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View Jim Hillyer Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Hillyer Profile
2015-06-17 18:30 [p.15244]
moved that Bill C-644, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (failure to comply with a condition), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, nine years ago, our Conservative government made a pledge to overhaul our criminal justice system. We told Canadians we would make sure that our laws, the police and the courts would be focused on the needs and rights of victims, and we have followed through on that pledge.
Notwithstanding the bleeding hearts who think that every violent criminal just needs a hug, most Canadians want a more just justice system, one that puts the rights of the victim above that of the criminal and one where punishments fit the crime.
As happy as people are with measures like the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, they shake their heads in disbelief when they find out why we needed such a law in the first place. They cannot believe that such a particular measure was actually needed to address a real problem that allowed foreign criminals, individuals who committed a crime in their home country, to enter our country on false pretenses, which is crime two, and then commit crimes in Canada, which is crime three.
These foreign criminals were able to exploit our generous nature and our generous systems by making appeal after appeal for up to 10 years before we had the legal right to get rid of them. Thankfully, that mind boggling problem is fixed. Even though, for the vast majority of Canadians, this change is simply common sense, I actually heard opposition members say that the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act discriminated against criminals. Canadians want to see us continue on with our commitment to common-sense reforms of some of our laws that clearly fly in the face of our sense of justice.
As part of our ongoing efforts toward a more just justice system, I have introduced my private member's Bill C-644, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (failure to comply with a condition) to create a new offence for violating parole and requiring these violations to be reported.
Canadians would probably be astounded to know that violating parole is not a criminal offence. It is not even necessary to report parole violations to judges when criminals are being considered for early release or release in general. Currently, the singular method for parole review does not work.
It is well documented that a disproportionately small number of offenders are responsible for a disproportionately large number of offences. Yet, when it comes to parole, all criminals are reviewed in the same manner which permits the most dangerous offenders to slip through the cracks and back into society to offend again and again.
My proposed legislation will correct that shortcoming through two simple reforms. First, the bill would make parole violation a criminal offence. Second, the legislation would also make it mandatory for the Correctional Service of Canada to report to the police all cases parole violation.
Reporting parole violations will help ensure the justice system has all the information on an offender in order to make the best public safety decisions before determining whether an offender should be given parole in the future.
By legislating parole violation as a criminal offence and making it mandatory to advise judges and parole boards of these violations prior to sentencing and early release considerations, we establish firmly that early release from jail or parole is a privilege to be earned and not a right to be demanded.
This legislation is consistent with other kinds of release from jail laws. For example, it is already a criminal offence in itself to skip bail and it is already a criminal offence in itself to violate probation. Then why is the violation of parole not a criminal offence in itself? There is no good answer.
Let us look at how the system works today. Under the current law, offenders who are granted conditional release or parole are subject to a certain number of conditions. That is why it is called conditional release. Some are standard conditions such as staying within Canada at all times and reporting regularly to a parole officer. Some offenders receive additional special conditions depending on their specific risk for reoffending. This could include a condition to live in a halfway house, or to abstain from drugs and alcohol or to refrain from associating with certain individuals.
If offenders violate parole by breaching any of these conditions, such as showing up late for a meeting with their parole officer or breaking curfew, the law provides a range of options for correctional authorities on how to deal with that violation. They can either do nothing, other than tell the offender he or she should not violate parole, which is usually what happens, or they can add stricter parole conditions, like an earlier curfew, or they can revoke parole and send the offender back to jail.
If he commits a crime while violating parole, he will be charged for that crime, but there will be no additional penalty for violating parole. It is as if the only punishment for escaping jail is a return to jail, with no additional sentence. The violation does not even have to be reported to future parole boards. In fact, until the changes we made in 2012, police could not even arrest parole violators caught in the very act of violating parole. Now, thanks to the Safe Streets and Communities Act, they can do that.
Let me re-emphasize that it is possible, and based on research it is even highly likely, that an offender can violate parole and receive no penalty. Of course, this does nothing to promote respect for the rule of law, and it greatly increases the likelihood that offenders will reoffend.
After the initial astonishment of learning that violating parole is not already against the law, people gave strong support to this amendment. For example, the mayors and reeves of my region of southern Alberta have written a joint letter urging the government to support this legislation. The good news is that it supports this legislation.
Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, said:
Our members appreciate the step taken...to introduce this legislation which will ensure accurate records are kept, and that a full history of an offender’s actions can be considered before any parole is earned.
This legislation is named after Constable Ezio Faraone, who was killed in action while he was attempting to arrest repeat criminal Albert Foulston. If one Googles Constable Faraone, Albert Foulston's name comes up over and over again, even though it was Foulston's accomplice, Jeremy Crews, who pulled the trigger.
Albert Foulston was out on parole. He had repeatedly violated parole, yet he was on the streets. He was under surveillance, but police were not able to do anything until he actually robbed a bank. Constable Faraone had him cornered in an alley when Foulston feigned surrender, allowing his accomplice to shoot Faraone with a sawed-off shotgun at point-blank range.
