsequent offences. Is that why this conversation isn't moot, since the court, in that case, struck it down? While we know.... The government's own backgrounder suggested that, I think, mandatory minimums were struck down in 48% of cases, meaning that, in 52% of cases, they were upheld. We acknowledge there are cases where they've been struck down and there are cases where they've been considered and upheld.
Could you walk us through the effect of that one offence being struck down, and why it still matters in the context of this clause?
View Rob Moore Profile
Thank you for answering all those questions really thoroughly.
Mr. Chair, on this, and I'm going to ask the committee.... All of us as members have an opportunity to vote on this clause. I look at these offences, and we are talking about recidivists with these offences. No one is arguing that we shouldn't do everything, our level best, at the federal level, with our provincial counterparts and at the municipal level. No one is arguing that we shouldn't do everything we can to help people and help them reintegrate into the community.
We have to recognize that at some point people are going to be back in the community and we should do our best to reintegrate them, but when I look at this list of offences, it's like they're pulled from the headlines of what we're dealing with right now in this country. Police chiefs.... We had witnesses at the committee who spoke about their own jurisdictions. Some of them were major municipalities. Some of them were the most rural places imaginable, and some of them were urban, suburban or first nations policing.
We heard from a variety of witnesses in policing. The evidence they gave us is that the types of firearms they're seeing, in both urban and rural settings, are not those of John Q. Duck Hunter, farmers and sport shooters. They're weapons and firearms that have come in largely from the U.S. They've been trafficked in. I see weapons trafficking as one of these offences. They are largely prohibited weapons or restricted weapons. The people using them are not licensed. They're unlicensed.
What we have in these offences—and I'm speaking specifically of the offences in this clause—is that we're dealing with people who at no point have tried to comply with Canada's laws. All of us have people in our ridings who have complied. They're law-abiding firearms owners. First, they have a licence. They're licensed owners. Second, they've gone through proper channels. They didn't necessarily buy a handgun out of the trunk of someone's car. They went to a dealership and purchased a firearm legally.
The testimony we've heard over and over again at committee is that those are not the individuals who are creating the problem. Even while we were in committee, we heard—again, ripped from the headlines—stories of people using drones to take a bag of handguns from the U.S. and bring it across into Canada, presumably to be picked up by the criminal element here and distributed and sold and, at some point, very possibly used in a crime against an innocent Canadian.
We can have a debate about the role for mandatory prison sentences, and we've done that. We've gone around and we've heard from a lot of different witnesses, and we've heard from members of the committee, but I want us to look really carefully at this particular clause, because to me it's dealing with scenarios right now where Canadians are calling out for action. We're seeing it in New Brunswick, in Ontario and in Quebec. We're seeing it in every province. They're saying, “We need help.” Rural crime is an issue, and urban crime is an issue.
We just saw that Mitch Marner, for Pete's sake, of the Maple Leafs, was robbed. I don't know all the details, but from what I read about the armed assailants, I will guarantee you that the people who robbed him didn't drive away in a pickup truck wearing fluorescent orange, with the shotgun they use for duck hunting. This is a criminal element.
I will also guarantee you that it probably wasn't their first offence. These are individuals who knew exactly what they were doing, and they carjacked Mitch Marner the same way that they've probably carjacked other people, and, yes, eventually someone's going to get killed in the process.
It's that kind of recidivism. It's that kind of wanton disregard for other Canadians, for innocent individuals. That's the reason these laws are in here.
We have to start from the premise that we have a Criminal Code in which we, as Parliament, have said that these are things that are bad. These are things that we don't want to happen in society, and there's a reason why some offences are dealt with summarily. Some offences are seen as less serious. For some offences in Canada you receive a monetary penalty, a fine. If you're speeding in New Brunswick, the fine might be $168.
But if you have possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking, if you have importing and exporting, knowing it's unauthorized, if you're involved in weapons trafficking or using a firearm in the commission of an offence, these are the offences Canadians want us to deal with.
I'll leave it at that, Mr. Chair. I just want us to really take a sober look at these offences before we vote on them.
I do thank you again, Mr. Taylor, for very thorough responses to all those questions.
View Rob Moore Profile
View Rob Moore Profile
Recognizing that it seems to be the will of this committee, I don't want to be presumptuous, but based on the last vote it would appear that the mandatory minimums that are in place are at risk of being struck down, which, in my view, puts our communities at risk, particularly when there is a recidivist element and repeat offenders who are committing the same crimes and the same types of crimes over and over.
