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View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's good to see you again.
Minister, as well as Wade MacLauchlan, it's good to see both of you. I hope you're doing well. Thank you for your contributions to this process, which has resulted in the nomination of Justice O'Bonsawin.
Minister, I want to echo your remarks around the retirement of Justice Moldaver. I wish him well in his retirement.
Wade MacLaughlan mentioned the various individuals involved in the process, some of whom are former judges, former premiers, former prime ministers, individuals who have “honourable” or “right honourable” in front of their names. It's important to have the views of individuals with deep experience in the process.
I was listening to the remarks by Justice O'Bonsawin about having access to justice and Canadians feeling that they are a part of our system. I think it's important, too, that everyday Canadians have the ability to give input through this process. One of the ways they do that is through us, members of the House of Commons. It's our job to represent the views of everyday Canadians, our constituents. Later today we have been invited to what is called an informal moderated Q and A session. It's not an actual committee of the House of Commons or the Senate, but a Q and A session moderated by someone who is not a parliamentarian.
I want to ask, Minister, for your thoughts. I have faith that our chair of the justice committee could have easily conducted this meeting and had a more formalized parliamentary committee rather than an informal chat, while still respecting the individual, the nomination and the process. I have every bit of faith that he and our committee members could have done that and maintained that stronger link, I feel, back to our constituents by doing our role as members of Parliament, not by an informal Q and A session.
I want to get your thoughts on that. That's something that struck me when the invitation came out.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Minister. I thought that is what you would say.
I don't share the concern around hyper-partisanship. I have every bit of faith, having worked with members on our justice committee, that they would be able to engage in this process in a parliamentary committee. I participated in the one on the appointment of Justice Rothstein, an ad hoc parliamentary committee. They would be able to conduct themselves in a way that respects the gravity of the process. We are all well aware of the impact of decisions that come from our Supreme Court, the weight of the types of decisions that are being contemplated as well as the very real impact they have on our day-to-day lives.
I heard from Justice O'Bonsawin a commentary around access to justice. This is an important appointment. A vacancy was created and your government is acting to fill it, as it should, and I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity while you're here at our justice committee to remind you, as I've done over the months, of the vacancy in the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, and ask that every effort be made to have that position filled as quickly as possible.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all of our witnesses for appearing today. This is a really important study that we're doing on how we can improve laws in Canada and services as they pertain to victims.
I want to turn it over to you, Holly. I know you have prepared some remarks, and I know you're here with a strong message to tell. I met with you in the past, and you told me that you had written three victim impact statements in just the last two years on behalf of your daughter.
It has already come up in the discussion from panellists about revictimization through the process for family members. I will turn it over to you to answer that question, and maybe elaborate on how the process currently revictimizes families. If you want to present a bit from your prepared remarks, feel free to do so at this time as well.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Holly.
I met with both you and Markita in the past. I'll turn this over to either one of you to answer.
You mentioned some of the supports that victims need and how you've found that these were totally lacking. That led you to become part of the organization you're with now to help other families who are going through similar things.
How should the system, which you already recognize provides a lot to offenders.... What types of services do you think victims' families are most in need of right now in Canada?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I thought that Mr. Brock was still.... He had an intervention. I don't remember all of it, but I thought he was still speaking and I thought we still had debate before Green amendment 17.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you.
I want to make one quick point, because you mentioned, Mr. Chair, that should Green 17 pass, then BQ-1 would not be dealt with or CPC-7.
I want to quickly remind.... I even heard this idea today in question period. I believe it was the parliamentary secretary, who did a great job of standing up and responding, but the only problem is that I want to make sure we have the facts. Because we should all be well informed on this legislation, as well as on the amendments, I don't want any member of the justice committee to be under any illusion as to the origins of this particular provision.
Paragraph 244(2)(b) and its mandatory minimum penalty of four years, originally, for discharging a firearm with intent, was introduced into our Criminal Code in 1995 under a Liberal government. I don't know how many of you on the Liberal side know her, but Marlene Jennings, I believe, used to be the parliamentary secretary for justice. When I was on the justice committee she was on there as well, both in government and I believe in opposition. Marlene is from the Montreal area and a long-time Liberal, and I just want to quote her. She said:
It was a Liberal government that brought in mandatory minimum sentencing for firearm related crimes. There is a whole category of them where currently it is a minimum of one year.
I'm not going to list off all those offences because we've already dealt with a bunch of them in our clause-by-clause and eliminated the one-year minimum, but she went on to say:
There is [a] second category of designated offences where currently it is four years. In committee, and again at report stage in the House, the Liberal members attempted to increase the one year to two years and the four years to five years.
This was May 17—so just about this time—in 2007.
For those of you who know Marlene, number one, you know that she is certainly not a racist—because that term has been tossed around in the context of Bill C-5—and you also know that she knows what she's talking about. She was a long-time Liberal member of Parliament.
