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View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Canadians, I am presenting a petition calling on Parliament to take the necessary measures to eliminate child pornography from the Internet and to prevent the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on private member's Bill C-612, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons). I would like to thank the member for Ahuntsic for this initiative, which seeks to deter people from committing these crimes and to ensure that those who profit from them are punished accordingly. I believe that we all agree that these objectives deserve our support. In fact, thanks to the hard work of the Conservative member for Kildonan—St. Paul, there is now a minimum sentence in the Criminal Code for those found guilty of trafficking in persons under the age of 18, an initiative that was supported by all opposition parties except the Bloc. It is a shame for this party and a sad day for Quebec's children.
Although we support the good intentions of the bill, I believe that, in its current form, it could prevent the desired objectives from being attained. I will spend my time pointing out some of the problems with the bill, but I will do so in a constructive manner and in the hope of making it as sound and effective as possible. In my opinion, changes need to be made to fill in the gaps in current criminal law and provide sufficient legal clarification so that such changes are useful to police and prosecutors. In the end, it would allow the member to attain her objectives of deterring and punishing this crime.
Human trafficking is a problem that comes up often. It garners a lot of attention from the public, media, police and legislators across the country and around the world. I believe that this interest stems from the fundamental human concern we have for one another and from the fact that we all recognize that no one should be treated as merchandise that can be bought and sold for profit. It is a form of modern slavery. Despite the attention that this crime garners, we are only just starting to comprehend the nature and scope of this crime in Canada and abroad. We do know, however, that women and children are disproportionately victimized by this crime.
According to the United Nations, in 2009, 66% and 13% of the victims were women and girls, respectively, compared with 12% for men and 9% for boys. The United Nations estimates that more than 700,000 people are victims of human trafficking every year. And this crime is clearly very profitable. The United Nations estimates that this crime nets nearly $32 billion each year for the offenders.
Police investigations and prosecutions in Canada provide us with useful, albeit incomplete, information about human trafficking. These cases have demonstrated that the majority of victims were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. But there are also cases of trafficking for forced labour. Most of the victims were women and the majority of these human trafficking cases took place here in Canada.
In December 2010, RCMP statistics showed that there were at least 36 cases involving human trafficking before our courts. That is an encouraging number because it shows that the criminal justice system is becoming more comfortable with the relatively new offences involving human trafficking.
In light of this, we must ensure that we do not inadvertently make our laws less effective. I am concerned that certain proposals that have been put forth could do just that. And in that context, I would like to speak to the content of this bill.
First, it would grant the extraterritorial power to bring legal action in Canada against Canadians or permanent residents who commit offences related to adult trafficking abroad. This seems logical to me and I know that extending jurisdiction in this matter is encouraged under the relevant international law. In fact, other countries have taken measures in this regard, including the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.
I believe—and I am asking members to think about this—that this type of amendment should have been extended to offences involving the trafficking of children, which fall under section 279.011 of the Criminal Code. This offence was enacted last year further to private member's Bill C-268, which was introduced and sponsored by the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul. The addition of a human trafficking offence involving both adults and children would allow us to ensure that Canadian laws and, of course, this bill, are consistent, as well as to take legal action no matter what the age of the victim.
I also support the bill's proposal to the effect that human trafficking offences should result in the reversal of the onus of proof in cases related to proceeds of crime. The existing regime limits this possibility to serious offences involving organized crime and other serious drug offences that are directly related to organized crime. We know that members of organized crime groups also participate in human trafficking. This amendment would target financial incentives and make this type of crime less appealing to criminal organizations.
This bill also proposes a “presumption” that appears to be an attempt to make prosecution easier. In cases involving adults, this presumption would require the court to find that the accused is exploiting a victim if he lives with a person who is exploited or is habitually in the company of or harbours a person who is exploited.
Presumptions help prosecutors prove an element of the offence by establishing a fact. However, as it is written, I do not think that the presumption achieves its goal. That said, I think that the goal could be achieved if the proposal could be amended to ensure that it produces the desired results and that it is compatible with the existing presumptions in the Criminal Code. I urge hon. members to think about the need to make such amendments to the bill.
