May I point out that the bill was not amended in committee of the whole. It was amended in the committee on banking and commerce, and was accepted in committee of the whole in the form in which it was presented.
Motion agreed to and bill read the third time and passed.
Hon. ALPHONSE FOURNIER (Minister of Public Works) moved that the house go into committee of supply.
Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Golding in the chair.
Topic: LOAN COMPANIES ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS WITH RESPECT TO DEFINITIONS, NUMBER OF DIRECTORS, ET CETERA
Last night when the committee rose I was discussing the question of the suppression of crime comics. I had made a brief review of the situation, based upon certain information I had, and I was about to suggest to the minister certain specific measures he might take to limit, if not to eliminate, the circulation of these magazines.
I have since noticed an article in the Ottawa Journal of Tuesday, June 8, which discussed the effect of these crime comics upon juvenile minds. The article is a report by Fredric Wertham, M.D. in the Saturday Review of Literature. Doctor Wertham is senior psychiatrist at the New York City Department of Hospitals, and director of the Bellevue and Queens general mental hygiene clinics in New York, so that he is a well qualified observer, and his article leaves no doubt that these crime comics have the effect which I suggested last night. This article is so outstanding, so clear and so helpful that I believe the committee would be pleased if I were to read it into the record.
Mr. Chairman, I do not mind the committee having all the information possible on this subject, but I submit that the discussion is out of order. We are on departmental administration, and if any legislation which occurs to any hon. member can be discussed on this item, the field is
unlimited. If my hon. friend will permit me to say so, my attention was called to the article last night by the hon. member for Stanstead, and the deputy minister of the department also called it to my attention this morning. I have not had an opportunity to read it.
Yes, but I think it is hardly appropriate on the item for departmental administration to read a newspaper article involving possible amendments to the criminal code. I have drafted an amendment to the criminal code on this subject. I shall lay it before council-if I ever get a chance to get t-o council-and I shall come back to the house when the criminal code is being discussed, or before, and state what the decision of the government is on this matter.
The hon. member for Kamloops sent me a shocking instance of the abuse of freedom of the press. I agree with him, that it is just that. I am afraid, however, it is nevertheless legal; it is not an offence to publish the kind of material which was published and which is being distributed in various parts of Canada.
I am told that formerly these crime comics came from the United States and that they were subject to some check by the Department of National Revenue. Now, however they are printed and distributed in Canada. I think the hon. member has made a case for careful consideration of this matter. As soon as it can be considered by council I will advise the house, probably by way of notice of an amendment to the criminal code. If we decide not to do it, or if we decide that it is the wrong thing to do, when the criminal code comes up I will announce my decision and my reasons for it. I want to assure the hon. gentleman that serious consideration is being given to the matter.
I certainly appreciate the assurance given by the minister, and under the circumstances I shall not delay the committee by reading this article, especially as the minister says it has been directed to his attention.
I should like to conclude by referring to the third suggestion I was going to make as to how this matter might be dealt with. Last night I suggested that it might be dealt with, first, by direct censorship, and second, by banning this type of magazine from the mails; and my third suggestion is that the minister might give attention to amending the Juvenile Delinquents Act. He has referred to a contemplated amendment to the criminal code, but he might find that the one or other or both
would furnish a useful means for getting at this situation. I would refer him to section 33 of the Juvenile Delinquents Act, which is chapter 46 of the statutes of 1929. This section reads:
Any person, whether the parent or guardian of the child or not, who, knowingly or wilfully,
(a) aids, causes, abets or connives at the commission by a child of a delinquency; or
(b) does any act producing, promoting, or contributing to a child's being or becoming a juvenile delinquent or likely to make any child a juvenile delinquent;
shall be liable on summary conviction-
I imagine the difficulty in bringing a prosecution under that section would arise from the fact that the crime or particular act which produces, promotes or contributes to a child being a juvenile delinquent is not specifically defined. If there were inserted in this clause, or in a separate clause, a provision to the effect that the publication or circulation of magazines or books devoted to the portrayal of crimes of violence by means of pictures or by words and pictures shall be deemed to be an act contributing to juvenile delinquency, it would be easier to secure convictions under this act, or indeed under the criminal code. It did occur to me that the Juvenile Delinquents Act might well contain such a provision.
In closing I should like to express, not only for myself, but for those who have brought the matter to my attention and for many others in the country, appreciation of the fact that the minister intends to study it and hopes to introduce legislation to enable prosecutions to be successfully launched against those who are contributing to juvenile delinquency by publishing and circulating these books for profit.
Mr. Chairman, what has just occurred indicates the contribution a private member of the opposition can make to the better government of this country. The hon. member for Kamloops brought this question before the house the other day and again last evening. The cogency of his arguments in bringing the matter to the attention of the house has resulted in the press taking it up and in public opinion causing the government to act where action was long overdue.
In view of the numerous amendments to the criminal code which have been brought before the house I should like to ask what, if anything, has been done during the past year toward mobilizing the support of the law schools, as well as of judges or magistrates who have retired, looking to a revision of the criminal code and bringing it up to date by removing obsolete sections and changing others
to conform to the penological, psychological and physiological advances which have been made.
This matter has been brought up before. On the last occasion either the minister or his predecessor said that it would be given immediate consideration. There has not been a revision of the criminal code since 1893. The result is that it is most difficult to reach a conclusion as to the applicability of many of its sections. A step has been taken in the right direction- I am not going to deal with this-so far as part XVI is concerned, and there is an effort in the amendments now introduced to bring some semblance of sanity and reasonableness to these sections. But many other sections require revision. The penalty sections should be changed in the light of present-day advances. The matter deserves serious consideration. Even though the minister is on the point of relinquishing the portfolio which he recently assumed, he could make a worthwhile contribution by laying the foundation for the setting up of a commission to revise the code as it is now constituted.
