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View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-09-16 15:12 [p.5072]
Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House that I will be leaving my position as a member of Parliament and that my resignation will be effective today. I could not leave without saying that I have loved my work here in Parliament. As parliamentarians, we have chosen to transform our communities, our society and our world through ideas, and of course, through debate.
I would like to thank the people of Hochelaga, who placed their trust in me six times. Of course I would like to thank my assistants. Working with them has been a pleasure. I would like to thank Benoît Demuy, in my constituency, and Mario Lalancette, who has been with me for 13 years, which makes him practically a saint, I know. I would also like to thank my riding assistant, Denis Bourgeois, my riding association president, Maxime Bellerose, and my colleagues. I would like to thank my leader, who always gave me responsibilities that made my work here in Parliament a pleasure. I would also like to thank my party whip, who has always been so understanding and has so graciously fulfilled his duties. I leave this House knowing that I have friends in all the parties. It has been a pleasure to serve democracy and the people of Hochelaga.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-09-15 18:26 [p.5056]
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate our colleague for her work on this private member's bill. I know she has worked very hard. However, I would like to caution her and all of us with regard to certain reactions that could unfortunately be likened to demagoguery.
I was an MP in 2005 and at that time the Bloc Québécois supported a bill introduced by the now defunct Liberal government, which had established a new provision in the Criminal Code, namely the offence of human trafficking. At the time, we unanimously supported the Criminal code amendment proposed by Bill C-49.
Bill C-49 created clause 279.01(1) which stated that “...Every person who recruits, transports, transfers, receives, holds, conceals or harbours a person, or exercises control, direction or influence over the movements of a person, for the purpose of exploiting them...” must be considered to be trafficking in persons.
I would like to remind my Liberal colleague that, at the time, his government did not see fit to make a distinction between persons under the age of 18 and over the age of 18. The government at the time did not see fit to impose mandatory minimum sentences. In 2005, I believe that this House unanimously adopted these provisions which, to date, have not surfaced much in the judicial system given that we have only had about ten convictions. I will come back to that.
It would be quite inflammatory to suggest that any member of this House is not vigilant, pro-active or dedicated when it comes to dealing with the trafficking of children or sexual exploitation.
The question we must ask ourselves is what are the objectives of the bill introduced by the member? Does the bill contain the right tools to achieve these objectives? The member leads us to believe that the courts have not been tough enough or that there have not been charges in cases of exploitation or trafficking involving young children.
From spring 2008 to spring 2009, five charges were laid under section 279, four of them involving persons under 18 years of age. So it is not true that the courts have not dealt with charges involving persons under 18. The proposed sentences contain at least three: a five-year sentence, a seven-year sentence and a ten-year sentence. Clearly, under section 279.01, as it stands, prosecutors can charge persons under the age of 18.
Does anyone in this House believe that, in a properly constituted case by a crown prosecutor involving a child victim of human trafficking, any judge worth his or her salt would fail to take that fact into account?
That is where the Bloc Québécois and the government disagree. The Bloc Québécois trusts judges and believes in their wisdom. If the sentence is not harsh enough, prosecutors must appeal. Our colleague did not say anything to suggest that these provisions conflicted with charges for trafficking in victims under the age of 18.
I can see that my time is up. I would like to congratulate the member on her bill, and I hope she understands that we are just as dedicated as she is to fighting human trafficking, but that we would rather find other ways to do it. That was the argument we heard from the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-18 11:53 [p.4774]
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-36 is a bill that the Bloc Québécois wants to see referred to committee, but I can offer no guarantees in this House that we will support the bill at third reading. We need more information. We want to understand the real impact of the bill, but obviously we think it is a bill that needs to be seriously considered in Committee.
In 1976, the death penalty was abolished and murder was reclassified, if you will, into two categories: first degree murder and second degree murder. In both cases, the punishment is imprisonment for life. The difference is in respect of parole eligibility. For first degree murder, the murderer must serve at least 25 years of their sentence before being eligible for parole. In the case of second degree murder, they must serve at least 10 years of their sentence, other than in certain exceptional cases, for example where the case involves an intentional murder under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, where it was a question of the circumstances surrounding the commission of the murder, or where the murder was a criminal organization offence.
