February 23, 2004

LIB

Yvon Charbonneau

Liberal

Hon. Yvon Charbonneau (Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (Emergency Preparedness), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to Bill C-19 introduced by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety.

I would remind the House that, when this bill was first introduced in the House on June 4 of last year, it was known as Bill C-40. It died on the Order Paper when Parliament was prorogued on November 12. We now want to reinstate it and refer it to committee before second reading.

As we know, a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made a number of recommendations in its report entitled “A Work in Progress: The Corrections and Conditional Release Act”. All 53 recommendations contained in this report were approved by the standing committee. The government then accepted 46 of these recommendations, the majority of which were implemented internally by the Correctional Service of Canada and the National Parole Board.

We now have before the House the responses to some of the recommendations yet to be implemented. These responses were gathered in a bill, because they need to be officially approved before they are implemented.

Before going over some of the proposed measures, let me give you an indication of the efficiency of this legislation and of its impact on public safety.

Since the Corrections and Release Act came into force, the crime rate has dropped to its lowest in 20 years and keeps decreasing. It is important to note that, for the same period, the number of inmates in Canada has practically stopped increasing.

Also, the number of prison sentences is declining while public safety measures are on the rise. For instance, according to Statistics Canada, 8,914 criminal offences were reported to police in 1996, compared to 7,590 in 2002. Therefore, the number of inmates in federal prisons has decreased from 14,100 to 12,600, for a total decrease of 1,500.

I could also point out that the success rate of offenders on conditional release continues to be excellent. During the past year, over 99% of temporary absences, 84% of day paroles, and over 75% of full paroles encountered no problems. That shows that the legislation is working very well overall.

Countries all over the world respect Canada for the integrity and efficiency of its criminal justice system because, while on the one hand, it protects its citizens by ensuring that offenders are kept and supervised in safe and humanitarian conditions, on the other hand, it prepares offenders for their reintegration into society as law-abiding citizens.

The provisions of Bill C-19 will make it possible to increase the effectiveness of this act and respond directly to the concerns expressed by citizens. Bill C-19 is designed to tighten up the provisions relating to the accelerated parole review process, as it is called in the act. The current provisions apply only to offenders who are serving their first federal sentence and who have been convicted of a non-violent crime, and allow them to be released on parole at the earliest date possible, provided it is unlikely they will commit a violent offence after their release.

The bill will tighten up these provisions in a number of ways. First, offenders sentenced for the following criminal acts will be added to the list of those already excluded from the accelerated process: criminal organization offences, child pornography, high treason, sexual exploitation of a person with a disability, causing bodily harm with intent in certain cases, and torture.

Second, parole under this process will no longer be statutory. The National Parole Board will use much more stringent tests. Each case will be subject to an individual review and decision by the Board. Moreover, the bill will ensure that, when reviewing the cases of offenders eligible for accelerated parole review, the National Parole Board take into account the likelihood of re-offending in general, versus the likelihood of committing violent re-offending, as is the case under current legislation.

Finally, the APR provisions will increase the ineligibility period for day parole for offenders serving more than six years, if those offenders are serving a first federal term for a non-violent offence.

So these are proposals to be added to what is already in place; they will improve the legislation. The bill will ensure society is better protected through provisions on statutory release.

Offenders serving a sentence for a determinate period, that is anything shorter than a life sentence or a sentence for an indeterminate period, who have not been on day parole or full parole, benefit from statutory release with supervision after they have served two-thirds of their sentence.

However, offenders who, in the opinion of Correctional Services, are likely to commit another offence causing death or serious harm, may be sent before the board for examination with a view to continuing incarceration or imposing special conditions.

The concept of statutory release is based on research which has proven that the best way to protect society is to implement a gradual, structured release program before the end of the sentence, rather than a release without transition at the end of the sentence.

The bill before us today will tighten up the provisions relating to statutory release in a number of ways. First, it will require the service to examine all cases with a view to their eventual referral to the national board.

Second, Bill C-19 will require Correctional Service Canada to refer to the National Parole Board the case of all offenders who have committed a sexual offence involving a child and all those who are likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm, so they can be kept in prison until the end of their sentence.

