On February 27, 2015, Prime Minister Harper’s announcement that the Government of Canada will introduce legislation in keeping with the commitment made in the 2013 Speech from the throne to further protect Canadian families by ending the practice of automatic early release for repeat violent criminals. The Prime Minister made the announcement on February 12th, 2015, following a roundtable discussion with victims of crime held in Victoriaville, Quebec. He was joined by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), federal offenders serving fixed-term sentences are allowed to serve the final third of their sentence in the community under supervision and subject to conditions.
Our Government has determined that this is the wrong approach when it comes to repeat violent offenders. Therefore, under the proposed legislation, repeat violent offenders will no longer be granted statutory release after serving two-thirds of their sentence. These measures reflect the Harper Government’s ongoing commitment to keep our streets and communities safe while ensuring that the rights of victims are placed over those of criminals.
- Statutory release (SR) is a presumptive release by law at the two-thirds mark of a fixed sentence, and takes effect automatically unless the Parole Board of Canada determines that the offender is likely to commit another serious offence.
- Under SR, eligible federal offenders serve the final third of their sentence in the community, under supervision and subject to conditions which can include a residency condition (i.e., reside at a ‘halfway-house’). Only offenders serving determinate (i.e., fixed-term) sentences are eligible for SR, whereas inmates serving a life sentence or an indeterminate sentence are always ineligible.
- The proposed amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act would seriously restrict statutory release for repeat federal offenders who have previously received a prison sentence of five years or more that includes a serious violent component.
- The amendments will allow repeat offenders to be exposed to correctional programming in penitentiaries for a longer period of time to change behaviour which contributes to reoffending.
- These changes complement other tough on crime actions introduced by our Government, including:
- Tougher prison sentences for sexual offences against children, serious gun crimes, impaired driving, and selling drugs to children;
- Providing the courts with the discretion to end sentence discounts for multiple murders; and
- Repealing the Faint Hope Clause which allowed offenders serving a life sentence with a parole ineligibility period of more than 15 years to apply for parole after serving 15 years in prison.
Follow Public Safety Canada (@Safety_Canada) on Twitter.
For more information, please visit the website www.publicsafety.gc.ca.
I am pleased to speak to Bill C-26, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, at Third Reading. This is a critical piece of legislation and we should all support its important objectives.
Bill C-26 would strengthen our existing approach to protecting children from sexual predators by building on numerous recent initiatives in that regard. I am pleased that our Government has implemented a number of important initiatives, including:
- raising the age of consent to sexual activity — also known as the age of protection — from 14 to 16 years (Tackling Violent Crime Act, 2008);
- requiring those who provide Internet services to the public to report when they are advised of an Internet address where child pornography may be available to the public (Act respecting the mandatory reporting of
Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, 2011);
- requiring all those convicted of sexual offences abroad to report to a police service within 7 days of arriving in Canada (Protecting Victims from Sex Offenders Act, 2011); and,
- creating two new offences prohibiting anyone from providing sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against that child (section 171.1), and prohibiting anyone from using any means of telecommunications, including the Internet, to agree or make arrangements with another person for the purpose of committing a sexual offence against a child (section 172.2) (Safe Streets and Communities Act, 2012) — to name a few.
Unquestionably, our Government has worked hard to protect children from sexual predators and we continue to do so, as is currently reflected in Bill C-26’s proposed reforms. Our children deserve no less.
Available statistics paint a disturbing picture of sexual offending against children, both at home and abroad. Sadly, this type of offending has been facilitated by the Internet, which may play a role in the recent increases in police-reported child sexual offences. The most recent statistics indicate a 6% increase in 2013, as compared to 2012. This includes a 30% increase in police-reported incidents of luring a child via a computer (section 172.1), an 11% increase in police-reported incidents of sexual exploitation (section 153) and a 21% increase in police-reported incidents of child pornography offences (section 163.1).
Furthermore, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which operates Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tip line for reporting online sexual exploitation of children, provided the Committee on Justice and Human Rights with data that also cause deep concern. Specifically, they have received 125,000 reports from the public since 2004, when Cybertip.ca was launched. The majority of these reports related to images that are online and that depict children being sexually abused. The Centre noted that in the 2014-2015 fiscal year alone, their child protection analysts assessed and categorized over 6,000 images of child pornography. Disturbingly, 69% of these images depicted children under the age of 12.
