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Results: 1 - 30 of 1792
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-18 11:19 [p.15266]
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Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether the member has the answer to this question or not, but the leader of the Green Party raised the question of gazetting. I was of the understanding that these regulations, handled this way, would still go through the scrutiny of regulations committee and would probably still have to be authorized by cabinet. I may be wrong on that, but do they have to be gazetted? That is an important aspect.
Does the member, who has studied this in a little more depth than I, have an answer to that question?
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-18 11:49 [p.15269]
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Mr. Speaker, the member referred in his remarks to the regulations. From my point of view, one of the worrisome aspects is that we do get governments that would govern basically by regulation. Regulations do not have the same kind of scrutiny as legislation does in the House and cabinet directives in which the full regulations are laid out. There are people who do pay attention to the Gazette on an ongoing basis and they can raise concerns if there are regulations that they disagree with. There is a period in which to respond.
We know how far the government will already go when the PCO and the PMO encourage the RCMP to break the law. We cannot pick and choose what laws to support. I will have members on the government side know that the Access to Information Act is a law that applies to this House too, yet the Prime Minister encouraged the breaking of that law. Then it was covered up by way of a clause in a budget bill. The PMO encourages our national police force to break a law and then covers it up by way of legislation.
I ask the member, is he concerned about regulations—
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-18 12:22 [p.15273]
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On the lighter side, Mr. Speaker, the member started off by asking her colleagues to pay attention to the wonderful speech she was going give on this matter. I do not know if she has had the opportunity to sit on the scrutiny of regulations committee, which some members of this Parliament had to do. I have sat on that committee. To be honest, I would rather watch paint dry.
I want to recognize all of those members who sit on that very detailed committee, because it is not an easy committee. That is the only point I want to make. They did a tough job on that committee.
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View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-06-18 15:03 [p.15298]
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Mr. Speaker, our government's priority is to ensure the safety of mariners and the protection of British Columbia's coast. Kitsilano was a search and rescue facility. It was in no way, shape or form intended to be an environmental response station.
The member can talk about support for the Coast Guard. Our government provided a 27% increase in investment in the Canadian Coast Guard, and that party voted against it.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 16:44 [p.15311]
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Mr. Speaker, my question is along the same vein. There are serious problems with this bill, but the most glaring one is the one which was just pointed out by the member for Gatineau, and that is the politicization of the question of release of the worst of the worst offenders.
The parliamentary secretary was there when we had representatives from the Parole Board testify in connection with a private member's bill that has the same objective as this piece of government legislation and he will recall the testimony from the representatives of the Parole Board.
What is it about these very serious crimes that make the Parole Board so uniquely unqualified to determine the parole eligibility and conditions of those who are charged with them, so uniquely unqualified that it must be placed in the hands of an elected official? Also, what is it about the education, training and experience of the Minister of Public Safety as a professional engineer that makes him so uniquely qualified to stand in judgment in these cases?
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:15 [p.15315]
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Mr. Speaker, as always, my colleague from the justice committee, the member for Gatineau, gave us a very comprehensive review and critique of the legislation. Over here, we find ourselves in agreement with virtually all of the points she made, and that is indeed quite a common occurrence at committee, I am pleased to say.
There are two particular questions that I wish to pose.
The first is that one of the stated goals of this legislation is to minimize the trauma to victims of having to constantly go back to parole hearings when someone who has committed a terrible crime is eligible or is up for eligibility consideration. Surely the member would agree that this is a legitimate goal. I think we can concede that. However, are there other modes of minimizing the stress on the families of victims other than this one, that she could propose?
Also, unless I missed it, I do not think she spent much time talking about the constitutionality of the legislation. It is obviously constitutionally suspect, as we have seen over and over again, with millions of dollars wasted on legal fees trying to defend charter violations. Her comments with respect to the constitutional validity of the legislation would also be of some value.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:23 [p.15316]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-53, the lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key act. It is the life means life act. This bill would eliminate the possibility of parole for many of the most serious crimes, including many forms of first degree murder and high treason.
