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View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, recent rumblings over the Constitution are not without significance, causing some to ask if we are necessarily heading towards renewed constitutional talks.
If so, the environment must be top of mind. In 2008, Ecuador's Constitution gave nature legally enforceable rights to exist, flourish and evolve, the first country to do so. In 2014, Te Urewera, the home of the Tūhoe people, became the first natural feature in New Zealand to be recognized as a legal person with rights.
Like New Zealand, and prior to any possible constitutional change, will the government consider granting legal personhood to significant natural features in Canada?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, in 2020, the UN Secretary-General noted that the “approach to and handling of mass graves has too rarely been respectful or lawful”. Canada has no legal framework to address the Tk'emlúps site or any other sites that will come to light. The legal framework led to the deaths of these children. That legal framework, the Indian Act, remains in place.
Will the Prime Minister do what is needed and establish a legal framework for mass and unmarked graves that meets human rights norms, including ensuring all records are kept and released, sites protected and criminal investigations conducted so that families can heal and are appropriately compensated?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, it is dangerously misleading for the government to suggest significant progress is being made on 80% of the TRC calls to action. Endless meetings and process is no substitute for substance. Leadership is required to change colonial laws, policies and practices that perpetuate systemic racism and injustice. The Prime Minister knows that adjusting the ongoing colonial legacy requires a comprehensive indigenous rights recognition framework. How do I know this? The Prime Minister said it in this House on February 14, 2018—
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, it is dangerously misleading for the government to suggest significant progress is being made on 80% of the TRC calls to—
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, speaking to the UNDRIP legislation today, the justice minister said that if Bill C-262 had not been delayed in the last Parliament, the government would be working on an action plan for its implementation.
Let us not kid ourselves. The fact is the government delayed the important work of true reconciliation due to political expediency. There have been over five years of promises, and very little action on rights recognition.
Bill C-15 is a small first step. Will the government stop making excuses, do its work, get its own house in order and change its laws, policies and operational practices to ensure indigenous peoples can be self-determining?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, in 2015, the debt-to-GDP ratio was 30% and the Liberals campaigned on dropping it to 27% by 2019-20. This year, it will be about 50%.
Debt to GDP appears to remain our fiscal anchor in budget 2021. The government is still saying that it will moderately decrease, but this time starting from a number almost twice as big as predicted. Do we really have a credible fiscal anchor? Perhaps we should consider using a new one, maybe a debt-to-service ratio. This is easy to understand.
Could the minister please tell us what other fiscal anchors the government has considered?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I think I speak for the vast majority of Canadians when I say that we do not want an election during the third wave of this pandemic, particularly one clearly motivated by partisan opportunism. That said, an election unfortunately still remains a possibility, so I will ask a very specific question.
Can the minister please advise whether the government has any intention of seeing Bill C-19 become law, whether the Chief Electoral Officer has indicated he is COVID prepared and how quickly after royal assent he would be able to give notice that the temporary changes are in force?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, Mi’kmaq chiefs, the national chief and senators, among others, have strongly condemned the fishery minister's so-called “new path” that unilaterally sets out conditions for a moderate livelihood commercial lobster fishery.
Why has the minister chosen to diverge from the true path of reconciliation based on rights recognition and co-operation that this government promised and as set out in the 10 principles and UNDRIP?
Will the minister please respect the preferred means of the Mi’kmaq to exercise their treaty rights, uphold the honour of the Crown and get off this paternalistic path that risks a return to unrest?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, disturbingly, Vancouver stats show that anti-Asian hate crimes are up 717%. At the same time, China's national security law is of grave concern to Canadians who have ties to Hong Kong. The two Michaels continue to be arbitrarily detained. As for the Uighurs, why is it genocide for my people, but not for the Uighurs? Move or boycott the Beijing Olympics? Well, the government has abdicated that decision in favour of an Olympic committee.
Will the government please stand up for justice and human rights and demonstrate it has the backs of Chinese Canadians, indeed of all Canadians?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, we all want to know when we will be vaccinated. However, vaccine nationalism has become a real concern as nation states compete to procure vaccines for their citizens. We are part of this competition. While politically challenging, the hard truth is that until such time as all of the planet is vaccinated, none of us is safe. We are all interconnected. The virus will continue to mutate, and unvaccinated populations will become more virulent and will inevitably come here.
I know we are understandably focused on vaccinating Canadians, but what specifically are we doing to ensure successful global vaccination?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, three months ago, I asked a question about the use of the Emergencies Act. Today, COVID cases continue to rise, with new strains emerging. Provincial responses are inconsistent, the rules are confusing and not all federal funds available are being used. Border control and travel restrictions are an issue.
Vaccine deployment must be coordinated and swift. The next six months are critical. I understand that the Minister of Foreign Affairs says that he has not ruled out the use of the Emergencies Act to limit travel. We need leadership. Will the Prime Minister now consider invoking the Emergencies Act to do whatever it takes to help protect the health and safety of Canadians?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I agree to apply and will be voting in favour.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I agree to apply and will be voting in favour.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, why is Bill C-7, medical assistance in dying, abolishing the safeguard of a 10-day reflection period and reconfirmation of consent, thereby introducing advance requests for MAID?
Nothing in the Truchon decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal, which the government chose not to appeal, requires this, and the Supreme Court of Canada, in Carter, insisted on the requirement of clear consent. Palliative care physicians, disability advocates and other experts insist that this is an important safeguard, and, like other legislated MAID reports on mature minors and mental disorder, advance requests also raise significant challenges.
There is no clear—
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, I appreciate being able to participate in the debate on Bill C-9. All the questions specifically on Bill C-9 that I was going to ask have already been asked. Therefore, I will address a number of issues that I raised in the House before and ask questions of the Minister of Finance. The first is on GDP. The other is on first nations finance.
GDP per capita has historically been used to make assumptions about the standard of living within a nation, the assumption being that the higher the per capita amount, the better the standards are. However, GDP has mixed results when trying to measure the social well-being of a population. As an economic tool, it only makes assumptions about the basic standards of living, which can be different across the socio-economic spectre of the nation. Moreover, better standards of living do not necessarily equate to increased social well-being, with the latter affected by a range of factors: mental well-being, cultural resilience, environmental health.
Does the Minister of Finance agree that using a different planning tool than GDP could help us develop budgets and policy that aim to increase the social well-being of all Canadians and not just the economic bottom line? I would be very interested in the minister's thoughts in this regard.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, as part of building back better, I am sure the minister will agree that recognition of indigenous self-governments and their empowerment to take back control of their own affairs is important, not only to reconciliation but central to our economic strength.
What the minister might not be aware of is that Finance Canada plays a gatekeeper role in fiscal policy that is in fact impeding the pace of indigenous groups moving out from under the Indian Act. There are more than 100 negotiating tables in Canada where tax policy is one of the biggest issues impacting negotiations.
For one specific example, and there are many, why is it Finance Canada's position that self-governing first nations should not collect property tax under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, could the minister tell us why it is Finance Canada's position that self-governing first nations are not able to collect property tax under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, as we hear demands for an apology from the Prime Minister for his father's invocation of the War Measures Act of 1970, as we hear the current COVID October crisis spike in terms of cases, I remind the House that the Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act in 1988.
In light of what is happening in Canada, in the U.S. and around the world, could the Prime Minister please tell us if he intends to invoke the Emergencies Act, as our COVID crisis continues to seriously endanger the lives and health and safety of Canadians? Further, is he confident his actions and his leadership today will not see demands for an apology for not invoking the Emergencies Act 50 years hence?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the consequences of not recognizing Mi'kmaq jurisdiction and implementing their treaty rights is another high-profile example of why we need an indigenous rights recognition framework.
Across Canada, there are literally hundreds of issues, most with limited or no profile, that require a coordinated and comprehensive federal approach. Like the DFO, in relation to fish, the Department of Finance continues to set policy that impedes rights implementation.
As a specific example and question, why does the government not support self-governing first nations raising property taxes under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to reply to the Speech from the Throne. I will be sharing my time with the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
Today I speak in support of the throne speech, but not without reservations. Speaking frankly, my initial instinct and intention was to vote against the throne speech, given the ethical challenges of the government.
However, I cannot vote against it. This is because I have not heard from one constituent in my riding who says they want an election during a pandemic. I have heard this from not one constituent, regardless of political affiliation.
Despite a growing dissatisfaction with the government's approach to governance and its respect for our institutions, there is a level of support at this time for continuity and non-partisanship in governments as we work together to take all necessary steps to confront the pandemic and its impact on our way of life. Fighting COVID-19 must be non-partisan.
There has been some higher degrees of co-operation and general agreement on programs that have been created to support the fight, and importantly, to support Canadians. We all know that at the appropriate and responsible time there will be an election. For now, let us lead as an effective and impactful minority Parliament.
An election will happen, I presume, sometime after the second wave of COVID, and hopefully only after a vaccine has been widely administered. For now, Canadians want us all, and I mean us all, to remain focused on the job at hand, on public health and immediate economic needs, and to do so without mindless partisanship and unnecessary conflict.
We all need to remain vigilant. Governments can only do so much. Individually, we need to be responsible and we must continue to follow all public health advice. There is little room for error. As are all members, I am guided by the people in my riding. Our constituency office has sought and received feedback on the issues that are most important to people during the pandemic.
