Hon. Carol Skelton (Minister of National Revenue and Minister
of Western Economic Diversification, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in support of
C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, street racing
. I urge
all hon. members to support this bill, a bill that undoubtedly
conveys the importance this government places on ensuring that our
communities and streets are safe.
Street racing is a serious crime. Its consequences are equally
serious. Street racing is killing and seriously injuring innocent
people and is placing all road users and citizens at risk. It has
been pursued in communities across our country, in Toronto,
Vancouver, Regina and Saskatoon, to name only a few. This
government will not stand idly by and allow it to continue.
Indeed, the consequences of inaction on this issue are stark.
Our streets will become racetracks and our communities will be at
risk. This government is committed to ensuring that we have safe
streets and this bill will contribute to that.
In talking about Bill
, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the important
work of our late colleague and my friend, Chuck Cadman, work which
was driven in large part out of a deeply held sense of justice. He
believed that our lawmakers and our laws should work to ensure
that our communities are safe and that those who would threaten
our safety through criminal acts should be held accountable. With
this purpose in mind, Chuck introduced Bill
and then Bill
would deal with street racing differently than the
amendments proposed by Chuck would have, our goal remains the
same, namely, to ensure that our streets are safe. It is in this
light that I am proud to be able to speak today on Bill
, for I believe that Bill C-19 is about ensuring that
individuals who commit serious crimes should be punished in a
manner that reflects that seriousness.
is very much about public safety. Currently, there is no
specific offence of street racing in the Criminal Code. Rather,
persons who currently engage in street racing could be charged
under existing offences such as dangerous driving or criminal
negligence. Bill C-19 proposes to create a new offence of street
racing. In my opinion, this is important, because it appropriately
signals the disdain that we as Canadians feel toward this reckless
and dangerous crime. It demonstrates that we will not tolerate
this reckless disregard for the safety of others in our community.
would define street racing to mean “operating a motor
vehicle in a race with at least one other motor vehicle on a
street, road, highway or other public place”. The offence of
street racing would operate by referencing already existing
Criminal Code offences, namely, dangerous driving, dangerous
driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death,
criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and criminal negligence
What this means in practical terms is that in street racing
situations when a person commits one of the offences I have just
listed, the punishments available to them will be tailored to
appropriately reflect the unique nature of the crime. The
punishment will fit the crime.
There will be tougher penalties than those currently available
under our criminal laws. This is consistent with our larger
objective of ensuring that the criminal justice system is tough on
crime. We will no longer tolerate a justice system that is soft on
criminals at the expense of public safety.
In addition, a person convicted of the street racing offence
would be subject to a mandatory minimum driving prohibition. Those
who choose to treat our city streets and roads as racetracks for
their own pleasure, placing the lives of innocent citizens at
risk, will have to face the consequences of such careless
I would like to add a personal note. When I was a much younger
woman, I used to drive a stock car. In fact, I actually did quite
well. I think I was the only woman ever to pull a tire off on a
quarter-mile dirt track, so members will know I was doing pretty
well with our super D stockers. I also have a nephew who has a
CASCAR and drives the race circuit in western Canada and the
northern United States. Members will know, then, that our family
However, I do think there is a place for speed. I think that if
young people want to race they should be on a racetrack or a
community stock car track of some kind, right across the country.
The key to this point that I just mentioned is that I did it at a
proper facility. This was as much for my own safety as it was for
others'. I obviously have nothing against racing. I love it. I am
addicted to the sport. I love the sport, but it must be done when
and where it is safe for all involved.
Canadians do not want to see those who have been convicted of
a serious street racing crime back behind the wheel of a motor
vehicle. My son-in-law, the police officer, most definitely does
not. These penalties send a clear, strong message, one that I
Currently, a person who is convicted of dangerous driving can
face the maximum penalty on indictment of five years'
would retain this penalty in relation to street racing.
It would, however, impose for the first offence a mandatory
minimum driving prohibition of one year. In addition, the
sentencing court would retain discretion to impose a driving
prohibition of up to three years and the penalties would go up on
each subsequent offence. For a second conviction of dangerous
driving while street racing, the mandatory minimum driving
prohibition would increase to two years. The court retains
discretion to prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle for up to
Beyond two convictions of dangerous driving while street
racing, a sentencing court would be required to impose a mandatory
three year driving prohibition but would have discretion to impose
a maximum lifetime prohibition. This discretion ensures that the
courts are able to deal with each instance appropriately and
Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. Those
who would continue to abuse that privilege and place others at
risk of serious harm or death should not be entitled to drive. For
the more serious street racing offences, Bill
proposes stringent penalties.