The stated purpose of the bill is to reduce trauma to victims' families by avoiding unnecessary and repeated parole hearings. That is a worthy objective, and the Liberals supported legislation to further that goal just a few weeks ago with Bill C-587, the respecting families of murdered and brutalized persons act. As members will recall, that bill would extend parole ineligibility to 40 years from 25 years for a limited class of particularly brutal crimes.
However, while we agree with the objective of reducing trauma to victims and the approach taken by Bill C-587, we will not support the life means life act. Liberals are open to exploring additional ways of reducing trauma to victims. For example, we would consider extending parole ineligibility to longer than 25 years for some of the crimes covered by Bill C-53, just as we supported consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for multiple murders. As members know, that change resulted in Travis Baumgartner receiving 40 years of parole ineligibility for murdering three of his coworkers at an armoured car company. It also resulted in Justin Bourque receiving 75 years of parole ineligibility for murdering three RCMP officers in Moncton.
The crimes covered by Bill C-53 are terrible. That is why they are punished harshly under Canadian law. However, the primary reason we will not support this bill is that it would replace the Parole Board with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Ministers are inherently concerned with making political decisions. That is a step backward and an affront to the rule of law. It is also probably unconstitutional. I will explain why that is the case later on.
First let us go over the contents of the life means life act.
Bill C-53 would amend the Criminal Code to require imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole for specific types of murder convictions, as well for high treason, provided that the offender is 18 or older. The types of murder convictions that require such a sentence must be planned and deliberate murders in which the victim is a law enforcement officer, a member of correctional staff, or a person working in a prison; the accused caused the death while committing or attempting to commit aircraft hijacking, various types of sexual assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement, or hostage taking; the accused caused the death while committing or attempting to commit a terrorist act; or the accused's behaviour associated with the offence was of such a brutal nature as to compel the conclusion that the accused's behaviour in the future is unlikely to be inhibited by normal standards of behavioural constraint.
Under Bill C-53, a conviction for high treason would also require the imposition of a life sentence without eligibility for parole. High treason comprises attacking the Queen, waging war against Canada, or assisting an enemy engaged in hostilities with the Canadian Forces.
Bill C-53 would also create a discretionary judicial power to order imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole for three types of offenders.
First are persons convicted of second degree murder who have previously been convicted of murder. Second are persons convicted of second degree murder who have previously been convicted of genocide, a crime against humanity, or a war crime. Third are any persons convicted of first degree murder.
The use of this discretionary judicial power would require a prosecutorial application and consideration of the offender's age and character, the nature of the offence and its circumstances, and the jury's recommendation on parole eligibility.
In addition, Bill C-53 would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to allow offenders serving life without eligibility for parole to apply to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for executive release by the Governor in Council after serving 35 years of their sentence. Offenders may reapply after five years if their application is unsuccessful. Offenders granted executive release would become subject to the Parole Board's authority, including termination or revocation of the release and the imposition of conditions.
As I said, Liberals are amenable to 35 or 40 years of ineligibility for the crimes covered in this bill, as we indicated in our support for Bill C-587. That increase could make a meaningful difference for victims' families. However, we take issue with who the government proposes should be making decisions after that time period.
In addition to the changes I have already noted, Bill C-53 would amend the National Defence Act to require imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole for the following offences: traitorous misconduct by a commanding officer in the presence of an enemy; traitorous misconduct by any person in the presence of an enemy; traitorous compromise of security; high treason; and murder of the same types captured in the Criminal Code amendments.
This bill would also create military judicial discretion to impose imprisonment without eligibility for parole in the same circumstances as in the civilian domain. As well, Bill C-53 would amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act to allow imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole when, in the opinion of the Minister of Public Safety, documents supplied by a foreign entity show that the offender would have been convicted of a murder offence listed in the first paragraph, with the exception of the brutal nature provision.
I want to flag this last change as being particularly problematic, since it would allow the Minister of Public Safety to impose life sentences without parole eligibility based on evidence supplied by foreign entities. That would allow potentially tainted or fabricated evidence to produce life sentences without parole eligibility in Canada. States with some of the worst justice systems in the world could provide admissible evidence.
It is important to understand how all of the changes in Bill C-53 would alter the status quo. Currently all murder convictions carry mandatory life sentences in Canada. All of the specific types of murder that require parole ineligibility for life under Bill C-53 support convictions for first degree murder, which carry 25 years of parole ineligibility. A conviction for high treason would also carry a mandatory life sentence with 25 years of parole ineligibility.
