Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-266, respecting families of murdered and brutalized persons act, which was tabled by my colleague, the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.
This bill would see the parole ineligibility for Canada's most heinous and degenerate criminals have the possibility of being raised up to 40 years. As it stands currently, the maximum time for parole ineligibility is 25 years, with the first hearings starting at 23 years. One can imagine the families of the victims of these heinous crimes having to return and relive the events that took their loved ones away from them, and not only once. If the convicts are denied parole, and many times they are because of the brutality they undertook, then new parole hearings happen every two years. This, of course, creates the potential to make the families of the victims relive their nightmare over and over again.
This bill is not designed for the average criminal committing the average crime. It is designed for the worst of the worst, offenders who had such disregard for the dignity of the human person that they ought not to see the light of day. This should not be seen as a bill to increase the punishment of these individuals, but to protect the victims' families.
This bill would empower the courts to make decisions based on a jury's recommendation. I will quote from the bill:
[The judge] may, having regard to the character of the offender, the nature of the offences and the circumstances surrounding their commission, and to the recommendation, if any, made under section 745.22, by order, substitute for twenty-five years a number of years of imprisonment (being more than twenty-five but not more than forty) without eligibility for parole, as the judge deems fit in the circumstances.
This is a good piece of legislation, and it will protect the families of the actual victims of a heinous crime.
I would just like to draw the attention of my colleagues on the government side to the support of some of their members who support this bill. That includes the member for Charlottetown, the member for Cape Breton—Canso, the member for Bourassa, the member for Malpeque, the member for Sydney—Victoria, the member for University—Rosedale, who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the member for Vancouver Centre, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, the member for Regina—Wascana, another minister, the member for Labrador, the member for Winnipeg North, the member for Beauséjour, the member for Cardigan, the member for Ottawa South, the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, the member for Vancouver Quadra, the member for Halifax West, the member for Lac-Saint-Louis, the member for Humber River—Black Creek, the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, and the member for Spadina-Fort York.
Most importantly, I would draw to my colleagues' attention that the Right Hon. Prime Minister, the member for Papineau, also expressed his support during this bill's previous introduction to the House in the last Parliament.
This bill, with the support of all of those members, who now sit on the government side, goes against the standard operating procedure for the government, because when it comes to the victims of crime, we have not seen a great track record of the Liberals doing the right thing. The Prime Minister, a supporter of this bill in its first incarnation, has long tried to paint criminals and the perpetrators of crime as victims of society.
The Prime Minister said, in the wake of a horrible terrorist attack in the United States, that the terrorists must have been feeling excluded and marginalized by society, and that we really need to look at the root causes of these actions.
These terrorists killed three people and maimed hundreds more, but according to the Prime Minister, they are the victims here. The Prime Minister, again, showed how much he cares for victims when he paid a convicted terrorist $10.5 million, after he killed a U.S. medic, Sergeant Chris Speer, leaving behind a wife and children who are still trying to find justice.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Michael Barrett: My hon. colleagues across the way are heckling, obviously in support of that payment of $10.5 million. Let me just check. I think here on my list I have the name of the member—
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2018-11-08 10:39 [p.23429]
Madam Speaker, the brief answer is that we are appointing judges at a rate that has not been seen in this country in over two decades.
The minister has made 230 judicial appointments around the country. She is also doing it in a manner that is commensurate with what the bench should reflect, that being the Canadians they serve and the Canadians to whom they render justice by promoting a number of women, visible minorities, members of the LGBTQ community and persons with disability.
We are not only appointing judges. We are appointing judges who look like Canada.
View Celina Caesar-Chavannes Profile
Ind. (ON)
View Celina Caesar-Chavannes Profile
2018-11-08 12:36 [p.23445]
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
Before I begin, I would like to thank the Minister of Justice and the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for their work on this legislation, which is now at report stage. It really would address some of the issues of delay in our court system. It would reinforce and strengthen our criminal justice system to ensure that victims would be looked after in a way that would protect them, our communities and society and. At the same time, it looks at the inequities within the system.