The top issue people shared is, not surprisingly, dealing with the immediate impact of COVID. Second are issues around finance and the economy, followed by the environment and housing. One message from my constituents, and in reply to the first part of the Speech from the Throne, is about addressing the immediate needs ahead of us. We must all ensure the programs we have put in place with such haste are in fact working, that the law and policy were right and, where these programs continue, they are sustainable.
This is not a question about austerity. It is a matter of good governance. As well, we need new metrics. If we are not just using debt-to-GDP, we need other fiscal anchors. Some specific issues raised by my constituents include a meaningful discussion and move toward a universal basic income, as well as investing in seniors, child care and pharmacare.
As to the balance of the Speech from the Throne, it was a shopping list of progressive policies and many long repeated and long outstanding promises. In the past, I was part of a government that had many of these same items on its shopping list. Often, as Canadians unfortunately have become used to, actions did not match the words when, ultimately, political expediency got in the way of progress.
Importantly, there are many people in groups talking about what our post-pandemic recovery should or should not look like. There is talk of a green recovery and a just recovery. These are important conversations we all must listen to. For any meaningful recovery to work, especially if it is to be transformative in addressing the broader challenges of our time, we need Parliament and all our institutions of government to be more effective and to work better. This is something the Speech from the Throne does not address.
As we have worked together in the face of the common threat of COVID-19, we have adapted. Parliament has adapted. As we move forward, and if we truly want to build back better, as the throne speech opines, then we need to think about the tools we have to build the nation we want and how our government works. If we can work together and change the way this place operates on the fly because of COVID-19, then surely we can make the deeper changes needed to make this place more effective, more accountable and a place where the voices of members of Parliament matter.
We also know from dealing with the pandemic that there are still deep-seated issues with the provinces concerning division of power, including, as has long been the case, health supports.
In our young country, we have an evolving system of co-operative federalism. There is a role for the government and a role for the provinces and territories. If we truly want to build back better when the immediate threat is over, we must ensure that we have the right foundation to build on, one that includes indigenous nations and governments that are recognized and constituted as indigenous peoples determine. We should, at the very least, be open to a conversation about governance reform, including constitutional reform, the Senate, Quebec, indigenous peoples, the environment and making the federation better.
In addition to parliamentary reform, there is a need for electoral reform. There is also much work to do to address true reconciliation with indigenous peoples. Simply adopting UNDRIP and making some program enhancements, although they are important steps, are not enough. With strong governance, we will be better equipped to tackle the big issues of our day, the issues that will still be with us after COVID-19, such as climate change, the breakdown of the international rules-based order, or wealth and equality.
As we come out of this pandemic, we should start with our institutions and make building them better a priority. This will be tough, but Canadians have always been strong and resilient, and able to show governments the way forward. Collectively, we are only as strong and resilient as the institutions that support us, beyond party and politics. I was raised to always seek balance and where everyone in the community had a role to play. Rooted in these teachings is the importance of our interconnectedness, our responsibility to one another and to our environment.
Our collective way of being, indeed, our humanity, is being tested as we respond to COVID-19. We are in a learning moment. There is a reason some groups are being hit harder than others during the pandemic. It is because they are the vulnerable and the marginalized. The disproportionate impacts upon them are, in part, a reflection of endured injustices, and of a legacy of colonialism and systemic racism, which manifest themselves throughout society and our institutions.
More and more, I have been thinking about what it would be like if we had a society in which we truly recognized and supported one another, our fundamental unity and our diversity. This is not a new idea. If we are able to recognize it and do something about it during a pandemic, then why not permanently? If we can see it, but do not act on it now, then when will we?
Moving forward, we need more than a shopping list of policy ideas. We need a vision and we need to establish clear priorities. We need political will and we need resolute action.
We also need a better way to measure our social well-being and our collective health. Today, we typically use GDP to make assumptions about social well-being and our standards of living. The assumption is that the higher per capita amount, the better the standards are. However, as an economic tool, GDP can only make assumptions about the basic standards of living, which can be different across the socio-economic spectrum of a nation.
COVID has highlighted how standards of living are different across communities. Moreover, our welfare is affected by other factors, such as mental well-being, cultural resilience and very importantly, environmental health, which are all things GDP does not consider.
What we need are better and more inclusive socio-economic factors. We need indicators that would help us to develop budgets that aim to increase the social well-being of Canadians, not just the economic bottom line. We need to plan based on what we truly value. When all human potential is maximized, our society will be truly transformed.
This is the core of my teachings, the teachings of my people, the Kwakwala, who have survived for millennia. This is the road to recovery. This is building back better. Gilakas'la.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, implicit in my reply was the importance and the necessity of recognizing the interconnectedness between and among all of us. Of course, this includes all members of Parliament, and in that regard I believe it is fundamental for members of Parliament to be able to effectively represent their constituents, which includes not-for-profit organizations and faith-based organizations, and to be able to ensure that they develop relationships with municipalities and with provincial representatives in order to provide those comments back to Parliament to make decisions more well-rounded, more effective and more representative of the incredible diversity in this country. I hope that we continue in this minority Parliament to work collaboratively—
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I 100% agree that indigenous peoples, families of the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls, and residential school survivors have waited too long for concrete action from the government. The member opened her question with having a level of trust. Trust is incredibly important and it is incredibly hard to rebuild. Probably more than anyone in this place, I can say that the level of trust I have for actually fulfilling promises has significantly wavered. This is an important issue. It is one that cannot be addressed simply by pretty words or tears. We have to take concrete action. We cannot delay action plans. We know what needs to be done when it comes to indigenous peoples, and we have to act now. I look forward to working with all members in this place and would be happy to have further conversations with the member opposite.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I thank the member from our home province of British Columbia. We need to continue to be very open and very transparent. I look forward to seeing the budget when it comes. Hopefully it speaks to the necessary need for fiscal anchors. We certainly do not have the debt-to-GDP declining fiscal anchor, so we need to be open and transparent and have conversations about it. I believe fundamentally in fiscal responsibility. I also believe in sustainability and support for Canadians, and in having conversations across the House on fiscal accountability.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are horrified by the racism witnessed during the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan. Of course, racism is not new. Indigenous peoples, even those in this chamber, including myself, have experienced racism throughout the history of Canada. Racism occurs in all sectors of society, including governments and political parties. This must change.
Does the minister agree that not nearly enough has been done by his government to combat indigenous-specific racism? Assuming he does, what new concrete and specific actions will he take to combat it? Will he call it out always and not only when it reaches the front pages?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, we have heard the Speech from the Throne. There was a lot contained therein of repeated promises, but short on details.
With respect to the justice system, we all know that Black Canadians and indigenous peoples are overrepresented. Evidence shows, including through the government's own reports, surveys and extensive consultation, that reform to mandatory minimum penalties will have a significant impact on these numbers.
Specifically, what measures are being referred to in the speech when it says that the government will introduce legislation and make investments that take action to address “diversion and sentencing”, and what is the timeline?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, as has been mentioned today, B.C. tragically recorded 175 deaths related to drug overdose in the month of June. The opioid crisis is not new. This question is not new.
Recently, many voices, including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Premier Horgan and Dr. Bonnie Henry have been calling on the government to decriminalize simple possession of illicit drugs and to introduce a health care approach that diverts people from the criminal justice system.
When will the government act?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, while I can appreciate the efforts made by the government in terms of family reunification, not enough progress has been made on the exemptions to travel restrictions for family members.
Can the government please present a clear timetable for when foreign-national committed partners and adult children of Canadians will be allowed to reunite with their families in Canada? All of them would be willing to sign affidavits and quarantine for the necessary time.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, I understand the government will be releasing a discussion paper and possible draft UNDRIP legislation mirroring Bill C-262. I trust the government is aware that fundamental to the declaration's articles are the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples.
Accordingly, to demonstrate the government's intent in legislating UNDRIP into Canadian law, and given the unfolding situation in Haida Gwaii and the refusal of the Queen Charlotte fishing lodge to respect the council of the Haida Nation's COVID-19 restrictions, I ask: Does the government recognize and support the right of the nation, i.e. its jurisdiction, to protect its homeland and the safety of its people, and in particular, its elders?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, there is nothing more essential than good governance, especially in a crisis. Canadians want parliamentarians to work together in the spirit of non-partisanship in order to support the government, and the House to do what is needed to address the social and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Yesterday, Bill C-20 was an example of that.
That said, given recent controversies, and in light of the PROC committee report released yesterday and all of the other issues facing Canadians, will the government commit to reassess, in terms of transparency, accountability and good governance, and commit to bring full Parliament back in the fall?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, reconciliation requires long overdue and urgent work: fundamental legislative and policy changes, new ways of making decisions, meeting the standards of UNDRIP and supporting indigenous nations as they rebuild.
After the immediate crisis is addressed, the need for transformative change will still remain. How will the Prime Minister regain the trust, respect and moral authority to do the true reconciliation work that is so desperately required? Does the Prime Minister have the resolve to do what is right and not what partisan advisers tell him is politically expedient?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, some two years ago the Prime Minister stood in the House and committed to the recognition and implementation of indigenous title and rights in legislation. That long-overdue work has not happened, and we continue to see the challenges across the country due to that inaction.