For an offender serving a life sentence, day parole would become a possibility after 22 years and full parole would become possible after 25 years. On application, the Parole Board must review unsuccessful day parole applications every year and unsuccessful full parole applications every two years.
Of relevance, under a 2011 law that Liberals supported, offenders can now receive consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for multiple murders. As I mentioned, two offenders have been sentenced under that law to 40 years and 75 years of parole ineligibility respectively.
Under the current law, offenders may also be designated as dangerous offenders, meaning they may receive indeterminate sentences, subject to periodic review.
I want to focus in on the fact that this bill would grant the Minister of Public Safety, an elected politician, the discretion to release prisoners, a function currently carried out by the Parole Board. Any minister of public safety would be subject to self-interest and political pressure from constituents, the party, and especially the Prime Minister. This conflict of interest could unduly affect decisions on prisoner release and act contrary to the interests of justice.
When Canadians reflect on the matter, I do not think they would support the idea of the Prime Minister personally deciding on which prisoners to release. That is rightly the job of the Parole Board. Political considerations should not enter into these sorts of decisions. That, of course, is the reason we do not elect judges in Canada.
I am not sure why the government views the Parole Board as not being up to doing its job. When evidence was given on Bill C-587, I had a chance to ask Ms. Suzanne Brisebois of the Parole Board about its functioning. I asked her, “To whom is the Parole Board of Canada accountable?” Her response was as follows:
Our board is an independent administrative tribunal. There's a very rigorous competitive process that prospective board members have to go through...
We're responsible to the Canadian public. Again, the protection of the public is our paramount consideration. It's part of our mandate.
I also asked Ms. Brisebois:
Is the board less well-equipped to deal with the most serious cases than the rest? Could you comment on whether they're particularly poorly equipped for the most serious cases?
Her response was:
Our board members undergo rigorous training as part of their induction, both at national office and in the regions. They're trained on various aspects of the legislation, our policies, our procedures, risk assessment, and the various actuarial tools, so they undergo a very rigorous training period.
The Parole Board should be allowed to do its job. Replacing the Parole Board with political decisions from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is a step backwards.
Liberals supported Bill C-587's increase to 40 years of parole ineligibility as well as the 2011 change for allowing consecutive periods of parole ineligibility. Crucially, both of these changes preserved judicial discretion in criminal sentencing under the charter. While allowing for more severe penalties, they safeguarded a judge's ability to tailor specific sentences to be proportional to specific crimes.
In contrast with Bill C-587, this bill would fetter judicial discretion in a way that would invite charter scrutiny. As I said, we are open to increasing the period of ineligibility, provided that it is the Parole Board that takes any decision once the years have passed. That approach would preserve judicial discretion, allowing sentences to pass constitutional muster.
On that note, I want to say a few words about the current government's disrespect for the Constitution, especially the charter.
This week Amy Minsky of Global News reported that the Conservatives have wasted almost $7 million of taxpayers' money in unsuccessfully trying to defend legislation and executive actions that violate Canadians' rights. That included over $1 million spent in trying to take away health care from refugees, almost $350,000 in trying to put a federal judge on Quebec's Supreme Court seat, and over $425,000 in trying to shut down a safe injection site.
Last week I learned from an order paper question that the Conservative government has spent $257,825.17 and counting in the Ishaq case, trying to ensure a woman cannot take the citizenship oath while wearing a niqab. I say “and counting” because that appeal is ongoing—not because it has a reasonable prospect for success, but because the current government wants to fearmonger and divide Canadians for political reasons. I am going to repeat the number in the Ishaq case: it spent over $257,000 to make sure a woman cannot wear a niqab in a citizenship oath. That is a stunning misuse of taxpayer money.
As Canadians know, the current government is one that has little respect for the courts and less for the charter. We all recall the disgraceful defaming of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice. As a lawyer, I was shocked. As a Canadian, I was deeply disappointed.
Members in this chamber will also recall the revelation that the current government disregards the constitutional advice of its own lawyers. As members are aware, Department of Justice lawyer Edgar Schmidt has revealed to Canadians that the current government proceeds with legislation even if it has a 5% or less chance of being charter-compliant.
