October 3, 1996

REF
LIB

Andy Mitchell

Liberal

Mr. Mitchell

They vote against increased sentences. They vote against our efforts to help control violence in Canadian society. They try to have it both ways. They say they want increased criminal control, but when they have the opportunity to vote for it in the House what do they do? They vote against it. It is very difficult to understand the logic of that type of system.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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REF
LIB

Andy Mitchell

Liberal

Mr. Mitchell

Absolutely. Bill C-55 is legislation. It works toward controlling violent criminals in society. It provides a number of tools to the courts. It provides tools to crown attorneys. It provides tools to enforcement agencies to better protect Canadians.

The government is committed to a safer society, to ensuring that criminals are apprehended, to ensuring that criminals once apprehended who pose an ongoing risk to Canadians find themselves behind bars and that the tools are provided to monitor these individuals if and when they are returned to society.

This legislation deals with the issue of criminals. It deals with protection of Canadians. It deals with making our streets safer. It deals with making communities safer. It is good legislation. It achieves those important objectives.

Not only do I support that bill, but I believe in all good conscience every member of this House, including those opposite, should be supporting this bill because it does what we all want done. We all want a safer and more secure society and this bill achieves those important objectives. I will be pleased to support this legislation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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REF

Jay Hill

Reform

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George-Peace River, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate you recognizing me when so many of my colleagues also want to ask questions of this hon. member.

I would like to state at the outset that this legislation, like every other piece of justice legislation that has been brought to the House by this Liberal government was designed by lawyers, drafted by lawyers, passed by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers.

When members opposite say that the Liberals are getting tough on crime it is an absolute joke. Everybody in this country knows that. Earlier the hon. member for London-Middlesex quoted Mr. Newark of the Canadian Police Association. The Liberals are bringing in Bill C-55 because the Canadian Police Association wants it and it going to do so much. Yet I find these same Liberals strangely silent when the same Canadian Police Association calls for the repeal of section 745. What a shock. It is also calling for a referendum on the return of capital punishment.

I would like to know from this hon. member who says that he wants to get tough on crime and that this government is getting tough on crime, how he voted on section 745. Would he support the repeal of section 745 as Canadians from coast to coast are calling for? Would he support a referendum to see the return of the death penalty for first degree, cold-blooded, premeditated murder?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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REF
LIB

Andy Mitchell

Liberal

Mr. Mitchell

After those comments, Mr. Speaker, I am glad I am not a lawyer. My goodness, they might get some mail from the law society tomorrow.

Let us talk about section 745 because I know the member has been up a number of times. I want to make sure the Canadian people understand exactly what the third party voted against. Section 745 has been in the Criminal Code for quite a while. The government changed it. Reformers voted against a bill that would stop somebody who was a multiple murderer from having eligibility of parole. They voted against that. If their vote had carried the day, it would mean that people who were multiple murderers would have eligibility for parole after 15 years. They voted against that change.

What else did they vote against when they voted against section 745? Under the old regime only two-thirds agreement was needed of the jury of the individual's peers from the community from which the crime had occurred to set the individual free. This bill made sure the jury had to be unanimous. Reformers voted against that. Since they voted against it obviously they thought it only necessary to have two-thirds of the jury in agreement.

There was a third component to the revisions of section 745. Judges would have the ability to disregard an application for parole that was considered to be frivolous so the victims in those types of cases would not be subject to the actual hearings. Reform Party members voted against that too.

It is unbelievable. They are here trying to suggest that they have the complete corner on the issue of wanting to control violence, wanting to strengthen the criminal justice system, but every time it comes to a choice, every time it comes to a vote where they have an

opportunity to see those types of laws strengthened, what do they do? They vote against it. It is unbelievable. They vote against justice bills over and over again.

It is this Liberal government that has pursued a policy of controlling violence in Canadian society. If the legislation put forward in the 35th Parliament is checked, one initiative after another works to strengthen the criminal justice system. It works at keeping criminals behind bars. It works at keeping society safer, communities safer and streets safer.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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?

The Deputy Speaker

I inform all members that there is an indication that the hon. member for York North is sharing his time. Therefore he has 10 minutes.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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LIB

Maurizio Bevilacqua

Liberal

Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (York North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, "The proposed high risk offenders' legislation is the single most important improvement in Canadian public safety legislation in the last 20 years". So said Scott Newark, executive officer of the Canadian Police Association. I could not agree more. The government has announced new measures to deal with high risk offenders.