Before we vote on Green-17 and deal through that vote with possibly BQ-1 as well as CPC-7, and then go on to clause 10, I want it to be abundantly clear that the mandatory minimum we are dealing with in this section has its origins with a Liberal government.
With that, I've finished with my comments, Mr. Chair.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
I thought the parliamentary secretary asked for unanimous consent to deal with all of the Green amendments at once, and I denied consent, so what...? Are we voting on something right now?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Are we moving on to BQ-1?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
I do. I think we can deal with the vote on them quickly when they come up because some of them are so profoundly ignorant. I don't think we should just lump them together and do away with them, because some of them would have an extremely profound impact on the safety of young Canadians particularly.
When you look at the number of clauses where the Green Party is seeking to eliminate the mandatory minimum penalty, since they took the time to put these into our committee, I would like to take the time to vote against them and be on record as saying that we need to do everything we can as parliamentarians to protect young people.
I don't know if you heard it, but I had unmuted and said “no” when you asked for unanimous consent.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you. I have a quick question for our witnesses.
As I recall, the mandatory minimum penalty for this offence was four years. It was raised to five years for a first offence. The amendment that the government is proposing would eliminate the mandatory minimum entirely, so I do see some merit in Mr. Fortin's amendment.
Can you clarify for the committee that this would be reducing the minimum from five years to four years, but still maintaining a mandatory minimum, in fact the mandatory minimum that existed previously?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Just quickly, our amendment number 7 maintains a minimum sentence for discharging a firearm with intent in order to send a message that we don't tolerate drive-by shootings and that we don't want to have a revolving-door recidivism, where the same individuals are committing serious crimes, getting out and recommitting. It would maintain a mandatory minimum of two years where the government is seeking to make the minimum zero years of incarceration for discharging a firearm with criminal intent.
Thank you, Chair.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
For the same reasons as stated earlier, this is an attempt to maintain a mandatory penalty for this offence. The government's proposal is to eliminate it entirely. Our proposal would maintain a two-year mandatory minimum.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
For the same reason.... This is one that is, again, ripped from the headlines. It's robbery with a firearm. This would maintain a mandatory minimum. The mandatory minimum of four years is going to be eliminated entirely. In an effort to reach across the aisle and in the spirit of compromise—and as always, protecting our communities—this would maintain a three-year mandatory minimum for robbery with a firearm.
I think it sends the appropriate message. I hope that all members will support this very reasonable amendment.
(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
(Clause 12 agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5)
(On clause 13)
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Go ahead, Mr. Chair.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In many of our ridings, and indeed across Canada, there is a serious crisis when it comes to drugs. Much has been said about Bill C-5, about so-called simple possession. Again, in the same vein as the mandatory minimums, simple possession of drugs is not what is contemplated in this piece of legislation. In fact, it deals with importing, exporting, trafficking and the production of schedule I and schedule II drugs, which include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.
These are, first, serious drugs, and second, serious crimes. They have absolutely nothing to do with simple possession. Bill C-5 eliminates the mandatory minimum penalty for trafficking, importing, exporting and distribution. Our amendment, CPC-12, maintains a six-month mandatory minimum penalty for importing and exporting illegal substances. As has been the case with many of the Conservative amendments, there is an attempt to bridge the divide between us and the government, which is seeking to eliminate many mandatory minimum penalties. We feel there is a place for them when we are talking about taking drugs off our streets and going after the people who are causing this scourge in our society.
This would maintain a six-month mandatory minimum for importing and exporting illegal substances.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Because we're on a new clause, I'll say that this is production of a substance. Those substances include crystal meth, or methamphetamine. Schedule I and schedule II include cocaine and heroin. I haven't heard any of this in the discussion led by the government.
In the House of Commons and in their press conferences, you will hear them say that this is about simple possession. That conjures up an image of somebody walking down the street with a joint. It does not conjure up an image of a trafficker outside of a school, someone with a facility that produces crystal meth or someone importing drugs across our border into Canada to devastate lives.
I think Mr. Brock mentioned that he did a Google search. Every day in our local newspapers wherever you live.... I live in a suburban area. Whether you're rural, suburban or urban, this is happening all over Canada. I think it sends a terrible message that this Parliament, certainly without the support of the Conservative Party, would say for production of a schedule I or schedule II drug for importing, exporting and possession for the purposes of exporting, trafficking.... People know what that means.
I think Canadians, when this comes out, and it will.... Everyone is busy in their day-to-day lives. They're very aware of the opioid crisis and other crises involving drugs in our community. I think the more Canadians see of this, the more upsetting it's going to be, because these are the people who are preying on children, all of our children. These are the people who are causing death, destruction, suicide and bankruptcy. We see it all over this country. If this passes, we're saying that, if you produce methamphetamine, if you produce crystal meth, you won't necessarily receive any time if you're convicted of that offence.