As was committed, and speaking of concrete action, will the government introduce legislation that upholds the minimum standards of UNDRIP?
Equally important, will it actually implement those standards domestically, so that indigenous peoples are supported in their self-determination, can rebuild and can exercise their authority in clear and predictable ways for their own people and for all Canadians?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to applaud the government for ensuring that there will be an introduction of UNDRIP legislation to bring the United Nations declaration into Canadian law.
Beyond that necessary first step, will the government commit to changing its laws, policies and operational practices to ensure that indigenous peoples in this country can be self-determining, including self-governing, at their own pace and based on their own priorities? Can the government ensure that it will go beyond the UNDRIP legislation, and actually change laws and policies?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to stand to speak in this emergency debate. I would like to thank the member for Foothills for sharing his time with me.
I want to acknowledge the comments of the Prime Minister earlier today, and certainly acknowledge comments or other remarks from individuals in this place, looking to try to find solutions to this important question and consideration. I agree that good faith, partnership and a non-partisan approach have to take place when it comes to indigenous issues and pursuing true reconciliation.
I think about two basic questions that need to be asked. First, why are we in this situation? Second, what should be done?
Why are we in this situation? Why are we seeing blockades and protests and economic disruption?
The answer is pretty straightforward. It is because Canada, through successive governments, including the current government, has not done the basic work of resetting the foundations for relations with indigenous peoples, despite the rhetoric. We all know what needs to be done. We have known for decades, but we are here, yet again, in a moment of crisis, because this hard work has been punted.
The history of Canada saw indigenous peoples divided into smaller administrative groupings, with systems of government imposed upon them. For Indians, this was through the Indian Act and the creation of the band councils system.
The work of decolonization, of reconciliation, requires supporting nations to rebuild, to come back together and revitalize their own systems of government, to self-determine. Until they do, we will never know who truly speaks for the nations, irrespective of the good work and good intentions of the hundreds of Indian Act chiefs and councils and traditional leaders, who, in many cases, are one and the same.
However, we have not done this work. We have maintained the same legislation and policies for decades that keeps first nations under colonial statute, keeps nations divided, renders negotiations long and nearly impossible and does not support first nations nearly enough in doing the rebuilding work they must inevitably do. There are lots of reasons for this: the historical denial of rights to self-government and the denial to one's land and, so too, paternalism. The result of the perpetual inaction are situations like we see in Wet'suwet'en territory.
The Prime Minister did say today that these problems had roots in a long history. That is true. However, let us be honest, and with respect, the Prime Minister has to learn to take responsibility. Canadians over many years have come to learn our true history and the need for fundamental change. He has been speaking for five years about this most important relationship. He stood in the House of Commons over two years ago and pledged to make transformative, legislative and policy reforms, reforms that would be directly relevant to the situation in Wet'suwet'en territory today, that would have supported the internal governance work of the nation, shifted the consultation processes that took place and provided a framework for better relations.
What have we have seen as a result of this speech, and its transformative words? Honestly, almost nothing. The promise of legislation has not come. I know it is hard, but we cannot keep punting the hard work because of political expediency. If we do, we will have another situation like we have today in five years from now or quite likely sooner.
Therefore, here we are. What should be done? In the spirit of good faith and in the spirit of working together, may I be so bold as to offer four suggestions?
One, governments have to lead. They need to lead. Weeks have passed. If the Prime Minister wants to have dialogue to resolve matters peacefully, de-escalate the situation and show real leadership, in my view he should have gotten on a plane, flown to British Columbia, picked the premier up on his way up to Wet'suwet'en territory and met with the leadership of the Wet'suwet'en and some of the broader indigenous leaders in British Columbia.
The Prime Minister could still do this, having regard for and respect for the wishes and preconditions perhaps of the Wet'suwet'en leaders and recognizing some of the challenges that exist in their community. Honestly, there is a practice of leaders not wanting, in my opinion, to be in meetings where the outcomes and structures are not basically predetermined. We have had enough of that. One cannot script dealing with real issues and challenges. Let us just deal with them.
Two, the government should act now on making the fundamental changes that are long overdue. Long ago the government should have tabled comprehensive legislation that implements the minimum standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and upholds the recognition and implementation of indigenous rights, a recognition and implementation of rights framework. Such legislation would include supports, without interfering, for indigenous nations to rebuild their governments. It also would include pathways for moving out beyond the Indian Act. Indian Act chiefs have an important role to play in this process. Once truly self-governing, we will know with certainty who speaks for the indigenous title and rights holders. This is important not only for indigenous peoples to have faith in the legitimacy of their own democratic institutions but ultimately the people will choose and vote on their system of good governance. It is now also important for all Canadians to know.
I will be frank. The government uses language like “co-development” and the need to do it “in partnership” with indigenous peoples a lot, but a lot of the time it uses that language simply as an excuse to delay or justify inaction. For decades, at least since the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 25 years ago, we have known the foundational legislative change that is needed. UNDRIP is a decade old. The government is five years old and it has been two years since the Prime Minister announced legislation would be tabled within 10 months. Enough is enough. The time for action is now. No more half measures, no more lofty rhetoric, no more setting up interminable negotiations that get nowhere very slowly over years and years.
Three, I believe the government should consider a cooling-off period when construction activity does not take place. That would allow everyone to step back and assess where things are, clear the space for dialogue and de-escalate current tensions. Whether this period is for one month or for a few months, it can be of benefit to all.
In this time, dialogue between the Wet'suwet'en and the government can take place. As well, the Wet'suwet'en, in my respectful view, need to take responsibility in such a period of time to have, in a very inclusive manner, the internal dialogue needed to bring clarity about how they will approach the future of this project collectively. Also, such a period of time may allow for explorations, as there have been in the past, of alternative routing for small portions of the line that can address some concerns, including, if necessary, government roles in accommodating the costs of such changes, should they be adopted with broad support.
Four, as a proud indigenous person in this country, I know that indigenous governments also need to lead. The main request I have heard, including meetings with the Prime Minister and premier, is that the RCMP leave the area where it conducted enforcement activity. My understanding as of today is that the company and the Wet'suwet'en are both in the area and things remain currently peaceful. If the RCMP decides it is appropriate to leave, perhaps as part of a cooling-off period, then I would expect indigenous governments, including the Wet'suwet'en leadership, to take action, to look at reconciliation and to look at how they can move forward collectively.
I want to make one last observation about reconciliation and the things that we have heard about reconciliation being dead.
Reconciliation in its true meaning always involves a reckoning. With our past, we are taking responsibility with changing course in real ways, with making the hard choices for our future. These are the choices that every parliamentarian in this place representing their constituents has to make for the benefit of all Canadians. This is our opportunity to finally finish the unfinished business of Confederation and enable indigenous peoples to be self-determining, embrace the minimum standards of the United Nations declaration and finally ensure that indigenous peoples have their rightful place in this amazing country.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, as part of a cooling-off period, I believe fundamentally that leaders, the Prime Minister, the Premier of the Province of British Columbia and Canadians need to have reflections around what happens and how we move forward. An agreement between the Prime Minister, the premier and certainly involving the leadership and citizens of the Wet'suwet'en nation is important to determine the best way forward. Cooler heads prevail when there has been an opportunity to reflect and plan a way forward. I certainly would support that happening.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I have heard the debate all night. Based on my former role, I generally understand the role of the RCMP and police forces and the reality of not having political interference happening. I know that very well.
I am familiar with the authorities in the RCMP Act. I am also familiar with the necessity to ensure the RCMP has the ability to exercise its discretion as appropriate. However, there has been a conversation in the country, and perhaps it might be a result of this debate for this conversation to continue, on the balance between the independence of police forces and the authorities of ministers. We have had inquiries about this, Ipperwash for one. This is a conversation that needs to continue, but appropriately with political action and agreement on all sides. Perhaps that would lead the way for decisions to be made by police and the RCMP.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, Canada's correctional investigator recently said, “The indigenization of Canada's prison population is nothing short of a national travesty.” I agree. The TRC and “Calls for Justice” also agree.
More action is required to address the over-incarceration of indigenous, black and other marginalized Canadians. Evidence clearly shows that mandatory minimum penalties are a big part of the problem and not smart justice policy. There has been enough study and too much delay due to political expediency. Can the government confirm that it will repeal mandatory minimum penalties for all but the most serious of crimes?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I did stand, and if it was not registered, I am registering yea.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, as a proud indigenous person from the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach people of northern Vancouver Island who has an understanding of her own language, Kwak'wala, I understand the importance of maintaining indigenous languages and ensuring that they last into the future.
I listened to the hon. member's comments, and I think about the lost opportunity that we have to create the space and create the foundation for transformative change in indigenous communities.
Many people and many members in the House have talked about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is in the preamble of the bill and which speaks to the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples, including languages, which, as an indigenous person, I know are central to our well-being.
Would the member agree that it would be more important to put the minimum standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into the body of the legislation, thereby creating the space for rights recognition and ensuring the longevity and sustainability of indigenous languages?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the record show that I abstained from voting on that matter. The reason for my abstention is that the matter, in part, has to do with me personally, and I do not think it is appropriate for me to vote on a matter that has to do with me personally.
