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Results: 1 - 15 of 707
View Peter MacKay Profile
View Peter MacKay Profile
2015-06-17 15:04 [p.15210]
Mr. Speaker, the member has been an outspoken advocate on this issue for many years.
Impaired drivers pose a significant risk to Canadians. It is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada.
To make offenders more accountable for their crimes, we have introduced legislation to increase mandatory minimum penalties for many transportation offences, including impaired driving involving bodily harm or death. This would also increase efficiency for police officers to investigate impaired driving and for the prosecution to go forward with these serious cases.
I encourage all members of this House to support this important bill, which targets the scourge of impaired driving that is causing carnage on Canadian highways.
View Harold Albrecht Profile
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2015-06-17 16:43 [p.15223]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting six petitions today on the same subject matter. The petitioners are asking us to implement tougher laws and new mandatory minimum sentences for persons convicted of impaired driving causing death. They also want the Criminal Code of Canada to be changed to redefine the offence of impaired driving causing death as vehicular manslaughter.
View Mark Warawa Profile
View Mark Warawa Profile
2015-06-16 10:14 [p.15116]
Mr. Speaker, I am usually honoured to present petitions. However, the petitions I present today sadly inform the House that the number one cause of criminal death in Canada is vehicular homicide. About 1,200 to 1,500 Canadians are killed every year by drunk drivers, people who decide to drive a vehicle while they are drunk.
Families for Justice is a group of Canadians who have had loved ones killed by an impaired driver. The petitioners believe that Canada's impaired driving laws are much too lenient. They want the crime to be called what it is, vehicular homicide. They are also calling upon Parliament to introduce mandatory sentences for vehicular homicide, which this Parliament has just done.
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2015-06-15 15:29 [p.15073]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to present five identical petitions today. They have to do with drinking and driving, impaired driving, and many senseless deaths of young people. I am thinking specifically of Krystal Owchar, and the Owchar and Riley families and how they have been devastated, as well as Tyler Isbister, Jeremie LeBlanc, William Harris, Gwen Martin. These are young lives who were taken from us because of this senseless act.
Families For Justice is a group of Canadians who have had loved ones killed by impaired drivers. They believe that Canada's impaired driving laws are much too lenient and want the crime to be called what it is, which is vehicular homicide. It is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada; over 1,200 Canadians are killed every year by drunk drivers. Families For Justice is calling for mandatory sentencing for vehicular homicide and for Parliament to support Bill C-652, Kassandra's law.
View Ève Péclet Profile
View Ève Péclet Profile
2015-06-11 10:51 [p.14934]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-35.
I am pleased to support this bill, and I think I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that all forms of animal cruelty are unacceptable.
There is no doubt that to us Bill C-35 acknowledges the importance and value of animals and especially our attachment to these animals, such as police or military dogs and horses and even service animals in general, such as dogs trained to help people with a disability or people who are visually impaired.
I think it is very important to highlight the crucial role these animals play indirectly in our lives. People may not be aware, but police dogs play a very important role.
The name Quanto's law is a reference to an incident that took place in Edmonton, in which a police dog named Quanto was stabbed to death.
These dogs, like Quanto himself, have played a role in many arrests and investigations. They play a role in our daily lives, and it is very important for us to be here together today to recognize the work not only of law enforcement dogs, but of service dogs who help people with disabilities on a daily basis. These animals support them, help them achieve their potential and accompany them every day.
In committee, we heard very moving testimony that showed us just how close an animal and a person can become and how much we are really all alike. In that sense, it is very important to recognize the merit of the bill, which I will explain in a little more detail.
The bill creates a new Criminal Code offence:
Every one commits an offence who, wilfully and without lawful excuse, kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures a law enforcement animal while it is aiding a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer’s duties, a military animal while it is aiding a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out that member’s duties or a service animal.
This new offence will be added to the section of the Criminal Code on cruelty to animals.
It is important to note that this provision fully recognizes that law enforcement dogs are like police officers. Many witnesses mentioned that in committee as well. Obviously, these dogs do not talk or drink coffee, but they are like police officers because they are trained to do a specific job, such as detecting drugs or tracking a kidnapped child.
These animals are trained to do a job, one that police officers may not even be able to do given humans' limited sense of smell, for example.