In 2009, Foulston was released on parole after just 20 years of a 30-year sentence. His parole was automatic, even though he was involved in about 100 incidents while in prison, including fights and assaults on staff, and even though the parole board assessed his risk of reoffending as moderate to high. According to the board, it had no choice but to release him, because the law said that parole was automatic after serving two-thirds of the sentence. All the parole board could do was impose various conditions on that parole.
The trouble is, no matter how many or how limiting the conditions of parole are, there are no criminal consequences for violating those conditions. If Foulston's parole conditions said he could not hang out with other drug dealers or bank robbers, it would not matter. It was not until he actually robbed a bank that he committed an actual crime. If my bill had been law, he could have been arrested just for hanging out with his accomplice, Mr. Crews.
Sure enough, the next page in our Google search shows that in 2012, Albert Foulston recommitted again and was facing jail time for trafficking illegal drugs. No wonder the Edmonton Police Association refers to Faulston as the poster boy for problems in the Canadian correctional system. Faulston has spent more than 30 years behind bars on more than 50 convictions. He has been released ten times.
Sadly, his name came up more recently. In fact, it was in an interview with retired police sergeant Tony Simione, the sergeant who replied to Constable Faraone's fatal shooting 25 years ago. Sergeant Simioni was responding to the tragic death of Constable Daniel Woodall recently, on June 8, in Edmonton. He said that the incident brought Faraone's shooting home like it was yesterday. He said that it was very vivid, very profound, and brought back very traumatic memories and emotions.
He said, “It's surprising how long it does last. And the [Edmonton police] who went through what they went through [June 8] will be experiencing the same, I'm sure”.
While this legislation would give police important tools for crime prevention, there are other important reasons to support these changes. According to the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act:
The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions...
There is more to it than just crime prevention. Critics of our tough-on-crime measures focus only on the impact of the measure on the criminal himself. Clearly no amount of deterrent would be enough to dissuade someone like Albert Foulston, but our laws are not in place just to control the criminal. Laws and the rule of law have great power over the minds of law-abiding citizens. One of Canada's great values is the rule of law, or respect for the rule of law. We are a law-abiding people.
Why do most Canadians honour and obey the law? It is not because we fear punishment and it is not because we fear a minimum sentence. It is because we want to be a law-abiding people.
However, law has the power to command a willing respect and obedience of those who are subject to it only if the law is legitimate. There are a few key principles or elements that make law legitimate. One, for example, is how the law was made. Was the process leading to the development of the law legitimate?
As well, the law must also contribute to a just, peaceful, and safe society. For law to be legitimate, it must satisfy our sense of justice. This is one reason that we say the punishment must fit the crime. Anything more or less than that violates our sense of justice. A society can only find themselves saying “that is ridiculous” about so many laws before they start saying that the law itself is ridiculous.
When we reach that point, there will never be enough police to monitor and enforce obedience. Of course we do not want to lock up someone for life for making a youthful mistake. While mercy cannot rob justice, mercy is actually compatible with our sense of justice. We do not want to live in a Hugo-like miserable society that would force Jean Valjean to live for a lifetime carrying a yellow passport for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's starving children. Punishments that are too severe are unacceptable, but so are punishments that are far too lenient. They simply violate our sense of justice.
This bill addresses an important particular loophole in the justice system, but it is just part of our overall common sense reform of our justice system. Simply put, Canadians want a more just justice system. Our sense of justice cries out that the rights of the victim must take priority over those of the criminal and that the punishment must fit the crime.
This legislation complements our government's ongoing work to support victims of crime in this country and further holds offenders to account for their actions. I look forward to receiving support from all parties on this much-needed piece of legislation.
View Costas Menegakis Profile
CPC (ON)
View Costas Menegakis Profile
2015-06-11 10:26 [p.14931]
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be here today to take part in the third reading debate of Bill C-35, the justice for animals in service act, also known as Quanto's law.
The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code support the Speech from the Throne commitment to bring forward Quanto's law in recognition of the daily risks taken by police officers and their service animals. The proposed amendments would create a specific new offence prohibiting the killing or injuring of a law enforcement animal, a service animal, or a military animal.
I note that the bill defines each of these terms. A law enforcement animal is defined as a dog or a horse trained to aid a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer's duties. A military animal is defined as an animal that is trained to aid a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out the member's duties, and a service animal is defined as an animal that is required by a person with a disability for assistance and that is certified, in writing, as having been trained by a professional service animal institution to assist a person with a disability.
Quanto was a five-year-old German shepherd Edmonton police service dog that was fatally stabbed on October 7, 2013, while assisting the police in apprehending a suspect. Quanto and its handler, Constable Matt Williamson, were in pursuit of a suspect in a stolen vehicle. When the vehicle became disabled at a gas station, the man jumped out and fled. Constable Williamson ordered the suspect to stop or he would send in Quanto. When his calls were ignored, Constable Williamson deployed Quanto. Unfortunately, as Quanto caught and held the suspect, the suspect began stabbing the dog with a knife. Quanto was taken for medical treatment, but his injuries, sadly, were fatal.