The faint hope clause, as it is called, is found in section 745.6 of the Criminal Code, which provides for possible eligibility for parole. That section was added to the Criminal Code when the death penalty was abolished and murder was reclassified as first degree or second degree murder. We must remember the reason why section 745.6 was added to the Criminal Code. There were essentially three reasons. There was a desire to offer hope to offenders who demonstrated some capacity for rehabilitation; there was a desire to provide motivation for good conduct in prison; and there was also a desire to recognize that it was not in the public interest to keep someone incarcerated, in certain circumstances, beyond 15 years. Obviously, I would remind all members of this House and all those at home watching that the faint hope clause is an exceptional provision that comes into play before eligibility for parole.
The faint hope clause procedure, as my good colleague from Abitibi knows, has relatively clear rules. In order for that provision, which is found in section 745.6 of the Criminal Code, to apply, there is of course a three-step process. The first step is screening by a judge. If my information is correct, that is in fact the chief justice of the superior court. The judge examines the application and must determine the potential, the real prospect that a jury will agree to allow the applicant to be granted early parole. So first, the chief justice of the superior court where the murder was committed must hear the application. Second, the judge must agree to empanel a jury of 12 members, and that jury must agree, by a two-thirds vote, that parole, what I would call early parole, will be granted. And third, of course, the application is submitted to the National Parole Board, which has full authority to accept or deny the application. There is a clear set of rules for the process: it is examined by the chief justice of the superior court, a 12-member jury is empanelled and the application must be accepted by two thirds, and it is assessed by the National Parole Board.
I might go into a little more detail regarding the process to be followed when one wishes to invoke section 745.6. I would say that, yes, persons who commit first degree or second degree murder must be given exemplary sentences. However, up to a certain point, should we not ask ourselves as parliamentarians whether there are not circumstances where it would be desirable for an individual, after 15 years of detention without parole, to be able to exercise this provision, since justice is never automatic, and never one-size-fits-all? With its three steps, does the process not offer sufficient guarantees to stand as a safeguard? People will study the merit of this application. There is no risk of frivolous applications that will be accepted even though an individual does not deserve access to early parole.
I am going to describe the three steps in some detail.
First, the applicant must convince the chief justice or a designated judge in the province of the conviction. The applicant, who is normally behind bars, must convince the chief justice that there is a real possibility of the application being successful. For example, multiple repeat offenders, that is, people who have committed several murders, have no chance of their application succeeding. The application is not even admissible, and the chief justice could not permit the process to be started.
If the chief justice or the designated judge finds, to his best understanding of the case, that two-thirds of the jury is not likely to allow the applicant access to some kind of early parole, under section 745.6 of the Criminal Code, the applicant fails. The judge must then set a waiting period, which is generally two years, before a new application may be made. The judge may even set a longer period. For example, I am an applicant. I am presently on parole. I show real signs of rehabilitation. I have served the 10 or 15 years of detention without parole. I appear before the chief justice of the superior court. He may tell me to come back in two years or some other time period which he finds to be reasonable.
Second, the applicant must convince a jury of 12 citizens who have to decide on this. Let me go back, I have made one little error, reminding me of my fallible human nature. It was like that before, but the process was revised in 1999, and the jury now has to decide unanimously, not in a proportion of two-thirds. I would have expected the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue to whisper that to me. I do not hold it against him, but I urge him to remain vigilant. So it is not two-thirds of the jury, but the entire jury that must accept the application for early parole.
If the jury refuses, we know how it works. A jury is constituted from certain lists. Of course, in a trial, the way that the public is involved in the administration of justice is through the constitution and presence of a jury. If the jury refuses, but does not prohibit the filing of new applications, another application may be made, once again, after two years or after a longer period, as the jury may decide. If the jury accepts, on the other hand, it has to set a new period, which will be reduced.