That's what we're saying here. I know most of you are probably aware of that, but I think it needs to be said. I think it needs to be very clear, before we cast our vote, that we're saying to our constituents that we think someone who is producing crystal meth, someone who takes that crystal meth and sells it outside of a school to children, we're saying as a Parliament that the person will not necessarily serve any jail time. There will be no mandatory minimum penalty, a mandatory minimum penalty that has existed for years within our Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
We're all aware of it. I think this is very timely in the same way that gun crime is in the news every day. It's in the news because we're dealing with it. The opioid crisis is front and centre. It's an absolute crisis causing devastation.
I don't think it's overstating it to say that this is going to cause incredible damage. When we send the message that we're going soft on traffickers, importers, exporters and producers of crystal meth, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, etc....
I will be strongly voting against this clause.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
On a point of order, I'm just wondering if the parliamentary secretary is going to make that clarification before every clause we vote on. We're all experienced parliamentarians here. When you say we're voting on clause 17, it means we're voting on clause 17. Then when you say we're voting on clause 18, it means we're voting on clause 18. I don't think we need that clarification before every vote.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Chair, this was recommended to me by one of the provincial attorneys general. Their concern is under “Warnings and referrals”. It would remove the word “consent” to not allow individuals to refuse to go for a referral for addictions treatment, but it would allow them to refuse once they have the referral.
This is to make sure that individuals who are referred to addictions treatment and then consent to addictions treatment would be able to get the help they need.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Chair, on a point of order, it's a Friday heading into the long weekend. This meeting is scheduled to go from one to three, your time. It's currently four o'clock, so we're an hour over. There was no motion to extend the meeting. I think we've all been operating in good faith, but now we're seeing amendments.
I remember the clerk asking for amendments, through you, Chair. You asked for amendments last week, which the Conservative Party provided. Now we're seeing amendments that have just been recently tabled and we're continuing to see amendments.
If I thought there was a chance it would pass, I would move a motion to adjourn, but I suspect that the NDP would support the Liberals in keeping this meeting going into the evening, as they did last time. I'm just a little concerned as to how many more amendments we are going to see.
To do this job properly, as I think Mr. Fortin had said, we need to see and study these amendments. Unless it's an emergency, we don't drop amendments as we're dealing with the clause. That's just asking for delays. This meeting has already been delayed for over an hour.
I fear that we're going to have more unnecessary delays if we continue to table-drop technical amendments that have an impact but that have not in any way, shape or form been explained to us. I would ask for an explanation of these amendments and subamendments and then an undertaking for, in the future, when we have government legislation....
Remember, this is government legislation and now we're talking about government amendments. We need to get them in on time.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
On amendment 15, this would require—and this exists in a lot of Criminal Code legislation—a review of the legislation on the third anniversary of the day on which it comes into force. This would allow us as parliamentarians to have an understanding of the impact on our communities of the passage of Bill C-5, should it pass.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Chair, I'm getting a major echo back. I don't know if the rest of you are.
I could accept the subamendment as a friendly amendment.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
No, it's good now.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Some of these clauses are similar, but I'm just wondering if the department can give us a brief description of the effect if we choose as a committee to adopt clause 1.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Chair, I want to just flesh this out a little bit because, frankly, in the context of the committee meetings we've had.... We haven't had a ton of them. I think we had seven where we heard witnesses, and today's meeting is our eighth. Just for clarification, when we talk about the mandatory minimum penalties in these sections, this is on someone who has already been convicted of the same offence, so now they've been convicted twice of, for example, weapons trafficking or possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking.
Frankly, a lot of the discussion that happened and witness testimony at committee were couched in the terms that this was someone who got caught up in an unfortunate incident or someone who had a few drinks and shot the side of a barn. For this section, are we talking about, for sections 85, 95, 99, 100 and 103, someone who has this as their second offence? Is there a minimum on their first offence? Do any of these...? This says, “second or subsequent”.
I guess I'm a bit familiar. In a previous government, when there was a mandatory minimum penalty of four years for certain gun crimes and because of the issue of recidivism, which is basically the same person committing the same types of crimes over and over, we brought in a change to the law that meant that, on your subsequent offence, it would be five years and then after that, seven. I think that's where it kind of landed. I think originally it was four, seven and 10, or something like that, but eventually it landed at four, five and seven, I think.
I just want the committee to be 100% clear, because I don't think it ever came up in our witness testimony. Are we only talking in this clause about someone who's already been convicted of a prior offence in the same section of the Criminal Code?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
I should be asking these through you, Chair, but I want to flesh out a couple of things here.
The list of offences that are subsequent is broader than the list of offences that predicate the triggering of the mandatory minimum. On those offences, for the first offence, is there a mandatory minimum attached to each and every one of those first offences? I think there is on some of them, but is there a mandatory minimum penalty at first offence for weapons trafficking and for possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
This legislation touches on a lot of different offences. There are different offences, different impacts and, I would argue, different levels of seriousness. Obviously, they're all Criminal Code offences, but, no doubt, we as a committee may feel that some of them are more serious than others. Of those five you've been speaking about—85, 95, 99, 100 and 103—is it possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition? I remember this case.... Is that the only one of the five that has been challenged and the mandatory minimum found unconstitutional?