Before I go any further, I will quote Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer in the United States. I have read his book Just Mercy and one line reads, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” I started with that quote because I want lay some context.
I have listened to hon. opposition members speak to the bill. I want to re-emphasize that our objective is not to revictimize innocent people, but to ensure they are adequately protected. We know there are inequities in the system and the bill looks to improve the efficiency of and equity within the system.
There have been many reports, and it is not just me saying this, about the over-incarceration of our indigenous and black populations within federal institutions across the country. Irrespective of where we are, we see this happening.
I am not a lawyer and this is not my background, but in looking at the legislation, I want people in Whitby to know and understand what the legislation would do to strengthen our criminal justice system, the Criminal Code and increase efficiencies. By doing both, it would increase efficiency.
Bill C-75 proposes to do a few things: modernize and streamline our bail system, including by legislating a principle of restraint to reduce the imposition of unnecessary conditions and with the intended effect of reducing the overrepresentation of indigenous and marginalized Canadians in our criminal justice system. Essentially, when bail conditions are imposed, the proposal is to look at the situation of the individuals in front of the judge and come up with reasonable conditions that would prevent them from re-entering the criminal justice system. By doing that, we would ensure it would not be a revolving door in and out of prison. We want people to be rehabilitated and stay out of the system, but there has to be a thoughtful process throughout the whole judicial system to ensure that happens.
A second proposal is to change the way our system deals with administration of justice offences, including by creating new judicial referral hearings as an alternative to a new criminal charge, with the goal of reducing the burden of administrative justice charges and increasing court efficiency. If an alcoholic is in front of a judge and one of the conditions imposed by the judge is that the person not drink, that is a little unreasonable. Why not have one of the conditions be that the individual seeks treatment? That is a better alternative than telling that person not to drink. Allow individuals to seek treatment and make it part of their conditions so they do not come back before the court. It would prevent that revolving door and increase efficiency.
Another proposal is to strengthen the way our criminal justice system responds to intimate partner violence, including enhancing the reverse onus at bail for repeat offenders. If charged with an offence, it is not up to the prosecution but rather to the defendant to present evidence for why he or she should be released. This makes it harder for the person to reoffend, and it protects the victim. It should be up to the individual to tell the court why he or she will not offend again. It should not be up to the prosecution to do that. It broadens the definition of intimate partner violence to include dating partners and former partners, and it increases the maximum sentence for intimate partner violence.
Another reform is the reform to jury selection processes. This legislation proposes reform by including the abolition of peremptory challenges, reinforcing the power of judges to stand aside certain jurors in order to increase the diversity of the jury selection. That does not mean the person will not have the opportunity to be a juror; it just means that in order to increase the diversity of the jurors who are selected as a jury of our peers, they should reflect those who are living in the community. That component allows for judges to have the authority to do that. Jurors cannot be removed without reason. They cannot be indiscriminately removed; there has to be a reason for that. This also helps to allow and increase equity within our system.
This piece of legislation also restricts the availability of preliminary inquiries to only those offences carrying the maximum penalty of life imprisonment, with the intended effect of reducing the time it takes for each case to go to trial. We know that the introduction of this proposal will allow us to understand what victims go through. We are not revictimizing witnesses by having them testify at the peremptory and also at the trial. It increases efficiency while also, as I mentioned earlier, ensuring that the victim is not further victimized within the system.
I want to talk about the hybridized offences, and a few people may want an explanation as to what this is. There are three ways in which we can convict. There are summary convictions, indictable offences and hybrid offences. The fact that we are increasing the number of hybrid offences does not mean the Crown does not have the ability to decide the appropriate sentence or look at the seriousness of the offence.
My hon. colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton has brought this up a number of times. He is a civil litigator, and during his speech he said we cannot just leave it up to the Crown somewhere in some building to have the ability to indiscriminately sentence. I am sure he has faith in the ability of his colleagues, and I would hope he would know that these lawyers take their job very seriously. Not taking away their ability to decide the seriousness of a crime means they can still go in either direction, whether people are given a fine, or two years, or two years to life. That possibility is still available to our attorneys.
