Interventions in Committee
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View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
As legislators, I think any piece of the puzzle we can improve.... There are many moving parts, with Bill C-78 and the Divorce Act being one, as is administrative justice reform, which you have already looked at, and Bill C-75 and moving forward with that are all a series of parts to improving the criminal justice system and the administration of justice. With all of these pieces of legislation, whether they be social or criminal, or help in some other way, we hope to improve the lot of families and children, and to better protect animals.
I guess there isn't one single answer other than to say that we're trying to make a number of things better, and we will continue to do that.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
With respect to the bestiality provisions, my sense is that the challenges would be the same as with any sexual assault provision where you have a vulnerable party. Vulnerable parties are often not people who readily go to a police station and file a report. You're talking about children, for example. It requires other people to report, other people to know about it. All of the investigative challenges that exist with respect to sexual crimes against children generally are going to be quite similar here, I think. Again, we're trying to provide an additional tool and an additional basis on which people can be charged.
We've alluded to some of the challenges that exist around animal fighting, in the sense that it's clandestine, so hidden to begin with, and also often interwoven with organized crime, which adds another layer of complexity.
But, once again, we're trying to provide a basis on which our law enforcement authorities can move in and stop the practice. Hopefully, I think, generally, some of the administration of justice provisions that are contained, for example, in Bill C-75, will also help facilitate the task at the other end.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
Thank you, Chair, and thank you to the witnesses.
Mr. Queyranne, I listened intently to your testimony. I was astounded with the statistic of about half of girls being in a forced child marriage and the horrible outcomes that result from that. I hope my Liberal colleagues were listening because they've introduced Bill C-75, which is going to reduce the penalty for that here in Canada to a less than two years summary conviction or a fine.
The reasons that people are doing forced child marriage here are different. I understand that in the area we're talking about here today, it's that people can't afford to eat. I have a college in my riding that just won the Enactus award globally for lifting 330,000 people in Zambia out of poverty by teaching 75,000 farmers how to do no-till farming and using the profits of that to put in irrigation, expand into peanuts and peanut production, and a whole bunch of stuff, but they would be afraid to do this if there were not a good security plan where they're operating.
Oxfam seems to have a good organization that can get aid to the front and get these kinds of ideas. Are there other organizations and who are they?
View Tony Clement Profile
Ind. (ON)
The issue is not the applications, it's the actual process by which you decide and determine....
However, let's leave that and go on to the children, Minister, because you did highlight the importance of protecting children and their well-being and how that is obviously of primary importance.
I do want to comment, though, that this committee has just been through Bill C-75. Of course, that bill proposes summary conviction options for very serious crimes, including the abduction of a child under the age of 14, participating in activities of a criminal organization, forced marriage, and marriage under the age of 16. These are all hybridized offences now.
How do you square what we saw in Bill C-75 with your rhetoric today about children's protection?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I appreciate the question. I completely disagree with the characterization of rhetoric.
Bill C-78 is a very substantial, significant piece of legislation. It seeks to update the Divorce Act, which hasn't been updated in two decades, as well as to ensure that we are putting in place factors that will enable and assist a judge to determine the best interests of the child, and factors around domestic violence and relocation, all of which are to protect and put a child first.
In terms of Bill C-75, which is our criminal justice reform bill, I am very familiar with the 136 offences that we're seeking to hybridize in that piece of legislation. I will say, as I've said many times before this committee, but particularly in the House, nothing in terms of the hybridization of offences changes the fundamental principles of sentencing. Serious offences will still be prosecuted in a serious manner, due to and having regard to the proportion of the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.
We are not reducing sentences. We're providing prosecutors with the necessary tools and discretion that they need to proceed in the manner that is most appropriate in the individual circumstances of a particular case.
View Michael Cooper Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the minister for being here.
First, it's encouraging that the best interests of the child is a centrepiece of Bill C-78. The best interests of the child is well established in Canadian family law. Under Bill C-78 proposed section 16 provides that only the best interests of the child shall be considered in respect of orders applicable to children in family situations.
While that's encouraging, I want to follow up with the line of questioning from Mr. Clement. It relates to how we square Bill C-78 on the one hand, which puts the interests of the child first, with Bill C-75 that hybridizes a number of serious indictable offences, including offences that relate to crimes against children.
Mr. Clement referenced kidnapping a minor under the age of 16 as well as the offence of kidnapping a minor under the age of 14. I want to raise the issue of the hybridization of individuals who breach long-term supervision orders. These are individuals who have received sentences of more than two years. They're deemed to have a substantial risk of reoffending. The offences for which they were convicted involved a range of sexual offences, often against children. They're considered to be a serious risk of reoffending, so serious that they can be subject to up to 10 years, subject to an order that imposes a whole series of very strict conditions. We're really talking, Minister, about the worst of the worst when it comes to offenders who are at risk of offending again, often against children.