I have said that I am seeking counsel on this matter of what I can and cannot say. I understand fully that Canadians want to know the truth and want transparency. Privilege and confidentiality are not mine to waive, and I hope that I have the opportunity to speak my truth.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member across the way for joining me in the chamber this morning as we conducted the closing ceremonies.
To the member's question, as the member knows, our benefits are demand driven, so no matter how many veterans come forward, when eligible they will receive their benefits. These are based on estimates, and this process guarantees that whether veterans come forward this year, next year or beyond, they will receive benefits.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I have received the correspondence from my hon. colleague across the way and I will take great care in reviewing that correspondence. The letter is speaking with respect to a bill that we introduced, Bill C-75, which seeks to reform the Criminal Code and improve efficiencies and effectiveness.
We are making changes to bail reform. We are looking at administration of justice offences to address delays, with the underlying emphasis on public safety, ensuring we respect victims and ensuring we have an efficient and effective criminal justice system. I look forward to having further conversations with the hon. member.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, three separate reports and a summary report on “State of Knowledge on Medical Assistance in Dying for Mature Minors, Advance Requests, and Where a Mental Disorder Is the Sole Underlying Medical Condition”.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the comments by my friend and colleague across the way. My favourite parliamentary procedure, one of the favourite duties I have in this place, is passing good laws that are informed by robust consultation.
I believe the member for Winnipeg North would agree with me that we have had substantial debate on Bill C-51. The bill benefited from the very direct engagement of the hon. members in the other place. We have taken serious account of their message back and have recognized that their proposed amendment is well intentioned. We are committed to continuing to work with the hon. senators and Canadians generally, as we seek to move forward and look at the law of consent and the incapacity to consent. This is something on which there will be ongoing discussion, dialogue and commitment by our government.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way sat on the justice and human rights committee, which has debated many justice bills.
As for the member's characterization of parliamentary tactics, the only parliamentary tactic I employ and that our government employs is to work as co-operatively as we can with all members in the House to have informed debate about particular bills the government puts forward, seeking feedback from hon. members in this place and the other place and valuing the work done at committee.
With respect to all the justice bills that have been advanced, we have been working expeditiously to move forward with Bill C-39, Bill C-51 and Bill C-75 so that we clean up the so-called zombie provisions and the unconstitutional provisions. I would look to all hon. colleagues in this place to work with us to make sure that these pieces of legislation move forward as expeditiously as possible.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to the comments and questions from my colleague across the way with respect to the then Bill C-39, which is now incorporated in the broad criminal justice reforms contained within Bill C-75.
I am very pleased that Bill C-75 has passed third reading in this place and is in the other place for debate and discussion. We look forward to its deliberations with respect to these very important and bold reforms presented in Bill C-75. I would look to all members in the House to assist in encouraging the members in the other place to proceed in an expeditious fashion so that the provisions the member opposite references will be passed as part of Bill C-75 and we can remove those provisions from the Criminal Code.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to unequivocally state that I do not agree with the member opposite's characterization of the work we are doing.
I will say, with respect to his comments about shutting down debate and discussion, that with respect to the issue at hand, Bill C-51, this House has debated Bill C-51 for a total of 10 and a half hours, including three hours of debate on the message from the other place. The Senate debated Bill C-51 for four hours. It benefited from a total of 19.5 hours of study at committee, between the House and the Senate, which heard from 63 witnesses.
We are talking about Bill C-51. I look forward to having this become law so we can ensure that we codify the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. J.A., that we further support sexual assault victims and that we ensure that we can move forward with charter statements that will be introduced with all government legislation once this bill becomes law.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, of course, I reject the characterization of the significant work our government is doing to move forward with many pieces of significant legislation and to look to this House and to Canadians for input, debate and discussion on how we can move forward with what our government has committed to in terms of law reform.
To characterize this as last-minute, reflects the lack of importance the member opposite places on engaging with Canadians, having robust discussion, and listening to committees and hearing their recommendations and incorporating them to improve government bills.
This is a commitment our government will continue to follow to ensure that our laws benefit from the vast experience, in this case, of criminal justice stakeholders and victims groups. We will not disregard that. We have been working in a consistent manner, from day one, to ensure that our legislation, the bills we introduce in this place, reflects the desires of Canadians. It is our responsibility to ensure that these bills move forward in the most expeditious manner possible.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, in terms of reintroducing the Criminal Code, I am incredibly proud to be part of a government that has taken action, which has not been taken for decades, as the member mentioned, to ensure that we have a modernized Criminal Code, that we remove the unconstitutional provisions, the zombie provisions, that we update the laws around sexual assault and intimate partner violence and that we look at the victim fine surcharge as well as section 159. All of these are issues raised in government bills the member opposite has spoken to.
We are moving forward with comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system, and that starts with looking, in a substantial manner, at the Criminal Code. This is what we have sought to do and what is contained in Bill C-51 and also in Bill C-75.
I look forward these two pieces of proposed legislation becoming law so that we can do what has not been done for far too long, which is modernize the Criminal Code.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, when we formed government, we could have, as has been suggested here by members opposite, introduced legislation to do what potentially we knew needed to be done. However, we sought to engage broadly to get feedback to ensure that the commitments the Prime Minister asked me to address in terms of a robust review of the criminal justice system, including sentencing reform, were done in a manner that was reflective of what Canadians were saying and what the actors in the criminal justice system were saying.
We engaged right across the country in a series of many round tables in each jurisdiction to get feedback from not only defence counsel, prosecutors and the judiciary but from victims groups. I also engaged in three separate federal, provincial and territorial meetings with my counterparts to come up with the bold and necessary reforms we make to address delays, efficiencies, and effectiveness in the criminal justice system.
As well, we had forums where we talked about sexual assault and what we could do in terms of improving the laws around sexual assault and making them compliant with the Supreme Court of Canada decisions. We did this in consultation with actors in the criminal justice system, victims and representative groups not only here in Ottawa but across the country. We provided a report on our consultations entitled “What we heard”.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I believe I understand the member's question. With respect to section 176, he characterized it as backing down, but what we did is we listened to what the committee members sought to say around religious officiants and we recognized the recommendation in terms of the amendments that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made and acknowledged that and accepted that. We did make some amendments to ensure that this reflected all religious officiants as opposed to the confined way it was drafted in terms of the amendments that were proposed at the House committee. Basically the answer is that we listened to what the House of Commons committee said. That is the importance of committees in this place that we take incredibly seriously.
In terms of hybridization of offences, we are proposing in Bill C-75, which is not the bill at issue here today, a number of offences to be hybridized, to contribute to the broad and bold criminal justice reforms that will address delays, efficiencies and effectiveness in the criminal justice system. By hybridizing certain offences, it gives prosecutors the ability to exercise their discretion and proceed in terms of criminal charges in the most expeditious manner as appropriate to the circumstances of a particular case.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member for Durham raising charter statements because one of the significant pieces of Bill C-51, when hopefully it becomes law, is it will be a direct responsibility of the government to introduce a charter statement with each piece of government legislation.
I would be happy to speak with the member for Durham at any time, not necessarily in the House, about the robust legislation and activities of the Department of Justice. I would extend that invitation to him.
In terms of charter statements, they are the responsibility of the Minister of Justice to look at government legislation. Charter statements are not legal opinions, but they detail where the charter is potentially engaged by a piece of legislation that the government is putting forward. It provides a window into how government decisions are made or the thought processes that government went through in terms of putting forward a piece of legislation. This is something that has not been done before. This is something that is contained within Bill C-51. With the coming into force of that bill, the charter statements will be applicable to all pieces of government legislation.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, again to the question and comments of my colleague across the way with respect to section 159 and the legislation that has now been put into Bill C-75, removing this provision in the Criminal Code is a priority of our government, as are all of the provisions contained within Bill C-75. I am very pleased that Bill C-75 has passed third reading in this House and will be debated and discussed in the other place. I look forward to the results of the deliberations from the other place.
I would say that we are committed to ensuring that Bill C-75 moves through the parliamentary process, benefits from the parliamentary process and becomes law as soon as possible. From what I can account for from the member's comments is that there are major pieces within Bill C-75, if not the entirety of Bill C-75, that are in the interest of moving forward and amending the Criminal Code and addressing the issues that have been raised by members in this place.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, again I am pleased to stand up and speak to the charter statement, which is a very substantial part of Bill C-51. I have, as the Minister of Justice, introduced charter statements with each piece of government legislation that I have introduced in this place. I will say that charter statements are meant to be informative. Charter statements are meant to make the thoughts and the thinking behind government legislation accessible to Canadians, not to provide legal advice to Canadians or legal advice to this place. As the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General and the chief law officer of the government, I provide legal advice to the government.
What I believe is incredibly useful, and I have had feedback in this regard, is to have a discussion about where the charter is engaged with respect to specific pieces of legislation and to reference case law that has considered the issues in terms of specific charter sections to give an idea or window into government legislation and where the charter may or may not be implicated. This is the idea behind this. Again, it is not legal advice.