The Criminal Code has contained offences relating to the treatment of animals since 1892, and the current set of offences has existed since 1953. The penalties in the existing law were increased in 2008. The offence of killing, maiming, wounding, poisoning, or injuring an animal that is kept for lawful purposes, as set out in section 445 of the Criminal Code, was used to prosecute Quanto's killer.
However, the maximum sentence that may be imposed when this hybrid offence is prosecuted as an indictable offence is five years of imprisonment. The law provides that the court may, in addition to any other sentence, on application of the Attorney General or on its own motion, order that the accused pay the reasonable costs incurred in respect of the animal as a result of the commission of the offence.
Finally, paragraph 738(1)(a) of the Criminal Code authorizes the court to order the offender to pay the costs associated with training a new animal as restitution for the loss of an animal when the amount is readily ascertainable.
The person who killed Quanto was sentenced to a total of 26 months' imprisonment on various charges arising out of the tragic events of October 7, 2013, of which 18 months were specifically for killing Quanto. The accused was also banned from owning a pet for 25 years.
Quanto's killing was only the most recent instance in which a police service animal was killed in the course of a police operation. Another high-profile incident involved of death of Brigadier.
Brigadier was an eight-year-old Toronto police service horse killed in the line of duty in 2006. In that case, a driver in a fit of rage, while waiting in a line at a drive-through ATM machine, made a U-turn and barrelled right into the horse and the mounted officer. Both of Brigadier's front legs were broken, one so badly that he could never have recovered. The horse had to be put down.
The person who drove the car was subsequently convicted, including for dangerous driving causing bodily harm to Brigadier's mounted officer.
Members of this House will be aware of the many ways law enforcement dogs assist their handlers in protecting the public. A police dog is trained specifically to assist police and other law enforcement personnel in their work, such as searching for drugs and explosives, searching for lost people, looking for crime scene evidence, and protecting their handlers. Law enforcement canine units, like Quanto's unit in Edmonton, are a common component of municipal police forces as well as provincial police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
When I visited the police service in my region of York, at the invitation of York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe, I had the opportunity to see the canine unit at work. I was given a complete demonstration and was joined by the Minister of Justice of our country. I heard very compelling evidence and support from the police officers who are working with these animals on a daily basis.
In 1995, after an absence of 23 years, a new version of the Montreal police canine unit was established. Today this canine unit has 11 officers and 10 operational dogs. The unit supports Montreal police officers in their investigations and daily activities. It is also called upon to work on certain operations where its specialties are required. For example, the unit will co-operate with police forces throughout Quebec that do not have canine units or will work with dog handlers on other police forces during major events. It participates in media, community, and cultural events, at schools and community meetings, and on television shows to promote the canine unit and the good work of the Montreal police service.
The dogs in the Montreal police canine unit specialize in specific types of work. Some dogs have general purpose training with a specialization in narcotics detection. Other dogs have a specialization in searching buildings, and some dogs have specialized explosives detection training.
On the international front, a number of American states, such as Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Oregon, have enacted laws making the intentional injury or killing of a police dog a felony offence and subjecting perpetrators to harsher penalties than those in the statutes embodied in local animal cruelty laws, just as an assault on a police officer may result in harsher penalties than a similar assault on a member of the public.
With respect to law enforcement horses, after they undergo special training, they may be employed for specialized duties ranging from the patrol of parks and wilderness areas, where police cars would be impractical or noisy, to riot duty, where the horse, because of its larger size, serves to intimidate those they want to disperse. Police horses provide the officers who ride them with added height and visibility, which gives their riders the ability to observe a wider area. However, it also allows people in the wider area to see the officers, which helps deter crime and helps people find officers in those instances when they need one.
This bill proposes to extend specific protection not only to law enforcement animals but to trained service animals and military animals. Service animals perform tasks that help their disabled human masters live independent lives. Most service animals are dogs, such as Seeing Eye dogs. However, other kinds of animals may be trained to be service animals. The cost associated with training a new service animal is significant.
The Canadian Armed Forces uses a variety of animals on a contracted basis as required. For example, animals assist members of the Canadian Armed Forces by sniffing for bombs. Each of these animals is required to have received specialized training that enables it to accomplish specific tasks in support of its human handler.
It should also be noted that this offence only applies when the animal is killed or injured in the line of duty. Animals that do not fall within the scope of the new offence are nonetheless protected under the existing animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code.
As with the existing section 445 of the Criminal Code, the proposed offence would require the offender to have intended to kill or injure one of these animals. That way, accidental or negligent conduct would not be criminalized. Like section 445 of the Criminal Code, the new offence would carry a maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment or indictment of 18 months and-or a fine of $10,000 on summary conviction. However, it is important to note that the proposed amendments would also require courts to give primary consideration to denunciation and deterrence as sentencing objectives in respect of the new offence. Furthermore, we must underline that there would be a mandatory minimum of six months of imprisonment where a law enforcement animal was killed in the line of duty and the offence was prosecuted by indictment.