Third, the jury will obviously consider the application, deliberate and approve or reject it. If the application is approved it will be sent to the National Parole Board.
I looked for statistics that would give us an idea of the scope of this phenomenon and have some. As of April 9, 2009, relatively recently, 265 applications had been submitted under section 745.6. Of that number, 140 had been approved and so 140 individuals had been given a period of time prior to their eligibility for parole.
With a ratio of 140 to 265, are we not approaching 45% or 50%? Can I say that?
The National Parole Board granted parole to 127 applicants. I will now provide some slightly more specific statistics. Thirteen individuals subsequently returned to prison—we can speculate on the fact that they were returned for breaking parole and failed to meet the conditions of it—three were deported, 11 died and were recalled to heaven—fate, it could be called—one was on bail, one was in provisional detention, and the most important of the statistics, 98 individuals of 127—we are closer here to two thirds—met the conditions of their parole.
In our assessment of the situation, we have to say that, when the stages set out in section 745.6 have been followed, two thirds of the individuals who were eligible early for parole met the conditions of it.
My colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel is wise and as a solicitor misses nothing. I do not know whether it is because he is used to this with wills, but he reminded me that adding the 11 dead to the 98 individuals who met the conditions of their parole makes the proportion higher than two thirds.
I would like to return to the 98 individuals, because it is here the Bloc's question lies. Why is there a need to repeal a provision of an exceptional nature? We are talking about 127 individuals in all these years. Is it not reassuring in the administration of justice to know that the provision exists?
People can commit second degree murder when they lose their mind, but it is still a reprehensible act and there are still innocent victims. It is certainly not my intention to minimize the seriousness of second degree murder. However, are there not situations in which individuals sentenced for second degree murder with no previous record show they are truly rehabilitated?
I will give you an unfortunate but convincingly instructive example.
Madam Speaker, allow me to give an example. You learn that the person you love, who has been sharing your life for a number of years is, unfortunately, cheating on you with the neighbour, and the community knows it. You are in a rage and commit murder out of jealousy. You are a respected individual and have responsibilities in your community.
You are liked by her peers. You have always led a good life. You have had significant responsibilities in the community.
Then, in a moment of craziness, you kill your her husband when you find out he has been cheating on you. You are therefore convicted of second degree murder. This is an act, of course, that we as a society must punish severely. You find yourself behind bars. In this specific example, though, would you not be the kind of person who should be eligible for early parole?
If this Conservative bill ever passes and the faint hope clause does not exist, would we have made a mistake? We would have deprived ourselves of a provision in the administration of justice that can be beneficial in some circumstances.
I want to provide a few statistics on the people who could be eligible. At the present time, 4,000 prisoners are serving life sentences in Canada. According to the most recent statistics of April 9, 2009, 1,001 prisoners could be eligible for early parole. Four hundred and fifty-nine of them have already served at least 15 years of their sentence and could therefore apply. When the bill gets royal assent, at least 459 people will be eligible to apply under section 745.6 of the Criminal Code. Five hundred and forty-two offenders will not have served 15 years yet but will soon be able to apply. On average, 43 of the 1,001 prisoners will be able to apply every year.
If things continue and section 745.6 is maintained, nearly 50 people a year will be eligible. This does not mean, of course, that the juries or the National Parole Board will grant their request, but they will be eligible.
Bill C-36 would entirely eliminate—and before the day on which the change comes into force—the right of all offenders to apply for early parole who were convicted of first or second degree murder or high treason. In addition, the last clause in the bill tells us this day will be determined by an order in council.
Parliamentarians must realize that if Bill C-36 passes, section 745.6 of the Criminal Code will be revoked. I just gave the example of a crime of passion. In committee, we are going to try to find out who has benefited from this section in order to know whether it should exist. We have no fixed opinion yet. We are prepared to listen to all sides. Just as much, though, as we want to send this bill to committee, we are concerned about the possibility that we might be depriving ourselves of a tool that is well suited to certain cases.