As the Liberal justice critic, I have often criticized the current government for constantly amending the Criminal Code while failing to invest the necessary resources to prevent crimes from occurring. As a general rule, the government's approach is doomed to be ineffective because its policies are not responsive to evidence.
As I said when speaking to Bill C-587, I think in particular of the government's recent cuts to Circles of Support and Accountability, a community-based reintegration group that holds sex offenders accountable for the harm they have caused while assisting with their re-entry into society at the end of their sentences. COSA has been proven to reduce recidivism among sex offenders by 70% to 83%. That is an astonishing number.
According to the government's own study, it has saved $4.60 for society for every dollar invested. Over five years it has prevented 240 sexual crimes, yet the government cut that program, which was incredibly irresponsible. That cut poses a real and ongoing threat to public safety.
Returning to Bill C-53, the life means life act, I want to reiterate that Liberals strongly support the objective of reducing repeated and unnecessary trauma to victims' families. I recall from the Bill C-587 hearings the moving testimony of two family members of victims. That testimony was the reason we supported Bill C-587. However, the goal of reducing trauma to victims can and should be achieved with changes other than those contained in Bill C-53.
The primary reason we will not support this bill is that it would replace the Parole Board with politically driven decisions from the Minister of Public Safety. That is a step backward and an affront to the rule of law. Also, it is probably unconstitutional.
I wonder if these considerations explain why the government has brought this legislation forward so late in the calendar when it has no chance of becoming law.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:41 [p.15319]
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Mr. Speaker, first, my colleague from the Okanagan wished me well in the upcoming election, but the Conservative candidate better. If he could tell me who it is, that might help. That individual has not yet been identified.
With respect to the specific question, there is a real concern here with the politicization of prisoner release, the politicalization of the role that previously was reserved for the Parole Board.
While he makes a valid point that there are certain powers that reside with the Minister of Public Safety right now with respect to international prisoners and those types of transfers, any encroachment on the expert role that is presently played by the Parole Board is one that is unwise, unwarranted and potentially dangerous.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:44 [p.15319]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
He is right. It is clear that this government has adopted many measures that are quite similar to those adopted in some U.S. states.
However, we are always 10 or 20 years behind. Many of the measures adopted in the United States no longer work. There is a movement around the world, not just in the United States, to change the mindset about crime and sentencing. In fact, the hon. member's statistics confirm that.
There is another aspect of this issue that I want to address, and that is the safety of those who work in prisons. There are measures in Bill C-53 that are going to cause real problems because those who are incarcerated and will be affected by these measures will lose hope and have no reason to behave in a civilized manner. When inmates lose hope, that can create a very dangerous situation in our prisons for those who work there. In my opinion, that is an important aspect of this debate.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:48 [p.15320]
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Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of aspects to that question that I will try to address.
First of all, clearly, the timing of the bill is purely political. It is not just a solution in search of a problem; it is a solution in search of a fundraising letter. If the government were seriously committed to a measure like this, the government would have brought it in much earlier in the mandate.
We have also heard absolutely no evidence of the magnitude of the problem that this addresses. The member for Gatineau very ably pointed out the number of individuals who will be affected. There is absolutely no evidence that this is a rampant issue that people who commit genocide, treason and multiple murders are out walking the streets. They are not granted parole under our present system.
The other comment was with respect to prevention. With the current government, any complex social problem can apparently be solved by an amendment to the Criminal Code. These problems are much more complex than that and require much more innovative solutions. When the only thing one has in the tool kit is a sledgehammer, everything looks like a rock, and that is where we are.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 18:53 [p.15329]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise to pursue a question that I raised first on May 11, which was answered by the Minister of State for Science and Technology. Subsequently, on June 5, I asked a similar question, which was answered by the government House leader.
The issue is this. There was a secret deal made between a cellphone provider and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans which owns a range light structure in a residential area of Charlottetown 250 metres from an elementary school to erect an antenna on that range light structure. I say it was a secret deal because the residents found out when they saw survey crews around this range light in this residential area. That is how they were notified. There was some sort of a negotiation or a deal struck between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the cellphone company without the input of the residents. The residents are understandably concerned about property values. They are understandably concerned about the health and safety of their kids. They are understandably concerned about having this in the middle of their residential neighbourhood.