Bill C-35 also includes a provision that would require the sentence imposed on a person convicted of assault committed against a law enforcement officer to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed on the offender for an offence committed at the same time.
The murder of a police officer is classified as first degree murder and is punishable by life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum period for parole eligibility of 25 years. The Criminal Code specifically prohibits assaults committed against police officers in the performance of their duties for a number of offences, including subsection 270.(1), assault on a peace officer; section 270.01, assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm on a peace officer; and section 270.02, aggravated assault on a peace officer.
Regrettably, data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics adult criminal court survey reveals that there are still too many assaults on police officers in our country. From 2009-10 to 2011-12, there were a total of 31,461 charges laid under section 270.(1), 345 charges laid under section 270.0, and 20 charges laid under section 270.02.
In 2009, the Criminal Code was amended to require courts, when sentencing persons convicted of such assaults, to give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of such conduct.
I am sure that we all recognize that such attacks not only put the lives or safety of the individual officers at risk but that they also attack and undermine the justice system more broadly. Recognizing that the wilful killing or injuring of a law enforcement animal also undermines the justice system more broadly, the bill would require that the sentence imposed on a person convicted of the wilful killing or injuring of a law enforcement animal would be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed on the offender for an offence committed at the same time.
I could go on and on about this subject. However, I will close my remarks today by indicating that I am looking forward to the quick passage of the bill at third reading, and I sincerely hope that we can get the bill to our colleagues on the other side of the House and passed before we recess for the summer.
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
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
NDP (QC)
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
NDP (QC)
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
NDP (ON)
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
NDP (QC)
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 Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-11 11:21 [p.14938]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for that accommodation.
I rise today to speak on Bill C-35, justice for animals in service act (Quanto's law). As members know, Bill C-35 is commonly referred to as Quanto's law, after an Edmonton police service dog was killed in the line of duty in 2013.
In response to that incident, this bill makes it a specific criminal offence to injure or kill a law enforcement, military or service animal. The Liberals will vote for Quanto's law. We support providing additional protection to law enforcement, military and service animals. They provide tremendous service to society and require significant investment in training. At committee, we heard it was $40,000 for a police dog.
These animals deserve the full protection of the law, which in the case of police dogs and horses, they assist in upholding. Any attack on a law enforcement animal is an attack on law enforcement. Parliament must rightly denounce such affronts to our system of law and order.
That last point, the purpose of this specific crime, is the main distinction between Quanto's law and our current animal cruelty laws in Section 445(1) of the Criminal Code. A conviction under Quanto's law or the animal cruelty section carries the same maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment. However, morally and legally, language makes a meaningful difference.
A conviction under Quanto's law will carry a special stigma for offenders. We know this because of the outpouring of public condemnation when these incidents occur.
At committee, we heard of this bill's importance to stakeholders. Staff Sergeant Troy Carriere joined us from the Canine and Flight Operations Section of the Edmonton Police Service. He described the stabbing death of Quanto after that police dog was deployed to pursue a suspect, Paul Vukmanich, who had fled on foot from a stolen vehicle and turned out to be wanted on a warrant for armed robbery. Staff Sergeant Carriere also described the public response to Quanta's death.
There was overwhelming response and support from the community and other policing agencies from across Canada. This tragic event struck a public nerve that, in my 22 years of policing, I have never been witness to.
Quanta's death resulted in a charge of animal cruelty. That conviction, together with other charges, resulted in a sentence of 26 months for the offender. However, as we heard at committee and in debate earlier today, 18 months of the sentence were for Quanta's death. That is an important point when we're talking about the penalty provisions in Bill C-35 that I will return to.
The committee also heard from Stephen Kaye, president of the Canadian Police Canine Association, whose own police service dog was shot and killed in 2001. He described the place of law enforcement animals in society in terms that I would like to share with this Chamber. He said:
To suggest that law enforcement has become dependent on these uniquely specialized creatures is simply an understatement. They have become as public a servant and ambassador for us as has any human member or officer. Some people may not care very much for the police, but a service dog always draws a crowd and much attention at public presentations.
The committee also heard from Barbara Cartwright, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. Ms. Cartwright informed us that many other jurisdictions have greater protection for police and military animals, including some U.S. jurisdictions, where the intentional injuring or killing of a police dog is a felony.
I would be remiss not to mention the excellent testimony of Diane Bergeron, who is blind and appeared with her guide dog Lucy. Ms. Bergeron had a very moving personal tribute on how much she owes to her guide dogs over the years. She said:
I have gone skydiving, rappelled down the outside of the Sutton Place Hotel in Edmonton, 29 stories ... and driven a stock car. In the last couple of years, I have decided to challenge myself just a little bit more by doing triathlons, including two half Ironmans, and this year, at the age of 50, I am going to compete in my first full Ironman at Mont Tremblant. None of this would have been possible without the starting dog of Clyde. Over the years, my dogs have guided me to so many places, but most of all they have guided me towards my hopes and dreams.