I will not comment on comments that were made by the hon. members of the other place, but I take great pride in ensuring that our charter statements provide the information and the accessibility not only to members in Parliament but to Canadians generally. This is a practice that will continue. This is a practice that has assisted in terms of getting a window into the eyes of where the charter is implicated in terms of government legislation.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a charter statement for Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting).
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
moved:
That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that the House respectfully disagrees with amendments 1 and 2 made by the Senate to Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, as they are inconsistent with the Bill’s objective of codifying Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence on a narrow aspect of the law on sexual assault and instead seek to legislate a different, much more complex legal issue, without the benefit of consistent guidance from appellate courts or a broad range of stakeholder perspectives.
She said: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand to speak to Bill C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another act, and to respond to the amendments from the other place in this regard. It is a particular honour for me to stand to speak to the bill on white ribbon day, which, as we heard, commemorates the massacre that occurred in Montreal 29 years ago today.
As part of my mandate commitments I have been reviewing the criminal justice system with a view to ensuring that it is meeting its objectives and maintaining public safety. My review is also intended to ensure our criminal justice system is fair, relevant, efficient and accessible, that it meets the needs of its victims, respects an accused's right to a fair trial and is better able to respond to the causes and consequences of offending.
These are broad and important objectives, so our government has approached these tasks in phases. In Bill C-39, we removed passages and repealed provisions in the Criminal Code that had been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada, so that the law as written reflected the law as applied.
In Bill C-46, we significantly modernized Canada's impaired driving laws in order to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to provide law enforcement with the resources they need to effectively detect and prosecute impaired driving.
In Bill C-75, we seek to tackle the delays that are encumbering our courts.
Today, with Bill C-51, we continue to build on our government's commitment to reviewing the criminal justice system and to making all aspects of the criminal law fairer, clearer and more accessible to Canadians. In particular, the bill seeks to modernize the Criminal Code by repealing or amending provisions that courts have found unconstitutional or that raise unavoidable charter risk.
The bill also aims to ensure that offences in the Criminal Code continue to reflect today's society and its values. To that end the bill removes a number of obsolete or redundant criminal offences that no longer have a place in our criminal law.
Further, the bill creates amendments to the Department of Justice Act. Pursuant to these amendments, the Minister of Justice would have a statutory duty for every government bill to table in Parliament a statement that sets out the bill's potential effects on the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the charter. For every one of the bills I have tabled, I have tabled charter statements. These amendments would provide greater openness and transparency about the effects of government legislation on charter rights.
Finally, the bill seeks to clarify and strengthen the law on sexual assault in order to prevent misapplication of the law and to help make the criminal justice system fairer and more compassionate toward complainants in sexual assault matters.
The importance of these reforms cannot be overstated, and I would like to recognize and acknowledge all those who have been subject to sexual assault and gender-based violence. Sexual assault is a serious problem in Canada. It affects communities across the country and across all social and economic barriers, and it remains a significant barrier to women's equality.
Addressing violence against women is an issue of the utmost importance to me and to our government as a whole. We remain deeply committed to ensuring that our criminal justice system is responsive to the needs of sexual assault victims. To that end, we have provided significant funding for judicial education relating to sexual assault law, so that judges are better educated on this crucial area of law.
We have also made millions of dollars available through the victims fund to enhance the criminal justice system's response to sexual violence. These resources support important work such as pilot projects in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador to provide four free hours of independent legal advice to victims of sexual assault.
It is through efforts like these, as well as those contained in Bill C-51, that we are working to effect a culture shift in our criminal justice system and to foster an environment where sexual assault complainants feel empowered to come forward for justice and support.
We should be proud that Canadian laws around sexual assault are robust and comprehensive, even more so with the proposed steps set out in Bill C-51. However, we must also recognize that more work lies ahead, and we must continue to strive for further improvements. In short, we must continue to work to reduce the incidence of sexual assault in Canada and to ensure more victims feel encouraged to come forward and report their experiences to police.
To that end, Bill C-51 would make important changes to strengthen the law of sexual assault. These changes include creating a new regime governing the admissibility of evidence in the hands of an accused, where the evidence is a complainant's private record.
In addition to the strengthening the law of sexual assault, Bill C-51 would also clarify the law. It would do so by making clear that consent must be affirmatively expressed by words or actively expressed through conduct. This principle codifies the Supreme Court of Canada's 1999 Ewanchuk decision, and makes it explicit that there is no consent unless the complainant said “yes” through her words or her conduct. Passivity is not consent, and “no” does not mean “yes”.
Finally, as introduced, Bill C-51 proposes to clarify one aspect of the law pertaining to consent or capacity to consent to sexual activity by codifying the Supreme Court of Canada's 2011 decision in J.A. In J.A., the Supreme Court held that an unconscious person is not capable of providing consent to sexual activity. Therefore, the bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to state explicitly that an unconscious person is incapable of consenting, but also to clarify that a person may be incapable of consenting for reasons other than unconsciousness.
To pause for a moment, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the other place for their very careful study of Bill C-51. While the other place supported most of the bill, it adopted amendments related to the determination of a complainant's incapacity to consent to sexual activity in the context of sexual assault.
By way of background, many stakeholders welcomed Bill C-51's proposed sexual assault reforms after its introduction. Some offered suggestions concerning the elaboration of the Criminal Code consent provisions to reflect J.A. In part, those witnesses argued that the J.A. decision stands for a broader proposition. They noted that the court held that our consent law requires ongoing conscious consent and that partners need to be capable of asking their partner to stop at any point.
In other words, they suggested that the bill should be amended to reflect an additional principle articulated by the Supreme Court in J.A. to the effect that consent must be contemporaneous with the sexual activity in question.
After hearing from a number of witnesses on the question, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights agreed, and amended to clarify that consent must be present at the time the sexual activity in question takes place. Our government agreed with that point, and we were happy to see that the justice committee amended Bill C-51 at that time so it would codify this broader principle in J.A. Doing so was in keeping with the objectives of the bill, including to ensure that the criminal law is clear and reflects the law as applied.
However, some stakeholders offered additional suggestions concerning our proposed codification of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in J.A. They suggested that the provision that would codify that no consent is obtained if a complainant is unconscious be entirely removed. While the House committee did not amend the legislation to this effect, the other place nonetheless proceeded to adopt amendments that would eliminate this provision.
In its stead, the other place proposed a list of factors to guide the court in determining when a complainant is incapable of consenting.
According to the proposed amendments, complainants are incapable of consenting if they are unable to: one, understand the nature, circumstances, risks and consequences of the sexual activity; two, understand they have the choice to engage in the sexual activity; or three, affirmatively express agreement to the sexual activity in words or active conduct.
I would like to be clear. I agree that courts could benefit from guidance in making determinations on a complainant's incapacity to consent when she or he is conscious. The proposed amendments underscore some very significant issues in the area of consent. I also agree that intoxication, short of unconsciousness, represents challenges in the adjudication of sexual assault cases.
For one, as Bill C-51 specifically recognizes, incapacity applies to a broad range of cases well beyond those in which intoxication is an issue. This is an important conversation that we must continue to have. It is for this reason that I plan to consult with a variety of stakeholders on this issue moving forward to determine whether further action is helpful with respect to our common goals and if so, how this might be effectively accomplished.
In taking the time we need to get this right, we recognize just how complex the law of consent is. There is no clear guidance from the Supreme Court or other appellate courts to which we can turn for an exhaustive definition of what incapacity means. In addition, because Bill C-51 proposes to legislate on a very narrow aspect of the law of consent, more detailed guidance and specific instructions on this further issue are needed from stakeholders, as well as those who would be impacted by the further changes in this area. Without this guidance, the risk of unintended consequences is very real.
Moreover, the amendments made in the other place on this issue, though very laudable in their aim, unfortunately do not assist courts in adjudicating incapacity cases. For one, the amendments focus on concerns that arise in cases where the complainant is conscious but intoxicated. As a result, our government has concerns about the potential impact of the amendments on the law governing incapacity to consent in other types of incapacity cases, including those where incapacity is due to a more stable state, such as individuals living with cognitive impairment.
I also wish to note a couple of points concerning the way the courts currently treat these issues.
First, appellate decisions show that a complainant's ability to understand that he or she has a choice to engage in sexual activity or not is determinative of incapacity. However, it is not clear from the existing case law whether the other elements proposed in the amendments are determinative of incapacity or merely factors to be taken into consideration, supported by circumstantial evidence in assessing capacity.
For example, in overturning the Al-Rawi trial decision earlier this year, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal rejected incapacity to communicate as a determinative test for incapacity to consent. As a result, courts may well have difficulty interpreting the proposed provision.
Furthermore, the amendments' proposed factors focus solely on elements that are internal to the complainant and may lead some courts to overlook relevant circumstantial evidence in the determination of incapacity. Though the complainant's subjective state is important, there is a risk that the amendments will lead courts to overlook other evidence that bears on the complainant's capacity. This was also an error of the trial court in this case, as noted by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
The amendments adopted in the other place would also prohibit drawing inferences about the complainant's capacity to consent to the sexual activity at issue from evidence of capacity to consent at the time of another sexual activity. These amendments simply restate a well-settled principle of law, which is already proposed for codification in Bill C-51. That principle is that consent must be contemporaneous with the sexual activity in question. This principle applies equally to capacity to consent. Each allegation of sexual assault must be considered on its own merits. The law is clear in this regard and the bill already proposes to codify it.