This is certainly not what it is doing. It is not being soft on crime. In addition to these proposals, our Minister of Justice has made significant numbers of appointments. Last year there were over 100 appointments to the bench. We are currently at 235. We are on track this year to keep that number going.
We have the most diversity on the bench. We have judges who look like Canadians. That combination of appointments, plus the proposals in here, increases the equity in our system, and it increases the efficiency of our system.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2018-11-08 13:02 [p.23448]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her contributions to the House and to her community. I will confess to finding some of her comments about appointments a little surprising. Clearly, when we have to overhaul an entire appointments process, it takes some time to get it right.
However, in overhauling that process, we have shifted from a situation in which 30% of the appointees under the previous government were women to a situation in which 57% are now women. Twelve per cent of the appointments have been from racialized groups, 6% from the LGBTQ community, and 3% from indigenous peoples. Two hundred and thirty people have been appointed across the country, including 34 in the province the member represents.
Does she share our view that we strengthen the administration of justice when that justice is delivered by a bench that reflects the community it appears before?
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2018-11-08 13:33 [p.23452]
Mr. Speaker, I will put to the member opposite something similar to what I addressed to the NDP member from Alberta. When we inherit a flawed process, it takes time to perfect it. That flawed process of judicial appointments highlighted by the member opposite produced a situation where 30% of the country's judicial appointments were women. The process we put in place, which is merit based, inclusive and venerates personal lived experience, has produced a process which has resulted in 57% of appointments being women, 12% being members of racialized communities, 6% being people from the LGBTQ community and 3% being indigenous individuals.
Does the member opposite believe and agree, when we have made 230 appointments thus far, 34 in his own province, that the administration of justice and confidence in the administration of justice is enhanced, not diminished, when a bench metes out justice that reflects the communities coming before that bench?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2018-10-15 16:37 [p.22351]
Madam Speaker, this might be slightly outside the scope of the discussion today as it relates to our military justice system, but I will say that when we get into any situation where we cannot try cases because of the fact that we do not have enough justices currently sitting on the bench, then we definitely need to ensure that the vacancies are filled.
I have great confidence in the Minister of Justice and her ability to exercise due diligence to make sure that people are appointed in a timely fashion so that we do not continue to experience the problems that the member suggested.
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2018-09-20 17:13 [p.21631]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the member for Etobicoke Centre, for introducing this important motion to establish an ambassador for women, peace and security.
This is a very special topic for me as I have first-hand experience in this area. As a Canadian woman who has served as a civilian peacekeeper in Bosnia and Kosovo and alongside the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and as a recipient of the Governor General's Peacekeeping Service Medal, I know first-hand the positive outcomes of having more women engaged in global peacekeeping.
I am a woman. I was a peacekeeper. I was not deployed. Like so many other civilian peacekeepers, I volunteered to go. I did it because I could not stand by and watch what was happening to women and children in those countries. In Bosnia and Kosovo, sexual violence against women was used as a weapon of war. I am very proud of all the Canadian women who have served as peacekeepers, military and civilian, in some of the most dangerous and difficult corners of the world.
I am equally proud of another woman, Justice Louise Arbour, who was instrumental in making sure that rape could be considered a war crime.
In the Congo, 48 women are raped every hour. I worked directly with those women. I saw their strength and their resilience, their determination to make a better world for their daughters and sons. It is for that reason that I am so proud to be part of a government that has done so much on a feminist foreign policy and on the national action plan on women, peace and security.
Gone are the days when warlords can get together behind closed doors, divide up the spoils of war and call it a peace agreement. We know that peace agreements are more durable, in fact two-thirds less likely to fail, when women are at the table and involved in the implementation of those agreements.
In today's armed conflicts, civilians are the primary targets. Rape is used as an instrument of war, and violent extremism has added an ideological spin that attracts people from far and wide. Women and girls are often targeted and subjected to violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including sexual and gender-based violence. Children, both boys and girls, are forced to join armed groups, and the number of refugees and people displaced by armed conflicts continues to rise every day.