These stories are really what Quanto's law is about, a statement from the Parliament of Canada on the value of the animals that serve our society so well. We were reminded of their service by a story out of the U.S. a couple of weeks ago.
In Mississippi, three men attacked a sheriff's deputy and slashed him with a box cutter. Fortunately, the deputy was able to activate a button that opened the door to his vehicle, releasing his service dog, which bit and repelled the suspects. Really it was quite amazing and there are many stories of this kind of devotion from service animals.
However, in supporting the bill, I do not want to overstate the magnitude of this problem or the frequency of attacks on these animals. At committee we were not able to get a reliable number on injuries to service animals, but the Canadian Police Canine Association indicated that 10 police dogs were killed in the line of duty between 1965 and 2013, with three of those occurring in the last decade.
While the bill is a worthwhile improvement to our criminal law, it does not respond to a trend and is more driven by a particular incident than evidence about where government attention is required. While Liberals support the bill, we want to emphasize our strong objection to the government's policies on criminal justice in general.
One reason comes up when we look at the specific provisions of the bill. As I said, Bill C-35 creates a specific offence for injuring or killing a law enforcement, military or service animal. On summary conviction the penalty is a maximum fine of $10,000 or 18 months in prison, or both. On indictment, the maximum penalty is five years with a minimum punishment of six months in prison.
Bill C-35 also amends the code to require sentences for assaults on law enforcement officers to be served consecutively to punishments for offences committed in the same course of events. The one provision that caused me pause was the mandatory minimum penalty on indictment as it is in the best interests of society to preserve judicial discretion to tailor particular sentences to particular crimes. However, legitimate concerns are mitigated by the fact that the offence has a summary procedure avenue without the minimum penalty.
It is also relevant that in Quanto's death the judge gave 18 months specifically for the killing of that service animal. We should expect to see similar sentences handed down across the country for these types of incidents on the principle that similar crimes deserve similar penalties and 6 months is well below the 18 months in that case. Therefore, this mandatory minimum is less offensive than most.
Finally, I want to end on a philosophical note. In considering Bill C-35, one issue that I thought about is whether the purpose of this law is to protect these animals merely because of the value they provide to humans. Certainly that is the perspective the Minister of Justice emphasized at committee. I wonder whether the legal purpose of protecting animals is not also because they have some value for their own sake. I think that members of the House would agree that animals do have value independent of our use of them.
As a Liberal, I believe that all animals deserve to be treated humanely and that federal animal cruelty laws should be informed by the best scientific evidence available. I also believe that treating animals humanely is consistent with important cultural and economic practices like farming, ranching, fishing and hunting. That would include a humane, regulated seal hunt that takes into account the interests of affected communities.
As we pass Quanto's law and reflect on the value of service animals, we might also pause and think whether the principles underlying the bill should have other progressive legal applications in the future.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-11 11:30 [p.14939]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague from Charlottetown's remarks. He was able to attend the hearings on the bill at committee. During those hearings one of the things the member and others mentioned is that there is an impact through sentencing, by making the sentencing for the killing of a service animal consecutive with other sentences.
Did the member get any opinion from those hearings, either from the justice minister or other legal officials, whether that in fact would stand up if there were a court challenge on the matter in terms of mandatory sentencing?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-11 11:31 [p.14939]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and fellow Prince Edward Islander for that question.
The minister was asked at committee about constitutional review of the bill and, quite frankly, the question was not answered directly.
What has been emphasized by witnesses through the committee process was the very point I made in my speech. That is, in the most recent case involving a conviction for animal cruelty in the circumstances of the killing of a service dog, there was a global penalty of 26 months, and the judge in that case specifically said that 18 months of the sentence were applicable to the killing of the service dog.
There are two features to the mandatory minimum in Quanto's law. One is that it is a hybrid offence, so the mandatory minimum only applies where the crown decides to proceed by indictment. The second is that the mandatory minimum penalty is six months, which is significantly less than the 18 months that was imposed under the animal cruelty laws in the most recent case.
Although we did not receive any expert legal opinion at committee, those circumstances would indicate that this is likely either to withstand a challenge or to not be subject to a challenge because of those circumstances.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-11 11:35 [p.14940]
Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to split time in debates in the House with my colleague from Charlottetown, who is the critic for justice within the Liberal Party. I know it was a difficult negotiation in terms of getting unanimous agreement to split time, especially with the NDP, but we appreciate the fact that those members agreed.
I am pleased to speak on the third reading of Bill C-35, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to law enforcement animals, military animals, and service animals.
The bill would amend the Criminal Code to make it a specific offence to injure or kill a law enforcement, military, or service animal. It would also amend the code to require that sentences for assault on law enforcement officers be served consecutively to punishment for offences committed in the same course of events.