In short, the proposed changes are well-intentioned, but will not achieve their aim and, in fact, carry great risk of unintended consequences in what is a difficult yet critical area of law. Sexual assault law is too important to leave any room for error. If the definition of incapacity is to be provided, it is imperative we get it right.
If we are to alter this complex area of law in such a significant way, we must be informed by adequate analysis and debate in both chambers as well as by a broad range of stakeholder perspectives, including prosecutors from whom neither of the committees in this place or the other had the opportunity to hear. In addition, we need to consult with the defence bar, police associations and victims groups.
It is our obligation to ensure that the hundreds of sexual assault cases that are prosecuted every day in the country are not negatively affected by an amendment that has yet to be subject to full discussion and deliberation.
As I mentioned before, in order for these issues to receive the treatment they deserve and require, I will and have committed to study the issue of incapacity, with a view to striking the right balance on this important matter. I am grateful to the witnesses who appeared before the Senate committee for suggesting that this issue be the subject of further study. I look forward to consulting with them further as part of my future review.
Our government continues to work toward fostering an environment where survivors of sexual assault feel empowered to come forward and trust the system they turn to for justice and support. Consulting on and studying the issue of capacity to consent while conscious will form an integral part of that effort.
I am incredibly proud of our government's efforts to date within the area of sexual assault law. I am confident that our continued efforts will help to ensure that all victims are treated with compassion, dignity and the respect they deserve.
Bill C-51 is an important part of our work on this issue. It is also consistent with our broader efforts to ensure that our criminal law is responsible to the needs of all Canadians and that it reflects our values. Our government will continue to find ways to improve upon our criminal justice system so it keeps Canadians safe, respects victims, responds to the needs of vulnerable populations and addresses the underlying social causes of crime. I am proud of the role Bill C-51 will play in helping us to achieve these goals. I look forward to the bill's expeditious passage to ensure these important reforms are enacted without further delay.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I want to comment again on the efforts that were made at both committees and the improvements the House Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has made.
With respect to the comments around expanding the rape shield provisions and on defence disclosure, I appreciate the conversation that took place at committee. I assure my hon. colleague that with respect to disclosure requirements, to sustain expanding the rape shield provisions to sexual communications and creating a regime for the admissibility of private records in the hands of the accused would not impose a reverse or defence disclosure obligation.
The Crown is not entitled to receive evidence. Nor is the defence required to hand it over. They are rules of evidence which govern the admissibility of the evidence in sexual assault trials and not rules of disclosure.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my hon. colleague on recognizing the need to assist victims of sexual assault and to assist them in accessing the criminal justice system, being informed of their rights and being able to obtain legal advice if they have an inability to pay for that advice.
We recognize this is an issue. One of the things I am incredibly proud of is that my department and our government have invested significant dollars to support victims of sexual assault in a broad range of areas. Specifically with respect to the Department of Justice, we have what is called the victims fund. Through the victims fund, we have been able to fund projects in provinces, as I referenced in my speech, around providing four hours of free legal advice to victims of sexual assault.
I know there can and is more to be done. We are committed to ensuring we provide all victims with the respect they deserve, with the necessity to ensure that they are aware of their rights and that my office continues to work with the ombudsperson for victims rights among the other measures we are advancing on gender-based violence.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, this gives me an opportunity to acknowledge the parliamentary secretary's important work on advancing our justice legislation. His questions give me the opportunity to highlight broadly what our government continues to do with respect to addressing sexual assault and gender-based violence.
We have invested significant dollars in budget 2018 to combat gender-based violence, including sexual assault. We have provided $25 million over five years for legal aid for victims of workplace sexual harassment. We and the Minister of Status of Women are embarking on a national strategy to address gender-based violence and to support judicial education and training, among other initiatives, in the Department of Justice, such as the victims fund. We continue to work with my counterparts in the provinces and territories to continue to have a fulsome response to gender-based violence.
In terms of our legislative agenda on law reform, there is a direct connection between Bill C-51 and Bill C-75, which is the criminal justice reform bill that addresses efficiencies and effectiveness, all of which are intended to ensure that we are protecting and supporting victims of crime.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am not going to speculate as to whether or not a previous bill, Bill C-39, could have been passed by unanimous consent.
What I am confident in and very pleased with is that Bill C-75 includes the former Bill C-39 to remove these zombie laws that my friend has spoken about. It is contained within Bill C-75, which has passed third reading in this House and is on its way to the other place. I look forward to the debate and discussion in the other place on this important piece of criminal justice reform and to the speedy passage of Bill C-75 so that we can, in fact, remove the zombie provisions that are contained within the Criminal Code.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I would like to table, in both official languages, a charter statement for an act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate being able to rise to talk about Bill C-75, the importance of the bill and the intent behind the bill.
There is absolutely nothing that our government is trying to hide with respect to the major bold reforms we are seeking in Bill C-75 to the criminal justice system to answer the call of the Supreme Court of Canada in Jordan and other decisions to create efficiencies and promote the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. That is precisely what we are doing in Bill C-75. Since we formed government, this has been considered through very robust consultations.
I appreciate the discussions, the considerations and listening to 95 witnesses at the House of Commons committee on justice and human rights, who provided very substantial feedback.
With respect to the member opposite's question with respect to the hybridization of offences, serious offences will continue to be treated seriously. The hybridization of offences does nothing to change the fundamental principles of sentencing.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I agree that this is a large and significant bill. The bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to answer the call of the Prime Minister to me in my mandate letter and our government's commitment to transform the criminal justice system and create efficiencies and effectiveness in that system.
The member opposite stated that this bill would solve some problems but create others. I disagree with that statement. This legislation and the lead-up to the introduction of this legislation in March of this year was the result of significant consultation right across the country through round tables. I have personally engaged in three federal, provincial and territorial meetings with my counterparts in the provinces and territories, all of whom are supportive of the robust and bold changes in Bill C-75.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, our government is committed to working co-operatively with all members of the House.
With respect to Bill C-75, I would point out that there has been a total of seven hours and 45 minutes of debate in the House. The bill went to committee, where there was major discussion among committee members, and I thank them for that discussion. The committee heard from 95 witnesses. Twenty-seven hours of discussion and debate happened at committee. I thank members for the suggested amendments, many of which were accepted by the government.
Bill C-75 is a robust bill which proposes to amend the Criminal Code. It is not an omnibus piece of legislation. It seeks to address Criminal Code changes.
To comments by the member opposite around serious offences, under this legislation serious offences would still be prosecuted in a serious manner.
I am glad the member raised impaired driving. I am very pleased that our government was able to pass Bill C-46, major legislation to create in Canada among the toughest impaired driving laws in the world. I appreciate the member's bringing that up.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, in terms of time allocation, but more important to ensure that Bill C-75 proceeds, we are committed to working with all members of this House. We appreciate the discussion and debate that came from the justice committee and look forward to the discussion that will happen in the other place.
Bill C-75 is about addressing delays in the criminal justice system and creating efficiencies and effectiveness. It is our responsibility to address the call of the Supreme Court of Canada to address the delays that exist in the criminal justice system. Bill C-75 is in response to that.
Yes, this is a large piece of legislation. It has benefited from 27-plus hours of debate at committee. I look forward to continued discussions in this regard.
In terms of the member's question around mandatory minimum penalties, we are continuing to work on sentencing reform. This is a commitment that our government has made and we will continue that discussion and bring forward changes in due course.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, this gives me the opportunity to stand up to acknowledge and appreciate the work that was done by all members of the justice and human rights committee in bringing forward many amendments. In fact, 50 motions to amend Bill C-75 were adopted.
The amendment brought forward to remove routine police evidence by way of affidavit was something our government recognized, along with the testimony of many people who came before the committee. We were able to accept that amendment.
In terms of agent representation, some of the changes that are contained within Bill C-75 raised concerns among many stakeholders who came before the justice committee about the inability to have agent representation because of the increase of offence penalties. We have accepted amendments from committee to provide for that to give provinces and territories the ability to determine agents in terms of representation of various offences.
Again, I appreciate the input on other amendments as well from the committee.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I will say that it is the commitment of our government to work co-operatively with all members in this House to ensure that we have robust debate on bills we are putting forward. There has been substantial discussion on Bill C-75 in this House and at committee.
I recognize and acknowledge the member's comments and concerns. I will follow up and speak to the government House leader.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's appreciation of the importance of this legislation and having Bill C-75 move through the parliamentary process and be passed in order to address the delays in the criminal justice system and to answer the call of the Supreme Court of Canada. This is a priority for this government and I would hope it is a priority for all members in the House.
There has been a lot of debate and discussion. As I have said, at committee there were some 27 hours of debate and discussion. I very much appreciate, as does the government, the feedback and amendments that came from committee, the additional amendments requested by stakeholders and voted on by committee members, that would repeal vagrancy and bawdy house offences.
I thank the committee once again for all of its input and the amendments put forward that improve this legislation.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am happy to stand to address the comments made by the member opposite, and I dispute his comments completely.