I raised the question initially in May with the Minister of State for Science and Technology. He said, “Canadians across this country deserve a say in how their cellphone tower locations are identified in communities all across the country, including in Prince Edward Island”, but they were not consulted.
I raised the question again on June 5, and the government House leader said that they have changed the rules affecting the location of cellphone towers in such a fashion that there is heavy reliance on the community, and he closed his answer with, “We work together with and co-operate with communities.”, but they did not. The full extent of the consultation with the community was after the secret deal was done and it was somebody sitting in Halifax and responding to emails. There has not been a public meeting and that antenna was erected yesterday.
The cellphone company did apply for a building permit, but because there was no variance sought, there was no public meeting in that instance either.
The minister did respond to one of my constituents by email saying that he would get in contact with the company to ensure that local residents are given the opportunity to provide their feedback on the antenna proposed for installation along Queen Elizabeth Drive. That antenna is up and that consultation has not happened.
I have three questions that I wish to have addressed arising out of this. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is the regional minister for Prince Edward Island. It would not be that difficult for her to engage her fellow islanders in the lead-up to this process. Why did she not and what is she going to do about it? Will the government change the rules that allowed this to happen without any involvement of the community? The rules provide an exemption where an antenna is being put on an existing structure. That is the problem here. Will the government now take measures to rectify this problem, which is a very serious problem in a residential neighbourhood in my riding?
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 18:59 [p.15330]
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Mr. Speaker, that is extremely disappointing. The member opposite just said that the cell company involved here, Eastlink, consulted with the local residents. However, it made a secret deal with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans did not care enough to talk to the neighbours.
After the deal was done, and after this matter was raised in the House of Commons, the company sent out a flyer. There has never been a public meeting. There has never been anyone from Eastlink come into the affected neighbourhood to answer questions. When DFO signed that deal to allow Eastlink to erect this antenna, it did not insist upon it. It could very easily have been accommodated.
There is an exemption within the Industry Canada guidelines that allows for no consultation to happen when an antenna is being put on an existing structure and does not increase its height by 25%. They relied on that loophole, and the residents in that area are justifiably enraged.
What the member just said simply is not the case.
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-17 14:45 [p.15206]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister confirmed yesterday it was on his encouragement that the RCMP was instructed to violate the law and destroy government documents. If anyone needed any more proof that Ottawa is broken, they need look no further than a Prime Minister who puts direct pressure on the national police force to break the law.
Has the Prime Minister become so out of touch that he thinks he can ask the RCMP to break the law and then write himself a nice little bill to absolve himself of responsibility? Does the Prime Minister really believe he is above the law?
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View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-06-17 15:09 [p.15211]
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Mr. Speaker, this issue has been before the courts for quite some time. The court has ruled and DFO acted upon that ruling.
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-17 18:46 [p.15246]
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Mr. Speaker, I certainly have to agree with what the member for Alfred-Pellan said. Her position is the same.
The member talked about this as more just. It is not more just and it is not punishment to fit the crime.
As the member for Alfred-Pellan said, the parole board already has the authority to deal with these situations. It has the expertise and authority to deal with them. The bill takes the authority out of its hands. Under the bill, if someone failed within a 24-hour period to state their change of address, they would have a new criminal record. They would go back into prison. What is the cost to the system? This is blanket treatment for anything a person does that is outside the conditions of his or her parole, and some of them can be terribly minor.
I would like the member to tell me how this in any way is going to help with rehabilitation to put these people back out onto the streets so they can be productive in society. Also, what would be the added costs to the system for this one-off bill that we are seeing again from the Conservative Party?
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-17 18:57 [p.15247]
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Mr. Speaker, I would not say I am pleased to speak to Bill C-644 because it is just another one-off bill by a government that is continuing, by a private member in a governing party, to complicate the criminal justice system at the end of the day in order to make the system work.
The purpose of the bill is yet another in a long line of punishment rather than any effort of rehabilitation legislation from Conservative backbenchers. It is designed to achieve the following or claim to achieve the following.