The tightening of provisions relating to the accelerated review or statutory release of offenders, which I just outlined, will inevitably have an impact on the number of cases the board will have to review.

That is why this bill increases the maximum number of board members from 45 to 60.

Another provision in Bill C-19 concerns victims of crimes. Our opposition colleague from Langley—Abbotsford addressed this subject.

The bill will give victims the legal right to make a statement at parole hearings. Now, we could discuss the amendments proposed earlier by our opposition colleague.

Currently, victims are authorized to make a statement only under a board policy. Now, this will become a legal right. The measures proposed, which I have just briefly touched on, directly respond to many recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Justice. They follow up on almost all the improvements recommended by this committee.

The protection of society continues to be the guiding principle of the correctional process, as indicated in the bill's first principle. This legislation will continue to be closely scrutinized by the Standing Committee on Justice, the media, Canadians and, of course, the opposition parties.

The government remains open to any suggestions to improve the correctional process and is committed to making the necessary changes in due course.

We have the opportunity to take concrete action, once again, to further improve this system. For this reason, I urge my hon. colleagues to support Bill C-19 without reservation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Corrections and Conditional Release Act
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LIB

Raymond Simard

Liberal

Mr. Raymond Simard (Saint Boniface, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I am privileged to join the debate on Bill C-19 put forward by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. These proposals speak to the issues of conditional release and the basic rights of individual Canadians.

Having carefully reviewed the debate thus far, I see no need to enumerate the specific facets of the bill that have been dealt with thoroughly by others. The government, through the vehicle of a parliamentary standing committee, has identified areas of which the federal correctional system may be improved. These areas coincide with those highlighted by Canadians across the country through a thorough process of consultation. The government is rightly acting to update the legislation to reflect the constructive input of many knowledgeable citizens.

Over the past decade, there have been numerous legislative initiatives undertaken by a series of ministers responsible for facets of the criminal justice system. Among the more constructive of these initiatives was the passage of a massive bill in 1992 that was brought forward by the solicitor general of the day to replace the parole act and the penitentiary act with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. On several occasions since, even this well thought out legislation underwent additional useful changes.

All Canadians are aware of examples of senseless crimes and the plight of the victims of these crimes. We are all aware, through our consistency offices, correspondences and media accounts, that some of our citizens live in fear of crime and believe that the government has not risen to the challenge of protecting society in a time of perceived lawlessness.

I would emphasize that this is but a portion of Canadians. I would not for a moment discount the concerns of the individuals and groups who urge us to get tough with criminals. For a time in the 1980s and early 1990s the incidence of crime was a concern to us all. We saw both more and different sorts of crime being reported as victims of crimes involving family violence and sexual assault came to be less stigmatized and could come forward more readily to assist in the prosecution of their assailants.

The public has become more aware of our criminal justice system. It is obvious that an informed public is more likely to perceive flaws in a system with which it has more than a passing knowledge. Those directly responsible for the safety of Canadian communities, the police, prosecutors, judges and ultimately our penal systems, both provincial and federal, are responding to the criticism of this increased awareness and oversight. As legislators, we should do no less.

However, I must emphasize that almost all statistical crime reports in Canada indicate a reduction in the rate of offences and in the incidence of crimes up to and including homicide. This is a trend of many years standing and not a momentary downturn.

There are many factors that affect an individual's exposure to crime that may be gleaned from statistics. Geography, for example, plays a big part as an urban area witnesses more violent crime than does the countryside. Rampant crime does not pervade the land. While I grant that many Canadians have ready options as to where they live and to whom they may encounter in their daily lives, most Canadians may reasonably expect that their lives will not be put asunder by encounters with serious crime.

It is when this reasonable expectation of safety is shattered by direct involuntary involvement with senseless crime that public reaction surfaces in our mail and in our media. We must respond to these concerns and we must do so in an effective manner.

I submit that the government is doing just that by putting forward Bill C-19 to respond to identified issues within the correctional system. In the case of individuals who are victimized, often problems may be dealt with directly by referring them to community and victim support services that are available from the Correctional Service of Canada and the National Parole Board regional offices across Canada.