What our CPC-1 would do, in an effort to compromise, is reduce the mandatory minimum penalty from one year to six months. For virtually all of the minimums we deal with in Bill C-5 and Bill C-22, which came before it, I think the lowest minimum is one year. I don't think there were any that were below one year. Some of them were more than a year, but the majority of them were a year.
What this would do is acknowledge what appears to certainly be the will of this committee to deal with mandatory minimums but also acknowledge the cry from the public right now that there be real consequences for serious crime. This amendment would be an effort to extend the olive branch and say, if one year is too much, then six months would take someone off the streets, hopefully get them some of the help they need and also show that there is a level of confidence in our justice system that if you commit some of the serious firearms offences and other offences contained in Bill C-5, we as a Parliament say that if you commit an offence like that, there needs to be some period of incarceration.
This amendment would lower the mandatory minimum penalty from one year to six months for using a firearm in the commission of an offence.
View Rob Moore Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Just quickly on this, in the context of the debate on Bill C-5 and Bill C-22 before it, this is not to be partisan in any way, but to illustrate that the idea of the concept of Parliament sending a clear message to Canadians, to victims, to criminals and, yes, to the judges presiding over sentencing, is not a Conservative notion in some way exclusively.
Before we take what I think is a drastic step and possibly eliminate a mandatory prison sentence for some of these section 85 offences on using a firearm in the commission of an offence, I want to quickly note that the minimum was first introduced as far back as 1976. In 1976 and forward since then, some of these have been on the books. That doesn't mean we can never make changes—I get that—but some of these sections have lived on through Liberal governments, Conservative governments and so on, all of them agreeing to keep these provisions in place, and all the while, these provisions, although challenged, many of them were upheld.
I think it's important to contextualize that, because if you listen to the debate, you would think that all of these mandatory minimums—I'm kind of lumping a bunch of them together here—somehow came from the previous Conservative government when, in fact, I've taken the time to look at all of the mandatory minimums being eliminated, and virtually all of them pre-existed the previous Conservative government.
In fact, on the mandatory minimums that we brought in under the Safe Streets and Communities Act or previous legislation, the current government has chosen to keep those on the books, to not eliminate them.
It's important, before we make a change like this, to recognize that some of these have been on the books for the better part of 50 years. It's not something that just is a recent invention but something that we should really consider really very weightily as we deliberate on each of these clauses and on removing what could amount to the only barrier between someone who has committed a serious offence and their being right back out on the street.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Rob Moore Profile
I will speak to that really quickly.
For this section of the code, what our amendment would do, again, is replace the one-year mandatory minimum with a six-month mandatory minimum.
Mr. Cooper reminded me of something that I think is important that I put on the record. In no way, shape or form would I want anyone to think that I think the mandatory minimum should be reduced in these serious firearms cases. What we're attempting to do is to salvage some form of statement from Parliament denouncing the very serious firearms offences we're talking about here.
These are current in the case of a first offence under Section 92(3):
Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (2) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(a) in the case of a first offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years;
(b) in the case of a second offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; and
(c) in the case of a third or subsequent offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years less a day.
I think we are talking here about some of the serious firearms offences that we're seeing in the headlines today. Just to be clear, we're talking about the commission of an offence with a firearm and these are some of the more serious offences. Not all of these are exactly the same. There's not just a series of mandatory minimums that this Bill C-5 eliminates. We have to put each and every one of them into context.
We have seen two clauses carry. I'm hopeful that on some of these clauses we might take a look at what the impact is, and we might give that some thought and say, “Do you know what? In this case, we should maintain a clause that perhaps has been in the Criminal Code for half a century.”
I'm going to ask a question of our witnesses to walk us through the process under this particular section, because I want to draw to the attention of the committee the fact that the minimum punishment in the present section is only triggered on a subsequent offence. The escalated minimum punishment, a term of imprisonment for two years less a day, is only triggered by a third offence.
We heard testimony from police, from community members and from victims' groups that their concern is not with the one-time offender, the person who innocently got caught up with a bad crowd and committed an offence. What we're talking about here is an individual who is deeply involved in serious crimes that, by definition, cause harm to their fellow Canadians.
It's bad enough to be charged and found guilty of one offence, but even at that threshold, it's not until you get to a second offence.... You have committed a crime under this section. Now you have gotten out. You have committed the same crime. You victimized another Canadian, and only now are we saying, “Okay, now you need to serve one year in prison.” It's one year in prison, and that's not after the first offence. That's after the second offence.
