Morris P. BODNAR

BODNAR, Morris P., Q.C., B.A., LL.B.,

Personal Data

Saskatoon--Dundurn (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
September 4, 1948
barrister and solicitor, lawyer

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
  Saskatoon--Dundurn (Saskatchewan)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Western Economic Diversification (February 23, 1996 - July 9, 1997)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry (February 23, 1996 - July 9, 1997)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (February 23, 1996 - July 9, 1997)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 41)

March 10, 1997

Mr. Bodnar

There are no victims who can be cross-examined on a murder trial, and that is what I am discussing now. It is unfortunate but that is the position. There are victims in cases but they had better realize what is being talked about in the speech. This is how the Reform Party deals with this matter. It treats it as a complete political matter. It is not concerned about victims of any sort in the process.

It is important to get rid of section 745 at some time in the future and replace it with what I have suggested. Prisoners want finality in sentencing as well. When they have been convicted, they want to know exactly where they stand. There is no reason for them to put on false pretences to prison guards in wanting to be treated better or have a favourable report in 15 years.

They should have finality planned for that period of time and deal with rehabilitation rather than trying to impress authorities.

The comment by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni that it is 1.1 years for every child he has killed in referring to Olson is absolutely ludicrous. His suggesting that Olson will only serve 1.1 years for every child he has killed is simply trying to inflame the public when what is being said is completely and absolutely inaccurate because he has not been granted parole.

Everybody knows he will not be granted parole, yet a comment like that is made. It is inflammatory to the ultimate degree. That is Reform policy. Its members not only deal with inconsistencies, what is inaccurate, but they show their extremist qualities throughout and continuously. Desperation is written all over the Reform Party.

On Bill C-45 the Reform Party, in its fresh start campaign platform, should realize that most of us did not need a fresh start part way through this Parliament because we had a good start when we started in 1993. We do not have to restart.

In their fresh start Reformers say that section 745 should be repealed and they do not deal with a situation like another Olson applying for parole after 25 years. Give the judges the discretion. Let them deal with situations like this. Unfortunately it is never dealt with.

Of course, they try to show how crime is increasing, it is really bad. It is not true. Crime is falling. The national crime rate has been falling for the fourth year in a row.

All we have to do is look at the Reform documentation. One can see what Reformers are saying, fearmongering with respect to the public. They are trying to show to the public that the justice system does not work. Everything is getting worse. It is absolutely not true.

The crime rate is dropping.

The crime rate has decreased for a fourth year in a row. Violent crime also fell last year. Does it not hurt their policy when the facts do not support them? How do they back out of it? They cannot. They cannot back out of it. They are stuck with fearmongering and alteration of the facts in matters such as this one. That is what we have seen in debates and written articles about crime control by Reform members.

I simply ask Reformers to take a look at my suggestion today. It is not a new one. It made it to the Police Association of Canada. Section 745 should be abolished, giving back discretion to judges to deviate from the mandatory sentences in exceptional cases upon giving reasons. I have indicated that to the association. It is very interested in looking at that suggestion to see whether or not to support it. I am waiting to hear what it has to say.

I am not about to say that we should not parole people forever or if a criminal is convicted put him away for 25 years with no discretion for judges. I have a lot more faith in the judicial system than I do in the wisdom of the party across from me, the third party. Its ability to deal with section 745 has been most lacking.

We must have constructive debate rather than the Reformers continuously trying to insinuate that we are not dealing with the rights of victims. We cannot have good debate with them. I am putting out a suggestion for them to consider. Perhaps there are problems in my suggestion but I would like to hear what those problems may be.

I do not want to be called names. I heard one from the member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia. I do not want to hear that. I prefer getting into constructive debate rather than being called names. It is irresponsible. They will pay the price in the next election. In the province of Saskatchewan there will be no Reformers re-elected, none. We will see to it.

This is not the time for name calling in such a discussion. This is a time to deal with alternatives. Unfortunately that is not on the agenda of the Reform Party. Alternatives are not on its agenda because it deals with alternatives on a different fact basis, facts that are not there.

We cannot deal with alternatives like those. I simply ask that all members to consider the alternatives I have put before the House today.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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March 10, 1997

Mr. Bodnar

Madam Speaker, as I was saying when I began speaking, the hon. member for Comox-Alberni had indicated that section 745 allows Clifford Olson to apply for early parole. He said that a few times in his speech but it is absolutely not true. That is the misrepresentation that we are getting from the Reform Party. It is absolutely not true. It allows him to apply so that he can become eligible to apply. There is a big difference. It is not a parole application.

However, that is too much for the members of the Reform Party to comprehend. They have never decided to deal with reason. Of course Reform Party members claim to act on behalf of victims. They claim they deal with the victims. Do they not realize that Clifford Olson after 25 years can still apply for parole? They do not seem to realize that.

There is room to manoeuvre in this whole area of dealing with section 745. Unfortunately it is quite difficult for the members of the Reform Party to deal with this area.

Let me suggest a solution to this whole matter. Unfortunately it appears that many of them will not be listening. That is fine, they can read it in Hansard some other day. Section 745 perhaps should be abolished in the future. It is something we should look at. I suggest that we take a serious look at abolishing section 745. The amendments that were made by the hon. Minister of Justice were good amendments and a good first step that we had to take.

However, getting rid of 745 does not end the whole matter. There has to be a step that takes place at the same time with the abolition of 745, returning discretion to the judges. We have to return discretion to the judges in the sentencing process. If we do not return discretion injustices occur. I will use a couple of examples to illustrate the problems that result.