This government made a commitment to make our communities and
streets safe and to ensure that the criminal law is strengthened
so our laws accurately reflect the significant and lasting impact
crime can have on our communities. This government is living up to
its commitment. Those who are convicted of dangerous driving
causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm in
street racing situations will face stiff penalties.
proposes to increase the maximum penalty available to
those convicted of this type of behaviour from 10 to 14 years'
imprisonment. Similarly, it would also impose mandatory minimum
driving prohibitions for those who commit the most serious
offences. For dangerous driving causing death or criminal
negligence causing death in street racing situations, the maximum
penalty will be life imprisonment. This is a significant increase
from the penalty of 14 years currently available for this conduct
in our criminal laws. Indeed, life imprisonment is the most
stringent penalty our criminal law provides for. This reflects the
severity of the crime, its negative impact on society and the
seriousness for which our government views this.
This government believes that Canadians deserve safe streets.
is one of many important bills currently before
Parliament which will ensure that our communities remain safe.
The amendments proposed by Bill
are pertinent to street racing as well. In those cases
where street racing causes injury or death to another person, a
conditional sentence or permitting the offender to serve his or
her sentence in the community would not be permitted. This makes
sense. A person who commits a serious crime, and let us make no
mistake, causing death or injury to someone as a result of street
racing is of the utmost seriousness, should not be able to serve
his or her sentence in the community.
I should pause for a moment to note that Bill
is not about criminalizing legitimate racing activities
nor is it about criminalizing motor enthusiasts. What Bill
is about is ensuring that dangerous and irresponsible
street racing is recognized in the Criminal Code for what it is: a
serious crime that will not be tolerated.
The Criminal Code amendments proposed in Bill
to address street racing go beyond tougher penalties for
this crime. Rather, they speak more fundamentally to the values we
hold so dear in Canadian society and the values we wish to live
by. Canadians can rightly stand with pride. Canadians live in and
contribute to a society that is envied the world over. Our country
is known to be safe, just and law-abiding.
Canadians want safe communities. They want to feel secure in
knowing that when they leave their homes, whether it is to go for
a walk, to drive to work or to celebrate important events with
friends and family, they and their loved ones will be safe.
Canadians want laws that work to ensure safety. They should
demand nothing less of their government.We, as their elected
representatives, have no greater duty than that of ensuring that
our laws reflect these values. We must respond to these demands in
a measured and responsible way. We have an immense responsibility
to ensure that our laws continue to ensure that our communities
will be safe for our citizens.
Indeed, as the
Minister of Justice
has noted, “there is no task more
important to any government than the protection of its citizens”.
I believe this is true, and our government takes this task very
will make our streets safer.
Of course we know that strong laws will not curb crime on
their own. That is why our government continues to pursue a broad
range of measures, legislative and otherwise, to ensure that our
communities are safe. For example, we have pledged $20 million
over two years to focus on crime prevention activities, including
strategies to reduce youth crime. This money will enable us to
partner across Canada at the local level to work with at risk
youth and thereby prevent crime before it happens.
While we do not have comprehensive statistics on street racing
crime, including how often it is occurring and by whom, we do know
that it is often caused by young persons. Our government's efforts
to better respond to youth crime will also make a difference. Bill
would indirectly enable us to keep better track of who
commits these crimes and how often. The proposed provisions will
provide a more systematic and comprehensive ability to track
street racing offences.
Our government is also committed to strengthening the ability
of law enforcement to respond to crime. Good laws are effective
only if we have strong police forces across this country to
enforce them. I wish to acknowledge the important work being done
by law enforcement agencies across this country in combating crime
in all forms.
For example, in the greater Toronto area, Project ERASE, which
stands for “Eliminate Racing Activity on Streets Everywhere”,
works to reduce street racing through the collaboration of
multiple police forces. These policing agencies work to reduce
street racing through a combination of awareness and strategic
would strengthen the ability of law enforcement to move
more effectively and respond more quickly to street racing.
In addition, this government has committed to investing nearly
$200 million over the next two years to strengthen the
capabilities of the RCMP, who are called upon day in and day out
to perform many dangerous tasks with the goal of keeping our
communities safe. This commitment to our officers will ensure they
have the resources needed to perform their jobs.
Strong laws are important, but we must not forget the
important role that law enforcement plays in ensuring that they
are effective. This government is making certain that law
enforcement forces do have the necessary tools to do their jobs.
It is a combination of targeted legislative amendments and broader
measures to support crime prevention in our country that this
government believes will lead to a safer and more secure Canada.
The government is committed to tackling crime by working with our
partners at the provincial and territorial level as well. Bill
C-19 will complement existing provincial and territorial laws
that have been enacted by legislatures across the country to
respond to street racing.
Measures used have included fines, vehicle impoundment and
licence suspensions. Taken together, these measures provide our
law enforcement officers across the country with an effective
range of tools to curb this practice. Bill
enhances these tools.
In short, street racing threatens lives and undermines public
would clearly and strongly denounce this crime. It would
provide increased accountability for those who engage in it and it
would help preserve the kind of Canada that we all expect, one
where people can feel safe walking down their streets.
I urge all members in the House to join with me and strongly
support the quick passage of this law.