To follow up, could you walk us through why this discussion isn't moot? While the mandatory minimum in this narrow case was struck down, it remains a trigger for the escalation for subsequent offences. Is that why this conversation isn't moot, since the court, in that case, struck it down? While we know.... The government's own backgrounder suggested that, I think, mandatory minimums were struck down in 48% of cases, meaning that, in 52% of cases, they were upheld. We acknowledge there are cases where they've been struck down and there are cases where they've been considered and upheld.
Could you walk us through the effect of that one offence being struck down, and why it still matters in the context of this clause?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you for answering all those questions really thoroughly.
Mr. Chair, on this, and I'm going to ask the committee.... All of us as members have an opportunity to vote on this clause. I look at these offences, and we are talking about recidivists with these offences. No one is arguing that we shouldn't do everything, our level best, at the federal level, with our provincial counterparts and at the municipal level. No one is arguing that we shouldn't do everything we can to help people and help them reintegrate into the community.
We have to recognize that at some point people are going to be back in the community and we should do our best to reintegrate them, but when I look at this list of offences, it's like they're pulled from the headlines of what we're dealing with right now in this country. Police chiefs.... We had witnesses at the committee who spoke about their own jurisdictions. Some of them were major municipalities. Some of them were the most rural places imaginable, and some of them were urban, suburban or first nations policing.
We heard from a variety of witnesses in policing. The evidence they gave us is that the types of firearms they're seeing, in both urban and rural settings, are not those of John Q. Duck Hunter, farmers and sport shooters. They're weapons and firearms that have come in largely from the U.S. They've been trafficked in. I see weapons trafficking as one of these offences. They are largely prohibited weapons or restricted weapons. The people using them are not licensed. They're unlicensed.
What we have in these offences—and I'm speaking specifically of the offences in this clause—is that we're dealing with people who at no point have tried to comply with Canada's laws. All of us have people in our ridings who have complied. They're law-abiding firearms owners. First, they have a licence. They're licensed owners. Second, they've gone through proper channels. They didn't necessarily buy a handgun out of the trunk of someone's car. They went to a dealership and purchased a firearm legally.
The testimony we've heard over and over again at committee is that those are not the individuals who are creating the problem. Even while we were in committee, we heard—again, ripped from the headlines—stories of people using drones to take a bag of handguns from the U.S. and bring it across into Canada, presumably to be picked up by the criminal element here and distributed and sold and, at some point, very possibly used in a crime against an innocent Canadian.
We can have a debate about the role for mandatory prison sentences, and we've done that. We've gone around and we've heard from a lot of different witnesses, and we've heard from members of the committee, but I want us to look really carefully at this particular clause, because to me it's dealing with scenarios right now where Canadians are calling out for action. We're seeing it in New Brunswick, in Ontario and in Quebec. We're seeing it in every province. They're saying, “We need help.” Rural crime is an issue, and urban crime is an issue.
We just saw that Mitch Marner, for Pete's sake, of the Maple Leafs, was robbed. I don't know all the details, but from what I read about the armed assailants, I will guarantee you that the people who robbed him didn't drive away in a pickup truck wearing fluorescent orange, with the shotgun they use for duck hunting. This is a criminal element.
I will also guarantee you that it probably wasn't their first offence. These are individuals who knew exactly what they were doing, and they carjacked Mitch Marner the same way that they've probably carjacked other people, and, yes, eventually someone's going to get killed in the process.
It's that kind of recidivism. It's that kind of wanton disregard for other Canadians, for innocent individuals. That's the reason these laws are in here.
We have to start from the premise that we have a Criminal Code in which we, as Parliament, have said that these are things that are bad. These are things that we don't want to happen in society, and there's a reason why some offences are dealt with summarily. Some offences are seen as less serious. For some offences in Canada you receive a monetary penalty, a fine. If you're speeding in New Brunswick, the fine might be $168.
But if you have possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking, if you have importing and exporting, knowing it's unauthorized, if you're involved in weapons trafficking or using a firearm in the commission of an offence, these are the offences Canadians want us to deal with.
I'll leave it at that, Mr. Chair. I just want us to really take a sober look at these offences before we vote on them.
I do thank you again, Mr. Taylor, for very thorough responses to all those questions.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Yes, I'll speak to amendment CPC-1 quickly, Mr. Chair.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Recognizing that it seems to be the will of this committee, I don't want to be presumptuous, but based on the last vote it would appear that the mandatory minimums that are in place are at risk of being struck down, which, in my view, puts our communities at risk, particularly when there is a recidivist element and repeat offenders who are committing the same crimes and the same types of crimes over and over.
What our CPC-1 would do, in an effort to compromise, is reduce the mandatory minimum penalty from one year to six months. For virtually all of the minimums we deal with in Bill C-5 and Bill C-22, which came before it, I think the lowest minimum is one year. I don't think there were any that were below one year. Some of them were more than a year, but the majority of them were a year.