In terms of not listening to witnesses, that is absolutely not true. My parliamentary secretary and all members of the justice committee had the benefit of hearing from 95 witnesses at the justice and human rights committee, all of whom spoke about their passion for criminal justice reform and made very concrete suggestions about how the bill could be improved. We accepted many of those recommendations that I believe have very significantly improved Bill C-75. I look forward to continued debate and discussion as this bill goes to the other place.
On top of all of the discussion that happened in this House and at committee, we engaged in discussions and consultations right across the country with criminal justice stakeholders. I engaged on an ongoing basis with my counterparts in the provinces and territories, all of whom are supportive of the bold reforms that we are proposing in Bill C-75.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, again, I will stand to speak to the nature of Bill C-75 and the substantial discussion and consultations we have had for the last three years on the very elements of Bill C-75. I understand and recognize the desire of members to speak to this important piece of legislation. Many members from the party opposite have risen in this House to speak to this legislation and during the many hours of debate and discussion that occurred at the justice and human rights committee.
As members in this House, we have an obligation to move forward and answer the call of the Supreme Court of Canada to address delays in the criminal justice system. Bill C-75 would do just that, in a comprehensive way. I look to all members of this House to support this important piece of legislation moving forward.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments on the importance of answering the call of Canadians, the call of the Supreme Court, to move forward with criminal justice reform that would address delays in the criminal justice system. To speak to the member's specific questions about what has gone into Bill C-75, in the lead-up to the introduction in March of this year I conducted, and my parliamentary secretary participated in, round tables across the country. We conducted online surveys and had requests for feedback. We received thousands of responses and we produced a report of what we heard. We benefited from ongoing discussions, as well as reports from years ago by the Senate committee, on what we can do to improve delays in the criminal justice system. We have incorporated many of the recommendations from the other place into Bill C-75. Again, I want to highlight the discussions and debate that occurred in this House, the robust discussion that happened at committee with the 95 witnesses heard, the 27 hours of debate and discussion we benefited from, and improving the bill through various amendments that came from the committee.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I do remember going on campaign stops before the election, talking about doing things differently. In fact, our government is doing things differently.
We have engaged in consultation for the past three years. There was a lot of discussion at committee. There was a lot of discussion in this House. I would be very happy to sit down with the member opposite to talk more about Bill C-75 and the provisions that are contained therein.
Again, we are doing things differently. We have fundamentally changed the way that we engage with Canadians. I look forward to the discussion and debate in the other place. However, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our legislation moves through the parliamentary process so we address the desires and the needs of Canadians, and we address the delays in the criminal justice system. We made a commitment as a government to heed the call of the Supreme Court of Canada to address delays.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, again, I appreciate the comments and the opportunity to respond to the comments.
The member opposite asked what this is achieving. What is Bill C-75 achieving? It is achieving the necessity of addressing delays in the criminal justice system, achieving efficiencies and effectiveness.
Again, I disagree with the characterization that Canadians are not supportive of this. We have done substantial consultation right across the country. In terms of the member opposite's comments about downloading to the provinces, I would like to inform the member opposite that I have been working with the provinces and territories on an ongoing basis for three years, and they are supportive of this. This is not a download on the provinces and territories. This is co-operative federalism at its best, around the administration of justice, to ensure that we do everything we can as actors in the criminal justice system to heed the call of the Supreme Court of Canada.
This has robust support right across the country.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, in terms of the hybridization of offences, the reclassification of offences, again, this was supported by my counterparts in the provinces and territories. This does nothing to change the fundamental principles of sentencing.
Serious offences will be treated by the courts and prosecutors as serious. What this does is give the necessary discretion to prosecutors to proceed based on the circumstances of the individual case in the most effective way possible. This does not change how serious offences will be approached, and any characterization otherwise is a mischaracterization.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, medical assistance in dying is an incredibly complex, sensitive and deeply personal issue. Our government put forward legislation that we are proud forms the national framework around medical assistance in dying. It draws the correct balance between the autonomy of individuals and protecting vulnerable people.
We are continuing to have a discussion around medical assistance in dying. We have, according to the legislation, commissioned three reviews on highly complex issues that will be coming back in December. We look forward to having further conversations about it.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, again, medical assistance in dying is a deeply complex, sensitive and deeply personal matter for individuals who are seeking to access medical assistance in dying.
Our government introduced Bill C-14 in response to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Jordan. We are confident that our legislation strikes the right balance between protecting vulnerable people and respecting the personal autonomy of individuals, as well as recognizing the conscience right of health care practitioners.
We will continue to have a conversation around medical assistance and dying. We have commissioned three reviews according to the legislation, which look at complex issues.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I completely reject the characterization by members opposite on Bill C-75, which is a comprehensive bill that seeks to address delays in the criminal justice system.
There is nothing in this legislation that would reduce sentences. There is nothing that would change the principles around sentencing, which take into account the gravity of the offence and the proportion responsibility of an offender.
We are not lowering sentences. We are providing prosecutors with the necessary discretion they need to move forward in the appropriate way given the circumstances of the particular case.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
moved that Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure I speak to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code, bestiality and animal fighting, which brings forward important updates to the Criminal Code. Our government remains steadfast in our commitment to ensure our laws protect our most vulnerable and reflect our commonly held values. The bill is exactly about that.
As a government, we have brought forward important amendments to the Criminal Code, including by increasing efficiencies in the criminal justice system, cleaning up outdated and unconstitutional provisions, clarifying sexual assault laws and strengthening the impaired driving regime. These changes, along with those proposed in Bill C-84, reflect my ongoing commitment to ensuring our criminal laws remain clear, comprehensible and contemporary.
I am proud of our efforts in this regard and will continue to pursue law reform that is evidence-based and ensures our criminal justice system extends the strongest protections to Canadians, especially the most vulnerable.
Before I begin to outline the details of the bill, I would like to acknowledge the advocacy of many honourable members in the House, including in particular the member for Beaches—East York for his leadership and for initiating a very important discussion on this issue in his private member's bill. I would also like to thank the several organizations and numerous Canadians who have written in and advocated for many years. The bill is a result of their hard work.
Bill C-84 focuses on filling gaps in the Criminal Code and preventing violence and cruelty toward animals. It reflects significant consultation with child and animal protection groups, as well as agricultural and animal use stakeholders, and brings forward changes that reflect a common ground approach to addressing these important issues.
Clause 1 would add a definition of “bestiality” in section 160 of the Criminal Code to include “any contact, for a sexual purpose, between a person and an animal.” This responds to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. D.L.W. in 2016, where the court held that the bestiality offences in section 160 of the Criminal Code were limited to sexual acts with animals that involved penetration. In arriving at that determination, the court examined the common law definition of bestiality, which originated in British law and was subsequently incorporated into our Criminal Code.
The broadened definition would increase protections for children, as well as other vulnerable individuals who may be compelled to engage in or witness bestiality, and animals, by ensuring the criminal law captures all sexual acts with animals, not just those involving penetration. By virtue of the definition's “sexual purpose” focus, legitimate animal husbandry and veterinary practices would continue to be excluded from the scope of the offence.
In its decision, the Supreme Court noted that courts must interpret the law, not change the elements of crimes in ways that seemed to them to better suit the circumstances of a particular case. Rather, it is Parliament's responsibility to expand the scope of criminal liability, should it elect to do so.
In the wake of this decision, child protection advocates as well as animal welfare groups expressed serious concern with the effect of the decision and called for law reform. I agree the gap identified by the Supreme Court requires a parliamentary response, and we are doing just that.
As mentioned, this bill responds to the Supreme Court's decision in D.L.W., by defining bestiality as “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal.” This would ensure all contact between a human and an animal for sexual purpose would be prohibited. This would send a clear and unequivocal message to those who would wish to harm animals. This amendment would also provide increased protection to children who would be exposed to or coerced to participate in abusive conduct, as well as other vulnerable persons who may be compelled to engage in such conduct.
The proposed definition focuses on the broad term of contact for sexual purpose. The phrase “for a sexual purpose” has a well-established meaning in Canadian criminal law. It is used in a number of different instances in the Criminal Code, and I am confident the use of this consistent terminology will cover the offences in question.
In its entirety, the proposed definition is clearer and reflects Canadians' understanding of what this offence entails. It is also consistent with calls from animal welfare groups and agricultural stakeholders, including the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
At the same time, this definition will ensure that those involved in legitimate animal husbandry activities, including breeding livestock and veterinary medicine, will not be captured by these offences.
Currently, the Criminal Code has three main offences related to bestiality. Bill C-84 does not change the nature of the penalties related to these offences which, on indictment, carry maximum sentences ranging from 10 to 14 years in jail.
I would also like to note that the changes proposed in my criminal justice reform legislation, Bill C-75, will increase the maximum penalty on summary conviction for both offences to two years less a day. Such changes will contribute to a more efficient criminal justice system by encouraging proceeding by way of summary conviction where it is appropriate to do so.
There is a strong public safety rationale for Parliament to expand the scope of these offences, particularly as it relates to enhancing protections for children and other vulnerable persons. Research continues to demonstrate a well-established link between animal sexual abuse and sexual abuse of children, as well as other forms of violence.
I would note that the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies organized a conference in 2017, the purpose of which was to look more closely at these issues. The final report provides an overview of these issues. I commend the federation for its important work to promote a greater understanding of the severity of these issues.
