LEWIS (West Huron) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 71) respecting assaults and offences against the person. He said: The purpose of this Bill
is explained by its title. I have added to it the provision of the Bill which I introduced last year relating to homicide by hunters in the woods. I cannot explain this clause more clearly than by using the words of an editorial in the Ottawa * Citizen ' :
Hunting is a sport. Homicide is a crime. When a keen or careless sportsman in the bush sees something that he thinks is a deer, he fires at it, and subsequently discovers that he has killed a man. If he had seen his target properly he would have known beyond doubt whether it was a deer or a man. Not seeing it properly, he is not sure which it is, but he deliberately takes the chance of killing a man rather than miss shooting a deer. In other words, he does not give the human being the benefit of the doubt. If he gave the deer the benefit of the doubt, and it got away, he would lose about ten dollars' worth of venison. If he gave the man the benefit of the doubt, the life of a human being would be saved. Any hunter who will run the risk of killing a human being rather than risk losing ten dollars' worth of venison deserves to be in the penitentiary. Therefore, the ' Citizen ' thinks that the Bill of Mr. Lewis, M.P., to amend the Criminal Code should pass.
The other clauses of the Bill refer to assaults upon women and to punishment of tramps. I have here small items from newspapers from many parts of Canada. I may just mention some of them: A despatch from Barrie, * Young farmer committed on charge of criminal assault '; from Stratford, * Stratford girl attacked; Cries frightened the man and he fled;' from London, ' Frightened to death by a tramp;' from Winnipeg, 'Another brute;' from Winnipeg, 'Tinsmith arrested; charged with criminal assault upon a child;' from Vancouver, ' Fiendish murder of a
seven-year-old.' This Bill proposes heavier punishment for such offences. How often, when a man is arrested for stealing-even if he has only stolen something to eat- the offender gets from three to five or even ten years. I have before me a newspaper item about a man getting fifteen years for breaking into a car in the city of Victoria. Here is another about a man who got three years for sending indecent post cards. But the man who assaults a child of five years gets only three months. This Bill propos_es to punish the wrong doer in such cases in such a way as to prevent the recurrence of such crimes.
Another clause has to do with what may be called a custom in this country which leads more to crimes by tramps than any other. In Ontario, at least, it is quite common for a magistrate before whom a prisoner is brought for having no visible means of support, to allow the man to go on the condition that he moves to another county. And in how many cases is that productive of crime? Take the case of the horrible murder committed in the city of Stratford, for which the criminal has just paid the last penalty; within the three weeks before that crime was committed that man had been arrested four times and had been allowed to go on condition of going into another county. The Bill empowers the magistrate, in the ease of a man arrested the second time as a vagrant, to send him into confinement under indeterminate sentence as a dangerous character to be at large.
And, Mr. Speaker, in view of the information contained in the newspapers to some items of which I have already referred, and many others which I have collected, I would ask your permission to say to the government that, in my opinion this Bill and others relating to criminal law should be referred to a committee for consideration. It is twenty years since the Criminal Code was really revised. I would suggest that the Committee on Privileges and Elections, which is a large committee with little to do, a committee composed of lawyers, experts in the enforcement of the criminal law, should have its power enlarged so that it may take into consideration this question of our Criminal Code and the amendments proposed thereto. In accordance with this purpose, it might be called the Committee on Privileges, Elections and the Criminal Law.