November 30, 1987

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER


(Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk.)


PC

Frederick James (Jim) Hawkes (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jim Hawkes (Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Privy Council):

Mr. Speaker, Question No. 210 will be answered today.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
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LIB

Mr. Caccia

Liberal

Has the government taken action in response to the options set out in the "Environmental Quality Strategic Review: a follow-up report of the Task Force on Program Review", published on February 21, 1986 and, if so, for each option, what action has been taken?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY STRATEGIC REVIEW
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PC

Thomas Michael McMillan (Minister of the Environment)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Tom McMillan (Minister of the Environment):

Yes. The "Environmental Quality Strategic Review: a follow-up report of the Task Force on Program Review", was one of a number of task force reports that made recommendations on the programs of the Department of the Environment. No specific point by point response to the options set out in the "Environmental Quality Strategic Review" document is being planned but as a result of all the reports, the government has adopted an Environmental Quality Strategy which involves a number of initiatives. These include the new Canadian Environmental Protection Act; improvements in the management of federal efforts in the environmental sciences; the establishment of a federal "state of the environment" reporting system; and the further integration of environmental and economic decision making.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY STRATEGIC REVIEW
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PC

Frederick James (Jim) Hawkes (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hawkes:

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY STRATEGIC REVIEW
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PC

John Allen Fraser (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

The question enumerated by the Parliamentary Secretary has been answered. Shall the remaining questions stand?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY STRATEGIC REVIEW
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY STRATEGIC REVIEW
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GOVERNMENT ORDERS

CRIMINAL CODE


The House resumed from Thursday, November 26, consideration of the motion of Mr. Hnatyshyn that Bill C-54, an Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts in consequence thereof, be read the second time and referred to a legislative committee.


NDP

Svend Johannes Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby):

Mr. Speaker, in the time remaining to me I want to bring to the attention of the House the extent of opposition to this legislation by a broad range of groups across Canada. During my opening remarks last Thursday, I indicated that certainly we in the NDP are prepared to accept legislation, indeed have called upon the Government for it, that would recognize the concern of Canadians particularly with respect to violence, degradation and child pornography. However, this legislation goes far beyond that in its attempt to control the depiction of imagery which involves neither violence, degradation nor child pornography. The Minister of Justice (Mr. Hnatyshyn) in his remarks last Thursday said:

All Hon. Members realize that the time has come to amend the Criminal

Code to deal with child pornography and with material which is sexually

violent, exploitative, and degrading.

This Bill does not deal just with that material. It deals with a broad range of other material as well. I pointed out that images of two adults engaged in consensual love-making would henceforth be illegal under the new regime in this legislation.

Who are some of the groups which have expressed concern about this Bill and what is the nature of their concern? The groups include ACTRA, the AIDS Committee of Toronto, the Canada Council, the Canadian Committee against Customs Censorship, the Canadian Conference of the Arts, the Book and Periodical Development Council, the Canadian Librarians' Association, Coalition for the Right to View, Media People for Social Responsibility, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, the International Rights Organization PEN, and the Writers' Union of Canada, and indeed, a wide range of other organizations.

[DOT] (mo)

The Attorneys General of Canada have indicated their concern that the Bill is too sweeping. They are worried, as was suggested by the then Attorney General of Manitoba, Roland

November 30, 1987

Criminal Code

Penner, that "to include the portrayal of normal, healthy sexual activity along with sexual violence and kiddie porn seems to indicate a misplaced sense of values". He said:

Every provincial minister who spoke advised the federal minister of justice

that they thought he has problems with that bill and he ought to take a closer

look.

The Attorneys General of Canada are asking the Minister of Justice to take another look at this important piece of legislation.

We have as well the position of the Canadian Library Association in addition to that of the British Columbia Teacher-Librarians' Association. The Canadian Library Association, a national non-profit organization representing some 4,500 librarians, indicates that it is deeply concerned about the provisions of Bill C-54. It states that Bill C-54 would require a radical reorganization of library services and operations.

It give some examples. It suggests that library collections would have to be separated into materials for clients over the age of 18 and under the age of 18, that substantial changes to material selection policy and screening processes would need to be undertaken to ensure that libraries are not criminally liable, and that library staff under the age of 18 could no longer be employed in an "adult library". Those are the general concerns of the Canadian Library Association.