The criminal code certainly needs revision. The commissioners on the uniformity of legislation have been working on it year after year. They advised me last August that they did not think they were the proper body to revise the criminal code. They are not remunerated for their work, and they do not have much time to devote to it. Certain provinces review certain parts of the code, and a great deal of work has been done. We have been rather hoping that a piecemeal revision of the code could be made by that method, and we have not completely given up the idea. The difficulty about revision is to get the proper persons to take charge of it, persons in whose judgment one has confidence and who are in every respect competent.
The amendments to the criminal code which I introduce year by year take an enormous amount of time. Decisions cannot be hastily made, because they involve balancing considerations. The amending bill this year is a long one. We adopted many of the recommendations of the commissioners on the uniformity of legislation; we rejected others, and we amended others. I suppose it would be an exaggeration to say that there is as much work on one of these criminal code amending bills as there is on the budget; but there is a great deal of work, days and days of it. It requires judgment which in the last analysis devolves on council. It comes to the minister, but the minister says, "I do not think we should do that; we should do something a little different." Finally it goes to council and we
evolve a bill. If council approves I propose to introduce an amendment this year to provide for the revision of the statutes to be made by a commission, and that will include the criminal code. In the meantime we are making inquiries to see whether we can get together the type of organization we want for the amendment of the criminal code. The work has not ceased; it is being done all the time by the commissioners, and these important amendments which are being introduced year by year are continually cutting down the amount of work that is left.
There is a view that we should try to prevail upon the commissioners on uniformity of law to do the whole thing, part by part and section by section, but I do not think they are quite disposed to accept that view.
Mr. Chairman, with regard to the delays in the appointment of judges, I will mention one particular case-and I do not think the reason for the delay has been a shortage of Liberal lawyers. On the third of March I asked a question in the house about the vacancy in the district court in the judicial district of Prince Albert. I speak not as the representative of that constituency but as a member of the bar of that judicial district. This judicial district over the years has given one judge to the Supreme Court of Canada, in the person of Mr. Justice Lamont; has given to the diplomatic service two erstwhile judges, Chief Justice Turgeon, who now occupies the post of Canadian high commissioner in Ireland, and Mr. Justice Davis, who recently retired from the bench to enter the diplomatic service permanently and is now ambassador to China. That bar has turned out at least twelve superior court judges, besides some ten or twelve county court judges, in the last thirty-five years. Prince Albert was one of the first judicial districts established in Saskatchewan. Since January 1, 1947, we have had no judge for that judicial district. We have had the assistance of two acting judges, one from Humboldt and the other from Melfort. His Honour Judge Hanbidge, from Humboldt, has discharged most of the duties, and done it well. But, sir, the delay in making this appointment just cannot be brushed aside by the answer given by the minister on March 3, when he said:
As the volume of judicial work in the Prince Albert district since the retirement of Judge Doak has been such that the judges from Humboldt and Melfort districts have been able to perform it in addition to the duties in their own districts, it has not so far been deemed necessary to appoint a successor.
That answer just is not fact; it does not answer the question at all. I shall not go into details unless the minister wants them. This judicial appointment should not be allowed to remain outstanding until a provincial election has been held. The appointment should be filled. Any number of possible Barkises are able and willing to accept the appointment. Why does that judicial district appointment remain in such a nebulous position, and why has it not been filled? It is a serious matter that this district, in which the volume of business is as great as in all but two or three of the other judicial districts in the province, should have to depend upon judges coming in from other judicial districts. If a judge is appointed or transferred to that district, we
shall be perfectly happy. We have a right to the appointment of a judge instead of the delays such as we have experienced.
This delay is not unusual. It occurs in provinces where there is a comfortable allotment of judges, as everyone knows there is in Saskatchewan. If this were in the province of Quebec, and we were dealing with superior court judges, we would be falling all over ourselves to make the appointment because of the greater rush of cases and the tremendous necessity of filling appointments promptly. There are some provinces in which that is not so, and Saskatchewan is one of them. I have never been told before that anyone is suffering as a result of judges from the outside coming into that district. I am not convinced at all that judicial business, or the interest of litigants, or the interests of the bar, have suffered.
But if there is a delay of years in filling a judicial appointment, for instance, that is when the need arises. When it comes to our attention that the business of litigants is not being transacted, we act immediately and responsibly to the requirements of the situation. My hon. friend has never said anything in this house to indicate that anyone is suffering as a result of this appointment waiting a while, as many appointments do, not only in Saskatchewan but in Ontario and in the maritime provinces, and I think in some other parts of Canada as well.
I should like to say a word in support of the splendid success of a judge at the head of the lakes who presides over the family juvenile court. If every city in Canada were taken care of in the same way that that judge takes care of the juveniles at the head of the lakes, the criminal code would soon become obsolete. Judge McKitteriek, in addressing a group of young athletes, paid tribute to the men and women who control the athletic endeavours of the young people at the head of the lakes. During the winter there are twenty-four hockey rinks in operation in Fort William, and controlled and supervised playgrounds are in operation during
the summer. Judge McKitterick said that not one boy or girl was sent from the head of the lakes because of juvenile delinquency. The reason he gave was that the boys and girls were well taken care of. I pay my tribute to the judge, because he is one of the direct causes of this desirable condition; and it is the result also of the manner in which he takes care of the mothers and fathers. He tells them how they should take care of their children; train them up in the way they should go, and when they become men and women they will observe the law. I thought it would be a little encouragement to the Minister of Justice to know that in some parts of Canada we are not thinking in terms of observing the criminal code; we are thinking of the care of our boys and girls.