These dogs are even trained to do some things that humans cannot do. Because of their special qualities, these animals play an extremely important role in our police forces, and so do service animals. We therefore support that clause because it is well written in that respect.
However, I do want to raise one concern. Numerous organizations and experts have recommended against minimum sentences on the grounds that they do not actually reduce the crime rate. Rather, prevention, education and other approaches solve the problem upstream rather than downstream. Unfortunately, minimum sentences never achieve the stated goal of reducing the crime rate.
The courts are quite capable of judging the severity of a crime and the aggravating factors. For example, in Quanto's case, the court sentenced the accused to 26 months in prison and made sure to mention that 18 of the 26 months were punishment for having stabbed the law enforcement dog to death. The sentence in Quanto's case was two times longer than what is set out in this bill. It is clear that the courts and judges can use their discretionary power to judge aggravating factors and the gravity of an offence. Forcing them to impose a minimum sentence removes that discretion.
Nevertheless, I will conclude my aside and my criticism by saying that subclause 445.01(1) is well written. Here is the first sentence:
Every one commits an offence who, wilfully and without lawful excuse...
This first subsection is written so as to ensure that mandatory minimum sentencing does not apply to those who are defending themselves. Furthermore, in committee, the witnesses said that at least that clause was written so that it will not apply in cases where people fear for their lives and have to defend themselves, which can happen in extreme situations, and those individuals will not automatically be sentenced to the mandatary minimum. This subparagraph is very well written and limits the cases that will be ultimately affected by mandatory minimum sentencing.
In some situations, we do not know how people will react. The witnesses made it clear that there are times when people fear for their lives and have to defend themselves against an aggressive animal. That clause is very well written. Adding the expression, “wilfully and without lawful excuse” means that only those who kill an animal in bad faith are targeted.
As the parliamentary secretary pointed out, someone could decide to drive their car straight into a police service horse. These people have an abnormal desire to kill an animal, as in the case of Quanto, where stabbing a dog to death was considered an aggravating factor.
Since that clause is actually very well written, the NDP will support the bill. However, I still wanted to raise that concern, because the Conservatives have passed many bills that amend the Criminal Code to impose mandatory minimum sentencing. This has been denounced by the Canadian Bar Association, the Barreau du Québec and many other associations, including defence lawyers associations.
A number of associations are saying that, unfortunately, minimum sentences do not produce the desired effect, which is to lower crime. What is more, they add an extra burden on the provinces and the justice system.
For example, last year, a Quebec justice system report noted an increase in costs associated with the number of mandatory minimum sentences. That is the case not just in Quebec, but also everywhere else, including the United States. The more mandatory minimum sentences are imposed, the heavier the financial burden on the provinces and the resources within Canada's justice system. Unfortunately, we are entering a vicious circle that is long on delays and short on resources. There are not enough judges and crown prosecutors. I think we need to take a balanced approach when it comes to our justice system. It is important to emphasize that, even though we recognize the importance of protecting animals.
That brings me to my second point. I think it is important to note that the witnesses unanimously agreed that the bill was necessary. We too often hear people talking about service animals. As I said, we are talking not just about police or military service dogs, but also service dogs for people with a disability or with reduced mobility. The witnesses unanimously confirmed the importance of recognizing the support these animals provide in our lives and how extremely important it is to protect them.
However, one witness from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the CFHS, said that Bill C-35 was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, that is often the case with the Conservatives. They take a step in the right direction, but they never see things through.
The fact remains that the section on animal protection should be revised and improved to protect all domestic animals. Far too often we hear in the news about people torturing animals. Videos on YouTube and even Facebook show puppy mills and mills for other animals. There are really some very troublesome cases of animal cruelty happening. It is important to go a bit further and establish better protection for all domestic animals in the Criminal Code.
That brings me to the initiatives brought forward in the House of Commons by my NDP colleagues. For example, my very hon. colleague from Parkdale—High Park introduced Bill C-232. I know that it is extremely important for her. She has been working very hard for many years to help protect animals and to bring this issue to Parliament's attention. I would really like to thank her for all of her hard work.