In addition, most police forces assign officers to community service duties. Many courts are monitored by the representatives of victims' services organizations. These direct interventions as well as the information and assistance by our staff members in constituency offices, can provide satisfactory and personalized solutions to Canadians who may be feeling baffled or neglected by the criminal justice system.

Nonetheless, the parliamentary committee that reviewed the legislation governing our correctional system said that the status quo was just not good enough. Some victims felt the need for more direct involvement in the cases of offenders who caused their victimization.

Improvements to the system can be made both through the legislative process and through changes to policies and practices. The government acted swiftly some time ago by accepting most of the committee's recommendations on the policies and programs governing corrections and conditional release. All but a few have been fully implemented.

Today we are dealing with recommendations that require the force of law. Public safety is the guiding priority of the federal system of corrections and conditional release. While considering this principle, we must remain mindful of the balance that must be sought within correctional legislation.

On the one hand, the law must be fashioned to deal with a range of offenders in any given category. Offenders who respond favourably to the treatment, training and educational opportunities available in our system must be able to rejoin the community as upright citizens. Every reasonable opportunity must be provided for those who no longer threaten us to return as expeditiously as safety dictates.

On the other hand, as part of the balance of the system, victims who so desire must be given the opportunity to voice their concerns and ultimately to appropriately affect outcomes of decisions regarding corrections and conditional release.

The bill before us touches both sides of the correctional equation. Victims will be empowered to better participate in the system. The provisions will appropriately limit the conditional release opportunities for a significant number of offenders. In addition to the input from victims who may alert decision makers to the risk of a particular conditional release decision, there are provisions to limit accelerated parole review and to provide additional safeguards in respect to the potential conditional release of offenders who have served two-thirds of their sentences.

Bill C-19 is a coherent package of reforms and is worthy of our serious consideration and swift passage on to committee, whose predecessors set this legislative train in motion. It is to be hoped that through a frank discussion of these issues, the public may gain a greater knowledge about our correctional system and the responsiveness of the government.

It is my further hope that Canadians will be reassured that public safety is paramount, the system is under scrutiny and we will always try to improve it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Corrections and Conditional Release Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Corrections and Conditional Release Act
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Some hon. members

Question.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Corrections and Conditional Release Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Corrections and Conditional Release Act
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Corrections and Conditional Release Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

(Motion agreed to and bill referred to a committee)

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Corrections and Conditional Release Act
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The House resumed from February 18 consideration of Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, as reported from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.


PC

Norman E. Doyle

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I want to speak today to Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code, in the area of child exploitation and child pornography.

In the last session of the House I spoke to a motion on this issue and made particular reference to the Sharpe case. Mr. Sharpe was found guilty of possession of child pornography with respect to certain photographs in his possession but was found not guilty with regard to certain written material in his possession. The reason for him being found not guilty was what caused such a public uproar, as we all remember. The courts found first, that his written material did not openly advocate committing illegal acts with children and, second, that his written material had some artistic merit.

I am of the view that without exception all child pornography should be illegal. Child pornography does not lead to openly advocating a certain lifestyle to be harmful to children. It can induce and promote illicit behaviour by its very existence. It helps establish a permissive atmosphere in society that is conducive to the sexual exploitation of children.

In a similar vein, I cannot for the life of me understand how child pornography can be regarded as having artistic merit. This reason, in particular, caused outrage among the general public. In its guidelines on hearing this case, the court ruled that if the alleged material had even minimal artistic merit, then the person must be found not guilty. In other words, if an article is 90% pornography and 10% art, then art has to carry the day. The person must be found not guilty.

I do not have a legal background, but as anyone in this Chamber who has a legal background knows, courts rule on fine points of law but it is we in Parliament who give them the fine points to rule on or leave loopholes that allow for a fine-tuned argument to slip through.

In this context, I have trouble with the latest twist in the law that allows for a not guilty verdict if the alleged pornographic materials have some degree of public good. I have been told by people in the legal profession that, if anything, the words “public good” have a much broader concept than artistic merit.

Artistic merit could be claimed as for the public good in a piece of written material which could otherwise be simply viewed as child pornography. All it takes is a good lawyer and one could argue that there is public good in just about anything. Instead of plugging the legal loopholes of artistic merit, it can be argued that government has actually widened the loophole.