What this would do is acknowledge what appears to certainly be the will of this committee to deal with mandatory minimums but also acknowledge the cry from the public right now that there be real consequences for serious crime. This amendment would be an effort to extend the olive branch and say, if one year is too much, then six months would take someone off the streets, hopefully get them some of the help they need and also show that there is a level of confidence in our justice system that if you commit some of the serious firearms offences and other offences contained in Bill C-5, we as a Parliament say that if you commit an offence like that, there needs to be some period of incarceration.
This amendment would lower the mandatory minimum penalty from one year to six months for using a firearm in the commission of an offence.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Just quickly on this, in the context of the debate on Bill C-5 and Bill C-22 before it, this is not to be partisan in any way, but to illustrate that the idea of the concept of Parliament sending a clear message to Canadians, to victims, to criminals and, yes, to the judges presiding over sentencing, is not a Conservative notion in some way exclusively.
Before we take what I think is a drastic step and possibly eliminate a mandatory prison sentence for some of these section 85 offences on using a firearm in the commission of an offence, I want to quickly note that the minimum was first introduced as far back as 1976. In 1976 and forward since then, some of these have been on the books. That doesn't mean we can never make changes—I get that—but some of these sections have lived on through Liberal governments, Conservative governments and so on, all of them agreeing to keep these provisions in place, and all the while, these provisions, although challenged, many of them were upheld.
I think it's important to contextualize that, because if you listen to the debate, you would think that all of these mandatory minimums—I'm kind of lumping a bunch of them together here—somehow came from the previous Conservative government when, in fact, I've taken the time to look at all of the mandatory minimums being eliminated, and virtually all of them pre-existed the previous Conservative government.
In fact, on the mandatory minimums that we brought in under the Safe Streets and Communities Act or previous legislation, the current government has chosen to keep those on the books, to not eliminate them.
It's important, before we make a change like this, to recognize that some of these have been on the books for the better part of 50 years. It's not something that just is a recent invention but something that we should really consider really very weightily as we deliberate on each of these clauses and on removing what could amount to the only barrier between someone who has committed a serious offence and their being right back out on the street.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
I will speak to that really quickly.
For this section of the code, what our amendment would do, again, is replace the one-year mandatory minimum with a six-month mandatory minimum.
Mr. Cooper reminded me of something that I think is important that I put on the record. In no way, shape or form would I want anyone to think that I think the mandatory minimum should be reduced in these serious firearms cases. What we're attempting to do is to salvage some form of statement from Parliament denouncing the very serious firearms offences we're talking about here.
These are current in the case of a first offence under Section 92(3):
Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (2) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(a) in the case of a first offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years;
(b) in the case of a second offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; and
(c) in the case of a third or subsequent offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years less a day.
I think we are talking here about some of the serious firearms offences that we're seeing in the headlines today. Just to be clear, we're talking about the commission of an offence with a firearm and these are some of the more serious offences. Not all of these are exactly the same. There's not just a series of mandatory minimums that this Bill C-5 eliminates. We have to put each and every one of them into context.
We have seen two clauses carry. I'm hopeful that on some of these clauses we might take a look at what the impact is, and we might give that some thought and say, “Do you know what? In this case, we should maintain a clause that perhaps has been in the Criminal Code for half a century.”
I'm going to ask a question of our witnesses to walk us through the process under this particular section, because I want to draw to the attention of the committee the fact that the minimum punishment in the present section is only triggered on a subsequent offence. The escalated minimum punishment, a term of imprisonment for two years less a day, is only triggered by a third offence.
We heard testimony from police, from community members and from victims' groups that their concern is not with the one-time offender, the person who innocently got caught up with a bad crowd and committed an offence. What we're talking about here is an individual who is deeply involved in serious crimes that, by definition, cause harm to their fellow Canadians.
It's bad enough to be charged and found guilty of one offence, but even at that threshold, it's not until you get to a second offence.... You have committed a crime under this section. Now you have gotten out. You have committed the same crime. You victimized another Canadian, and only now are we saying, “Okay, now you need to serve one year in prison.” It's one year in prison, and that's not after the first offence. That's after the second offence.
Now, picture that same individual. They have been found guilty twice of a serious firearms offence that involves the victimization of fellow Canadians in our communities, whether rural or urban. They were out again on the street, having been afforded the opportunity for rehabilitation and course correction. Now there's a subsequent third offence, for which they have been found guilty under our Criminal Code with the full benefit of our Charter of Rights and the full benefit of a fulsome defence under our charter. They've been found guilty a third time, and all we are saying as a Parliament is that for a serious firearms offence involving victimizing other Canadians, there should be a minimum of two years. Even that is being stripped from our Criminal Code by Bill C-5.
The reason I'm speaking about this, Mr. Chair, is that I think it's really important for committee members to think about it, because I know not all of us dwell on each of these clauses every day. We're all busy. We all have constituents. We have people who are calling in because the passport they went to get back in February still hasn't arrived. The point is that we're all busy people and we all have diverse challenges, and I think this is that moment—when we're at this table—when we draw our attention to the really profound impact that we have on Canadians' lives through the Criminal Code.
