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.
Subtopic: Criminal Code