CHARBONNEAU, The Hon. Yvon, P.C., B.A., M.A., L.Ped.

Personal Data

Anjou--Rivière-des-Prairies (Quebec)
Birth Date
July 11, 1940
administrator, ambassador, consultant, professor, unionist

Parliamentary Career

June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
  Anjou--Rivière-des-Prairies (Quebec)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health (September 1, 1999 - September 12, 2001)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
  Anjou--Rivière-des-Prairies (Quebec)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health (September 1, 1999 - September 12, 2001)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness with special emphasis on Emergency Preparedness (December 12, 2003 - July 19, 2004)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 52)

February 23, 2004

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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February 12, 2004

Hon. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, with the passing of Claude Ryan, Quebec and Canada have just lost a remarkable man, a man whose intellectual and political pursuits left an impact on 40 years of our history.

The indefatigable Mr. Ryan was involved in all our social and political debates, from the time of the quiet revolution until very recently. I knew him as an editorial writer and as a minister who did an excellent job, particularly in the educational sector.

A proud Quebecker, he was able to rally around him a broad social and political coalition in his opposition to the October 1970 war measures. I am proud to have been part of that coalition as a member of the labour movement.

Throughout all those years, Claude Ryan never stopped working to have Quebec recognized as a strong society, a respected society taking its rightful place within the Canadian federal entity.

Thank you, Mr. Ryan, for all that you contributed to the public life of our country. Thank you for all your advice to me over the years; it played a large part in my decision to enter politics in 1994 in order to defend the unity of our country, to defend Quebec, and to defend those most often forgotten by the government.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Claude Ryan
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February 5, 2004

Hon. Yvon Charbonneau

There are some who do not even listen when someone is talking. That shows just how much they prefer making noise to listening to what we say on this side.

The House of Commons should be a place where there is an ongoing public debate, a thorough and calm examination of the great issues we face in this country, and not a place where people who are not equipped to take power or do not even aspire to it take pot shots at one another and indulge in petty politics. Some parties act like lobby groups.

People watching us last night were also very impressed because our government has decided to not only make promises, but to put its words into action. For instance, the government provided $2 billion last week for health care and agreed to meet with the premiers this summer to come up with viable solutions to our health care problems.

Politicians, whether at the provincial or the federal level, all realize that money alone is not the solution in the area of health care. We need to find new ways to work together and further promote cooperation. A lot of work remains to be done. This summer, the first ministers will review the situation and try to come to an agreement on new ways to make our health system viable in the long term. The goal is to avoid any more emergency infusions of billions of dollars.

Another example is the government's commitment to immediately provide municipalities with full relief from the portion of the goods and services tax they now pay. The government is also prepared to work with the provinces to find a way to help finance some of their most critical needs, which have to do with municipal infrastructures throughout the country.

The people were impressed to see that we were not willing to wait two months, until the next budget or the next election, to make good on our promises. The Prime Minister said, “Start counting now, the money has started to come in as of February 1”. These are not merely promises, they are commitments already being acted on. The people were very impressed with how our Prime Minister and our government were working.

Also, they were thrilled with some of the measures affecting young people, including the increased access to registered education savings plan, particularly for poorer Canadians, and also the modernized Canada Student Loans program for the less fortunate students.

Companies that are part of the social economy were a special focus of the Speech from the Throne. This is the first time, I think, in the history of Canada or one of its provinces, that the emerging social economy sector has received so much attention.

Aide domestique in northeast Montreal is an agency that employs dozens of people. In the Montreal east area, services are offered to seniors and people who sometimes rely on not-for-profit agencies. There are 11 similar agencies in Montreal that employ some 500 people. There are 103 of them in Quebec in the social economy field, in several sectors.

This is very important for the harmonious functioning of our society and our community. They work with seniors, young children and families. They work for NPOs or cooperatives, and, according to the Speech from the Throne, they can benefit from measures comparable to those available to small businesses. This represents considerable progress and much-deserved recognition of all those who are continually working hard for the well-being of our society.

We welcome our Prime Minister's commitments with respect to sustainable development and the environment. All these commitments cannot be listed in a few short minutes. However, we must highlight those that, in our view, are key to the future; we are talking about sustainable development and the environment.

In the Speech from the Throne, an entire series of measures was announced. We will go beyond Kyoto—

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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February 5, 2004

Hon. Yvon Charbonneau

For the eternal skeptics in the recesses of this House who say that the government hesitates when it comes to respecting its commitments to the Kyoto protocol, the Prime Minister said we will go beyond Kyoto. These are firm measures.

The Prime Minister also said we would not just hold forth on the international stage and participate in protocols and major agreements; we will start by putting our own house in order. That is a sincere promise, not just a general statement.

We are going to undertake a 10-year, $3.5 billion program to clean up contaminated sites. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has been recommending for years that the government take the initiative; now it has. Firm commitments have been made.

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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February 5, 2004

As my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord says, there are two kinds of contaminated sites; those for which there are environmental solutions and those that require an election.

There are thousands of contaminated federal sites in Canada and numerous studies have been done over the years. We are now ready to go forward and to deal with the problems that have been identified. This will also affect sites like the Sydney tar ponds that have been widely explored and analysed for years. Millions of dollars have been set aside for that purpose.

The situation is the same for abandoned mines like the one in Yellowknife and many others in Canada's far north. These are important measures because we are dealing with fragile ecological environments that deserve our attention.

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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