I have also received, as has the Minister of Justice, a more detailed letter from the British Columbia Teacher-Librarians' Association. They say that a great deal of the teenage and young adult fiction and a great deal of our educational material would become suspect under this new Bill. They go on to indicate that many teenage and young adult novels deal in very real ways with the problems facing young people today, whether it is coming to terms with their own sexuality, dealing with sexual abuse, living in an alcoholic family, or attempting to establish a positive self image. They have information on venereal diseases such as AIDS, and on dealing with sexual abuse, rape, incest, and violence. They suggest that much of this material in their school libraries could become open to question under the Bill and that teacher-librarians could face criminal charges under the provisions of this legislation.

The onus under this Bill with regard to artists is on the artist to prove to the courts what is referred to as "artistic merit". It has been pointed out by a number of artists that it is a very dangerous proposal to put the burden on an artist to prove in some way that his or her art work has merit. Instead, surely the test should be the same as that for educational, scientific, and other works, and that is the purpose of the work rather than the extent of the merit of it. Judges are not in a position to evaluate the merit of artistic imagery. I suggest that the courts should be looking at the purpose of that work.

The implications of a test of merit are very different. If a judge does not find the artistry to be of top quality, although the work clearly had no purpose of a pornographic nature, he

could find those who distribute that art criminally liable under the provisions of this legislation.

The Bill before us already appears to be having some effect in school districts in British Columbia where groups such as Citizens for Human Dignity, are coming into schools, acquiring materials which they perceive to be pornographic, and threatening teacher-librarians and school boards with charges and lawsuits. Is this what we will be facing in the future under the provisions of this legislation? Will we see the kinds of attacks on literature that were made on the works of Margaret Laurence in a rural school board in Ontario? That is the kind of mentality which seems to be encouraged by this legislation. It is a very dangerous and Draconian approach to legislation.

The Canada Council, through its chairperson Maureen Forrester, has indicated that it has concerns about this legislation, particularly because of the possible implications under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The council points out that putting the onus on an artist to prove the merit of his or her work is very likely in breach of the provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Miss Forrester indicates that she knows how worried artists and arts groups are about the implications of this Bill for their work. She says that the Canada Council shares their concerns.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada has pointed out that this legislation appears to confuse healthy sexuality and disordered sexuality. They say that the legislation is fundamentally anti-sexual. It purports to include a definition of erotica which is nothing more and nothing less than nudity in a sexual context. However, the minute that there is any form of sexual contact it suddenly becomes pornographic and thus illegal. The Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada states that the proposed legislation will have a chilling effect on sexuality and reproductive education and research in Canada. That group has an excellent record in the area of sex education and promotion of more effective and better sex education and research.

Concerns about the scope of this legislation have been raised by a number of groups working with people with AIDS across Canada. The AIDS Committee of Toronto, for example, has stated:

We believe that Bill C-54, if passed in its present form, will have a devastating effect on the ability of our organization and of other AIDS and sex education organizations in Canada to provide the information which is vitally needed in the fight against this disease.

They are saying that if this Bill is passed it could have a very serious impact on preventive steps in the area of AIDS. They note as well that the great bulk of pornography as defined in this legislation depicts legal sexual activities, and that many of these materials are an important element of the preventive safe sex approach which is taken by groups such as the AIDS Committee of Toronto.

The AIDS Committee of Toronto is active in advocating safer sexual alternatives. The depiction of many of the alternatives which are advocated could be illegal under the

November 30, 1987

provisions of this legislation. As the AIDS Committee of Toronto points out, it should be evident from its submissions that any realistic attempt to reduce the spread of AIDS must include frank discussion of sexuality. Under the provisions of this legislation those kinds of discussions could be illegal and subject to prosecution.

Why should those who are working on the front lines against this terrible disease have to take the time, energy, and resources to prove that they have an educational or scientific defence for their work? That is the implication of this legislation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Donald Alex Blenkarn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Blenkarn:

Nonsense.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Svend Johannes Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Robinson:

There are Conservative Members opposite who say that that is not the case. They will have an opportunity to stand and defend this legislation. However, the reality is that that is exactly what the implication of this legislation could be. We have heard it said in the past that legislation of this nature will not be abused. We are told that we should trust that the Crown will not be abusing it. However, it was not that long ago that the Supreme Court of Canada only narrowly ruled that the great work, Lady Chatterley's Lover, was not obscene.

