May 26, 1921

UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. THOMSON (Qu'Appelle) :

As a

matter of fact it is theft though, according to the definition of theft in the Code, is it not?

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

We must read the

definition of theft, but we must read also the section dealing with special cases. I think it is generally recognized that a disposition dealing with a special case makes an exception to a general disposition. Section 285B says:

Everyone who takes or causes to be taken from a garage, stable, stand or other building or place, any automobile or motor car with intent to operate or drive or use or cause or permit the same to be operated or driven or used without the consent of the owner shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $500 and costs or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding twelve months or to both fine and imprisonment.

I do not think, therefore, that there is any danger that the really harmless boy will get harshly treated under this law.

I may point out that just the other day we were passing on a murder case in connection with which the first operation was the perfectly harmless thing that the hon. gentleman speaks of-the borrowing of somebody else's automobile for the purpose.

I simply mention this more recent case; we have had several such instances. The borrowed automobile is becoming one of the tools of trade of the burglar and the holdup artist. I hope hon. gentlemen will not allow themselves to be carried away with the sympathetic appeal of the odd case of a boy who may perhaps by mistake be convicted of stealing but who always has the opportunity of appealing to a very lenient and clement Solicitor General and Minister of Justice. I hope hon. gentlemen will not do that and forget the importance of impressing on the criminal population the seriousness of the offence of really stealing an automobile.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

John Archibald Campbell

Unionist

Mr. CAMPBELL:

Are the offenders any more liable to be caught under the penalty provided in this Bill than under the present penalty?

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

I do not think they are more liable to be caught. But the whole theory of the criminal law is that it deters people from committing offences by providing penalties and punishments.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

John Archibald Campbell

Unionist

Mr. CAMPBELL:

It is the certainty of the punishment rather than the extent of it which deters.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

The certainty is of

great importance, and we strive as far as possible to get it. But if you have certainty of punishment and the punishment itself is inadequate, you do not get very much effect. There is no disposition that we can put in this statute that will make it certain that the criminal will get caught; that we have to leave to the vigilance of those who are charged with the enforcement of law.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. THOMSON (Qu'Appelle) :

If I were satisfied that the minister's interpretation of the law was correct, I would not object to the clause as it stands. I have a distinct recollection of prosecuting in a somewhat similar case under a section placed some time ago in the Criminal Code; perhaps the minister will remember it. I can-

not quote it exactly at the moment, but it refers to the keeping of stray animals. I raised the contention in that case that it was theft. The judge before whom I was acting, and who, I think, was one of the brightest judges we have ever had in Canada, expressed himself as absolutely clear that it was theft and that the man could be prosecuted for theft, notwithstanding that in this other section it is dealt with in another way. This is a repetition of what I have suggested. This judge may be wrong and the minister may be right; but I have grave doubt whether my right hon. friend is right, and, therefore, I do not like the clause as it stands. I believe, that strictly according to law, that boy could be prosecuted under this section, and he must be sentenced for one year unless th6 Crown prosecutor or the Attorney General agrees. I suppose it is likely that where a case is such as I have mentioned, the Crown prosecutor or the Attorney General would agree.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB
L LIB
UNION
L LIB

David Arthur Lafortune

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAFORTUNE:

Once a man is

found guilty, the judge has no right to suspend sentence, but he has a right to consult with the Crown prosecutor or agent of the Crown, and then if the case is a fair one, the Crown prosecutor or agent of the Crown will recommend suspension of the sentence. The law is perfectly correct.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

The hon. member (Mr. Thomson) is assimilating the crime of stealing an automobile with that of stealing a horse and buggy. There is all the difference in the world between the two. There are regular organizations of automobile thieves. They have places where they can take a car, run it into a garage, take the number off the engine, stamp on another number and get the car away to the United States. I had a case of a stolen car, and that car was found six months afterwards in a garage in New York where demonstrations were being made for technical schools. Automobile stealing is an organized trade, the same as that of counterfeiting. Insurance companies which insure automobiles against theft will tell you that it is the best organized system of robbery there is on the con-

[Mr. Thomson.

tinent. It is spreading all the time. Another thing which my hon. friend forgets is that a man who steals an automobile is not going to loaf around the street corners; he goes full speed with it, and he may kill any one on the road. Therefore, by trying to stop this automobile stealing business, you are protecting human life. I am not in favour of too drastic measures, but this is an evil that is spreading. In the city of Three Rivers, I must say that automobile theft has come to be a fashion, not that the people of that city steal automobiles, but we have visits from people from Montreal. There have been automobiles stolen in Three Rivers, a distance of 96 miles from Montreal, and on a telephone message being sent to Montreal, two hours afterwards the automobile was traced in that city. That shows the danger to which men, women, children, horses and so on are exposed on the road between Three Rivers and Montreal. This is an evil that ought to be stamped out. If judges are too kind-hearted, we might bring in the Attorney General or his representatives, of whom we have two worthy ones in this House, and we have had an expression of views from one who, for a number of years, has been a representative of the Attorney General in Montreal. We can trust such officials as they are to see that justice is meted out and that no injustice is done. May I add for the information of the hon. gentleman, that in the Criminal Code there is a provision that for stealing a cow a man is liable to go to penitentiary for fourteen years?

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB
L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

I know that, and he cannot run away with a steer so fast as to endanger the life of people along the road very much.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Thomas Joseph Stewart

Unionist

Mr. STEWART (Hamilton West):

Coming from a city of the size of Hamilton in which automobile stealing is prevalent, I would be neglecting my duty if I did not say a word or two in regard to this legislation. We have a provision now by which those who steal automobiles may be hauled up and fined, and sent to jail if they do not pay the fine. There is five times as much stealing of automobiles as there was a year ago, and this crime is increasing very rapidly. I have an automobile which I keep in a good barn at the back of my house. I have had the panels pulled out of the door twice while I have been in bed

and the police have chased the thieves away. It is pretty nearly impossible to keep a $5,000 or $6,000 automobile without scalawags trying to break in one's doors to get it away. It is absolutely necessary that something should be done to stop these people from doing that sort of thing. We are neglecting our duty if we do not change the law, and I think that if the law provided that automobile thieves could be lashed, we would put more terror into them.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

This is a very bad

clause. I have no objection to the penalty being increased if the law is not severe enough; but to pass a statute which says that a judge, no matter what the circumstances may be, shall not have within himself the right to suspend sentence or to give a sentence of less than a year, seems to me a serious reflection upon the judiciary of the country.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB
UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

In cases of stealing

from the post office or the mails, a judge has to give not less than three years.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

Probably the same

argument which I make here would apply to that.

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

This is not a solitary case. ,

Topic:   S912 COMMONS
Permalink

May 26, 1921