Furthermore, I am concerned about a number of amendments this bill proposes to section 212 of the Criminal Code, which is commonly known as the procuring provision. Two amendments are proposed. The first would require that individuals found guilty of this offence must serve their sentences consecutively to any other punishment they have received. The second would apply reverse onus to this offence in cases related to the proceeds of crime.
As the House surely knows, our government is currently defending the constitutional validity of certain provisions regarding prostitution. Therefore, I think it would be ill-advised to make more amendments to these provisions before a ruling is made.
I would like to tell the member that I am absolutely willing to work with her to strengthen this bill in order to hold traffickers responsible for their horrendous crimes.
However, I am outraged that the Bloc has introduced this bill, since it knows that it wants to defeat the government. This is a case of opportunism. That party is trying to pretend that it defends victims, when all it does is defend the rights of criminals.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question.
As members know, our Conservative government understands the regions of Quebec and takes action on their behalf. That is why we introduced Bill S-10 to impose minimum penalties for individuals who sell drugs to our children near school grounds.
Unfortunately, the leader of the Bloc and his leftist urban elite are against that. They would rather see criminals out on our streets. Fortunately, our Conservative government shares the values of Quebeckers in all the regions. Our government continues to defend them and not to defend the rights of criminals, as the Bloc is doing.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, the hypocrisy displayed by the Bloc Québécois is appalling. The Bloc leader himself is the founding father of the tactic he is criticizing us for using.
Here is just one example: on July 15, 2004, before we were elected, the Bloc Québécois transferred $17,071.20 to the candidate for Québec. Just a few hours later, on July 16, 2004, that same candidate transferred $17,071.20 to the Bloc Québécois. What a coincidence. The money came in, then it went out.
Basically, the Bloc Québécois leader is trying desperately to trigger an election. While our economy is slowly recovering and Quebeckers in all regions are thinking about job creation and the economy, the Bloc leader wants an election at all costs.
Fortunately, the Quebec Conservatives are here to represent all regions of Quebec, not just Plateau Mont-Royal.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. In 2003, a court handed down a ruling against a certain Jean-Paul Marchand, a Bloc Québécois candidate. He lost the election, and here is what the judge had to say in the November 21, 2003 ruling:
Mr. Marchand concluded that the real purpose of this personal commitment was to fund the Bloc Québécois with public money and not to reimburse election expenses, as provided for by the Act.
Mr. Marchand had filed legitimate expenses. The Bloc demanded that he spend more and then took him to court because he had not claimed enough expenses. Elections Canada did nothing. Can the Bloc member, who is also his party's organizer, tell us why the judge said this?
In this case, the reason why the candidate made a personal commitment to the Bloc Québécois “to fund the shortfall” was possibly for financing purposes.
Can he tell us why Elections Canada—
View Daniel Petit Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the Bloc Québécois member a question.
Jean-Paul Marchand was a candidate. He lost the election in 2000. He was sued by the Bloc Québécois, which had used such a scheme. Mr. Marchand testified before Justice Godbout, a Superior Court judge. The ruling was handed down on November 21, 2003, in which it states:
Mr. Marchand concluded that the real purpose of this personal commitment was to fund the Bloc Québécois with public money and not to reimburse election expenses, as provided for by the Act.
Mr. Marchand's actual expenses were $22,276.37. He had agreed to spend $66,565. He made up fake expenses to claim rebates from the public coffers. There was no complaint to Elections Canada. Elections Canada did not intervene.
Can the member explain why Elections Canada did not intervene?
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion on electoral financing and accountability moved by the hon. member for Beauséjour.
Today I would like to explain to Canadians, and to this House, the falsehoods presented in this motion, according to which our democratic principles were allegedly attacked by the current government during the financing of the election campaign.
First, I would like to take a moment to present the facts. There is currently an administrative dispute between the Conservative Party and Elections Canada. The issue is whether expenses should be considered national or local. This type of transfer is common practice among the parties and is entirely legal.