Her bill, Bill C-232, would make it possible to move animals out of the property section and create a separate section dealing with animal cruelty. They would not be recognized as people under this legislation, but they would no longer be considered property. Animals are living creatures.
Bill C-35 does this for law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals, but not for all domestic animals. My colleague's bill would address that issue and provide additional protection for animals by moving them out of the property section of the Criminal Code and creating a section for living creatures.
Her bill would also allow the justice system to better define such situations and to deal more effectively with animal cruelty offences, which would increase the possibility of conviction for such offences.
I would also like to thank my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. I know how much she cares about protecting all of our animals. She has worked extremely hard on this issue since she was elected. I would like to thank her for that. She also introduced Bill C-592, which would provide a better definition of “animal” and would change the definition of “animal cruelty offence” to include the notion of intent.
My colleague, the parliamentary secretary, mentioned this. Unfortunately, the notions of neglect and intent are currently unclear and remain undefined in the section dealing with animal cruelty. This means that people who commit animal cruelty offences can use different forms of defence. We must take this step to define what constitutes intent in the section dealing with animal cruelty offences.
I thank the parliamentary secretary for the interesting statistics he shared. These figures show that this phenomenon is much more common than we think. Unfortunately, when someone pleads guilty to other offences, the animal cruelty offences are often dropped. For example, this is the case when someone pleads guilty or signs a plea bargain with the crown. These measures could also make it possible to see more convictions in cases of animal cruelty.
With respect to sentencing, I would also like to mention that in Saskatchewan, for example, the maximum sentence for animal cruelty and for injuring a law enforcement animal is two years. This bill already has a five-year maximum. Accordingly, we see the legislator's clear intent to punish those who injure, mutilate or kill law enforcement animals during the course of their everyday work. I would like to thank all the police and customs officers who work with these animals. I know how important this bill is to them. We support them in their work and now through the bill being studied.
However, I would like to reiterate the two concerns I described. It is a step in the right direction, but it would now be appropriate to go further and to update the animal protection provisions. Minimum mandatory sentences are not always necessarily the solution for preventing crimes.
We will support the bill. I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for his initiative and the good work he has done, which has allowed us to have this important debate in the House of Commons.
On that note, I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I will now be pleased to answer my colleague's questions.
View Robert Aubin Profile
View Robert Aubin Profile
2015-06-11 11:15 [p.14937]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île for her speech, which I listened to carefully and which is especially meaningful now, since Quebec recently introduced a similar bill regarding animal welfare.
Obviously, I do not by any means oppose this bill, and of course I will vote to support it. However, there is one thing that concerns me about this bill, because, once again, the Conservatives are bringing in more mandatory minimum sentences. I wish to take advantage of my colleague's expertise as a member and as a lawyer to ask her whether this is another example of the Conservatives' tendency to confuse the legislative and judicial branches.
View Ève Péclet Profile
View Ève Péclet Profile
2015-06-11 11:16 [p.14937]
Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech, when the government repeatedly removes the discretion of judges and the courts to judge specific circumstances and the relative gravity of an offence, that removes to some degree the power of the judicial system to make judgments. Mandatory minimum sentences prevent the courts from making appropriate decisions and striking a balance among several aggravating factors and the gravity of the offence.
More and more mandatory minimum sentences are making their way into the Criminal Code, something that has been criticized by many groups. Even in the United States, state governors in Texas and other extremely Republican states are reconsidering their mandatory minimum sentence policies. They say those policies do not work, cost too much and do not change a thing. It is obvious that we need a balanced approach because, unfortunately, there is no evidence that mandatory minimum sentences reduce the crime rate.
It might be time to do a study or take an overall look at what we can really do to address this problem upstream rather than downstream when it is too late. We would prefer that people not commit crimes, but mandatory minimum sentences are not the way to go.
View Mike Sullivan Profile
View Mike Sullivan Profile
2015-06-11 11:18 [p.14937]
Mr. Speaker, the bill, as I understand it, would protect all forms of service dogs, both service dogs in the forces of law enforcement, but also service dogs that are helping persons with disabilities, such as the blind, persons who use dogs as therapy, et cetera.
We really appreciate the fact that the government is trying to protect these animals, but we are concerned that the use of mandatory minimums, as always, goes too far with the current government. It could, in fact, result in judges being unable to hand down convictions because they realize the mandatory minimum would in fact be too harsh a penalty.
