> Bill C-10
June 6, 2006
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Speech: Bill C-10 Speech on
Mandatory Minimum Penalties
Hon. Carol Skelton (Minister
of National Revenue and Minister of Western Economic Diversification, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is
an honour and a pleasure to rise today on behalf of my constituents of
In this past
election I was elected for a third time, which was very humbling. We all
come here to represent thousands of our neighbours. It really means a
great deal when they ask us to do it not once, not twice, but for a third
time. I would really like to thank my entire campaign team for their
tireless work. I would especially like to thank my husband, Noel, and the
rest of my family for their encouragement and their support.
I rise today
because of my family: my police officer son-in-law, my daughters, my
granddaughters, my sons, my husband and my mother. I also have the same
concerns as my neighbours when it comes to safety and security.
Unfortunately, the justice system under the Liberals only allowed problems
to grow and ignored the solutions.
Today I am proud
to be part of a government that is willing to take a tough stand against
violent criminals, a government that places the priority on law-abiding
citizens and their protection.
The Minister of
Justice has worked extremely hard to bring this government priority
forward as legislation in such a short time. The minister must be
commended for his tireless efforts in this regard.
is one of our five priorities. As the Prime Minister has stated on many
occasions, this Conservative government will have a clear focus and clear
reducing the GST, providing parents with a choice in child care, bringing
accountability to government, and providing health care guarantees, we
promised to strengthen criminal sentencing. We are delivering on this
This bill that
calls for mandatory minimum penalties is one of the three important pieces
of crime legislation. The other two are just as important, especially the
bill to raise the age of sexual consent to 16 years of age.
Bill C-10 would
amend the Criminal Code to increase minimum penalties for serious offences
involving firearms. Other members have already talked about how the bill
specifically targets street gang members or drug traffickers who use
illegal firearms, including prohibited and restricted firearms, to conduct
their business. That kind of activity often involves organized crime
The Criminal Code
provides that any indictable offence committed for the benefit of, or at
the direction of, or in association with a criminal organization
constitutes a criminal organization offence. It appears that many of the
recent shootings in streets, buses, parking lots and other public areas in
Toronto were committed as part of attempts to bring down rival gang
actions have as their innocent victims bystanders who have no part of the
dispute. All crime with guns is troubling, but the toll on our society
among innocent bystanders and those who see these crimes occur is
absolutely unacceptable. This kind of criminality has also manifested
itself in Quebec due to the presence of certain well known motorcycle
In its 2003
“Annual Report on Organized Crime in Canada”, Criminal Intelligence
Service Canada noted that targeted measures taken by law enforcement
agencies have had a direct impact on some of the traditional organized
crime groups in Quebec and other parts of Canada.
On the subject of
firearms and organized crime, the report also stated that all organized
crime groups are involved in illicit firearm activities in some manner and
individual gang members often possess numerous firearms.
CSIS reports that
in the country's urban centres, criminal gangs possess illicit firearms,
particularly handguns, which they use for intimidation and acts of
violence. These criminal organizations use handguns and restricted
firearms as the tools of their trade. They are the tools by which these
gangs profit from trade in narcotics and other illicit items, and there is
a thriving business in buying and selling these illegal weapons
The bill aims to
attack those who are members of these organizations and who engage in the
traffic of guns and drugs.
We have to get
tough on firearms offences committed by street gangs and criminal
organizations. The phenomenon of armed street gangs is a growing concern
in Canada. It is not just the large urban centres like Toronto, Montreal
and Vancouver that are suffering.
Organized crime is
everywhere in Canada since it has direct control over the market for
illegal drugs. I has reached an impact that is felt all across Canada. As
their reach expands these organizations bring the tools of their trade
with them and the blight of handgun crime continues to expand.
firearms smuggled from the United States or stolen within Canada remain
the primary source for illicit firearms. A vast amount of Canadian
territory borders the United States. The availability of firearms in the
United States is a major problem. The firearms are often purchased by
legitimate buyers or straw purchasers who then sell them over to others
who smuggle them across the border. That black market is one of the
businesses of criminal organizations. We must fight back with everything
we have at our disposal through targeted law enforcement measures of
course, but also through the kind of legislation measures proposed in Bill
I strongly support
the measures proposed in this bill. Once the people involved in these
types of crimes have been brought before our courts by our police and law
enforcement agencies, they will face stiffer penalties. These penalties
will deter people from crimes with firearms and ensure that people who
commit serious crimes involving firearms will be sentenced to longer terms
of imprisonment. This is the only way that we are going to win our ongoing
fight against organized crime.