Most recently there was a case in Saskatchewan, which I am sure hon. members are all aware of, in which a person was convicted of murder for having put his daughter to death because of his belief in her suffering as a result of illness. The judge in the case should have had the discretion to determine whether that individual would be eligible for parole on a second degree charge in 10 years time, for a first degree murder charge in 25 years, or whether he should reduce it. Maybe he should reduce it to two years, three years or four years, but he should have the discretion to vary from those numbers because we could have an injustice occur. All fact situations are not the same in murder cases.

Heaven forbid that they reoccur, but they seem to, in cases like Olson and Bernardo, the judge should have been able to say "I sentence you to life imprisonment with no parole for life". There

is no application for parole and no parole application can ever be made.

Reform members never suggest this. They simply tell us to get rid of section 745. They never mention this second step. That is what we need. We need this second step. They will probably leave the House and try to take credit for such an idea. Unfortunately some of the ideas that come from the other side of the House are only rehashed ideas they get from this side of the House.

Someone like Bernardo should have been dealt with at the trial process by the trial judge. He should have had the discretion to say no parole or no parole for 250 years. Outlive that, Bernardo. Or no parole for 500 years or whatever figure. He should have had that discretion. Unfortunately the Criminal Code does not allow him that discretion.

Another situation similar to this occurred well in excess of 20 years ago in the city of Saskatoon where an individual was convicted of killing four children, David Threinen. He had killed four children and plead guilty to second degree murder. The very well respected judge in the system in Saskatchewan, Justice Ian Hughes, who had to sentence him, subsequently left Saskatchewan and went to British Columbia.

At the sentencing he increased the parole eligibility to the maximum he could at that time which was 20 years for second degree murder. He made a recommendation that this individual never be paroled. That should not have been something he had to do. He should not have been obliged to do this. He should have had the discretion to be able to make that order at the time of sentencing, not left to the parole board, 20 years plus to be dealt with again. He should have been able to deal with it then.

These are the types of cases where there are injustices, when the judges should go lower in ordering parole eligibility or go substantially higher in ordering non-eligibility for parole. It deals with the whole matter. However, the amendments that have been proposed to Bill C-45 are good amendments. They have changed matters. It has been made such that an initial step has to be taken.

Why would the Reform Party ever vote against such a requirement when it makes it tougher for someone who is serving time for first degree murder in excess of 15 years to get parole eligibility? Why would Reform members, who claim to represent victims, vote against the bill? They claim to represent victims and yet they vote against anything that helps victims. That seems strange. Favour victims, vote against victims; favour victims, vote against victims. That is the Reform policy.

Recently I received a document from the Church council on justice and corrections, a coalition of 11 churches, Roman Catholic, Anglican, United, Presbyterian, Batiste, Evangelical, Lutheran, Salvation Army, the Quaker, Mennonite, Christian Reform and Disciplines of Christ. In that document they indicated they favour judicial reviews. They indicate judicial reviews are working reasonably well in the country. More than half the offenders eligible for a judicial review are not even applying for one, they indicated, often because they either know they do not stand a chance or feel they are not ready.

Then they come out with this statement: "None who has been released into the community has murdered again". None. We are getting a lot of fearmongering from the Reform Party, saying that Canadians are terrified that murders will be released into their community. Of those who have been successful in their application under section 745, none released into the community has murdered again. So why this fearmongering by the Reform Party if not to make this a political issue when it is not a political issue?

With that we proceed to other matters. The Reform Party claims that this a joke of the judicial process.

The hon. member for Prince George-Peace River indicated it is a joke of the process. Where is the joke? We have people charged with murder. There is evidence. They are convicted of murder. They are sent to jail for life. The question is one of parole eligibility. Where is the joke in this system?

People are consistently convicted in courts for the offence of murder. Is this a joke? If this is a joke, I cannot understand what the Reform Party would want in its place. Would it prefer trial by ordeal? Would it prefer-

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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February 17, 1997

Mr. Morris Bodnar (Saskatoon-Dundurn, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the next two petitions call on Parliament to urge the federal government to join with provincial governments to make the national highway system upgrading possible.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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February 17, 1997

Mr. Bodnar

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the hon. member mentioned that the ordinary citizens of Saskatoon do not support what Heritage Canada is doing. He must be walking on different streets from the ones I walk on.

The member is critical of what he referred to as cuts in spending. It is interesting to look at the Reform budget and the cuts which it suggested. The cuts are very interesting. The Reform Party suggested cuts to post-secondary education, cuts in health, cuts in the Canada assistance plan and cuts in equalization. Equalization cuts of 35 per cent. Cuts to the Canada assistance plan of 34 per cent.

Reformers are critical of what has been done to get the finances of the country in order. They would have butchered the system and destroyed it but all of a sudden, lo and behold, now that it is almost election time, they are the saviours. Three years ago when it was not election time they were the ones who would have destroyed the system.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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February 17, 1997

Mr. Bodnar

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting to hear the member speaking about the spending of money on flags, on the pride that we should take in this country and on keeping this country together which, I take it he has already heard, is the best country in the world to live in. But he fails to mention all the money that was wasted on the last referendum in Quebec, the wasted money on posters that were printed in Quebec. Why was that money not put into Quebec's economy to help the children of the province of Quebec?

He indicates that the unemployment level is going up. That is not so. The unemployment level has come down, not as much as we would like, and we are trying to get it lower and we will get it lower, but it has not been going up, as has been mentioned.

It is very sad when a member refers to flag day as being a sad day for Canada. It is very sad that any member of the House of Parliament of Canada would say that in the democratically elected Chamber of Canada. That attitude is not understandable. A strong country leads to employment for all, including youth.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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