While everyone is affected, women and men, girls and boys generally experience conflict differently. They bring different perspectives to conflict resolution and peace building. Women broaden the agenda beyond that of the warring parties. The link between their meaningful participation and durable peace agreements has been established, yet women are often excluded from those peace processes.
In recognition of the different impact of conflict on women and girls and the unique abilities they bring to prevent and recover from conflict, the United Nations Security Council has, since 2000, passed eight resolutions, starting with Security Council resolution 1325 forming the basis of the women, peace and security agenda.
Members will recall that I spoke about Security Council resolution 1325 in my maiden speech; it was that important to me. I am very proud of how far our government has come to making it a reality.
Today's motion will go even further. When I worked in Norway, the project was implemented under its gender ambassador. I saw that giving women a strong voice at the highest possible level, an ambassador, had tangible results. Taking a feminist approach to peace and security is a smart, practical solution to address hard security needs.
We must deal with the serious problems of sexual violence and conflict as well as sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and other international personnel. We must ensure that the particular needs of women and girls are met during conflict and humanitarian crises, including access to sexual and reproductive health services. Addressing these problems has direct benefits for women, including those who are courageous defenders of peace or survivors of sexual violence. It also clearly contributes to the stability and security of all.
The full breadth of the Canadian government is united in the belief that gender equality serves as a foundation for more peaceful and secure nations and communities. Canada's second national action plan for the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security was launched last year.
The plan includes an increased number of federal partners, which has enabled our government to broaden its reach under the action plan to areas such as the protection of refugee women and countering violent extremism in Canada.
New commitments have increased available funding. We have launched multiple new initiatives, increasingly worked with civil society, and called upon Canadian officials at home and abroad to mobilize support for women as active agents of peace.
Canada's ambitions for change are bold, but are coupled with the understanding that lasting peace and change take time. For example, at the November 2017 Vancouver UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial, Canada launched the Elsie initiative for women in peace operations. It is a bold and innovative pilot project to increase the meaningful participation of women peacekeepers globally, make their work environment safer and more inclusive, and ultimately enhance the effectiveness of UN peace operations.
We believe that gender equality in UN peace operations is an important goal in itself, and that the inclusion of more military, civilian and police women peacekeepers can also have important benefits for operational effectiveness.
Throughout Canada's G7 presidency in 2018, the government has worked to promote gender equality through many different channels. It mobilized G7 members to support a G7 summit announcement in which they committed to investing nearly $3.8 billion to increase educational opportunities for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations. The G7 Women, Peace and Security Partnerships Initiative jointly launched by G7 members and eight partner countries is advancing gender equality and the rights of women in fragile and conflict-affected states. Canada also partnered with the United Kingdom and Bangladesh to launch the Women, Peace and Security Chiefs of Defence Network in order to bring about transformative cultural and institutional change in national armed forces.
Through the women's voice and leadership initiative, Canada is supporting local grassroots women's rights organizations. The new gender equality partnership with philanthropists and the private sector will bring new investments in support of women's rights.
Our government is committed to meeting its targets and investing where necessary to deliver on the objectives outlined in its renewed action plan.
Canada has a long history of advocating for and supporting gender equality, of promoting the empowerment of women and girls, of calling for the protection of their human rights, and of fighting sexual and gender-based violence, including in conflict settings.
Canada was instrumental in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, and in bringing the issue of sexual violence against women to the UN's attention.
In 2000, Canada formed the group of friends of women, peace and security in New York, an informal group of over 50 UN member states. This group, currently chaired by Canada, shares information and best practices, and conducts periodic joint advocacy in the UN context. Canada founded a similar group in Geneva earlier this year.
Canada will continue to play a leading advocacy role at the UN on advancing the women, peace and security agenda, and engage with key UN agencies and a wide range of member states.
Commitments were made, funds were disbursed and new programs are being implemented. However, obtaining sustainable results that fulfill the government's ambitions will require regular and honest reviews of the areas needing improvement. The Government of Canada remains fully committed to working with all stakeholders of the group of friends of women, peace and security to ensure that we make ongoing, well-considered and steady progress toward achieving our common goals. The women, girls and all those living without peace and security deserve no less.