The following three initiatives will toughen the sentencing and correctional regime for those who pose a high risk of committing another violent crime: a new long term offender designation that targets sex offenders and adds a period of long term supervision of up to 10 years following release from prison, strengthened and streamlined dangerous offenders provisions in the Criminal Code, and a new judicial restraint provision to permit controls, including electronic monitoring, to be applied to individuals who pose a high risk of committing a serious personal injury offence.

In the 1996 speech from the throne the government pledged to focus resources on high risk offenders while developing innovative alternatives to incarceration for low risk offenders.

Once again we have kept our promise and fulfilled our commitment to the Canadian public. After all, they deserve no less. Canadians are honest, hard-working people. They give much to their communities and expect very little in return. What they did ask for during the 1993 election campaign was safer homes and safer streets. That is what they are getting.

Canada's crime rate fell again in 1995, its fourth straight drop following 30 years of almost constant increase. Violent crime is down for the third year in a row. The homicide rate reached its lowest level since 1969.

The York region, which includes my riding of York North, has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. This is good, this is progress, but this is not good enough.

Criminals still commit offences and victims still suffer. That is why we have introduced Bill C-55. Under the proposed changes a new sentencing category, to be called long term offenders, will be added to the Criminal Code. It will target sex offenders who are less violent and brutal than those designated as dangerous offenders but are found to pose a considerable risk of reoffending.

The procedure will be similar to the existing dangerous offender application. On conviction the crown can ask for a thorough assessment of the offender's criminality and the risk he or she presents.

On the basis of the assessment report, the crown can then bring a dangerous offender or a long term offender application. With a long term offender application, a special hearing is convened and evidence is heard, including the assessment report.

If a long term offender finding is made, the judge will impose a prison sentence suited for the offence and add a period of long term supervision of up to 10 years to start when the incarceration period, including any parole, expires. Every long term offender will be subject to standard conditions, such as keeping the peace and not being allowed to possess firearms.

Further, specialized conditions can be added to ensure close supervision of the offender, such as regular reporting to the assigned supervisor and mandatory participation in counselling, electronic monitoring and other rehabilitation programs.

The long term offender designation, by imposing on the offender an additional period of supervision in the community after the end of the regular sentence, gives the offender a real opportunity to reintegrate without putting the community at risk.

Public safety is improved because Correctional Service of Canada and the parole board can set stringent conditions on the offender, monitor the offender closely and pull the offender back if there is a breach. An offender who breaches these conditions can be persecuted and reincarcerated.

Next we looked at the dangerous offender category. This classification has proved to be a useful tool in increasing public safety. Dangerous offender applications have been used successfully in approximately 150 cases and we are building on this success. Anyone who is classified as a dangerous offender will be kept in prison indefinitely. A judge will no longer have the discretion to sentence a dangerous offender to a fixed term.

Currently a dangerous offender application must be made at trial. Under Bill C-55 the crown will have a window of six months after conviction to bring a dangerous offender application based on newly received information. The process has been streamlined.

The number of psychiatrists required to testify at a hearing has been reduced from two to one.

Third, a new judicial restraint provision will be added to the Criminal Code. This procedure will focus on persons who pose a risk of committing a serious personal injury offence. It can be applied to people who are not under sentence as well as those who have completed their sentences. The crown attorney will be empowered to bring an application where there are reasonable grounds to fear that an individual will commit a serious personal injury offence. These grounds will be examined at a hearing before a judge. The judge will have the power to impose general conditions, such as keeping the peace, and specific conditions appropriate to the kind of threat posed by the individuals, such as staying away from schools and playgrounds or certain neighbourhoods.

As one of the conditions, the judge could order that a program of electronic monitoring be applied if such a program were available in the province. The judicial restraint would last up to one year and could be renewed.

A breach of conditions would constitute a separate criminal offence which could result in a jail sentence. This is an important step forward for the victims of domestic abuse. The reality is that we live in a country where women are six times more likely to be killed by a spouse than by a stranger. In fact, spousal homicides continue to account for one out of every six solved homicides. Of those women who were registered married and who were killed by their spouse, almost one in four were separated at the time of the incident.

Community safety has always been a priority for this government. The high risk offender package is a big step forward. Bill C-55 provides the tools necessary for the justice system to do its job. Law enforcement officers are empowered to protect their community. The chair of the law amendments committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said: "It will help law enforcement officials, especially at the local level, to deal better with the people who pose the greatest danger to community safety". It gives judges more options when deciding which course of action would be best, both for society and for the offender, when handing down sentences.

In bringing forward these measures to control high risk offenders, we are strengthening our society and building a safer future for all Canadians.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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REF

Art Hanger

Reform

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member support the present bill. I suppose that for him to criticize the bill in any fashion would be difficult, given that he is from the Liberal side of the House.