How does that square with putting the interests of the children first by hybridizing the offences related to those breaches, which are often the first sign that these bad actors are going back into their history of violence and escalation toward that? It's a serious public safety concern.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'm going to note that question for the record. I'm not taking from your time. I'm stopping the clock for a second. I waited to the end to see if it related to Bill C-78. It seems to relate to how a principle in Bill C-78 squares with Bill C-75, which is not what the minister is here to testify about today.
I'm going to ask the minister if she wishes to respond to that question or if she prefers not to. It's up to her.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I'm happy to respond to that question.
As the member noted, the best interests of the child is the basic premise of Bill C-78. I'm really pleased to hear, right around this table, that everyone embraces the best interests of the child. I hope that the study from this honourable committee will proceed expeditiously to ensure that we update our divorce laws.
In terms of the member's comments around Bill C-75 and the hybridization of offences, I will go back to my previous answer to our honourable colleague. The answer is the same. Bill C-75 is a very bold piece of significant legislation that seeks to address delays in the criminal justice system. This is a piece of legislation developed very closely with my counterparts in the provinces and territories. The comprehensive nature of the legislation will reduce the delays in the criminal justice system.
One of the pillars of the reform in that bill is around the hybridization of offences. I'll say again that hybridizing offences in no way changes the fundamental principles of sentencing. Serious crimes will continue to be prosecuted in a serious manner. Through the hybridization of offences, prosecutors will be given the tools, or the ability to use their discretion, to proceed in the manner that they deem appropriate given the circumstances of a particular case. In no way are we reducing or diminishing the serious nature of offences. Once a conviction is put in place, a court will determine the sentences based on the proportion of the gravity of the offence and degree of responsibility of the offender. It does not change the sentencing principles.
View Tony Clement Profile
Ind. (ON)
I know, but now there are another 10 seconds gone.
I think it is important that this bill send the right signals to parents and to children, which is why on this side of this committee we raised not only Bill C-78 but were talking about signal creating in Bill C-75 as well and trying to square the two. The signal of this bill is the children, but the signal of the other bill, Bill C-75, was lessening.... I know you say that it's not lessening the sentences, but allowing the opportunity....
The justice system takes its signal from you, Minister, and the signal you have sent is that these serious offences are going to be treated less seriously. My colleague Mr. Fraser and others on the other side changed their minds on the terrorism. The reason they gave was that it's a serious offence. Well, kidnapping a child is a serious offence. You were quoted in the National Post, I believe—
An hon. member: Mr. Boissonnault was.
Hon. Tony Clement: Mr. Boissonnault was—
View Tony Clement Profile
Ind. (ON)
In the minute that's left, can you try to help us understand why it's okay under Bill C-75 to treat children's offences less effectively, but it's not okay under Bill C-78?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I'm happy to respond to that. I'll respond to it in a different way than I responded to the hybridization of offences.
I completely disagree with your characterization of the signal that I am seeking to send with Bill C-75 and Bill C-78.
The signal that I am trying to send with Bill C-75 is to ensure that we do everything we can to address the delays in the criminal justice system. I am not sending the signal that there are offences that are less serious offences that warrant a less punitive measure. With respect, that is the signal that you are trying to send. You are mis-characterizing the hybridization of offences in Bill C-75. I think it does a disservice. What we are trying to do is to ensure that prosecutors are provided with the necessary tools.
With respect, again, to my honourable colleague, you are mis-characterizing the hybridization of offences. I believe it does a disservice to Canadians, and you are working very diligently to create fear in Canadians where fear should not exist, because we are not reducing sentences in Bill C-75.
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
Madam Chair, as for the NDP proposal, I know that Mr. Saganash is quite familiar with how acts and bills are written, given his experience as a lawyer. For my part, I have been involved in the study of Bill C-75 for some months now, and I know that amendments can change the text considerably. We find it redundant to add again here the reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Since it is indicated at the beginning, it has an impact on the whole process. The reference to this statement and to the particular section you mentioned therefore applies to all the provisions of this bill without exception. We therefore consider this to be redundant. That is why we cannot support this proposal.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Hello, colleagues. Thank you very much for your patience everyone.
We will reconvene at this point. Given the room that we're in, we probably need to put in the earpieces. It's hard to hear in here.
(On clause 162)
The Chair: We are at clause 162, as we resume our study of Bill C-75, and we're at CPC-101.
Mr. Cooper.
View Michael Cooper Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This amendment is in relation to a reclassification under Bill C-75. It would seek to maintain the offence of a threat against internationally protected persons as a solely indictable offence.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Cooper.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
(Clause 162 agreed to)
The Chair: Amendment X-119 is not receivable anymore.
(Clauses 163 and 164 agreed to on division)
(On clause 165)
The Chair: On clause 165, we get to CPC-102.
Mr. Cooper.
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