These numbers are telling us that more must be done. And Bill C-26 does just that. First, it increases penalties for certain child sexual offences, including child pornography, which has become a global scourge, as the statistics show. Child pornography does not just harm the children who are abused in the images. Child pornography harms all children by sending the abhorrent message that it is acceptable for adults to use children for their own sexual gratification.
To better denounce and deter this crime, Bill C-26 would increase both mandatory minimum and maximum penalties for possessing and accessing child pornography. Moreover, Bill C-26 would make the most serious child pornography offences, making and distributing child pornography (subsections 163.1(2) and (3)), strictly indictable, with a mandatory minimum penalty of one year and a maximum penalty of 14 years, to reflect the severity of these crimes and the harmful impact they have on children.
The Supreme Court of Canada has commented on the pervasive nature of the harm caused by this type of offending in its 2008 L.M. decision:
“I note that L.M. disseminated his pornography around the world over the Internet. The use of this medium can have serious consequences for a victim. Once a photograph has been posted on the Web, it can be accessed indefinitely, from anywhere in the world. [The victim] will never know whether a pornographic photograph or video in which she appears might not resurface someday.”
In addition to its proposed penalty increases, Bill C-26 also requires judges to impose consecutive sentences in cases where offenders are sentenced at the same time for contact child sexual offences and child pornography offences, and where offenders are sentenced at the same time for contact child sexual offences against multiple victims.
No more sentence discounts for prolific child sexual offenders. Every victim matters. These are some of
Bill C-26’s critical messages — messages that serve the important objectives of denunciation and deterrence, which, as our Criminal Code appropriately clarifies, are paramount in cases involving the abuse of a child (section 718.01).
That is not all. Bill C-26 also proposes to increase the maximum penalties for breaches of supervision orders, which impose conditions on suspected or convicted offenders and are intended to prevent offending and protect children. We cannot ignore the fact that all breaches of such orders indicate a risk to children. That is why it is imperative that offenders are held accountable for breaching conditions imposed to protect children.
In a similar vein, Bill C-26 would also ensure that evidence that an offence was committed while the offender was subject to a conditional sentence order, on parole or on statutory release is considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. Offenders who re-offend while subject to conditions imposed to protect those they have harmed should be held to account, not just for the new offence, but also for their violation of the conditions themselves. This is the appropriate way to effectively denounce violations of such conditions.
Sadly, strengthening our approach to these crimes may create an even greater risk that opportunistic child sex offenders will go abroad to find victims in countries whose legal systems are not as robust as ours. This is why Bill C-26 includes measures that will strengthen our ability to monitor child sexual offenders who travel abroad. For example, Bill C-26 would require registered child sex offenders to report the dates and destination of any planned travel, whether within or outside of Canada. It would also authorize information sharing in respect of registered sex offenders between the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency officials. This will assist Canadian officials in working with their international counterparts to prevent offending abroad and in implementing a 2011 reform that requires all those convicted of sexual offences abroad to report to a police service within 7 days of arriving in Canada.
These measures, in addition to the proposed new High Risk Child Sex Offender Database, also proposed by Bill C-26, address the dangers and risks posed by child sexual offenders. I trust that these are reforms that we can all support. I know that we are all committed to protecting children from harm. Toward that end, I urge all Honourable members to join me in support of this important Bill.
Seniors in Mississauga-Streetsville will soon have new opportunities to extend their reach in the community through programs that offer to mentor youth and raise awareness among the sometimes considered socially isolated members in the community. Today Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville Brad Butt announced on behalf of the honourable Minister of State for Seniors Alice Wong, the New Horizons for Seniors Program projects. Essentially, this outlines a series of social initiatives that would be undertaken by various organizations in the community, in an attempt to foster increasing social participation among groups of seniors.
These organizations have received funding to help make their respective programs a reality in the following amounts:
Feng Hua Senior Association $25,000 – To engage ethnic seniors to participate in social activities
Peel Multicultural Council $24,190 – To build mentorship capacities through senior-youth connectivity
Tong Le Senior Association $20,200 – Creating a Chinese Senior Volunteer Brigade
Hindu Heritage Centre $25,000 – For a Seniors Kitchen and Cooking club
Canadian Coptic Centre $24,724 – To encourage seniors to become active in social activities and educating the youth on seniors’ needs
“Our Government recognizes the valuable contribution seniors have made to our society and the economy. By supporting New Horizons for Seniors Program projects, we are acting to ensure that seniors maintain a good quality of life and continue to be active members of their communities,” said Brad Butt.