We heard witness testimony from victims. It was bothersome sometimes when some witnesses came and spoke for their introduction but they never mentioned victims. In virtually all of these cases, there's a victim involved. When we listen to the victims, of course.... I will not deny that when we listen to the criminal defence bar, they say, “Get rid of these mandatory minimums that are so troubling to my client. We don't want them.” However, when we listened to victims, they said it's an absolute affront to them that we would reduce the mandatory sentence that the person who victimized them would receive.
The question I have, through you, Chair, to our witnesses, is to distinguish subsection 92(3) from some of the others, so that the minimums we're dealing with here are not for first-time offenders, but for repeat offenders who, in some cases, are on their third offence.
The other thing I'll say.... I throw this out to committee members. I mentioned the case that we just heard about with NHL star Mitch Marner and the carjacking that happened. Do you know what? He's no more important than every other Canadian. The only reason we're talking about that is because we all know who he is. He's famous. What about the people who aren't Mitch Marner who had their car jacked from the same parking lot the week before? They're important too. They're Canadians too.
The point I'm going to make, and I'm guessing it's 100% true, is that if someone was convicted a first time, they committed an offence. They were caught by the police, had a trial, were found guilty and sentenced, and then there was a second time and a third time. If I asked every one of these committee members if they truly believe that those are the only three significant Criminal Code offences that this individual had committed, I don't think anyone would say they believe that.
These are the ones people are caught doing. It's one thing to get caught. It's another thing to get convicted under our system. They've been caught and convicted not once, not twice, but three times. Those are the minimums we're talking about.
Through you, Chair, to our witness, could you walk us through this clause and its application a bit? What are the triggers at each stage and the consequence of those triggers?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Next time I'll ask a question, make a statement, then go back to the question and then a statement.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question part is over. You've answered it thoroughly and I appreciate the answer. Now, I'll go back to my point.
Every day in the House of Commons for the last number of weeks, the subject of gun crime has been coming up. No matter what newspaper you read, radio station you listen to or social media you engage with, you're hearing about firearms crime in Canada. We're dealing here with individuals who are in illegal possession of firearms, not by mistake but because they're engaged in criminal activity.
I should remind the committee that this deals with the very issue that Canadians are asking us to grapple with, which is illegal firearms in Canada and the possession of those illegal firearms by criminal elements. It's not duck hunters, sport shooters nor the poor guy who maybe inherited a firearm from his grandfather. They've jumped through hoops to get licensed, do safe storage, have a licence if they have to buy ammunition and are subject to the full weight of the law. We're talking about people who are flooding our streets with illegal firearms.
We know they come in vehicles across the border. We know they get smuggled across the border otherwise. I hadn't thought of this, but the law's always playing catch-up with criminals: We know, in fact, that they've used a drone to drop a bag of handguns from the U.S. into Canada.
That's how some of the people who are going to be convicted under this section will have come into possession of these illegal firearms. By definition, these people are in illegal possession of the firearm, meaning they're not licensed and they're restricted in Canada.
Gary, I guess there's a bit of argument, but you used to have to have a registration on a non-restricted firearm. That was called the long-gun registry. It was supposed to cost $2 million. I think it ended up costing $2 billion. This is important because a previous Conservative government ended the long-gun registry because it was targeting the exact wrong people.
It is my philosophy—and I think it's the philosophy of those on this side— that if you have a crime problem, you go after criminals. When I saw in my own riding senior citizens lining up to get their firearms licence, I thought to myself, “How is this making Canada a safer place?” If someone's going to line up for an hour to get a firearms licence so they can possess a firearm—a shotgun or a rifle that they inherited—how on earth is that making Canada safer?
That was the gun registry legislation. We committed to ending the long-gun registry. We did that and Canadians are better off for it. We're all better off for it because in spite of all the money that's spent globally right now with the pandemic and everything, there are finite resources. Dollars that we spend at the federal level chasing good guys are dollars that can't be spent chasing bad guys. We heard all kinds of witness testimony on this from police that said they're under-resourced. They don't have the resources sometimes to go after the bad guys.
I want to juxtapose what I just said about legislation that goes after the good guys. This legislation that we have before us, subsection 92(3) of the Criminal Code, is all about the bad guys. These are people who haven't got it right the first, second and now third time.
In light of everything, I would urge real caution. Think about what we're saying. We're saying that we, as parliamentarians, think that you can be in illegal possession of a handgun in Canada—a restricted, not licensed weapon—you can be found guilty of that, and you could possibly not go to jail. A month later, you could do the same thing and go before the courts, be found guilty and not go to jail. Then, a month after that, theoretically, you could do the exact same thing.
What I'm starting to hear is a message—and it's the message we heard from witnesses, which they didn't want us to send—that you can get away with crime in Canada. You can get away with gun crime. Illegal guns are part of gun crime, and this section is all about illegal guns.