The bill would also tighten the conditions under which all offenders convicted of first or second degree murder or high treason before the day on which the change comes into force may make an application, including those who are already serving their sentence. This means that there would be four changes to the current procedure. First of all, tougher selection criteria will apply for judicial review
Madam Speaker, you are indicating that my time is up but I started my remarks at 11:55. Since I was given 20 minutes to speak, I could continue until 12:20. Am I mistaken here?
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-18 12:14 [p.4776]
Madam Speaker, if I may, and without questioning your ruling, I really took the floor at 11:55 a.m. Therefore, I feel like the House is depriving me of five minutes. I do not want to take up the time of the House, but I clearly recall taking the floor at 11:55 a.m.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-18 12:14 [p.4776]
Madam Speaker, in order to clear any ambiguity, in all friendship, and again without questioning the chair's ruling, could you ask for the consent of the House to give me five additional minutes for my presentation, since I am the Bloc Québécois critic on justice, and since I am the second speaker? I would really appreciate that.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-18 12:17 [p.4776]
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I can assure him that all Bloc Québécois members share a real compassion and a real concern for victims. Over the years, I have personally met with victims of criminal acts. I am well aware of what this may mean for a family, for a spouse, and for children who become orphans. There is no doubt that we feel such compassion.
Of course, when we have to review a bill like this one, the question we must ask ourselves as parliamentarians is what will happen if we abolish a system that already functions by exception. I gave some numbers earlier. Every year, about 40 individuals may be eligible under this program. Is there not a danger in depriving ourselves of this tool? I certainly do not want to give the impression that, by questioning this initiative as a parliamentary group, we are showing a lack of sensitiveness towards victims.
I said that we wish to refer the legislation to a committee. I want to know who benefits from early parole. I am wondering—and I believe that is also the case for my colleagues—what would happen if this provision were to disappear. However, we definitely do not want to show a lack of sensitivity towards victims.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-18 12:19 [p.4776]
Madam Speaker, unfortunately, I do not have that kind of information. We met with departmental officials this week and they explained a little about the structure of the bill.
They provided us with statistics, but I was not able to do a comparative analysis of other countries. Once this goes to committee, it will no doubt be interesting to see some comparisons and learn how other countries, whose legal traditions are similar to those of Canada, have dealt with early parole.
As always, my colleague's suggestion is a good one. And it is always a pleasure to debate with him. He is very present in the debates here in this House and I always appreciate his questions.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-18 12:21 [p.4777]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. I can even boast that he is not just a colleague, but a friend as well.
Obviously, we all know that he is a learned jurist. He wrote his bar exams in the 1970s—AD, that is. There is no chance I will ever write my bar exams, but I take a certain pride in having completed my law degree.
The sort of questions I would like the committee to debate concern the profile of people who were eligible for early parole. What is the rationale for abolishing section 745.6? I know that some police forces have called for it to be abolished.
In my introduction, which was cut short prematurely, I gave three reasons why we had passed section 745.6 in 1977. We wanted to give hope to people in the prison population and to make certain inmates with the appropriate profile eligible for early parole.
Are the reasons section 745.6 was added to the Criminal Code in 1977 and reviewed in the 1990s no longer relevant?
These are questions I would like the committee to debate, obviously with the friendly cooperation of my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-18 12:24 [p.4777]
Madam Speaker, I did not have access to regional statistics. The statistics I shared with the House are the ones we received from the justice department about people who had been granted early parole.
When I was a law student and was taking a course on sentencing—my professor was André Jodoin, who was assisted by Marie-Ève Sylvestre, here at the University of Ottawa—there was still a very good correlation between crime and indicators of disadvantaged areas. I also remember that there was unfortunately a strong correlation between the first nations and crime. That is why, with the Supreme Court decision in Her Majesty v. Proulx and subsequently with the Liberal government, specific mention of recognizing aboriginal justice in sentencing was even added. That said, my colleague is quite right to ask how these people will be reintegrated into society once their parole ends.