- Under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP), up to $25,000 in grant funding can be provided to eligible organizations for community-based projects that are led or inspired by seniors.
- Since 2006, the NHSP has funded more than 13,000 projects in hundreds of communities across Canada.
- Economic Action Plan 2014 increased funding for the NHSP by $5 million per year, for a total of $50 million provided to this program annually.
- Since 2006, $2.8 billion in annual tax relief has been provided to seniors and pensioners.
- Minister Wong launched the Government of Canada Action for Seniors report in September 2014. The report is a new information resource highlighting federal programs and services that can be accessed by seniors, their families and caregivers. It was created in collaboration with more than 22 federal departments and agencies. The report can be found on Canada.ca/Seniors
For more information on the NHSP, visit Canada.ca/Seniors
Or click to see how our government is making life all the more easier for seniors through our action for seniors plan.
Protecting Canadians from unsafe drugs is important to our Government.
We wrapped up 2014 by adopting the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act also known as Vanessa’s Law. With Vanessa’s Law, our Government introduced the most profound and important changes to the Food and Drugs Act in over 50 years that will help Canadians stay better informed about medications they are prescribed, and empower the Government to recall unsafe products from the market.
We have hit the ground running in 2015. Already this year, we have taken action on two major new initiatives to better protect the health and safety of Canadians and their families.
Canadians are finding too often that they can’t get the medication their doctor has prescribed because of a shortage of that drug – causing worry and treatment interruptions. Doctors and patients need enough advance warning of a possible shortage so they can shift to alternative treatments.
Drug shortages are a complex global problem, and many stakeholders across the healthcare system have important roles to play in responding quickly to reduce the impact on patients. Following extensive consultations, we heard loud and clear from Canadians that a voluntary system wasn’t working. So we announced in early February that we will now make it mandatory for companies to publicly report drug shortages in advance. Our expectation is that drug manufacturers will do their utmost to avoid supply interruptions. Where shortages are unavoidable, our hope is that, with earlier notice, the healthcare system can react and find appropriate alternatives.
Until the mandatory system is in place, a Public Register will be hosted on Health Canada’s website to name and shame manufacturers who fail to provide voluntary notice of a shortage. This register will make industry commitments and, more importantly, industry actions, clear for all to see.
Also in February, we announced the launch of a new online tool designed to provide Canadians with better access to consumer-friendly information on medicines and vaccines.
The Drug and Health Product Register makes it easier for consumers to find information on hundreds of medications, including what a drug is used for, safety warnings and precautions, common side effects, and adverse reactions that have been reported to Health Canada. The new site is mobile-friendly, so Canadians can access health product information on the go.
These are just two examples of the work we continue to do to protect the health and safety of Canadians. We will be continue to take action to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.
Photo credit: Graeme Frisque, Mississauga News
On Sunday, February 22, 2015, Members of Mississauga’s Coptic Christian community joined with Canadian leaders in a show of solidarity at a memorial in honour of the 21 Egyptian men killed by the terrorist group ISIL.
ISIL released a video on Sunday, February 15, 2015, showing the beheading of the 21 Coptic Christians in Libya.
The candlelight vigil and ceremony took place at the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius in Mississauga.
Our Government of Canada condemns, in the strongest possible terms, this barbaric mass murder committed by ISIL. On January 30, 2015, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the introduction of new legislation to protect Canadians from the evolving threat of terrorism, Bill C-51, Anti-terrorism Act, 2015.
“This is a very imporant piece of legislation on our ongoing fight against terrorism,” Brad said. “It strikes an important balance between the rights and freedoms we enjoy as Canadians but also ensures law enforcement and investigative agencies have the tools and laws they need to keep Canadians safe.”
Yesterday, Rotary International celebrated its 110th anniversary. Rotary is 1.2 million neighbours, friends and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in our communities and around the world.