I'm urging extreme caution before we vote on clause 3. Think about the message we're sending not only to the criminal element—they're getting the message loud and clear that you can do whatever the heck you want and not face a consequence under this bill—but also to the people who have been victims of gun crime. I don't need to explain this to you. It's in every one of our newspapers. There are victims of gun crime every day now in Canada.
I would strongly urge members to vote against clause 3.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
On a point of clarification, Chair, do we need unanimous consent to skip a clause? Do we have to go sequentially? We couldn't move on to clause 4 if they're not related...?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Chair, I think it probably wouldn't take a ton of time to get that information for our next meeting, so I would think that we should skip clause 3, move to clause 4 and come back to clause 3 at our next meeting.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Clause 5 deals with prohibiting the possession of a firearm, a prohibited or restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any prohibited ammunition “that the person knows was obtained by the commission” of an offence. This makes it very different from some other clauses that we have dealt with and that we will deal with in Bill C-5. This is not just the possession of a prohibited weapon. It's possession of a prohibited weapon that the person knows was obtained in the commission of an offence.
I think that is an important distinction to make. There is a mandatory minimum penalty currently of one year for offenders convicted on this offence when prosecuted by indictment. The same mandatory minimum does not apply if someone is not prosecuted by indictment but is prosecuted by a summary conviction.
I think a distinction has to be made here between this and other clauses, in that “the person knows was obtained by the commission” of an offence is a higher threshold to meet than just being in simple possession—we'll call it that, because that term gets tossed around a lot—of a prohibited or restricted weapon. In this case, the person knows that it was obtained by the commission of an offence.
Now, you may wonder, since I support our having a mandatory minimum penalty in this case.... It seems abundantly clear that there should be one. Our amendment would reduce the mandatory minimum from “one year” to “six months”. The reason I am proposing this is that, as we've seen as we've gone through this clause-by-clause, all the mandatory minimums that have been in the Criminal Code dealing with firearms offences that Bill C-5 has thus far dealt with have been eliminated. The Conservative amendment would maintain a six-month minimum for possession of a firearm while knowing its possession is unauthorized. I think that is a really important distinction to make.
That is my commentary, through you, Chair, to Gary. That's the commentary part. I do have a question, though. I'm going to make that distinction.
Through you, Chair, I'm wondering if our witnesses could comment on whether there is an awareness on that additional threshold, and on how prosecution and police go about meeting that threshold, when this goes beyond other sections in that, first, you have to prove the person was in possession, under the law, of the prohibited weapon, but, second, for a conviction under this section, you have to go further and prove that the person knows it was obtained in the commission of an offence.
Could either of our witnesses walk us through that process? Again, I'm trying to draw the distinction between this and the other section, where a person may have no idea that the weapon was in their possession as the result of an offence. This has another threshold to meet.
I'm just asking if they could speak to that.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Through you, Chair, I have just one last question.
You mentioned the legal element of “wilful blindness”. I think people understand that, okay, you absolutely know that this was possession of a weapon “obtained by the commission” of an offence. You could establish that someone knew, or ought to know, that.
Could you speak to the element of wilful blindness or, if possible, even use a scenario whereby someone would be wilfully blind? I'm thinking of scenarios, but could you speak to the scenario where someone is wilfully blind to the fact that what they are in possession of came about through the commission of an offence?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
On division.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair and Ms. May.
There is irony in saying there's some kind of shock at the pace we're moving. Conservatives submitted 15 amendments to this bill, the Bloc six, the Liberals three and the NDP three. That's a reasonable number of amendments for a bill we've all been very vested in over the last couple of months. The Greens brought in 45 amendments to this bill, so I find it passing strange that someone would make a commentary about the pace at which we're going when they brought in 45 amendments.
I am interested in hearing about some of these Green amendments. I find it absolutely shocking to see, in print, the idea that even.... The Liberals, clearly, and the NDP have said, “You know what? We don't like mandatory minimums for all offences.” I'd love to hear an explanation as to why sexual exploitation, incest, bestiality, making child pornography, parent or guardian procuring sexual activity, making sexually explicit material available to a child, luring a child.... These are all the absolutely disgusting offences for which the Green Party is saying we should have no mandatory minimum. It's outrageous to dump all of these amendments and basically gut the Criminal Code.
I don't know how many committee members have taken the opportunity to look at all the Green amendments, and I don't blame you if you haven't seen them all. There are 44 more of them. They apply to trafficking a person under 18, obtaining sexual services for consideration from a person under 18, procuring a person under 18. Is there a common theme? Almost all of them deal with Canadian children being victimized in the most awful way. The Green Party wants to remove the mandatory minimums.
I think these amendments are, frankly, disgusting. I really do. I think Canadians would be appalled. I was appalled when I saw them in print. It made me want to gag when I saw the types of offences for which they're saying, “Nope. If the judge wants to say you can walk out of here free, you can walk out free.” I think it's appalling.
That is my commentary on the Green Party amendments as a whole.