It is in no way an attack against democracy, and this type of unjustified accusation is not only irresponsible, but also a waste of precious time in the House of Commons when Parliament could be debating issues that are truly important to Canadians, like the economy.
On the contrary, the motion moved by the hon. member for Beauséjour has to do with a dispute over the administrative interpretation of the fact that Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. What is more, the false and misleading accusations by the hon. member for Beauséjour are somewhat surprising, coming from the Liberal Party, which still owes $40 million plus interest following the sponsorship scandal. Taxpayers' hard-earned money was redirected to the Liberals' coffers.
In fact, it is this Conservative government that strengthened democracy in Canada by making accountability and transparency a priority. Our actions show Canadians that we are working in their interests.
More specifically, I would like to focus on our accomplishments with regard to electoral administration and financing. I would also like to underscore the major reforms in the Federal Accountability Act, which our government passed to put an end to the long-standing corrupt practices of the previous government.
Among other major improvements, the Federal Accountability Act prohibits political contributions by corporations, unions and associations and reduces the influence of big money within our electoral system by changing the individual contribution limit from $5,000 to $1,100.
By eliminating the anti-democratic influence that the wealthy could potentially exert, these reforms guarantee that our democratic system treats all Canadians equally. We are ensuring that the voices of all Canadians are heard.
Our government is the one that eliminated the influence of big money, not the one that was caught trying to claim some of that big money. The elimination of the influence of money in the government and the substantial amendments made to the lobbying regulations are perhaps the most significant changes that our government has made, and they illustrate our government's priorities and character.
In addition to key reforms to restore the fairness of the political financing system, our government also took measures to reduce the possibility of electoral fraud. Before we made these key changes, an individual could vote, no questions asked, if his or her name was on the voters list. Identification was not required unless an election agent, the candidate or the candidate's representatives had reason to doubt the person's identity or his or her right to vote. In order to address this shortcoming, our government took steps to require voters to present a piece of ID and proof of residence.
Our commitment to a fair election process is perfectly illustrated by the changes we made to protect law-abiding Canadians who work hard to prevent potential voter fraud. These types of measures protect the integrity of our electoral system by ensuring that the person requesting a ballot is actually the person who is entitled to it.
We also took measures to improve the administration of the election process. For example, when we required voters to present ID at the polls, we also made other changes to improve the accuracy of the National Register of Electors.
Clearly our government is committed to an open, transparent and accountable democratic process, and its actions continue to improve Canada's reputation as one of the most respected democracies in the world.
While we have achieved a great deal over the past five years, there is still considerable work to be done to ensure that Canada remains a world leader in democracy. We continue to take action to strengthen the Federal Accountability Act, making the most of our principles of transparency and accountability. While we have taken steps to ensure that politicians are not influenced by those with deep pockets who give too much money, our legislation still allows those people to lend too much money. In order to stop that practice, we introduced the Political Loans Accountability Act to impose new requirements concerning transparency and tighter restrictions on lending practices.
While there are limits on contributions, there are no limits on the amount an individual can lend, and this government wants to fix that. Under the Political Loans Accountability Act, parties and candidates would have to apply for a loan from a financial institution for any amount beyond the annual contribution limit and pay commercial interest rates, just as ordinary citizens must do. This is something the Liberal Party clearly cannot understand.
Lastly, the bill would prevent candidates from walking away from the repayment of the loan, a practice that the Liberals continue to use, which illustrates their contempt for the rules. Some four years after the 2006 Liberal leadership race, six Liberal members still had not paid back their loans, despite an 18-month extension, according to a National Post article on January 5, 2010. What did Elections Canada do?
If the Liberals want to talk about attacks on democracy, I would like to ask the members for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Parkdale—High Park, Willowdale, Vancouver Centre and Eglinton—Lawrence to explain to Canadians why they explicitly violated Elections Canada's financing rules despite the generous extension Elections Canada granted them.