The Government of Canada remains engaged on this important issue. We are proud of our accomplishments, but are aware that there is more that can be done to advance this issue, both globally and nationally.
View David McGuinty Profile
Lib. (ON)
View David McGuinty Profile
2018-06-05 21:45 [p.20320]
Mr. Speaker, in the previous Parliament and the previous government, I sat on the subcommittee for judicial appointments of the justice committee. That was quite an experience learning about the process by which judges are employed in this country.
Since we have arrived in government here, this member has played an integral role in transforming the appointments process. I think it would be helpful for the House if Canadians watching, listening, or reading this debate understood the kind of steps that have been taken by this member and the Minister of Justice in transforming the way in which we are recruiting, selecting, and appointing judges to the bench.
Can he help us understand that better?
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2018-06-05 21:46 [p.20320]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question, if for no other reason than it allows us to take a step back from Bill C-75, and take a look at one of the many other areas that we are approaching reform of our justice system. Of course, in addition to Bill C-75, we have a judicial appointments process, which I am quite proud to say the Minister of Justice has completely renewed, in consultation with her colleagues. By renewing it, I mean that it is now open, merit based, and reflective of the diversity and tremendous talent and experience that we see across the continuum of the country.
In direct response to my hon. colleague's question, I am quite proud to say that we now have, since taking office, appointed over 170 federal judges across the country. My hon. colleagues from the Conservative benches often take the opportunity to criticize this government wrongly and unjustifiably about our lack of progress in the province of Alberta. I would simply point out that there are now five more judges in Alberta than at any point under the Harper Conservatives. That is something we should all celebrate.
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague raises an important point. People have to have confidence in the system that is put in place to protect them, and of course, the Senate has its own process and its own timelines.
We believe that education and awareness is a critical component of that, and that includes the people who are doing the investigating and the deciding on cases of harassment and sexual violence. That is why we have focused so much in our legislation on education, on ensuring that there is strong policy, that employers know their obligations, and that employees know their rights.
We look forward to working with the member and hearing her thoughts through the committee process.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2017-12-11 13:35 [p.16230]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in today's debate on Bill C-51. It is fair to say that the bill has enjoyed broad and bipartisan support from all members in the House. I wish to acknowledge this support and to thank members from all parties for the collaborative, constructive, and focused discussions that have taken place so far, including before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I expect that this approach will continue and hope that we can quickly move this important legislation forward.
As is well known, Bill C-51 reflects the mandate of the Minister of Justice to review the criminal justice system. It proposes changes that would make the criminal law fairer, clearer, more relevant, and more accessible. These changes are critically important.
The Criminal Code provides the anchor for the criminal justice system and the actions taken within it. As such, these changes would help to advance the minister's ongoing work to transform the criminal justice system and ensure that it continues to promote public safety, hold offenders to account, and meet the needs of victims.
Bill C-51 proposes changes to the Criminal Code and to the Department of Justice Act. I am particularly proud to be part of a government that has shown a consistent and unwavering commitment to promoting the greatest possible respect for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This commitment is reflected in Bill C-51 in many ways. Notably, it proposes changes that would require the Minister of Justice to table a charter statement in Parliament for every government bill. These statements are already being tabled by the minister in respect of her bills. Under Bill C-51, this would be mandatory for the current and future governments.
Some have suggested that this type of change is unnecessary, given the minister's current statutory responsibility to examine every bill introduced in Parliament to determine if any of its proposed changes are inconsistent with the charter. However, we can go further, and that is what Bill C-51 would do. By providing Parliament, the public, and all stakeholders with information on the effects of all government legislation on our constitutionally protected rights, these changes would contribute to a more informed debate on government legislation and a more informed justice system. It is in all of our interests to ensure that those responsible for administering the justice system understand how federal laws implicate our charter rights. This is particularly true for the criminal justice system.