This points out a fundamental difference between our party and the governing Liberal Party. If I were to err, I would rather err on behalf of children and child protection. The government, however, is reluctant for some reason to slam the door on child pornography because it might somehow infringe upon the constitutional rights of the pornographer.

Forgive me, Madam Speaker, but I must confess that this is the very least of my worries. I would not want to go to my grave as having erred on behalf of the pornographer. When children are involved, they deserve the benefit of the doubt and the full protection of the law.

We need to have a sober second look at this business of public good versus artistic merit. It is not an improvement at all.

The bill would make it an offence for an adult to interfere sexually with a person under the age of 14. I feel that the age of consent is too low and that it should be raised to at least 16. Is the government not aware that recent polling has indicated that 80% of the general public favours an increase in the age of consent from 14 to 16. Most parents want to see the age of consent increase from 14 to 16 and some would argue, and rightly so, that even 16 is too low.

I am sure the government is aware that a couple of years ago provincial ministers from across Canada passed a resolution to have the age of consent raised to 16. It is beyond me why the government has not listened to the various provincial ministers who want the age of consent raised.

We do advocate criminalizing sex between adults and children under the age of consent. We also believe that the government should be in favour of raising the current age of consent from 14 to 16.

The bill would also make it an offence for someone to sexually exploit a young person between the ages of 14 and 18 under his or her care, influence or authority. That makes sense and it is something I am sure we can all agree with, but it is already against the law. Therefore I am unclear as to how a slightly different wording will improve things, but we would support it.

The bill would create a new offence for voyeurism, which is a positive step. The bill would strengthen maximum sentences for sexually exploiting children but judges would still have a lot of leeway in passing sentence. We feel that sex crimes involving children should have mandatory sentences with little or no room for flexibility. The message has to be made clear that if people sexually exploit children they can expect no mercy from the court system. This is the message that pedophiles should be receiving from the government.

However the bill fails to prohibit all sex between adults and children and so it leaves children vulnerable to exploitation by sexual predators. The bill does not increase the age of consent. It still treats 14 year old children as consenting adults as far as sexual activity is concerned.

On the issue of pornography, the bottom line is that if the government is to err then it is willing to err on the side of an adult possessing child pornography. We on this side of the House are only willing to err on the side of child protection.

A government under pressure to provide more protection for children tends to come up with an awful lot of complicated, cumbersome legalese. We want to see laws that outlaw all forms of pornography period. The law should be made very clear on that.

I support strong laws protecting children, laws with no loopholes or wiggle room. If we in Parliament set the tone, I am sure the courts will follow suit. However if we are wishy-washy on the issue and not strong in our defence of children, if we are not strong in the laws we write, we will have no one to blame but ourselves if the court allows people to slip through the loopholes that the House provides for it. I therefore cannot support the bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Andrew Telegdi

Liberal

Hon. Andrew Telegdi (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Aboriginal Affairs), Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I rise today to oppose the motion that seeks to delete clause 7 of Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act.

Bill C-12 proposes important criminal law reforms that seek to better protect children against sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect. It proposes reforms that would facilitate testimony by child victims and witnesses, and other vulnerable victims and witnesses, in criminal justice proceedings. It also proposes the creation of a new offence of voyeurism.

Clause 7 of Bill C-12 proposes two child pornography amendments that respond in a very direct and meaningful way to the issues highlighted by the Robin Sharpe case.

First, Bill C-12 proposes to broaden the definition of written child pornography. Currently, written child pornography is defined as written material that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a young person under the age of 18 years that would be an offence under the Criminal Code.

In its January 2001 decision in the Sharpe case, the Supreme Court of Canada interpreted the existing definition and its requirement that written material advocate or counsel as meaning material, when objectively viewed, that actively induces or encourages the commission of a sexual offence against a child.

Bill C-12 proposes to broaden this definition to also include written material that describes the sexual abuse of a child where the written description of that abuse is the dominant characteristic of the material and the written description is done for a sexual purpose.

This proposed amendment reflects Canadians' belief that these types of written materials pose a real risk of harm to our children and society by portraying children as a class as objects for sexual exploitation. This motion says that such materials are acceptable. Bill C-12 clearly says they are not.