Bill C-35 is an important bill that, to a great extent, recognizes the duty and dedication of animals in doing assigned jobs, whether they be service, military, or law enforcement animals. The loyalty of those animals creates a strong bond between the handler, who I would call the partner, and the service animal itself.
I know that quite a number of people in the House have seen that bond and loyalty. The true dedication to their job, to their duty, and especially to their partner that these service animals give is really something to behold.
I mentioned in earlier remarks that the member for Richmond Hill and I were together in Israel, as was the member for Winnipeg North. While we were there, we saw military service dogs at work, going through vehicles and sniffing the bumpers to see whether there were guns, ammunition, or explosives. It was interesting to see how those animals work and how sensitive they are to be able to find a small bit of explosive within the frame or bumper of a car. We also saw those military service dogs track down people at the border who came into the country illegally for terrorist purposes. These animals are so important in so many ways.
Here at home, I have had the opportunity, while a minister in a previous government, to see how Canada Border Services Agency and police service dogs worked. I would expect most people here have seen them at airports. They can quickly run across baggage coming off the belt and immediately detect contraband or drugs that might be in luggage. As well, we sometimes see a Canada Border Services agent or police officer with a dog on a leash walking through the crowd. They, too, are doing that kind of job. Therefore, service animals are an extremely important part of our security apparatus and policing system within Canada.
When we see these service dogs with people who are blind, and we see how they work and how dedicated they are to their master in that case, we see that they provide a tremendous function to Canadian society. This bill would give those dogs a bit of protection as a result of this new law.
Because of the purpose of these service animals and the duty and dedication they provide to those who handle them, and which they really provide to Canadian society, we need to ensure that they have protection under the law.
As my colleague from Charlottetown stated, the origin of the bill was the death of a police service dog, Quanto, with the Edmonton police force. The justice committee held hearings and heard from the Edmonton Police Service about that particular animal's death and how important that dog was to the Edmonton police. It is actually becoming increasingly common for criminal sanctions to be imposed on those people who harm service animals in other jurisdictions, and the reasoning is basically the same. These animals provide a service for which they are injected into often dangerous situations, as is the case of police and military animals.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
As I stated, in the second reading debate, it is important to place the legislation in context. In the course of the past 48 years, only 10 police dogs have been killed in the line of duty, and 10 is certainly way too many. The RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and Correctional Service Canada have roughly 310 dogs in service. The point being that the scale of the offence is not as significant as the government has been implying. However, that does not minimize the fact that the protection of service animals should be acted upon.
I want to make a point on the offence not being as significant as the government has implied. We have had 10 long difficult years of the government. We have seen that it is prone to exaggeration and, as a result, is prone to imposing excessive penalties. While it does that within the law, what we are becoming increasingly concerned about is this. It passes a law but it does not apply the appropriate funding so the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, CSIS and others so they have the ability to do the job.
Right now there are charges under the Canada Labour Code against the RCMP for not providing suitable equipment and training in Moncton, New Brunswick. While the government may pass a law, the fact it does not provide the necessary funding really complicates matters. The government has to find balance. Instead of exaggerating the need, it needs to apply the resources, whether for service dogs, officers, training or equipment, so the personnel can actually do its job.
The legislation proposes Criminal Code amendments that would create a new offence specifically to prohibit the injuring or killing of animals trained and being used to help law enforcement officers, persons with a disability or the Canadian Armed Forces.
The U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act does much the same thing. However, under the U.S. provision, there is no consecutive sentencing provisions nor mandatory minimums as is being proposed under this legislation. The offences against law enforcement service animals are treated as a stand-alone violation. It is important to make that point.
As my colleague said, we will be supporting the legislation. It is needed and is justifiable. Our concern is that once again the government is creating a sense of crisis that is not to the extent it portrays. However, we will support this law. There was a reasonable committee hearing process. I hope others in this chamber do as well.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-11 11:47 [p.14941]
I am always collegial, Mr. Speaker. The member for Northumberland—Quinte West really gets somewhat agitated when we lay the facts on the table with respect to what the government is really doing. I am pleased we are having this debate, but the member has to get away from the speaking points that the Prime Minister's Office shoves at those members. He might want to look at doing a bit of independent research.
We said we supported the bill, but do the Conservatives really need to include mandatory minimums in the bill as well? One of the problems with the government is that it gets a little excessive. It exaggerates the problem and then gets excessive with the penalty.
Let me use one fact. The funding for the RCMP was cut in budget 2012. While the House did budget money to the RCMP in 2013, the minister quietly asked the commissioner for a little to be kicked back to the government and the RCMP did that. As a result, the rank and file has been complaining about the the equipment and training it needs. That fact has to be expressed, and I will continue to express it.
View Robert Goguen Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women.
I would like to begin my remarks today by acknowledging the broad support Bill C-35 has had, the justice for animals in service act. It has received support not only in the House, but also from Canadians across the country. Commonly referred to as Quanto's law, this bill is evidence of the government's continuing commitment to bring forward criminal justice legislation that would contribute to making Canadian communities safer.