has the full support of my constituents. Recently, I sent our a survey and
the results were clear: 95% of the respondents felt that mandatory minimum
sentences would improve public safety and 86% indicated that they were
concerned about safety in their neighbourhood and community. When 86% of
my constituents in Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar are concerned about their
safety and their own neighbourhood, that tells me we have a major problem.
I have listened to
my constituents. I read the responses of every single survey that comes in
and would like to share some of their comments with the House.
Hugh in Rosetown
says, “I agree with mandatory sentences for drug dealing, growing or
trafficking and mandatory sentences for any offence involving a gun or a
knife”. Hugh lives in Rosetown, a rural Saskatchewan town, and yet he
knows the dangers and lives with the same concerns as those in downtown
areas of our major cities.
Clearly, Hugh has
seen that we need to be tougher on violent criminals, especially those who
use a weapon. In fact, this legislation calls for tougher mandatory
minimum penalties for the following serious Criminal Code offences
involving the use of a firearm: attempted murder, discharging a firearm
with intent, sexual and aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, hostage
taking, robbery and extortion.
If a restricted or
prohibited firearm, such as a handgun, is used in the commission of these
offences or if the offence is committed in connection with a gang, the
mandatory minimum sentences would be 5 years on the first offence, 7 years
if the accused has one prior use conviction or 10 years if the accused has
more than one prior use conviction.
Based on his
comments, I know Brent, from my own hometown of Harris which has a
population of about 250 people, that is if everyone is at home, could not
agree more with these proposed changes.
He says, “I feel
sentencing should be strong and made as a deterrent to all ages. Many seem
to feel that because they're young they'll go easy on them or that they
have had a difficult upbringing. By the age of eight you know the
difference between right and wrong. People need to know there are
consequences to their actions”.
important and many feel that in the absence of serious consequences many
criminals and would-be criminals develop a cavalier attitude when it comes
to obeying the law. The government will ensure that there is a new respect
for the law and reward those law-abiding citizens by dealing more
seriously with the criminals.
When I read the
comments sent in by Bud in Saskatoon, I honestly feel he echoes many of
the comments I heard going door to door in the election campaign asking
people what they wanted from a new Conservative government.
Bud said, “Crime
crackdown, more serious sentencing for all criminals, no bail for serious
crimes, no exceptions”. He could not be more clear in what he wanted and I
am proud to say we are delivering for Bud, his neighbours and all of
I know there are a
lot more things Canadians want to see done with the justice system. When
Carol R. of Saskatoon wrote to me, she raised another set of criminal
justice issues that I have spoken about in the past. Carol said, “Our
justice system needs to be revamped. People who commit horrible crimes
seem to get away with it. Something needs to be done on the young
offenders Act. Stricter sentences for those involved in pornography and
While we cannot
solve every problem in one day or one piece of legislation, Carol can be
assured that we also want to continue with our improvements to the justice
system in Canada. Along with these proposed reforms dealing with mandatory
minimum penalties, the government is introducing legislation that will
prohibit the use of conditional sentences for serious and violent crimes.
These reforms will
help keep our streets and communities safer by ending the use of
conditional sentences, including house arrest for serious offences. The
reforms will help ensure a cautious and more appropriate use of
conditional sentences, reserving them for less serious offences that pose
a low risk for community safety.
will help improve public confidence in the use of conditional sentences by
helping to ensure criminals face penalties that match the seriousness of
their crimes. I honestly believe that any member of Parliament who has
gone door to door in his or her riding will have heard the same message as
I did. It was astounding to hear the same issues come up in both the rural
and urban areas of my riding.
is clearly a shared concern right across Canada. I have heard the message.
I hope my colleagues opposite have heard the same and I look forward to
seeing them rise to give their support to these important and long overdue
I would like to
thank my constituents for granting me the privilege of representing them
once again in the House of Commons. I will be home soon and look forward
to seeing them all again.