Do they believe they are above the rules? If there was any wrongdoing, it was committed by the Liberal members who did not obey Elections Canada's rules regarding campaign loans. That is an indisputable fact. What did Elections Canada do?
Our government is proud of its unmatched commitment to accountability and transparency. Be it through the Federal Accountability Act, through legislation to improve the electoral process or through tougher rules on political loans, this government is committed to giving Canadians an accountable democratic process. Our record speaks for itself. If the Liberals want to talk about democracy, I would love to join in the debate. The root of the word democracy is “power of the people”. And by people, I mean Canadians—the parents who work hard and whose priorities include the economy, high-quality jobs and the promise of a bright future that is filled with hope for our children.
Instead of using an opposition day to talk about creating jobs for Canadians or about measures to ensure that our economy is stronger than ever, the Liberals are wasting their time making irresponsible, reckless and, most importantly, false allegations about the Canadian government.
The member for Beauséjour should focus on creating jobs in the aerospace industry and supporting the investments made by our government in businesses in his riding instead of acting as a pawn for the Liberal leader, who is pushing his own agenda. We all know that he is not interested in Canadians. He is only thinking about himself.
Even Robin Sears, the former NDP campaign director, told CTV News Channel on February 25, 2011, that it was time to get back to the issues that matter to Canadians. Canadians are worried about the economy, as is our government. It is unfortunate that the Liberals are only worried about themselves.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Madam Speaker, through you, I would like to tell my colleague that, first of all, I did not understand his question, and second of all, he spoke about things that did not really have to do with his own motion.
Why did Elections Canada not take action against the six Liberal MPs who missed the 18-month refund deadline? A backbench member of Parliament would get a slap on the wrist. There are six on the Liberal side who did not get a slap on the wrist. That is what he should answer for.
Why did Elections Canada not take action against those six Liberal members and why, now, are they accusing us of making in and out transfers, something that they themselves did? They made just as many. It is still legal and we will prove in court that it is.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Madam Speaker, I will respond to the hon. member's question through you as follows. First, a request was made by the Conservative Party. We won our case before the Federal Court, Trial Division. We lost our case before the Federal Court of Appeal. The score is currently one to one. The parties have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.
I would like to point out that Elections Canada lost the first round. It did not lose the second round; it lost the first. There was a hearing that lasted several days. As a result, it cannot be said today that Elections Canada suddenly changed.
Nevertheless, here is what Elections Canada did, for example. It is another point. Elections Canada filed criminal charges against representatives of the Conservative Party.
I would like to point out that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I will not hold a trial here since these people are not even here to defend themselves.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, our priority is to fight crime and ensure the safety of our children in all regions of Quebec. Unfortunately, this priority is not shared by the Bloc and the leftist urban elite from the Plateau. That is why they voted against our Bill S-10.
This Conservative bill would ensure minimum sentences for criminals such as the one in Val-d'Or who sells drugs near schools. We hope that the Bloc will finally stop listening to its leftist urban elite friends from the Plateau and will listen to families in all regions who are asking for minimum sentences for the drug dealers who threaten our children.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, the government is listening to the regions of Quebec and their priorities. That is why we are taking effective, reasonable measures to fight drug dealers by imposing minimum sentences. Our government is ensuring that drug dealers are behind bars, not near our schools, our parks and our youth. Unfortunately, the Bloc is still listening to the leftist urban elite from the Plateau, not to the regions, and it voted against this measure.
Our government continues to listen to Quebec families and to the regions of Quebec. And we will keep fighting criminals, no matter what the Bloc and the leftist urban elite from the Plateau think.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today regarding two important matters.
To begin with, I would like to explain to members how crime affects us all and how it is to some degree impossible to gauge the full cost of crime.
Secondly, the steps that we are taking to fight crime cannot be measured or determined solely by their cost. We have introduced wide-ranging legal reforms in an effort to respond to the concerns of victims and to mitigate the human costs associated with crime. These are major investments, and not only on a financial level.
Crime costs victims dearly; I would go so far as to say that it costs them very dearly. Of course, crime is very costly for all Canadians, but we know that it is the victims of crime who have to shoulder the bulk of this cost.