As parliamentarians, we need to strike a balance between the need to set an example in punishing people who commit murder and the need to give those people hope for rehabilitation. As Saint Augustine said, virtue is in the middle.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-16 11:46 [p.4653]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-26, which is supported by the Bloc Québécois. We supported this bill in its previous form, when it was presented in this House as Bill C-53.
We worked very diligently in committee. As our party's justice critic, I attended all the meetings. I was accompanied by my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, who has at least 30 years of experience as a criminal lawyer. His training was obviously very valuable during our examination.
We do not at all underestimate the gravity of auto theft. We heard a great deal of evidence in committee indicating just how important this issue is. If we sometimes have a tendency to refer to auto theft as a victimless crime, we must correct that tendency. It causes immense inconvenience for those whose cars are stolen, particularly in the regions. It also has a serious impact on the economy, given the associated costs for crime prevention groups, law enforcement agencies and people who rely on the protection provided by insurance.
Some of the best evidence we had in committee was from Richard Dubin of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. I would like to quote him. I believe that it provides a good context for situating the action to be taken by legislators in order to deal with the entire issue of car theft. He said:
Simply put, the days of the joyride have been replaced with sophisticated criminal rings bent on stealing automobiles, because the current penalties associated with this theft are so lenient and the profits are so attractive. These criminals steal vehicles and chop them up to sell parts. They switch the vehicle identification number to change the identity of the stolen vehicle, which is then sold to an unsuspecting consumer. And they export thousands of high-end vehicles through Canadian ports each year to overseas destinations where they can fetch a much higher price than here at home.In 2007, [not that long ago] almost 150,000 vehicles were stolen in Canada--exactly 146,142, to be precise. That cost auto insurance policyholders approximately $542 million. In that year, every policyholder in Canada paid an average of about $35 of their auto insurance premiums to finance costs incurred by the acts of car thieves.
Car thefts can be broken down into three categories. There are the petty thieves, the young people from the regions, who do it perhaps to impress someone. I said from the regions, but they can also be found in Montreal. I do not want to imply that this does not happen in big cities, but I am sure you know what I mean. These are young people who do not necessarily have a criminal record and decide to go for a joyride, decide to borrow a vehicle without permission to take it for a long, unauthorized drive. This is the first type of car theft. I would call it a joyride, which is not any less reprehensible or damaging to the victims. However, it does happen.
Other car thefts are committed by people who sell car parts. There is a market for them. They can resell the motor and some parts.
There are obviously large organized crime networks that are involved in importing and exporting, and that will export vehicles, especially luxury vehicles, to destinations and countries where they can make more money.
In all three cases, we can see how unique this bill is. Everyone knows that the Bloc Québécois is a responsible, clear-minded party that shows good judgment. When a measure is good, we support it; when a measure is excessive, we speak out against it; and when a measure is very bad, we fight it. I am pleased to tell the government members that we will enthusiastically support Bill C-26 because we know very well how serious the car theft industry is for our communities. When I studied law—a bit more recently than some other members in this House—we learned that the Criminal Code makes a distinction between theft where the value of what is stolen exceeds $5,000 and theft where that value does not exceed $5,000. However, until now, there has not been a specific offence related to car theft. Individuals were accused of possession of stolen goods, we made use of offences that were related, but there was no specific charge related to car theft. The government intends to create a specific offence for car theft, and I think that it has the support of law enforcement agencies. It certainly has the support of consumer organizations.
I will come back, obviously, to these offences but it is important to know that it is an extremely distressing state of affairs. In 1977, for example, 84,000 vehicles were reported stolen. In the early 1980s, the figure rose to 96,000. In 2007, it was 146,000. As we can see, in numerical terms, this phenomenon has grown significantly with, once again, the consequences involved in terms of insurance premiums and the resources required on the part of those enforcing the law.
I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you have never had your car stolen. I have not, as I do not have a car, but others may have and deserve our sympathy.