Now, picture that same individual. They have been found guilty twice of a serious firearms offence that involves the victimization of fellow Canadians in our communities, whether rural or urban. They were out again on the street, having been afforded the opportunity for rehabilitation and course correction. Now there's a subsequent third offence, for which they have been found guilty under our Criminal Code with the full benefit of our Charter of Rights and the full benefit of a fulsome defence under our charter. They've been found guilty a third time, and all we are saying as a Parliament is that for a serious firearms offence involving victimizing other Canadians, there should be a minimum of two years. Even that is being stripped from our Criminal Code by Bill C-5.
The reason I'm speaking about this, Mr. Chair, is that I think it's really important for committee members to think about it, because I know not all of us dwell on each of these clauses every day. We're all busy. We all have constituents. We have people who are calling in because the passport they went to get back in February still hasn't arrived. The point is that we're all busy people and we all have diverse challenges, and I think this is that moment—when we're at this table—when we draw our attention to the really profound impact that we have on Canadians' lives through the Criminal Code.
We heard witness testimony from victims. It was bothersome sometimes when some witnesses came and spoke for their introduction but they never mentioned victims. In virtually all of these cases, there's a victim involved. When we listen to the victims, of course.... I will not deny that when we listen to the criminal defence bar, they say, “Get rid of these mandatory minimums that are so troubling to my client. We don't want them.” However, when we listened to victims, they said it's an absolute affront to them that we would reduce the mandatory sentence that the person who victimized them would receive.
The question I have, through you, Chair, to our witnesses, is to distinguish subsection 92(3) from some of the others, so that the minimums we're dealing with here are not for first-time offenders, but for repeat offenders who, in some cases, are on their third offence.
The other thing I'll say.... I throw this out to committee members. I mentioned the case that we just heard about with NHL star Mitch Marner and the carjacking that happened. Do you know what? He's no more important than every other Canadian. The only reason we're talking about that is because we all know who he is. He's famous. What about the people who aren't Mitch Marner who had their car jacked from the same parking lot the week before? They're important too. They're Canadians too.
The point I'm going to make, and I'm guessing it's 100% true, is that if someone was convicted a first time, they committed an offence. They were caught by the police, had a trial, were found guilty and sentenced, and then there was a second time and a third time. If I asked every one of these committee members if they truly believe that those are the only three significant Criminal Code offences that this individual had committed, I don't think anyone would say they believe that.
These are the ones people are caught doing. It's one thing to get caught. It's another thing to get convicted under our system. They've been caught and convicted not once, not twice, but three times. Those are the minimums we're talking about.
Through you, Chair, to our witness, could you walk us through this clause and its application a bit? What are the triggers at each stage and the consequence of those triggers?
View Rob Moore Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question part is over. You've answered it thoroughly and I appreciate the answer. Now, I'll go back to my point.
Every day in the House of Commons for the last number of weeks, the subject of gun crime has been coming up. No matter what newspaper you read, radio station you listen to or social media you engage with, you're hearing about firearms crime in Canada. We're dealing here with individuals who are in illegal possession of firearms, not by mistake but because they're engaged in criminal activity.
I should remind the committee that this deals with the very issue that Canadians are asking us to grapple with, which is illegal firearms in Canada and the possession of those illegal firearms by criminal elements. It's not duck hunters, sport shooters nor the poor guy who maybe inherited a firearm from his grandfather. They've jumped through hoops to get licensed, do safe storage, have a licence if they have to buy ammunition and are subject to the full weight of the law. We're talking about people who are flooding our streets with illegal firearms.
We know they come in vehicles across the border. We know they get smuggled across the border otherwise. I hadn't thought of this, but the law's always playing catch-up with criminals: We know, in fact, that they've used a drone to drop a bag of handguns from the U.S. into Canada.
That's how some of the people who are going to be convicted under this section will have come into possession of these illegal firearms. By definition, these people are in illegal possession of the firearm, meaning they're not licensed and they're restricted in Canada.
Gary, I guess there's a bit of argument, but you used to have to have a registration on a non-restricted firearm. That was called the long-gun registry. It was supposed to cost $2 million. I think it ended up costing $2 billion. This is important because a previous Conservative government ended the long-gun registry because it was targeting the exact wrong people.
It is my philosophy—and I think it's the philosophy of those on this side— that if you have a crime problem, you go after criminals. When I saw in my own riding senior citizens lining up to get their firearms licence, I thought to myself, “How is this making Canada a safer place?” If someone's going to line up for an hour to get a firearms licence so they can possess a firearm—a shotgun or a rifle that they inherited—how on earth is that making Canada safer?