Bill C-51's proposed changes to the Criminal Code can be said to fall into three broad categories. First, Bill C-51 would repeal a number of offences in the Criminal Code that are obsolete or are otherwise redundant. Next, Bill C-51 would build on the work started by the Minister of Justice in Bill C-39, which proposes to repeal provisions that have been found unconstitutional by the courts. It also seeks to amend provisions that have been identified as raising charter risks but that have not been constitutionally considered.
I see the proposed changes in Bill C-51 as reflecting a recognition by the Minister of Justice that, for far too long, we have not been engaging in the kind of modernizing, clarifying, and rationalizing necessary to ensure that our Criminal Code remains coherent and contemporary. Criminal law academics from across Canada, as well as justice system stakeholders, have been calling for this kind of law reform for years. The public also deserves nothing less than a Criminal Code that reflects modern society and that is an accurate reflection of the law in force today. Bill C-51 seeks to make these kinds of changes, and I congratulate the Minister of Justice for making this kind of criminal law reform a priority.
Bill C-51 has generated a lively and important debate. Much of the focus of the debates and the concerns expressed to date have been centred on the bill's proposed changes to sexual assault law, an area that many recognize as complex and for which we would all agree clarity is particularly important. It is an area of particular interest to me as vice-chair of the Status of Women Committee.
I will focus the remainder of my remarks on this section of the bill. I think this area is important for a number of reasons, especially in light of what we have seen in Canada and elsewhere as an ever-expanding dialogue and discussion about gender-based violence and inappropriate and unacceptable sexualized conduct. This violence is almost universally perpetrated by men toward women or toward LGBTQ2 individuals. We know that many survivors of sexual violence in Canada believe that the criminal justice system is not well equipped to address their needs and that if they do come forward to report a crime, they will not see justice.
We do have to do better in addressing these realities, and within our own responsibility can make positive contributions in this regard. Bill C-51 would clarify and strengthen the law on sexual assault, and would help address concerns about how the law is applied in practice. I was particularly pleased to see the changes to consent that are included in this bill.
I had the opportunity to sit in on the justice committee's hearings during testimony on consent. I am pleased to see that at report stage these definitions have been further clarified. We know that no means no and that someone who is incapacitated by alcohol or otherwise or is unconscious is not able to provide informed consent. Now the Criminal Code would reflect these realities.
These changes are, however, only one part of the solution. I am proud of the work of our status of women committee, reflected in our government's commitment to tackling gender-based violence and promoting gender equality as a priority. Efforts like the establishment of a national strategy to address gender-based violence and the allocation of $12 million through the victims fund for projects are designed to improve the criminal justice system's response to sexual assault against adults. This funding is going toward initiatives pursued by the provinces and territories to support victims of sexual assault to receive independent legal advice or the development of awareness raising for the judiciary on gender-based violence. These initiative are important and will contribute to making the justice system more responsive to the needs of survivors of sexual assault.
Furthermore, our government has made judicial education a priority. In April 2017, we announced nearly $100,000 in new funding to the National Judicial Institute to develop training for federally and provincially appointed judges that will focus on gender-based violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence. Additionally, budget 2017 provided funding to the Canadian Judicial Council to support judicial education and training. This funding will ensure that more judges have access to professional development with a greater focus on gender and diversity training.
I urge all members of the chamber to support Bill C-51. I believe this bill is critically important in ensuring that survivors of sexual assault are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2017-10-27 10:31 [p.14619]
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code, offences relating to conveyances, and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
I will address a couple of things with respect to the bill, and one is the timetable for this bill and Bill C-45.
The government is making a mistake, quite frankly, first for even bringing in the marijuana bill and then pushing it forward to try to get it in by Canada Day of next year. Even though I have heard the minister say that the government will try to push through this bill in conjunction with Bill C-45, the whole thing is a mistake.
We heard considerable testimony from different groups that they thought this was being jammed through too quickly. The Canadian police services asked that the legislation be delayed so they would have the ability to train and put resources in place.