Would the member like to comment?
View Ève Péclet Profile
View Ève Péclet Profile
2015-06-11 11:19 [p.14937]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the question. I know how important matters related to persons with disabilities are to him.
Diane Bergeron from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind came to committee to testify and said how extremely important the bill is to her because it acknowledges the value of service animals for persons with disabilities or reduced mobility. To her, it is essential that we finally recognize how important these animals are to people's daily lives.
As the hon. member said in the second part of his question, the problem that often comes up in animal cruelty cases is that these offences are withdrawn when there is an agreement between the Crown and the defence lawyers. Offenders often are not prosecuted because the offences are considered less serious than others.
Mandatory minimum sentences could cause a problem. If an agreement is made, a person will agree to plead guilty to some offences, but not to animal cruelty offences because they come with a minimum sentence. As I said, we should take a balanced approach to animal cruelty offences. We must ensure that there are more convictions and not prevent convictions.
View Peter MacKay Profile
View Peter MacKay Profile
2015-06-10 15:13 [p.14878]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-69, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Nur.
View Joe Comartin Profile
View Joe Comartin Profile
2015-06-05 13:18 [p.14663]
There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.
View Joe Comartin Profile
View Joe Comartin Profile
2015-06-05 13:19 [p.14663]
The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Randy Hoback Profile
He said: Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to thank the hon. member for Lethbridge for agreeing to trade his scheduled private members' business time with me, so that I could rise before my scheduled surgery next week. It is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank all members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for unanimously passing Bill C-590 at committee stage.
The committee amended Bill C-590 to address its concerns that the bill's very significant penalties, particularly for first offenders, could lead to many cases where the driver refuses to provide a breath sample because the penalty for refusal has only a mandatory minimum penalty of $1,000. The amendment passed by the committee classifies the offence of driving with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.16% as a hybrid offence. On indictment, the penalties would remain as proposed in the bill. On summary convictions, the mandatory minimum fine for the first offence would increase to $2,000, which is double the minimum fine for impaired driving. For a second and subsequent offence, the minimum penalty would be 30 days in prison.
The amendment would ensure in most cases where drivers have a blood alcohol concentration of over 0.16% but there is no injury or death that a $2,000 fine combined with a mandatory prohibition on driving for one year would be a sufficient deterrent. Further, very severe penalties on indictment would be reserved for the most serious cases where a motor vehicle operator's blood alcohol concentration is well above 0.16% or the driver caused significant property damage.
According to Stats Canada, almost half the fatally injured drivers in Canada had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit. This level of impairment has had a devastating impact on our youth as they make up 31% of the alcohol-related deaths.
A June 2009 report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on alcohol use among fatally injured drivers also found that the bulk of the impaired driving problems lie with those drivers having a blood alcohol content over the current Criminal Code limit of 0.08%. Although the drivers with high blood alcohol content represent about 1% of the cars on the road at night and on weekends, they account for nearly 50% or half of all the drivers killed at those times.
My home community of Prince Albert, as most communities in our nation, has been scarred by the toll of this selfish but preventable crime.
In July 2013, Taylor Litwin and Brandi Lepine, who was pregnant at the time of the accident, were both killed when a 21-year-old drunk driver slammed into Taylor's vehicle. Brandi, who initially survived the crash, was able to give birth to her daughter Aurora before she succumbed to her injuries. The driver who took the life of these two ladies is to be sentenced this fall.
In May 2012, Prince Albert lost a strong community leader, Mr. Ben Darchuk. Ben was the owner of an auto glass business that is located next to my old constituency office location. The 22-year-old driver who pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing Ben's death received two years less a day at a provincial correctional centre for his sentence. He also received a three-year driving prohibition and was ordered to pay a $100 surcharge.
Bill C-590 would target these young drivers with high blood alcohol content by increasing specific penalties for their actions. The goal is to prevent these drivers from getting behind the wheel as they cause a greater number of fatalities and are more likely to be repeat offenders.
As time at the end of this Parliament session is quickly running out, I therefore ask that we pass Bill C-590 as quickly as we can to give the Senate enough time to deliberate and pass it before the fast-approaching summer is upon us.
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