By way of background, it should be noted that the Criminal Code has contained offences relating to the treatment of animals since 1893, and the current set of offences has existed since 1953. The penalties in the existing law were increased in 2008. Currently, an offence is committed under section 445 of the Criminal Code when someone wilfully and without lawful excuse kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures an animal other than cattle. The maximum sentence that may be imposed when this hybrid offence is prosecuted as an indictable offence is five years imprisonment.
As well, paragraph 738(1)(a) of the Criminal Code authorizes the court to order the offender to pay the costs associated with training a new animal as restitution for the loss of the animal where the amount is readily ascertainable.
As many members know, Quanto was an Edmonton police dog who was stabbed to death on October 7, 2013, while he was helping to apprehend a suspect. The person who killed Quanto was later convicted under section 445 of the Criminal Code for deliberately killing a dog and for other offences resulting from the incident that occurred on October 7, 2013. This man was sentenced to a total of 26 months in prison, and the judge who sentenced him specifically said that 18 months of that sentence was for killing Quanto. He said that this was not just an attack on a dog. “It's an attack on [our] society and it's an attack on what's meaningful in society.”
The tragic death of this law enforcement animal struck a chord with a lot of Canadians and many in the law enforcement, legal and community groups called for greater recognition and protection of service animals.
Bill C-35 is the government's response to the commitment made in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to pass legislation such as this in order to recognize the risks taken by the animals used by the police to help enforce the law and protect society.
Dogs like Quanto have been employed by Canadian law enforcement agencies for many years. Sadly, from time to time, some of these law enforcement animals have been intentionally injured or killed by criminals in the course of police operations. The loss of such highly trained and motivated members of a law enforcement team not only has a direct operational impact on its ability to protect the community, it has significant financial implications for the affected police service.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has estimated that the cost to train a police dog and its handler as a team is in excess of $60,000. The government believes that the creation of a specific Criminal Code offence that includes a specially tailored sentencing regime would contribute to the denunciation as well as deterrence, both general and specific, of such crimes in the future.
Bill C-35 proposes the creation of a new specific hybrid offence of killing or injuring a law enforcement animal, a service animal or a military animal. These three terms are defined for the purposes of the new offence. The objective of the amendment is to denounce and deter this conduct.
A law enforcement animal would be a dog or horse which has been trained to aid law enforcement officers in carrying out their law enforcement duties. A service animal would include an animal that has been trained to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. This would include, for example, guide dogs for persons who are blind or have reduced vision and dogs trained to assist persons suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
A military animal would include an animal trained to aid a member of the Canadian Armed Forces in carrying out his or her duties. The proposed sentencing regime for this new offence will be similar to the existing regime of the Criminal Code offence for killing or injuring an animal in section 445, but with the following enhancements.
First, Bill C-35 proposes that the Criminal Code be amended to provide that denunciation and deterrence are the primary sentencing objectives in respect of such offences.
Second, where a law enforcement animal is killed in the line of duty and the offence was prosecuted by indictment, there will be a mandatory minimum penalty of six months imprisonment.
Third and finally, if the offence is committed against a law enforcement animal, the sentence would be served consecutively to any other sentence arising out of the same event.
I would like to say something more with respect to the second and third enhancements, the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, and the consecutive sentencing.
During the second reading debate of Bill C-35, there were questions raised regarding the constitutionality of the mandatory minimum penalty of six months' imprisonment that would apply to the new offence of killing a law enforcement animal that was assisting a law enforcement officer in carrying out his or her duties. The government's position remains that the mandatory minimum penalty imposed by Bill C-35 would not result in the imposition of a grossly disproportionate sentence that could be found to be cruel and unusual punishment punishment under the charter. If this provision is challenged, the government will vigorously defend its constitutionality.
The requirement that the sentence imposed upon an offender convicted of the new offence of killing or injuring a law enforcement animal, a service animal, or a military animal be served consecutively to any other sentence that might be imposed on the offender arising out of the same series of events is also justifiable.
Our law recognizes that in certain circumstances, the nature of an offence committed is so serious and distinct that it requires the imposition of a consecutive sentence in order to properly denounce and deter such conduct, even though the offence might be committed as part of the same events or series of events. Bill C-35 is consistent with this existing approach.
Bill C-35 would enhance the protection of law enforcement officers through the addition of a section 270.03 to the Criminal Code. Henceforth, the law would require that the sentence imposed on a person convicted of committing an assault on a law enforcement officer, an assault causing bodily harm or with a weapon on a law enforcement officer, or an aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer be served consecutively to any other sentence that might be imposed on the offender arising out of the same series of events.
In closing, I call on all members to support this bill.