I am concerned about this legislation in that when a dangerous offender application is made, it points out that the application must definitely be put forward prior to the imposition of sentence. Therefore there is a window of six months to supply the necessary information to support that application. That is not a very long period, given that maybe an offender, a pedophile for example, could be sentenced to a 10 year stint and there would be no opportunity after to make application for dangerous offender.

In fact, in the legislation a pedophile or a sexual predator is not listed in the area of dangerous offender. I think people seek to have those individuals classified as dangerous offenders. In my opinion that is one very major flaw in this legislation.

The second point that troubles me about Bill C-55 is that once the application is made and there is a conviction for a dangerous offender, the whole process again can be appealed. So now they can go through a course of appeals. I find that difficult to understand when members across talk about getting tough on crime and there is a recourse for appeal and this very narrow window in which to make application for dangerous offender designation and so on.

What is wrong with including pedophiles and sexual predators, which the bill does not address, in that list of Criminal Code offences and automatically seeking the courts to place a dangerous offender finding on anyone who commits on two or more separate occasions an offence constituting a serious personal injury offence?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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LIB

Maurizio Bevilacqua

Liberal

Mr. Bevilacqua

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. If he were to look at the bill as an entire package he would find that it is certainly an improvement to the existing laws.

I reject one major point that he made. We have a civilized society with a justice system that is fair and just to all individuals, yet somehow he rejects the whole concept of an appeal procedure. The hon. member should understand that as fair as our system is, everyone should have the right to appeal if a wrong decision was made in a lower court.

This speaks to the notion and the type of logic that the Reform Party has toward social justice and the whole justice system. The only answer Reformers have is to throw criminals in jail, lock the door and leave them there.

The reality is that even when it comes to the issue of getting tough on crime, as my eloquent colleague from Parry Sound-Muskoka stated, they have voted against any piece of legislation presented by the Liberal government to get tough on crime.

However, I want to stick to some of the facts because facts are things that escape the Reform Party on most issues. Look at the major components of Bill C-55, the new long term offender designation that targets sex offenders and adds a period of long term supervision of up to 10 years following their release from prison. We have strengthened and streamlined dangerous offender provisions in the Criminal Code and we have a new judicial restraint provision to permit controls which include electronic

monitoring. Members can rest assured that Canadians from coast to coast will applaud this initiative.

Let us be honest in this Chamber. I am sure Reformers are all honourable members; at least they are addressed as such. The crime rate is declining and we are bringing safer homes and safer streets to the Canadian public.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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REF

Lee Morrison

Reform

Mr. Lee Morrison (Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for North Island-Powell River.

Before I enter into my semi-prepared remarks, I will comment on something the member said about the declining crime rate. I think we have heard this convenient juggling of statistics about eight times in the House today.

Yes, there has been a temporary blip in the last couple of years in the rate of violent crime, a slight decrease. But if we do statistical analyses-if members do not believe me, talk to people at Statistics Canada-we do not go on blips. We take the long term timeline. In this case we can take it over the period beginning with 1962.

There has been a steady progressive increase in the rate of violent crime. During this period there have been years when the crime rate has dropped precipitously. There have been years when it has risen precipitously. But if we look at the trend, there has been an increase of almost 400 per cent since 1962. That is the gospel according to StatsCan and we all know that the Liberal government never argues with anything StatsCan says.

This bill, as with so many other major pieces of legislation brought forth by the Liberal government, is like the bishop's egg, it is good in parts. However, it always has the problem of making it this grand melange of the good and the bad which makes it almost impossible for any normal human being to either support or oppose it. This is strategy. Fine.

The thing I could support and which I do not find offensive in the bill is that the crown will no longer have to apply immediately for dangerous offender classification when a prisoner is sentenced. It will have as much as a six month window of opportunity in which to do it. I do not object to that at all, but I wish the government had gone the whole nine yards and allowed the crown to make dangerous offender applications through the entire length of the sentence.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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?

An hon. member

You cannot because of the charter.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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REF

Lee Morrison

Reform

Mr. Morrison

It is easy for the hon. member to say we cannot. If we do not have that then any prisoner who refuses to co-operate in any sort of counselling or rehabilitative program cannot be nailed. He will still get out in the usual period of time.

The minimum sentence for dangerous offenders will now be increased from three to seven years. I approve of that but in the end, dangerous offenders will continue to be turned loose on society, and that is wrong. The 10 year supervision, as I understand the act, is not aimed at dangerous offenders. It is aimed at what is referred to by the member as long term offenders such as pedophiles, people who are not considered potentially very brutal, sadistic and extremely undesirable folks.