I suggest that the government has not done enough to put effective educational campaigns in place, despite statistics showing significant increases in fatalities due to drug-impaired driving. We have a problem already with drug-impaired driving. The Liberals tell us that by legalizing this, they somehow have come up with some solutions to this, but it is the exact opposite.
Mandatory roadside testing, in addition to the large number of officers who still do not have sufficient training to adequately detect drug-impaired driving through drug-recognition training, is another part of this, as well the refusal of the government to mandate proper storage restrictions of cannabis plants in homes. The government, in its excitement, was pleased to announce that everyone would be able to have a small grow-op in the kitchen. We were very much against this, for the reasons I stated at committee and before this. How can we make it any more accessible and easier for kids if the plants are in the kitchen?
I thought I received some good news a couple of weeks ago when a woman in my office, Cheri, said that I would be interested to know that the Liberals had made some changes about grow-ops in kitchens. I thought that was wonderful and that the Liberals had listened to us. However, the government said that the three feet was not high enough, that the plants would have to grow taller than that. Therefore, after getting criticism about this, the Liberals did the exact opposite. They would let people have four-, five-, or 10-foot plants. I guess there would be more joints available the higher these things grew. This is a huge mistake, one that we will hear about in the future if the bill passes.
Canadian police services from across the country have called on the government to delay the legislation beyond 2018 to allow law enforcement time to properly manage the threat of increased drug-impaired driving and the association that this would take place with the legalization of marijuana. The Canadian police services stated that there was zero chance they would be ready by July 2018.
Why are the Liberals so intent on not listening to Canada's law enforcement? They have imposed this deadline, again, with little regard to the health and safety of Canadians.
During the recent meetings our committees had, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police warned that it needed more time to train officers under the proposed new law and more than double the number of police officers certified to conduct roadside drug-impaired testing. It also called for more time to implement public education. If we look around, officials in Washington State and Colorado have stressed the importance of implementing educational campaigns on drug-impaired driving as soon as possible and long before legalization.
The government's timetable is just too tight. The Liberals say that they will get Bill C-46 in before Bill C-45. However, with the timetable they have insisted upon for Bill C-45, we will not be ready.
The Liberals have not taken the advice of members of the police association or Canadian premiers who have voiced their concerns. The provincial governments need more time to get their rules and regulations in place.
The minister mentioned MADD Canada. It has also called for the government to ensure the legislative framework is in place under the Motor Vehicle Act, giving police the powers to lay drug-impaired charges. Currently, the standard breathalyser will not detect drugs, This was one of the things we heard.
My colleagues mentioned how challenging it was to exactly measure the level of THC and thus measure the level of impairment. It is further complicated now that we are encouraging people to smoke marijuana, especially in combination with alcohol. This is going to become more complicated. In the hearings and testimony on Bill C-46, it became very clear how difficult this would be. We heard different experts say that THC could be in a person's system for days afterwards. The THC level spikes with the first couple of joints and then it goes down. How quickly it goes down is the question and what happens when marijuana is used in combination with alcohol.
Again, we need to have people who are expert in this area. The police services have said that they need at least 2,000 experts to do this. I will quote Ms. MacAskill from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She said, about the disposable saliva test, “If every officer can have that in their vehicle it will certainly have a positive impact on road safety.”
Unfortunately, the government is not in a position to guarantee that those drug experts will be in place. It has not made the necessary provisions to make this happen. Again, the Liberals are focused on getting this through. Somehow it will be a wonderful that on the next Canada Day, everyone will be smoking a joint. However, this has been a huge mistake.
As well, I have to mention the penalties. The Conservative party is very clear that a $1,000 fine for a person who kills because of drunk driving is unacceptable. Quite frankly, it sends the wrong message. My colleague talked about mothers for justice. They were very clear that it was not enough to say a person was arrested. We want to send a very clear message that if a person is drunk, starts to drive and kills people, that there are serious consequences, not just a $1,000 or $1,500 fine with a slap on the wrist. Our job is to ensure people get the message that they have to take responsibility for the crimes they commit. When we were in government, that message was consistent. There has to be serious consequences for people who commit serious crimes and victimize others.