Bill C-12 also proposes to amend the existing defences for child pornography. Currently, the Criminal Code provides a defence for material that has artistic merit or an educational, scientific or medical purpose. It also makes the public good defence available for all child pornography offences.

Bill C-12 proposes to merge these two defences into one defence of public good. By doing so, Bill C-12 introduces an important new second step in assessing the availability of a defence for all child pornography offences. Under Bill C-12, a court would be required to consider whether the act or material in question serves the public good and if it does serve the public good, then the court must also consider whether the act or material goes beyond what serves the public good.

Under the current defence of artistic merit, material which, objectively viewed, has artistic value, for example, it demonstrates artistic technique or style, has a complete defence. However, under Bill C-12 no defence would be available for such material where the risk of harm that it poses to society outweighs any potential benefit that it offers.

The motion says no to this additional harms based test. Canadians disagree, and I disagree, and that is why I oppose the motion.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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PC

John Herron

Progressive Conservative

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC)

Madam Speaker, I would like to make a few remarks pertaining to this piece of legislation. I was unable to do it in its previous incarnation as Bill C-20. I am here to speak to different aspects of the legislation but one aspect in particular.

Shortly after being elected for the first time in 1997 a constituent of mine came to my office. She told me a story about her daughter and an incident which took place on Labour Day weekend in 1994. The woman on whose behalf I am speaking today is Julia Buote.

On Labour Day weekend in 1994 Mrs. Buote's daughter was taking a bath when she discovered a video camera hidden in a hole in the wall underneath the faucet. It was determined later on that the video camera had been put in place by the young woman's then stepfather, to spy on her in the bathtub, in a state of undress. After she noticed the camera, the RCMP was approached but the Crown could not press charges because secretly videotaping someone in a state of undress is not a crime in Canada.

Mrs. Buote has been on a crusade, not only on behalf of the injustice that occurred with respect to her own daughter, but to ensure that this invasion of privacy in a very personal way would never happen again.

Mrs. Buote was recently quoted in the Telegraph-Journal . She asked me where Bill C-20 was and where the issue of voyeurism was and what was happening with the law in Canada.

I wrote a letter to the newly minted Minister of Justice and said that regardless of whether there were flaws in the particular act, there was clearly some good. I encouraged the minister at that time to bring the bill back as early as possible.

I will share with members some of Mrs. Buote's comments. She said, “If it had happened to one of their family members,” meaning members of Parliament, “it would have been in place long ago. I am hoping that this will make them aware that this is something they have to act on and put through. If there was a way I could sue the government right now, I would, because I feel 10 years is too long for them to be dragging their heels on this. There have to be others; my daughter was not the only one”.

She went on to say that she knows that the law in fact would not be retroactive. However, she did say, “It would change the fact that it is acknowledged as being a crime, and that it is not something that was okay to happen. Right now, it is something that is acceptable, as far as the law is concerned. So it would just give the feeling that well, okay, this is something that is against the law. My daughter did the right thing coming to me, and I did do the right thing, and finally, there is hope there for other people it happens to”.

The remarks I am making with respect to the legislation, the cornerstone of the bill, most of the remarks that I heard throughout the debate, have been that we needed to tighten the artistic merit component that evolved from the Robin Sharpe case. For me, if child pornography exists, by its very nature it means that a child has been abused. Some individuals may challenge the artistic merit aspect of it to want to have exceptions in that regard. I applaud the government for using the common good approach with respect to trying to tighten the legislation to ensure that more children are not susceptible to harm.

I am the proud father of a three and a half year old and an 18 month old, and I am looking after my own children here as well. In speaking here today, I hope I am ponying up for all young children wherever they reside in this great nation.

I accept the consensus that has been expressed by most members of Parliament that this legislation does tighten up the heinous loophole that existed in the Sharpe case. The bill is an improvement in the toolkit that we have right now.

I acknowledge the efforts by the members of the Conservative Party who want to push this envelope. They may even have a difference of opinion, but that is the role of the opposition as well. It is to send the signal that we need the strongest piece of legislation possible in order to remedy this type of issue.