As one of those proud Rotarians as a member of Mississauga-Meadowvale Club, I want to express my thanks to all of Rotary’s members in Canada and throughout the globe.
Since forming in 1905, Rotary has taken on some of the world’s toughest challenges and helped a wide range of international and service organizations – from the UN to Easter Seals – get started.
Of course here in Canada we know of Rotary’s unwavering support of the eradication of polio and through its partnering with the Gates Foundation and our Government to make this happen.
Through the application of the four-way test to better our communities and our world, Rotarians give back and make a difference each and every day.
I am sure that all members of this House join me in congratulating Rotary on its 110th anniversary and wish it continued success for many, many more decades to come.
On Friday February 20th, Stephen Harper alongside Member of Parliament Brad Butt and other colleagues visited Fo Guang Shan Temple in Mississauga to help ring in the Chinese New Year.
The Prime Minister offered his sentiments to the Chinese community by delivering the following speech:
Xin Nian Kuai Le.
It is really tremendous to be here with all of you this evening and to be joined by so many of my colleagues from the Parliament of Canada as well.
You of course all know Minister Jason Kenney who received his Chinese name right at this temple.
We also have Minister Bal Gosal with us, Parliamentary Secretaries CS Leung and Bob Dechert, Members of Parliament Stella Ambler, Terence Young, Joe Daniel, Wladyslaw Lizon, and of course your own Member of Parliament, Brad Butt.
Give them all a big hand.
Give them all a big hand everybody.
And of course for opening your doors to us today I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple and in particular to my hostess today, Abbess Venerable Yungku.
Thank you all for your generous hospitality.
Now before I go any farther I just want to begin by telling you what a great honor it is to have received that beautiful name scroll, and the name stamp as well.
Now that I have an official Chinese name I feel as if I’m an honorary member of the community.
I also understand that the founder of the Fo Guang Shan Temple, the Venerable Master Hsing Yun personally wrote the calligraphy on my name scroll, so let me extend, through you Abbess, my deepest thanks to him for this very kind gift.
Ladies and gentlemen, as I look across this country at this time of year, the Lunar New Year, I would be hard-pressed to overstate the tremendous contributions that are being made by Canadians of Chinese ancestry, not just today but throughout our history.
From the building of the national railway many, many years ago, almost 150 years ago in the early days of Confederation, to the present day contributions that are made in industry, to commerce, and to our social life, the hard work, the creative genius, and the rich cultural heritage of this community have helped make Canada what it is today, the best country in the world.
The Chinese Canadian story really is a tremendous one, and I know there’s much more to come.
Now ladies and gentlemen the New Year is always a time for celebration and tonight I gather that’s what you’re here to do.
But it is also a time for all of us to look forward and, I believe, to do so with hope.
And as we do that, as we think about the times to come, you can be confident that our Government shares your optimism for this country and that we too believe there is an exciting future of expanding trade, growth, and development that lies before all of us as Canadians.
As we ring in the Year of the Sheep, let us unite to wish us harmony, prosperity and success.
Let us all join together, all of our hopes and dreams for harmony, prosperity, and success – or should I say for the three goods and the five harmonies.
Let’s wish for that as we welcome the Year of the Sheep with both pride in our past and gratitude for the opportunities that lie before us.
Once again, thank you for having me.
Happy new year to each and every one of you.
Thank you very much.
Last night I helped ring in the Lunar New Year – Year of the Sheep – at the Fo Guang Shan Temple located in my riding of Mississauga-Streetsville.
The objectives of Fo Guang Shan Temple are to promote the principles of Humanistic Buddhism and to foster peace and harmony among all peoples of the world.
Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the founder of Fo Guang Shan, has guided this effort by providing educational opportunities, sponsoring cultural events, engaging in community service, and by extensively writing and teaching about the Buddhist path of wisdom and compassion.
Local spiritual leadership is provided by the Venerable Yung Ku and the abbesses to the thousands of members.
This beautiful temple located on Millcreek Drive is a wonderful asset to our community and the work of Buddha’s Light International members is both locally and world renowned.
The Year of the Sheep symbolizes peace and generosity and reminds us to be well grounded and kind to others.
May I wish everyone a very Happy New Year, Kung Hey Fat Choy, Chook moong numb moi, Seh heh bok mani bat uh seyo.