As well, the AIDS Committee of Toronto and other individuals and groups making submissions have pointed out the particularly harsh impact of legislation of this nature on the gay and lesbian community in Canada. We have seen the extent to which Canada Customs has been prepared to single out periodicals directed to the gay and lesbian community and many of the bookstores which service that community. L'Androgyne bookstore in Montreal, the Glad Day bookstore in Toronto, and Little Sisters in Vancouver all have had to fight debilitating and expensive court battles merely to obtain the right to distribute materials which in no way fall into the category of abusive, violent or degrading materials. Under this legislation, it is quite likely that similar materials would come under attack as well.

One of the concerns that has been raised by the periodical marketers of Canada is that this legislation will still leave unclear exactly what is and what is not subject to criminal sanction. They point out that there are many areas of the legislation that are confusing and unclear, leaving responsible marketers in the position of being unable to determine whether action would be brought against them for handling certain material.

The bottom line on this legislation is that it falls far short of what we as New Democrats have called for, which is strong and effective legislation to deal with violence, with degradation and with exploitation, and to deal with the sexual exploitation of children. That is not the scope of this Bill.

The scope of this Bill indeed would go well beyond that, as has been pointed out by Pierre Berton and many others who

Criminal Code

have had an opportunity to examine the legislation. Indeed, the Toronto Public Library Board, the largest library system in Canada, has indicated that it is so outraged over the provisions of the Bill that it plans to shut all of its libraries in protest for one afternoon early next month. As the chief librarian states: "It is a move to try to publicize our concern about this very bad law, but it is also to give us a chance to have a public meeting to explain the implications to both staff and the public".

Considering the failure of this Bill to respond in a serious way to the concerns of the country, to respond to the kinds of recommendations that were made by the Fraser Commission and to make the fundamental distinction between erotica and pornography, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word 'that' and substituting the following therefor:

"This House declines to give second reading to Bill C-54 because it fails to clearly define pornography as material that condones violence, coercion, abuse and degradation in its depiction of human beings or portrays or promotes the sexual exploitation of children; and also, because it does not distinguish pornography from material of an artistic, literary, educational or scientific nature in a fashion acceptable to the Canadian public, including artists".

I have consulted with the Chair as to the procedural acceptability of the amendment. I understand that it is indeed within the scope that is allowed in the area of reasoned amendments.

In conclusion, I want to repeat what I said last Thursday, that if this legislation is adopted it will make Canada the most culturally repressive nation of all of the western democracies. It is an attempt to pander to the extreme right wing of the Conservative caucus. It is legislation which fundamentally violates the provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada in terms of freedom of expression. It fails to make the distinction between imagery which portrays sexuality and imagery which portrays violence, degradation and sexual exploitation of children.

It is a fundamental step backward for Canadian society and I hope the House will adopt the amendment which I proposed and tell the Government to go back to the drawing board and bring before the House legislation which reflects the true concerns of Canadians and does not reflect the very narrow concerns of the moral majority element in Canadian society.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

The debate is now on the amendment.

[ Translation]

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier):

A point of order, Madam Speaker. I have a copy of the amendment moved by the Hon. Member for Burnaby (Mr. Robinson), and the first thing I want to do is commend him for distributing his amendment in both official languages. I would suggest this gesture is fully appreciated by Hon. Members, unlike what often happens with the Government which is wont to introduce its amendments in only one language, as we all know. What I wanted to say on this point of order, Madam Speaker, is that I

November 30, 1987

Criminal Code

think the Chair has accepted the motion and we are now debating the amendment, not Bill C-54.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

That is precisely what I just said. The motion was considered and deemed to be in order. Debate is now on the amendment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Frederick James (Jim) Hawkes (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hawkes:

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to correct the record. I am sure the Hon. Member for Ottawa-Vanier (Mr. Gauthier) did not want to accuse the Government of providing this House with amendments in one language as a matter of common occurrence. I think it has occurred once or twice, due to the exigency of the particular situation, but certainly it is the common practice of the Government to submit proposed amendments in both official languages. Either the Hon. Member for Ottawa-Vanier was misspeaking or maybe he intended to mislead the House, I am not sure. However, it is common practice for this and every Parliament to propose amendments in both official languages.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

The Chair does not feel that the Hon. Member was trying to imply that the Government normally does not present amendments in both official languages. I took his intervention to be congratulations to one of his colleagues, noting the fact that the amendment was presented in both official languages. Debate is now on the amendment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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November 30, 1987