On this one specifically, you know what? There's a reason that there's a mandatory minimum penalty for weapons trafficking with a firearm. There's weapons trafficking that could involve other illegal weapons, such as switchblades or other knives. This is weapons trafficking with a firearm. It's the kind of stuff we're dealing with and invested in. It's irresponsible to dump the gutting of the entire Criminal Code on our committee.
Those are my comments on that, for now.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
I think everyone is familiar with our reasoning on this issue. I would remind everyone, because we just had that break, that in no way do I want people to think I feel a mandatory minimum penalty of one year is enough in this case. However, in the spirit of compromise—on the last vote, we almost had unanimity—I'm hoping that we would maintain a six-month mandatory minimum for the offence of weapons trafficking.
(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Shall clause 6 carry?
We will have a recorded vote.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
No one from the Green Party spoke to this.
We're dealing in Bill C-5 with amending a number of different provisions related to firearms and then provisions related to weapons. Sometimes people think of a firearm as a weapon, or a weapon as a firearm, and use the terms interchangeably, but in some cases the possession of a weapon does not include a firearm. In this case, I believe for this mandatory minimum penalty proposed by the Green Party, the removal would expand this to include a firearm when we're talking about weapons trafficking. In the legislation that's currently before us in Bill C-5, there are a number of very important measures that remove mandatory minimum penalties when it comes to firearms, but perhaps our witnesses could just speak to the distinction between weapons trafficking and firearms trafficking, which I think is important to this Green amendment.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
This clause deals with importing and exporting prohibited, restricted and non-restricted firearm weapons and prohibited ammunition. The offence provides a mandatory minimum penalty of three years for the first offence and five years for a second or subsequent offences.
Other cases are prohibited and restricted weapons and components related to the manufacture of an automatic firearm. I think it's important to know that fully automatic firearms are not, in spite of what people might think, legal in Canada, even under our “restricted” category of firearms. We have “non-restricted”, we have “restricted”, and we have “prohibited”, and fully automatic firearms are not legal in this country.
There's a mandatory minimum penalty of one year for those who manufacture an automatic firearm. Clause 8 would remove that MMP.
It's for that reason that we are opposed to clause 8. I already mentioned that CPC amendment 6 is an effort to reach a compromise that says that if you're in the business of manufacturing fully automatic firearms in Canada, possibly to be used illegally, and if you're convicted of that illegal activity, you would serve a minimum of six months. That's an effort for compromise. That's why we have moved CPC amendment 6.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
I have a point of order.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Did you rule on clause 9.1?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
You haven't got to it yet.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
No, clause 9 shall not carry.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
On this Green amendment—I know you've ruled the others out of order, so I'm not going to speak to them—it would have been interesting to hear Green members defend removing the mandatory penalties that Canadians have seen fit to put in place for making child pornography—
Mr. Mike Morrice: I have a point of order.
Hon. Rob Moore: —making explicit material, luring a child—
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
I agree 100%. If I were Mr. Morrice, I wouldn't want to speak to all those things either, but they dumped eliminating mandatory penalties for serious offences against children into our committee, and now they don't want to speak to it, so it's a little confusing. If you're going to put forward an amendment that deals with these types of sexual offences against children, I think you should be prepared to speak to it and defend it.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Yes, I am going to speak on Green Party amendment 17.
The Chair: Oh, okay.
Hon. Rob Moore: Green amendment 17, which has been ruled in order, removes the mandatory minimum penalty even if the offence is in association with a criminal organization, so I think we're starting to peel back some of the layers on the rationale on this piece of legislation.
We've already made it abundantly clear on other offences that there's significant concern around guns in Canada and that the crimes being committed are being committed not by law-abiding farmers, duck hunters and sport shooters but by the criminal element.
This amendment takes things one step further and specifically references criminal organization and repeat offenders. Most of these offences that we're dealing with involve criminal organizations, and some of the amendments we spoke to do specifically reference recidivism and repeat offenders. In fact, we discussed a particular Criminal Code provision that provided for escalating penalties, as there should be, on second and third offences. This Green amendment 17 relates to a criminal organization or an accused who is a repeat offender. It's for those reasons that I will be voting against Green amendment 17.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
I still was going to speak to this motion, as well.
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all of our witnesses for appearing today.
Ms. Bui, thank you for sharing your personal story. I know that must be very difficult. I think it's important for us, as a committee, to hear from victims of crime. We do not hear from victims of crime often enough, and we certainly appreciate your taking the time to share with us your story today.
According to the Criminal Code, one of the main objectives of sentencing is to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders and acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and to the community.
You've shared with us your experience and the experience in your community. What message do you think it sends to victims if, for very serious crimes, we do not impose some form of incarceration on the perpetrators?
View Rob Moore Profile
CPC (NB)
What do you think Parliament should be focused on when it comes to gender-based violence, if more house arrests and conditional sentencing are not the answer? What message does that send to Canadians, particularly women and girls?
As well, what do you think Parliament should be doing instead of reducing the sentences for some of these crimes?
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