According to a recent study by the Department of Justice, the total cost of Criminal Code offences was estimated at $31.4 billion in 2008. Since there are no data available for many variables, we know this to be a conservative estimate. Still, it equates to a per capita cost of $943 for that year.
We know that victims are those most directly affected by crime. Of the $31.4 billion in costs, $14.3 billion are the direct result of crimes committed. This $14.3 billion covers medical care, hospitalization, loss of income, school absenteeism, and theft or property damage. More specifically, the drop in productivity accounts for 47% of the total cost borne by victims. Theft or property damage accounts for 42.9% and health care costs account for the remaining 10.1%. These costs are only the tip of the iceberg since they represent recoverable and identifiable expenses, such as those resulting from loss of property or medical care. There is nothing about this that is hard to understand.
The intangible costs such as fear, pain, suffering and decreased quality of life far outweigh the material costs. It is difficult, well nigh impossible, to precisely measure the cost of the emotional and psychological suffering caused by crime, and yet it is important to try to do so.
Research has shown that victims of violent crimes experience stress after being victimized. A crime can influence how victims view the world around them and how much they trust others. It can cause pain and suffering. We know that the psychological effects of crime-related trauma can last a long time. Because of a lack of data, early studies of the costs of crime did not take into account the pain and suffering experienced by victims. The situation is starting to improve because the intangible costs to victims are much too high to be ignored.
According to the results of the study by the Department of Justice, which I mentioned earlier, the intangible costs to victims total around $68.2 billion. Thus the total cost of crime in Canada in 2008 would be $99.6 billion. If we take into account intangible costs, the costs borne by victims represent 82.8% of the total costs. It is a fact that crime is costly for the victims.
The victims are the people most affected by acts of violence, but other people suffer as well. Family members mourn the death of a loved one or must put their daily activities on hold to accompany victims to court or to doctor's appointments, for example.
Governments provide various victims' services and compensation programs to directly help victims, and they work on strategic plans on these issues.
The third-party costs take all these costs into account. In 2008, the total third-party costs were about $2.2 billion.
Why do we need to know the cost of crime and the cost borne by the victims?
We know that no amount of money can adequately compensate a victim of crime or his family, especially when it comes to homicide. No one would choose to die in exchange for $2.5 million or would agree to an assault on his child in return for $10,000.
It is important, though, to establish these estimates. We know that resources are scarce and that programs such as those to increase the number of police officers on the beat or provide funding for health and welfare, to improve the environment, or to build highways and parks are always competing with one another for a share of the public purse.
There must be several facets to our attempt to allay the enormous costs incurred by the victims of crime.
Our government is determined to enhance the safety of all Canadians and raise their confidence in the justice system. That is important. We want to start by dealing with the main concerns of crime victims, those people who have discovered how the system works as a result of an unfortunate experience and have told us that changes are needed. We listened to them.
Canadians are proud of their justice system. It is admired the world over for its fairness. There is always room for improvement, though. Our government is determined to ensure that our justice system continues to be the envy of the world and, most of all, that it is valued in Canada.
In 2006, our government set out its plans for changes to the criminal justice system, and over the last five years, those plans have been realized. It was not easy to ensure that the key changes passed. We were and still are a minority government.
It is easy, though, to see that Canadians support our program to fight crime.
Canadians agree that the personal, financial and emotional consequences for crime victims and the public are too severe and that measures to make Canadians safer, hold offenders responsible and raise confidence in our justice systems are worth the investment.
Allow me to describe a few key legislative changes that illustrate how concerned we are about crime victims and the people of Canada in general.
Our changes were intended to make the punishment fit the crime a little better, something that crime victims and many other people had been demanding for a long time. Changes were made to protect children, our most vulnerable victims. Some changes focused on issues that affect Canadians in their daily lives, such as automobile theft, identity theft, drug-related crime, fraud and street racing.