We also see these links in criminal cases. Canadian criminal law shows that when sexual abuse of a child involves an animal, the extent of this horrible behaviour is most often severe and frequently includes a pattern of vicious treatment of both the child and the animal. With this bill we are ensuring that those in law enforcement, including prosecutors, have the tools they need to achieve justice for the victims of these despicable acts.
I would also like to discuss a second set of reforms contained in Bill C-84, which marks an important step in providing comprehensive protections for all animals. These additional measures will strengthen protections for animals by broadening the scope of the animal fighting offences in the Criminal Code.
There are currently two offences in the Criminal Code that specifically address animal fighting. The first is paragraph 445.1(1)(b), which prohibits encouraging, aiding or assisting at the fighting or baiting of animals. This is a hybrid offence with a maximum penalty of five years on indictment or a maximum of 18 months' imprisonment and/or a fine, not exceeding $10,000. Bill C-75 will also increase the maximum penalty on summary conviction to two years less a day.
Presently, this offence fails to capture a number of other associated activities with participating in the deplorable activity of animal fighting. Accordingly, Bill C-84 proposes to broaden the scope of this offence to include a wider range of activities, including encouraging, promoting, arranging and assisting at, receiving money for, or taking part in the fighting or baiting of animals, including prohibiting any of these activities with respect to the training, transporting or breeding of animals for fighting or baiting.
These are important changes and will ensure that all aspects of animal fighting are prohibited, ensuring that all persons in the chain of this criminal behaviour can be held accountable. I note, in particular, that the proposed changes also target the financial incentives associated with this crime and, in so doing, will act to discourage those involved with this unacceptable behaviour.
The second existing offence prohibits keeping a cockpit, which is section 447, and carries the same penalties as animal fighting. It too will see its maximum penalty on summary conviction increase through Bill C-75. This offence, as it exists in the Criminal Code, is extremely narrow in scope, a reflection of its historical origins when cockfighting was the primary form of animal fighting.
However, we know that, unfortunately, dog fighting has grown in prominence today. Bill C-84 amends this offence to ensure it extends to building, keeping or maintaining any arena for the purposes of fighting any animal. The fact of the matter is that all forms of animal fighting are cruel and abhorrent, and so our laws should appropriately extend to all animals. Simply stated, there is no legitimate or reasonable societal purpose to engage in animal fighting. This behaviour is cruel and must be stopped.
This is another important step our government is taking to ensure our criminal laws are contemporary and address conduct that is deserving of criminal sanction. It is important to note that animal fighting has often been linked to organized crime, including illegal gambling and the illicit trafficking of drugs and weapons. The changes we are bringing forward in Bill C-84 will improve the ability of law enforcement to prosecute criminals, track cases of animal fighting and protect public safety. By broadening the offence to include additional activities, we are ensuring that law enforcement is equipped to detect and intercept the crime at whatever stage it is discovered.
I would like to take a few minutes to speak specifically about dog fighting. Given its clandestine nature, it is difficult to collect statistics on the prevalence of dog fighting in Canada. In fact, dog-fighting operations often go undetected until law enforcement officers discover them while investigating other crimes. That said, we know that in May and October 2015 and in March 2016, the Ontario SPCA major case management team, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Chatham-Kent Police Service partnered together to end suspected dog-fighting operations. These three joint investigations led to the execution of 11 search warrants on three properties in Lanark County, Tilbury and Kent Bridge, Ontario. This resulted in the seizure of 64 pit bull dogs, documents, pictures, veterinary supplies, electronic equipment and hundreds of items related to the training and fighting of dogs.
The Ontario SPCA reports that dog fighting is undeniably taking place in Ontario. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that dog fights can last one to two hours and end only when one of the dogs is too injured to continue or has died. The dogs involved often suffer from deep puncture wounds, broken bones, and in many cases die from blood loss or infection.
As I mentioned, dog fighting, a terrible form of animal cruelty, is also linked to a wide range of other crimes, including illegal gambling and drugs and weapons offences. The primary motivation for dog fighting is gambling and participants often wager thousands of dollars, showing how lucrative it is for those involved.
I would also note that, according to the Ontario SPCA, when police raid dog-fighting events, they often find children present. Exposure to this type of abuse desensitizes children to violence and may itself be a form of child abuse. I am proud that we are taking important steps to limit and prevent this horrible abuse to animals and children. The proposed reforms to the offence, targeting arenas coupled with the changes to the animal-fighting offence, will target those who take part in training or receive money to train dogs to fight and who employ terrible techniques to increase the viciousness and ferocity of these animals. This so-called training can include abusively suspending a dog from a tree or a pole by its jaw and encouraging the dog to grab bait and hold on as long as possible in order to increase the lethality of its bite.
No animal should have to die as a form of human entertainment. It is unspeakably cruel and offends Canadians' values at the deepest level.
I am proud of these necessary changes we are bringing forward to protect animals from horrible situations of abuse. It is important for me to reiterate that this bill in no way interferes with any legitimate animal use. This bill seeks to protect public safety and ensures that we are doing more to prevent violence and cruelty toward animals.
We are focusing on aspects of protection that enjoy broad support and reflect our shared values. Again, the broadening of these offences will not interfere with legitimate animal uses, such as the training and work of service dogs, medical research, hunting, fishing or indigenous animal harvesting rights. Animal fighting and bestiality are in no way legitimate activities.
Before I conclude, I would like to reiterate that this bill is the result of significant consultation and there has been broad support expressed for these reforms. As mentioned earlier, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture have called for these changes. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and many agricultural stakeholder groups have also advocated for these amendments to address animal fighting and bestiality.
As parliamentarians, many of us hear from concerned citizens who are urging action to modernize our animal cruelty offences. Similarly, in our consultations, a number of provinces have called upon Parliament to take action to address the gap identified by the Supreme Court in D.L.W. I am confident that this bill addresses these concerns.
I recognize that some would want the bill to go further by proposing additional reforms to animal cruelty laws. I believe it is critically important that we take steps now to address these particular issues, for which I believe there is broad support. Our government is committed to all of the appropriate protections that are extended to the most vulnerable, and we will continue to review this as part of our broad review of the criminal justice system.
There have already been some suggestions made, including by animal rights organizations, on the ways that we can strengthen this bill. As I have said with respect to other legislation, I welcome constructive suggestions that reflect the objectives of our proposed reforms and look forward to a fulsome and productive debate. I therefore urge all members to support this bill and help ensure its swift passage.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. colleague across the way for her private member's bill, which speaks to the issue raised in D.L.W.
This government bill, as I said, goes to address the gap that exists in the criminal law with respect to bestiality by providing a definition.
I hear the member regarding the delay. It has taken some time to bring this bill forward. I hope her concerns around the delay will assist in this piece of legislation going forward quickly.
As for prohibitions on animal ownership, there are provisions within provincial legislation that actually address the prohibition of maintaining or keeping an animal as a result of cases that have gone forward where individuals have been convicted.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his recognition that there may not be many members of the House who would oppose the specific pieces of Bill C-84.
I have had the opportunity to talk with the hon. member about the horrific example of abuse that happened in his riding with respect to Teddy the dog. Bill C-84 reflects a consensus among individuals who want to make every effort to protect animals and protect vulnerable people, including children. In my office, I have received letters from many stakeholders across the country who support the quick movement of Bill C-84.
Does it go to the extent the member is talking about? This is a first step. We continue to have discussions with stakeholders who want this legislation, and the government, to go further. I am committed to continuing to have those conversations.
There is more we can do. Certainly there is a diversity of opinion around amendments and changes that can be made to the Criminal Code to modernize it. As the member said, there are many provisions that have been in place since 1892.
We continue to have these discussions to modernize the Criminal Code. Our government is committed to ensuring that animals are protected from cruelty and that we do everything we can to ensure that children are protected as well. Those discussions are ongoing.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question about the necessity to expand the reach of animal fighting to include dogs. As I mentioned in my speech, there has been significant study around dog fighting, which does exist in Ontario, by the Ontario SPCA major case management team, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Chatham-Kent Police Service. As I said, they have partnered to identify the reality that dog fighting does exist in Ontario.
I recognize the member's comments about individuals in his constituency raising this issue. In my own constituency, many constituents have come to me to ask the government to address it. There is probably not one member of the House who has not received letters from constituents about this.
The government's commitment in putting forward Bill C-84 is to ensure that we do everything we can to protect animals and protect vulnerable people, including children. The commitment I made here on the floor today is to continue this conversation as we proceed and to look toward modernizing the Criminal Code provisions.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, to answer both parts of my hon. colleague's question, this legislation is short and well thought through.
In terms of bestiality, it follows the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. D.L.W., which talks about contact for a sexual purpose. As I said in my speech and as the member indicted, this has a well-established meaning at law and viewed objectively for when an act is committed for a sexual purpose that it was committed for the sexual gratification of the accused. In terms of the intent of the legislation, it is very clear to not address or not infringe upon legitimate animal husbandry or artificial insemination activities.
Quickly to the member's question about what other Criminal Code provisions have looked at “for sexual purpose”, he can find this in terms of child pornography, voyeurism and making sexually explicit material available to a child.
I would be happy to continue a conversation with the member on these provisions.
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