I am speaking on behalf of Julia Buote and her daughter. This piece of legislation must pass. To be quite frank, it is almost inconceivable that an incident such as that which occurred to Mrs. Buote's daughter was seen as just that, an incident. It was not seen as a crime.

We need this type of legislation even more so today than we did 10 years ago when Mrs. Buote started her crusade to protect young men and women. Because of the advances in technology, and that actually sounds counterintuitive, but in terms of the existing technologies in wiring and cameras, this type of voyeurism is ubiquitous. It is omnipresent. It is our duty to ensure that our legislation is modernized to keep up with those advances because sometimes those advances are used in a heinous and draconian way which harm individuals.

I will be supporting this revised piece of legislation, Bill C-12. I will acknowledge that some individuals say that this legislation needs to be stronger and I will share their concerns about the artistic merit aspect of it as well. However, I believe the consensus approach that the government has taken right now is an improvement to at least squeeze that loophole even more with respect to the Sharpe case. Perhaps more can be done, but we cannot kill this legislation. We cannot allow individuals to be subjected to the same types of crimes, such as that experienced by Mrs. Buote's daughter, that were called mere incidents.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Susan Whelan

Liberal

Hon. Susan Whelan (Essex, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, today I rise to speak in favour of Bill C-12 and to oppose the motion to delete clause 7 of the bill.

Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, supports the government's commitment announced in the Speech from the Throne to better protect children against sexual exploitation.

I would like to quote the preamble of Bill C-12, which provides:

WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada has grave concerns regarding the vulnerability of children to all forms of exploitation, including child pornography, sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect;

I am quite certain that this is a concern that all hon. members share, so I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the bill today. I would like to highlight criminal law reforms in Bill C-12. It proposes reforms in five key areas.

First, it proposes to strengthen the existing child pornography provisions by broadening the definition of written child pornography and narrowing the existing defences to one defence of public good and imposing a harms based test.

Second, it seeks to provide better protection for young persons against sexual exploitation.

Third, Bill C-12 proposes to increase penalties for offences against children.

Fourth, it seeks to facilitate testimony by child and other vulnerable victims and witnesses.

Last, it proposes the creation of a new offence or voyeurism to better protect Canadians against the surreptitious viewing or recording of a person in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The motion before us seeks to delete two child pornography reforms proposed by Bill C-12. In other words, the motion proposes to maintain our current child pornography laws, including how they have been interpreted and applied in the well known child pornography case involving Robin Sharpe.

In contrast, however, Bill C-12 seeks to change the laws as they were interpreted and applied in the Sharpe case. Bill C-12 proposes two child pornography amendments.

First, it proposes to broaden the existing definition of written child pornography to include written material that describes prohibited sexual activity with children where that description is the predominant characteristic of the material and it is done for a sexual purpose.

Second, Bill C-12 proposes to narrow the existing defences into one defence of public good, a term that is now specifically defined in the bill.

As I understand this proposed reform, it would mean that no accused would have a defence for any child pornography offence where the material or act in question does not serve the public good or where it exceeds or goes beyond what serves the public good.

To me, these are very important reforms. I welcome them because they reflect what most Canadians believe, namely that written stories that are primarily describing acts of sexual abuse of children and that are written for a sexual purpose are in fact child pornography and should be prohibited.

I also believe that Canadians understand that police officers and prosecutors, for example, need to be able to possess and share child pornography for purposes related to the criminal investigation and prosecution of a child pornography case. Canadians understand that doctors may need to possess child pornography to help treat offenders. Canadians also understand that a film that laments that sexual abuse of a child or a documentary that is an exposé of a child sex abuse ring can also serve the public good.

We understand this and we expect the law to protect them, and that is what Bill C-12 does.

What Canadians do not understand is any attempt to provide Canadian children with less protection against child pornography. Unfortunately, that is exactly what this motion before us proposes. It proposes to give more protection to child pornographers and less protection to our children. That is why I cannot support this motion.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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Some hon. members

Question.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond

Madam Speaker, I seek clarification. Did you put the question on the first amendment? I absolutely did not hear it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

I did, but for clarification purposes, I will do it again. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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An hon. member

No.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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February 23, 2004