That was the gun registry legislation. We committed to ending the long-gun registry. We did that and Canadians are better off for it. We're all better off for it because in spite of all the money that's spent globally right now with the pandemic and everything, there are finite resources. Dollars that we spend at the federal level chasing good guys are dollars that can't be spent chasing bad guys. We heard all kinds of witness testimony on this from police that said they're under-resourced. They don't have the resources sometimes to go after the bad guys.
I want to juxtapose what I just said about legislation that goes after the good guys. This legislation that we have before us, subsection 92(3) of the Criminal Code, is all about the bad guys. These are people who haven't got it right the first, second and now third time.
In light of everything, I would urge real caution. Think about what we're saying. We're saying that we, as parliamentarians, think that you can be in illegal possession of a handgun in Canada—a restricted, not licensed weapon—you can be found guilty of that, and you could possibly not go to jail. A month later, you could do the same thing and go before the courts, be found guilty and not go to jail. Then, a month after that, theoretically, you could do the exact same thing.
What I'm starting to hear is a message—and it's the message we heard from witnesses, which they didn't want us to send—that you can get away with crime in Canada. You can get away with gun crime. Illegal guns are part of gun crime, and this section is all about illegal guns.
I'm urging extreme caution before we vote on clause 3. Think about the message we're sending not only to the criminal element—they're getting the message loud and clear that you can do whatever the heck you want and not face a consequence under this bill—but also to the people who have been victims of gun crime. I don't need to explain this to you. It's in every one of our newspapers. There are victims of gun crime every day now in Canada.
I would strongly urge members to vote against clause 3.
View Rob Moore Profile
Clause 5 deals with prohibiting the possession of a firearm, a prohibited or restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any prohibited ammunition “that the person knows was obtained by the commission” of an offence. This makes it very different from some other clauses that we have dealt with and that we will deal with in Bill C-5. This is not just the possession of a prohibited weapon. It's possession of a prohibited weapon that the person knows was obtained in the commission of an offence.
I think that is an important distinction to make. There is a mandatory minimum penalty currently of one year for offenders convicted on this offence when prosecuted by indictment. The same mandatory minimum does not apply if someone is not prosecuted by indictment but is prosecuted by a summary conviction.
I think a distinction has to be made here between this and other clauses, in that “the person knows was obtained by the commission” of an offence is a higher threshold to meet than just being in simple possession—we'll call it that, because that term gets tossed around a lot—of a prohibited or restricted weapon. In this case, the person knows that it was obtained by the commission of an offence.
Now, you may wonder, since I support our having a mandatory minimum penalty in this case.... It seems abundantly clear that there should be one. Our amendment would reduce the mandatory minimum from “one year” to “six months”. The reason I am proposing this is that, as we've seen as we've gone through this clause-by-clause, all the mandatory minimums that have been in the Criminal Code dealing with firearms offences that Bill C-5 has thus far dealt with have been eliminated. The Conservative amendment would maintain a six-month minimum for possession of a firearm while knowing its possession is unauthorized. I think that is a really important distinction to make.
That is my commentary, through you, Chair, to Gary. That's the commentary part. I do have a question, though. I'm going to make that distinction.
Through you, Chair, I'm wondering if our witnesses could comment on whether there is an awareness on that additional threshold, and on how prosecution and police go about meeting that threshold, when this goes beyond other sections in that, first, you have to prove the person was in possession, under the law, of the prohibited weapon, but, second, for a conviction under this section, you have to go further and prove that the person knows it was obtained in the commission of an offence.
Could either of our witnesses walk us through that process? Again, I'm trying to draw the distinction between this and the other section, where a person may have no idea that the weapon was in their possession as the result of an offence. This has another threshold to meet.
I'm just asking if they could speak to that.
View Rob Moore Profile
Through you, Chair, I have just one last question.
You mentioned the legal element of “wilful blindness”. I think people understand that, okay, you absolutely know that this was possession of a weapon “obtained by the commission” of an offence. You could establish that someone knew, or ought to know, that.
Could you speak to the element of wilful blindness or, if possible, even use a scenario whereby someone would be wilfully blind? I'm thinking of scenarios, but could you speak to the scenario where someone is wilfully blind to the fact that what they are in possession of came about through the commission of an offence?
Results: 1 - 15 of 23 | Page: 1 of 2

Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data