It would amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to create a new offence for the breach of conditions of conditional release and to require the reporting of those breaches to the appropriate authority. It would do absolutely nothing to enhance justice.
We cannot support the legislation because it is only based upon punishment and misses the point on making Canadians safer.
There are no costs attached to it and there will be substantial costs, both in real financial terms and in human terms as a result of the bill.
Reports by Correctional Services Canada and Public Safety Canada state that the rate of reoffending while on conditional release has been steadily declining. We should be making evidence-based decisions here. If the Conservatives were concerned with reoffenders, they should consider proven ways to limit reoffending, such as rehabilitation and other ways, in terms of which the Parole Board, which has the expertise, can deal with these issues.
Further, we question that the repercussions of the bill have been properly accounted for. There are no provisions for adequate resources for the enforcement of this policy, both within Correctional Services Canada and the Parole Board of Canada.
According to the definition from the Parole Board of Canada:
Conditional release includes those federal offenders conditionally released on day parole, full parole and statutory release...It contributes to the protection of society by allowing some offenders to serve part of their sentence in the community under the supervision of a Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) parole officer, and subject to conditions.
On average, for the past 10 years, approximately 8,500 offenders are participating in conditional release programs. Of these, approximately 5,500 are released under statutory release provisions. The remainder fall almost entirely under the day and full-time parole category.
According to the Parole Board of Canada, “All federal offenders serving determinate sentences are entitled to statutory release after serving two-thirds of their sentences”.
This provision does not apply where it is determined an offender is likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm to another person, a sexual offence including a child, or a serious drug offence.
According to the Parole Board of Canada's 2013-14 performance monitoring report on successful completion rates for federal conditional release, the following is stated: full parole, 90% successful completion; day parole, 85% successful completion; and statutory release, lower, at 62% successful completion.
It shows the importance of gradual entry into society under the Parole Board system.
The Parole Board has examined the issue of low successful completion rate for those on statutory release and provided the following remedy.
This is from a Parole Board document. It states:
Over the last ten years the successful completion rate on statutory release for offenders who had a day and/or full parole supervision period prior to a statutory release supervision period on the same sentence was on average 11% higher than the rate for offenders who had no prior supervision period. Two possible explanations for this are:
1. Offenders that had a day or full parole supervision period prior to statutory release are less likely to reoffend and this is part of the reason they had the prior supervision periods.
2. Offenders that had a day or full parole supervision period prior to statutory release have learned from their time in the community and are thus more likely to successfully complete statutory release.
The whole point is the importance of parole: gradual entry into the community, the Parole Board, officials with the Parole Board and supervisors on the ground working with these inmates as they re-enter society.
The report confirmed:
In the last ten years, violent reoffending on statutory release was considerably lower for offenders who had a prior day and/or full parole supervision period...
While there are a number of conditions, it is important to consider what conditions, if breached, would be criminalized if Bill C-644 were passed: if an offender leaves the residence and forgets the release certificate; failure to report any change, regardless of significance, in the domestic or financial situation of the offender; and any change to the offender's normal occupation, including employment, vocational or educational training and volunteer work. Those are minor, and the bill gives the Parole Board and others no option but to throw away the key and lock them up for a little longer. Will that do anything for society? I do not think so.
Breach of any of these conditions could, with Bill C-644, result in a criminal charge being laid, which could result in the offender being liable for a term not exceeding two years in prison. Yes, serious breaches need to be dealt with, and dealt with harshly, but the ability to do that right now is already there with the Parole Board.
Bill C-644 would also require a parole supervisor to report a breach of condition, not only to the Parole Board of Canada but to Correctional Service, the Attorney General and the police force which has jurisdiction.
If one takes note of the Parole Board's decision-making policy manual, it is clearly evident that the relationship between the Parole Board and local police authority is already well established.
Under the provisions of the Correctional and Conditional Release Act, section 161, the police are very much involved in the process involving parole and statutory release offenders, and a critical component of the supervision of those offenders, if required.
It is my opinion that members of this party cannot support the legislation because the measures are excessively punitive and do not address the real issue, which is how to ensure high profile offenders do not offend again. The Liberal Party of Canada believes in relying on facts and evidence, particularly when changing laws that alter our criminal justice system and affect the public safety of Canadians.