Statistics show that impaired driving due to drugs is on the rise. This is why we need to have nationwide public education. We know, having looked at Washington State, what will happen in our country. Fatal crashes among drivers who test positive for marijuana went up from 8% in 2013 to 17% in 2014. In Colorado, between 2005 and 2014, the number of drivers in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana, without other drugs in their system, went from 3.4% to 12%. It multiplied four times when marijuana was legalized in that state.
Dr. Mark Ware, co-chair of Ottawa's marijuana task force, stated, “Canada should immediately boost spending on intensive public education and research into the impacts of marijuana and not wait until 2018.” I would go beyond that and say not to be forced into putting this in place by next Canada Day.
Dr. Ware told a drug policy conference in Ottawa that a bill to overhaul Canada's marijuana laws was the first step in what he predicted would be an unbelievably deep and tangled web with the provinces, territories, and the municipalities, which would be responsible for much of this scheme.
Here is what is going to happen when this legislation gets enacted. The federal Liberals will blame the provinces when this thing becomes a complete national mess. They will say that they legalized it but it is the responsibility of the provinces. They will point the finger and claim that it is not them who have made the mess. Once they get this off their hands, it will be up to the provinces, or they will say that the police services are screwing this up, that they are not doing enough. That is what is so unfortunate about this.
The government has been warned about the implications of legalizing marijuana and the required safeguards that should be in place. The Canadian Automobile Association has made the case that a public education campaign has to be put in place.
This will complicate our judicial system. It was made very clear that there would be charter challenges. I understand that whenever new legislation is put in, there is always the possibility that people will challenge it. Nonetheless, there will be a lot of cases that will compound the challenge this will have on the courts. We have raised this with the government on many occasions. We have told it to ensure enough judges are appointed. This has been a slow process, and not enough judges will not help the situation. When these cases are before the courts and there are delays, et cetera, it will not help things if the Government of Canada does not move forward as expeditiously as possible in appointing judges.
The other thing we have to worry about is not just people smoking marijuana, but people who will turn marijuana into edibles. The Liberals will again say the that provinces are to blame if this is the case. I understand that, but we all have a responsibility. When this gets turned into an edible product and children have access to that product, it will be a serious problem. I appreciate that not all children will go after the pot plants in the kitchen and nor should they, but edibles will be another danger to young people and a danger that the government does not seem to take with the seriousness it should take.
I do like some sections in the legislation. The minister talked about one section that refers to marijuana tests being taken about two hours afterwards. Among other things, this will go after those individuals who will try to avoid an impaired driving charge by having a couple of drinks after the accident, using the excuse they needed those drinks to calm down. We all know that this is a way of avoiding or complicating an impaired driving charge. I actually agree with that section.
However, when my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton came forward with a group of reasonable amendments to ensure people would live up to their responsibilities when they finally were convicted of impaired driving and impaired driving which resulted in somebody being killed, those penalties were completely rejected by the Liberals on committee. When somebody kills a child and receives a $1,500 fine, the whole justice system is compromised. It decreases people's confidence in the criminal justice system when people are not given penalties that are commiserate with the crimes they have committed.
My Liberal colleagues do not want to put these tough penalties in the bill because they believe they will not stop people from committing these crimes. However, I think it does send a message to people that there are serious consequences for what they are doing. Yes, there are people who say that they had better be careful because there are serious consequences for their impaired driving.
I appreciate that Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 go together and that the latter bill complements the first, but my colleagues and I want the government to reconsider everything about this, its implementation and the whole question of legalizing marijuana and what it will do to our children. I promise that if the government implements this and the Liberals start to run away from it and say, “I don't know, you better talk to the education department, or the police, or the provinces”, we will hold them accountable for everything, the complete mess this will create. We will not let them off the hook by pointing to someone else.
I have appreciated the opportunity to make comments on this. I know the government has not listened to us up to this point, but I hope it will in the future.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2017-10-19 19:03 [p.14320]
The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion, the nays have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, October 25, 2017, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.
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