I would remind the House of Bill C-25, the Truth in Sentencing Act, which was introduced on March 27, 2009 and passed three months later on June 8, 2009. The bill received royal assent on October 22, 2009, and the changes came into force on February 22, 2010.
In general, these changes limit the credit for time served in preventive detention to a one to one ratio. A maximum ratio of one and a half to one applies only when circumstances warrant. A maximum one to one ratio applies to the credit accorded offenders who broke their bail conditions or were denied bail because of their criminal record. No higher ratio is allowed than one to one, regardless of the circumstances.
This amendment to the Criminal Code was welcomed by those who were appalled by the two- or three-for-one sentencing credits being given to offenders who were detained before their trials.
Victims of crime welcomed this amendment, which is designed to guarantee that offenders serve their sentences. Victims do not want revenge; they want sentences to fit the crime. Bill C-25 addressed this concern.
Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act, which dealt with the faint hope clause was recently passed by the House and the Senate and will soon be ready to receive royal assent. It will abolish the faint hope clause for individuals serving a life sentence for murder. Those who commit murder after this bill comes into effect will no longer be able to avail themselves of the faint hope clause. Family members of murder victims have been calling for the abolition of this clause for many years. We listened to them.
Our government is committed to abolishing the faint hope clause, which allows murderers who are serving life sentences to apply for parole after serving 15 years of their sentence rather than 25 years. As you can well imagine, murder victims' families could not understand how a life sentence could turn into parole after only 15 years. It was absolutely scandalous. As I said earlier, victims are not acting out of revenge; they just want the sentences to be reasonable. We listened to them.
I would also like to remind the House about Bill C-48, the Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act, introduced on October 5, 2010. This bill deals with multiple murders and responds to the legitimate concerns of victims of crime, who feel that every homicide victim has to count and every sentence handed down to a murderer has to fit the seriousness of the crime. Life imprisonment means spending life in prison. It is impossible to give multiple murderers multiple life sentences since we have only one life. Nonetheless, Bill C-48 will allow a judge to impose consecutive periods of 25 years with no chance of parole for each murder conviction. For example, a person found guilty of two murders—the easiest case to understand—might have to spend 50 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Bill C-48 was passed by the House and is currently at second reading stage in the other place. This bill is another example of our goal to make the punishment fit the crime and to ensure that offenders are held accountable for their actions against victims.
I also want to talk about other reforms centred around victims. I am sure that my colleagues in this House will recall Bill C-21, the Standing up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act, which was introduced in the House of Commons on May 3, 2010 and passed by the House on December 15, 2010 and is currently before the other place. Bill C-21 provides a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for fraud over $1 million. As pointed out in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member, many cases of fraud involving large sums of money already end in prison sentences greater than two years.
I would also like to point out that Bill C-21 has been long awaited by victims of white collar crime. These reforms will do more than just add a minimum sentence. They will allow the court to issue an order prohibiting people who have been found guilty of fraud from having any authority over anyone else's money or property in order to ensure that they do not defraud others. Restitution for victims of fraud will be given greater importance, and the courts will be allowed to take into account community impact statements concerning the repercussions of the fraud. Community impact statements will be a vital tool that will serve to remind the court, the offender and the public that these crimes have negative repercussions on communities and on the victims who suffer direct financial losses.
We listened to victims.
Who among us has never had their car stolen or does not know someone who has had their car stolen? Car theft is common. It is a real scourge. It has a huge impact on our daily lives. Victims of car theft feel huge frustration that is compounded by the fact that the thief is not held to account. Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), also called the Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act, was broadly supported and received royal assent on November 18, 2010. That bill will come into force soon.
These changes create new offences related to motor vehicle theft; altering, removing or obliterating a vehicle identification number; trafficking in property or proceeds obtained by crime; and possession of such property or proceeds for the purposes of trafficking. In addition, it provides for an in rem prohibition on the importation and exportation of such property or proceeds.
Bill S-9 also sets out mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders.
I will spare you the details of the bills aimed at amending legislation that have been passed by the government. The list is too long. However, I want to point out some, in particular the ones meant to protect our children.
