Second reading of Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief)Published on 13 June 2017 Hansard and Statements by Senator Joan Fraser (retired)
Hon. Joan Fraser:
Colleagues, I too wish to speak in support of Bill C-305, for a number of reasons. First, it is only right that in this portion of the Criminal Code we expand the categories that are of persons who are protected to match the categories that we have protected in other elements of our various anti-hate laws. So we will be expanding, if this bill passes, the category under mischief to relate not only to religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, but also age, sex, sexual orientation or mental or physical ability.
But as soon as we do that, we realize that then we must also address the category of property against which mischief is committed and is addressed because, as the Criminal Code clause now stands, it refers only essentially to mischief relating to religious property, to places of worship. But of course the identifiable groups that we will be adding do not necessarily have churches, synagogues, temples, places of worship.
Sexual orientation is not a religion, but persons of a given sexual orientation may well form an identifiable group, as do the other people who would be covered under the new wording of the application of this bill.
That is why it’s appropriate to expand protection beyond places of religious worship to include schools, daycare centres, colleges, universities, cultural centres, community centres and seniors’ residences when these places are used by members of the identifiable groups that are protected.
It is also right for us to do this because such places — community centres, schools — are for many minority communities at the very heart of their community life. They sustain a community; they give it self-expression and the ability to carry on being a community with the strength that being a community should give. So we owe them that protection.
We owe them that protection because, as Senators Gold and Frum have pointed out, and as we all know, expressions of hate, violent expressions of hate, occur with terrifying regularity in this country. They are not what we stand for. We stand against them. But if we stand against them in principle, then we should stand against them in practice and in all aspects of our law as well.
We need to reach out to identifiable groups who face discrimination, often violent discrimination, and say, “We are with you. We stand with you. We owe you protection. We will give you protection in the places that are dearest and most important to you.”
So I urge you to stand with me in supporting this bill.