Evidence provided by Public Safety Canada itself confirms that the vast majority of inmates on conditional release, which includes full and day parole, and statutory release, do not breach the conditions of their release, and this success rate is steadily increasing over the past decade.
Clearly this legislation is unnecessary, whether it is one-off for political gain in the member's riding, I do not know, and it will actually jeopardize the Criminal Code of our country.
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View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
2015-06-16 10:17 [p.15117]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition that contains hundreds of names from my riding of Cardigan, Prince Edward Island. It was put together by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, which asks the government to adopt international aid policies that support small farmers, especially women, and also ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small farmers and that they protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use, and freely exchange seeds.
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View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
2015-06-16 14:04 [p.15150]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember a legend of eastern Prince Edward Island.
Dick MacLean started in 1953 with a $97 concrete mixer bought in the Eaton's catalogue, and built an empire from the ground up which grew into a fleet of 16 ready mix trucks and 25 tractor trailers.
Mr. MacLean also tirelessly served his community for decades as a long time minor hockey coach and a member of the Community Welfare League of Montague, serving on the Montague Fire Department, Junior Board of Trade, Montague Museum Committee, as chair of the Kings County Memorial Hospital and helped to establish the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre.
On behalf of all members of the House of Commons, I send our condolences to Dick MacLean's wife, Mary, his children, John and Doug, friends and family, and all of those who were privileged enough to know such a great man.
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View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-06-15 15:08 [p.15070]
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Mr. Speaker, we certainly understand how important the food fishery is to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. That is why we are looking into the matter to see if there is any way we can extend the food fishery so that people will be able to go and get their food for the winter.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-15 16:46 [p.15088]
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Mr. Speaker, the Liberals think that the budget is good for the wealthiest Canadians, those who do not need help. However, I have a question about seniors.
We know that some of the measures in the budget will affect seniors. However, two years ago, the Conservatives increased the retirement age and the eligibility age for some government programs. The question I have for the hon. member is the following: does the budget include any measures to help seniors who are poor and in need?
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-11 10:41 [p.14933]
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Mr. Speaker, I will preface my question by indicating that the Liberal Party will be supporting this legislation.
However, I am concerned that members on the other side seem to feel that every problem can be solved by an amendment to the Criminal Code. The Canadian Police Canine Association indicates that since 1965, 10 police dogs have been killed. Could the member enlighten us as to whether that is the full extent of the problem it seeks to address? Could he also tell us whether there are any measures, other than this amendment to the Criminal Code, the government is taking to deal with this perceived problem?
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-11 11:20 [p.14938]
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Mr. Speaker, I request the consent of the House to share my time with the eloquent and hard-working member of Parliament for Malpeque.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-11 11:21 [p.14938]
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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.
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-11 11:30 [p.14939]
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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?
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-11 11:31 [p.14939]
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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.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-11 11:33 [p.14939]
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Mr. Speaker, this brings back to me the testimony we heard at committee. We heard from two police officers. One was practically moved to tears when he talked about the attack on the police dog that was his partner. We also heard a very inspirational story from Ms. Bergeron, who has truly been given a new lease on life and has accomplished some amazing things as a result of her service dog.
The testimony at committee was extremely compelling. That is truly indicative of the relationship that exists, the bond that exists, between service dogs and their handlers. It is something that is emotional and inspirational, and it deserves recognition from Parliament through this legislation.
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-11 11:35 [p.14940]
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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.
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-11 11:41
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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.
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-11 11:47 [p.14941]
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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.
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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-11 11:49 [p.14941]
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Mr. Speaker, I will try to bring the conversation back to the bill at hand.
At committee we heard from Barbara Cartwright of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. She indicated that the existing animal cruelty laws were ineffective in part because of the words “wilful negligence” and the difficulty in proving wilful negligence as a barrier to effective prosecution in animal cruelty cases.
In spite of that evidence, in this bill the government has decided to include the world “wilful” in the key clause that deals with the killing of a service animal. Would the member agree with me that the government's insistence on including that word will make the legislation less effective and will result in it having the same problems as those in the present animal cruelty laws?
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