Unfortunately, while this act will religiously protect the rights of the convicted, the justice minister has no compunction in the same bill in threatening the rights of people who have never been convicted of anything or even charged with a crime. Under his judicial restraint section, a person deemed likely to commit a serious crime can be required to accept supervision, including the wearing of an electronic bracelet, for up to one year without being convicted of anything or even formally charged. All it would take to set the process in motion would be for a crown attorney to believe that a person might injure someone. So much for the hard won principle that one is innocent until proven guilty.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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?

An hon. member

A judge has to approve.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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REF

Lee Morrison

Reform

Mr. Morrison

The hon. member says he would have to appear before a judge. That is quite correct. Who makes the decision of whether one appears before a judge? The crown attorney. No charges need be laid.

The government's approach to justice is developing a very frightening pattern. Vicious convicted criminals are assured of due process and every possible consideration of their rights but ordinary citizens had better beware because it will be possible under this legislation to impose criminal sanctions on the basis of rumour, misinformation or malice. If someone is having boundary troubles with a neighbour and has had heated words with that individual, watch out, they could end up with an electronic bracelet around the ankle if the fellow is well enough connected.

If someone is involved in a dispute with a vindictive or vengeful ex-spouse, watch out, he or she could end up with an electronic bracelet around the ankle. As a matter of fact, anybody could.

All of this is not really surprising when we consider the past Liberal record toward civil liberties. It was a Liberal government that incarcerated Japanese Canadians during the war without any formal legal proceedings. It was a Liberal government that invented the War Measures Act and used it in peacetime. It was a Liberal government that brought in Bill C-68 which, if it is ever enforced exactly as it is written, would require penalties for even the mere possession of an unregistered firearm which could be

stiffer than penalties people are receiving right now for assault, arson or drunk driving causing death.

It is absurd, but that is the Liberal concept of justice: treat vicious, depraved monsters with a lot of TLC but come down like a ton of bricks on ordinary citizens who for one reason or another just do not fit in or who do not conform. This is the Liberal social engineering tactic. It is a kick them in the head philosophy we have lived with for the better part of a half century. This is just a logical continuation of what we have been about.

I hope there are people opposite-they are not sitting there right now-who care about civil liberties so that when the amendments which we will be proposing to this bill come before the committee, the section on judicial restraint will be stricken from the proposed legislation. It is a brutal and indiscriminate infringement on personal liberty that unduly violates the civil rights of everyone.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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LIB

Nick Discepola

Liberal

Mr. Nick Discepola (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have to explain to the member again because he does not seem to understand. Sometimes I wonder if it is a lack of taking the time to read or if it is a lack of taking the time to understand. I will tell him how judicial restraint will work for the third time this afternoon.

I remind him that the crown attorney will be empowered to bring an application where there are reasonable grounds to fear that an individual will commit a serious personal injury offence. These grounds will be heard at official hearings by a judge. The application will be made and the judge will hear it. He will analyse all the information he has at his disposal and will make the decision.

I will ask the member again. If he wants that part of the bill stricken out, would he tell the House how he proposes to prevent innocent women from being stalked by their husbands or their lovers? Do we have to wait until they are victimized before the police can act, as is the current case?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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REF

Lee Morrison

Reform

Mr. Morrison

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that wearing an electronic bracelet will protect anyone who is truly in danger. I have never heard such an absurdity in my life.

There are provisions in the Criminal Code and someone can be prosecuted for stalking, for uttering threats. These should be rigorously enforced and with due process. That is the key phrase. That is something Liberals should learn. They should write it on their blackboards: due process. We have 200 years of tradition in this country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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LIB

Nick Discepola

Liberal

Mr. Discepola

Mr. Speaker, I want to take two minutes to bring the member up to speed on this new technology.

It is called GPS. GPS stands for geographical positioning system. It is based on the positions of satellites. Through technology we can within 15 feet determine where the inmate is at any location on Earth. With the technology we can also determine if that person, who happens to have a special profile whether it be a person out on parole or whatever, is near a school but should not be. We can determine whether the person is near a spouse but should not be. The technology is there. It is a very convenient way of using today's technology economically without further burdening the taxpayers.

I do not understand what is so difficult about understanding that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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REF

Lee Morrison

Reform

Mr. Morrison

Mr. Speaker, having used the GPS myself in my line of work, I did not really need that explanation as to how it functions.

The point is, if we can tell where someone is who is wearing the bracelet, that will not help anyone if the police take three-quarters of an hour to get there. If someone is really dedicated to harming a person, it will not stop them.

There are many places in my riding where the potential victim might have to wait for two hours for police assistance. The hon. member is wearing his urban blinders. He does not realize that the whole country is not Toronto.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Criminal Code
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October 3, 1996