Certain distinctions need to be made if we are to understand this phenomenon. First, the rate of recovery of stolen vehicles varies significantly from one region to another. I have some statistics in this regard. In 2007, four of every ten stolen vehicles were not recovered by the police. What does that mean? We might think that the vehicles not recovered were intended for export and that organized crime was involved. It should also be noted that, in 2007, the lowest rate of vehicle recovery—and I was blown away to discover it—and I would draw the attention of the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles to this, was in Montreal, the Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières. I repeat that, in 2007, it was in Montreal, the region I represent, the Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières that the fewest vehicles were recovered. People might think that the residents of Trois-Rivières are leading a happy existence, preparing to celebrate their 375th anniversary as if they had not a care in the world, but in fact there are problems with car theft.
And so, with regret, I must inform the House about the city that tops the list for this kind of offence.
I see that my colleague from Trois-Rivières felt I was directing my remarks at her, but the city that tops the list in all categories is the city of Winnipeg. It has one of the highest rates of vehicle recovery in Canada. So, it is in Winnipeg that the most vehicles are stolen, but it is in Winnipeg that the most are recovered. Still, these are troubling data.
What does the bill propose?
I repeat, the Bloc Québécois enthusiastically supports this bill because we are a responsible and reasonable party. I have no recollection of our party not supporting a government whose measures were reasonable.
The bill creates four new offences. First, there will be, as I said, a separate offence for the theft of a motor vehicle, punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years. Obviously, I repeat, we have no problem with maximum sentences, since their application is left to the discretion of the judge.
Also, in the case of a third offence, there will be a minimum sentence of six months below which the judge cannot go. The type of proceedings will be at the discretion of the plaintiff.
We support the creation of a second offence in Bill C-26 in connection with the alteration of a motor vehicle identification number. In the course of our work, I learned that every vehicle has an alphanumeric number that is located in a different place depending on the vehicle model. It is not always in the same place. This set of 12 alphanumeric characters can be obliterated or changed to facilitate the resale of the vehicle, and that would constitute a specific offence. I believe that is a good thing. It is covered by clause 3 of the bill.
In addition to creating an offence for obliterating the vehicle identification number, as well as an offence for auto theft with a maximum sentence ranging from 6 months to 10 years, the bill establishes a third offence for trafficking in property obtained by crime and for possession of property obtained by crime for the purpose of trafficking. I spoke earlier about the import and export of autos dismantled for parts. Under clause 5 of the bill, this will be an offence carrying a maximum sentence of 14 years.
The fourth new offence is very important for those working at the Canada Border Services Agency, who will henceforth be able to prevent property obtained by crime from being taken across the border. I was very surprised to learn that, under the terms of the law, customs officers did not have the means to intercept stolen vehicles. This bill will correct that situation.
This is a bill that attacks a real problem. I will say it again: almost 150,000 vehicles are stolen every year. It is a reality in major centres, but not just in major centres. Earlier I gave examples of towns dealing with this problem.
I would like to speak about another issue. We were informed in committee that auto theft is a significant problem in Canada and is an offence that is committed in particular by young people between the ages of 15 and 18.
We were told, for example, that they were responsible in 2007 for three solved auto thefts in ten. The people found guilty, therefore, in three solved cases in ten in 2007 were 15 to 18 year old youths. This takes us much more in the direction of young people out looking for a thrill. With their desire to run with the crowd and impress their peers, they get together in a gang, take a car and go for a joyride. These youths are not necessarily big time criminals, but it is still very disagreeable, as the communities where this kind of thing tends to happen have pointed out to us.
I talked about the statistics and will not go back over them. However, I still want to mention the geographic realities of auto theft. For the 15th year in a row, the city of Winnipeg had the highest rate, followed by Abbotsford. The latter is a lovely town and I hope our committee gets a chance to go back there, but there is this nagging concern and the hon. member involved should delve into this a little more deeply. In third place is the city of Edmonton, followed by Regina. Then there is Kingston, which is actually a university town represented in the House by the Speaker, who guides our proceedings. Kingston is the city with the fifth highest auto theft rate. We should not think the Maritimes are spared. Saint John, New Brunswick, is in sixth place. The six communities that are most affected are therefore Winnipeg, Abbotsford, Edmonton, Regina, Kingston and Saint John.