View Susan Truppe Profile
CPC (ON)
View Susan Truppe Profile
2015-06-11 12:04 [p.14943]
Mr. Speaker, I am proud and honoured to add my voice in support of Bill C-35, the justice for animals in service act, also known as Quanto's law. This is yet another piece of legislation that our government has introduced with the goal of making Canadian communities safer. In this case, the focus of the legislation is on deterring persons from harming law enforcement animals or other service animals as well as from assaulting law enforcement officers.
From the outset, there has been broad support in principle in this House and across the land for this legislation. What concerns there may have been with regard to one aspect of this proposed legislation, the mandatory minimum penalty of six months' imprisonment for the killing of a law enforcement animal that was assisting a law enforcement officer in carrying out his or her duties when that offence is prosecuted by way of indictment, have, I believe, been addressed in the course of the justice committee's study on the bill.
Before I go further, I want to express my appreciation to all the witnesses who appeared before the justice committee and provided their helpful perspectives on the legislation. It is the personal experiences and expertise they share with parliamentary committees that help us to better understand the objectives of proposed legislation and to sometimes improve it through amendments.
The most common type of law enforcement animal in use today is probably a police dog. Police dogs are specifically trained to assist police and other law enforcement personnel in their work, such as searching for drugs and explosives, searching for lost people, looking for crime scene evidence, and protecting their handlers. Police dogs must remember several hand and verbal commands. The most commonly used breed is the German shepherd.
In the United States, anyone who kills a federal law enforcement animal will face fines and up to 10 years in prison. Similar statutes exist to protect police animals from malicious injury in every one of the states in the United States except South Dakota.
It is the sad truth that Quanto's law could have been named in honour of several other police dogs that have been killed in the line of duty. The Canadian Police Canine Association maintains a valour row on its website. Quanto's story is there, as are accounts of how 10 other law enforcement dogs were killed in the line of duty between 1965 and Quanto's death in 2013.
However, as the association's president admitted before the justice committee, the valour row does not present a complete picture; it includes only those animals that have been brought to the association's attention.
Bill C-35 recognizes and honours the important contribution that police dogs such as Quanto make to law enforcement. However, Bill C-35 also acknowledges the very important role that other service animals play. Through the work of the justice committee, we are more aware of the invaluable assistance that service animals provide to persons with disabilities. I am pleased that the bill would recognize the importance of other service animals. Service animals are trained to assist in performing some of the functions and tasks that persons with disabilities cannot perform for themselves. There are several different kinds of service dogs, including guide dogs, hearing dogs, mobility dogs, seizure alert/response dogs, psychiatric service dogs, and autism dogs.
I suspect that the type of service animal with which most people are familiar are Seeing Eye dogs used by individuals who are blind or have low vision. However, there are other types of service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. These animals require the same type of recognition and the same type of protection from persons who would wilfully cause them harm.
A psychiatric service animal is a dog that is individually trained for people with an emotional or psychiatric disability so severe that it substantially limits their ability to perform at least one major life task. Psychiatric service dogs would be considered service animals under Bill C-35.
Proposed subsection 445.01(1) would create a new Criminal Code offence that would be distinct from the general offence of cruelty to animals in section 445 of the Criminal Code.
In terms of how this new offence would improve the protection of law enforcement animals, military animals, and service animals over the protection offered under the existing animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code, I would note that the enhancement is chiefly about sentencing.
While section 445 and proposed section 445.01 share the same maximum penalties whether the crown proceeds by way of indictment or by way of summary conviction, proposed new section 718.03 of the Criminal Code would require the courts to give primary consideration to denunciation and deterrence as sentencing objectives in respect of the new offence described in subsection 445.01(1).
While courts are required to impose a sentence that is proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender, this amendment would have a significant impact on the sentence imposed by the court. It is worth noting that courts are currently required to give primary consideration to denunciation and deterrence as sentencing objectives in regard to assaults committed against peace officers or other justice system participants.
Another important aspect of Bill C-35 is its proposal regarding the sentencing of persons convicted of committing any type of assault on a law enforcement officer, whether it is a common assault, an assault causing bodily harm, an assault with a weapon or an aggravated assault. It would require that a sentence imposed on the offender convicted of having committed such offence be served consecutively to any other sentence that might be imposed on the offender, arising out of the same event or series of events.
For example, there is a report of a break and enter. As the police arrive a suspect is seen running away from the house. A police officer engages in a foot chase with the fleeing suspect. The officer quickly catches up to the suspect and tackles him. The suspect pulls a knife, stabs the officer, wounds him and endangers his life. The officer is taken to the hospital and thankfully survives. Later, the offender is convicted of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, pursuant to 270.02 of the Criminal Code. In addition to being convicted of breaking and entering into a dwelling house contrary to section 348, in such a case the proposed amendment would require the sentence imposed for the aggravated assault to be served consecutively to the sentence imposed for the break and enter.
In closing, Bill C-35 would be a fitting legacy for Quanto. It is my view that the spotlight that has been placed on the intentional killing or infliction of harm on law enforcement animals as well as service animals will not soon be forgotten. By enhancing the protection afforded to these working animals we would also be making Canada a safer place for all.
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