For example, Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service requires Internet service providers to report any child pornography on their network. A breach of that requirement could lead to a series of increasingly higher fines and the person could be put in prison for a maximum of six months for a third infraction and for each subsequent offence. Bill C-22 was widely supported in the House.
It goes without saying that Bill C-22 addresses the concerns of victims of crime. We listened to them. The bill aims to reduce the number of new victims of Internet child pornography. The federal ombudsman for victims of crime was very clear on the need for such a law; we created that ombudsman's office.
Before I conclude, I would be remiss if I did not mention Bill C-54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual offences against children), also known as the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, which was passed on November 4, 2010.
These amendments will help us better protect children from sexual exploitation because of two new infractions, namely providing sexually explicit materials to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against the child and agreeing or arranging to commit a sexual offence against a child.
These amendments will also require the court to consider attaching conditions to sentences for offenders found guilty of committing a sexual offence involving a child and offenders suspected of having committed this type of offence to ensure that they are not in contact with children under the age of 16 and that they do not use the Internet without supervision by a designated person.
This will allow for a more consistent enforcement of sentences for sexual offences involving children.
Bill C-54 is currently being studied by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member, and I suggest that, when it is returned to the House, all members show their support for protecting children by ensuring that this bill is passed quickly.
The government is proud of what it has accomplished for victims of crime and for the people of Canada. We are listening to victims of crime and to other stakeholders in the justice system, and we are making reforms that address the needs and concerns of Canadians.
Our government has listened to victims.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is very relevant. I will say that we are forced to introduce these bills today because, during 13 years, the Liberals did nothing. That is the problem.
Now, despite the fact that we have a minority government, we are forced to compress legislation. As a minority government we have found it very difficult. I sit on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and I can say that many times opposition members—from the NDP, the Liberals or the Bloc—have gotten together to stall our bills. Nevertheless, we have managed to pass the bills that I mentioned.
There are two types of costs. As I explained earlier, there are tangible costs—hospitalization, lost wages, lost jobs, etc.—and intangible costs. They never thought about those. They were in power so long that they never added up the numbers although they should have. They were in power for 100 years and they never did anything for victims. That is serious.
Our government listened to victims. We are there and we plan on continuing to help victims, regardless of the cost. Some costs we can add up, but it is not possible to do so for the intangible costs.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, the question asked by the hon. member is very pertinent. First of all, I would point out to him that it is not a question of determining the exact cost, but rather a question of whether or not we are fulfilling our duty to our constituents. There are many victims among our constituents. For some time now, the opposition parties—one of which was in power for nearly 100 years—have done nothing. They have never done anything about it. We, on the other hand, are listening to victims. Because we are listening, we have to condense many things into our legislation, which is what they should have done.
The NDP has been here in the House for nearly 40 years and has never proposed any legislation to help victims. All we ever hear from the NDP is that we should give the poor criminals fewer sentences, and now they want to know the costs associated with these poor criminals. Why? Because in reality, the NDP members do not want anyone to be sent to prison. They want criminals to be on our streets.
That is not what we want. We want people who are convicted in a court of law to be sent to prison for however long the judge orders. That is what is important. Nearly 80% of the cost, as I said, is suffered by the victims, while criminals do not pay anything for nearly the entire time they are in prison. The only thing they endure is three meals a day, while they are being housed and clothed and so on. That is not the case for victims, since they are the ones who lose everything.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member's question, I would say that, in my community, the same people, the same victims, came to tell us about their experiences. In my region of Quebec City, in my riding, we use the term “sentences bonbon”, meaning lenient sentences. Why? Because before our time, when a person was sentenced to six years in prison and had served six months on remand, which counted for double or one year, do you know what happened? That person got out of prison the next morning.
This was a serious problem of the Liberals' invention. It is a revolving-door system. We oppose this system and victims want nothing more to do with it. We want justice, and it is important to ensure that, when the courts render a decision, there is no way to get around the legislation and thereby enable offenders to get out of prison after only approximately six months, which counts for double, and return directly to society. When this happens, it is the victims who are penalized.
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