People who want to know more about this should see the letter I had the pleasure of seeing published this morning in Le Devoir, the newspaper of Henri Bourassa himself, which explains why the Hells Angels should be outlawed. People should not hesitate to send me an email or correspond with me because this is very important. I hope to have a quick five minutes at the end of my remarks to return to this.
According to a study done by the RCMP in 1988, big criminal gangs are involved in all aspects of auto theft. That includes ordering specific vehicles, recruiting young people, taking vehicles apart, changing the vehicle identification number—which is now a specific offence—and transporting stolen vehicles outside Canada. That pretty well covers what organized crime is responsible for.
In conclusion, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-26. We worked hard on it in committee. We know this is a significant problem. One hundred and fifty thousand vehicles are stolen in Canada, and certain communities are particularly hard hit.
I hope this bill will be passed as quickly as possible so that it can be sent to the other place and given speedy royal assent.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-16 12:08 [p.4655]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our colleague from Abbotsford for his comments. I would also like to thank him for being so fair-minded as the committee chair.
The example he gave is not very convincing. If an individual known to law enforcement organizations is charged with stealing 30 cars, I sure hope that individual will not get away with just six months in jail. That person's sentence should be measured in years, not months. Any crown prosecutor who fails to appeal a six-month sentence is not doing a good job.
The Bloc Québécois is a rational party. We are against minimum sentences. The example provided by the member for Abbotsford does not prove that minimum sentences are a good idea. If sentences are not tough enough, it is the Crown's responsibility to appeal them.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-16 12:10 [p.4656]
Mr. Speaker, the committee heard those examples, and also about the 2007 requirement for electronic vehicle immobilizers in some vehicles.
In addition to police investigations and the energy that goes into finding cars, if we can intervene before thefts occur by installing immobilizers or using GPS tracking techniques and bait cars, which the member just referred to, I think we should consider that. We can only urge Quebec and the rest of Canada to avail themselves of these options.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-16 12:12 [p.4656]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his remarks, which are always relevant. I would also suggest that he not to be too quick to predict the future.
The statistics that were presented to us in committee indicate that vehicle theft rose from 1977 to 2005. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, vehicle theft declined, but there are still around 150,000 vehicles stolen per year, which is quite a few.
The merit of the bill is that it creates a new offence specific to auto theft. We can never count on the law alone to deter people. Many other variables come into play. But I believe that Parliament is sending a clear message that we recognize that there is a specific reality within the more generic reality of auto theft. There needs to be emphasis on this aspect of vehicle theft. It is extremely disturbing for communities where people depend on this mode of transportation. In that respect, the bill is a wonderful initiative.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-16 12:14 [p.4656]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his very relevant question.
The article, written in a brief, precise style, appeared in this morning's paper and was, I think, expected by analysts. It explains why the Hells Angels and other similar groups must be criminalized. In committee, I had the opportunity to move a motion that was well received by my colleagues. We heard from a number of witnesses. One situation that must be corrected is this: even though a court of law in Manitoba declares that the Hells Angels meet the definition of a criminal organization under section 467.1 of the Criminal Code, the various prosecutors in Canada and Quebec must again demonstrate that the Hells Angels are a criminal organization during every trial involving charges of gangsterism. Of course, this requires a great deal of the Crown's resources and wastes a lot of time. That is why we would like to see a list of criminal organizations put together in a manner that I will explain in future debates. I thank my hon. colleague for his question.
View Réal Ménard Profile
View Réal Ménard Profile
2009-06-16 13:08 [p.4662]
Mr. Speaker, the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue provides a nice mix of populism and legal knowledge. This adds to his charm, and he never fails to find this balance. I thank him for his speech.
I think that he made his views clear on mandatory minimum penalties. It is a view shared by the caucus. He is a wonderful spokesperson for our position. The member is a very well-known criminal lawyer. He earned a living doing that, and did very well for himself, but I would like him to talk a little more about the links between organized crime and car rings. Was there information on this today in a Montreal daily?
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