June 26, 2013

On June 14, my Private Members Bill seeking tougher sentences for personating Peace Officers passed
with unanimous consent in the House of Commons.

As many of you already know, Bill C-444 seeks to add a sentencing provision for people caught personating officers to carry out other crimes. Aggravating circumstances are in the Criminal Code to further punish people if they commit crimes against children, against the elderly, by abusing an existing position of trust, by using firearms, etc. Victims who are rendered defenseless deserve to know that there are serious consequences for those who have hurt them.

That is why I have sought to add this aggravating circumstance to those already in the Criminal Code, for judges to consider when sentencing offenders who render victims vulnerable by pretending to be a police officer or another authority.

Bill C-444 was studied by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on April 24 and reported back to the House of Commons for concurrence of the committee’s assessment and for third reading. I was able to move the bill quickly on the Private Members Business calendar by working cooperatively with my colleagues from all parties.

This allowed the House of Commons to unanimously agree to the committee’s report and begin third reading debate on May 31. The debate continued on June 14, at which time the Speaker called the question to the House; that Bill C-444 be passed.

It is common practice for at least five of Members of Parliament to ceremoniously object to the motion, forcing it to a vote the following week. This allows the individuals votes to be recorded for the official record. However, it was more important to me to pass this bill without delay; and therefore, I asked my colleagues to forego this formality.

I was confident in the amount of scrutiny the bill had received, and rightly concerned that the House of Commons would rise for the summer before the scheduled vote. I knew from my discussions with victims, peace officers, legal experts, and my colleagues in the House of Commons who contributed to the thoughtful debate, that my bill would be successful.

I am humbled by the support I have received but there is still work to be done. It must now by debated by the Senate and studied by the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. It goes through a similar process in the Senate as it did in the House, but with different players and debate rules.

I am excited to continue to work on this piece of legislation on behalf of Central Albertans.

Alberta Floods

My heart goes out to all of the people in Alberta who have been affected by the floods over the past week. Having lived through the Pine Lake tornado in 2000 and seeing firsthand the devastation that natural disasters can cause, the news has really hit home.

We were fortunate in Central Alberta that there was minimal impact of the most recent floods considering what our southern neighbors face. I am extremely proud of all Central Albertans, and all Albertans for that matter, who have volunteered or donated in support of our neighbors. It makes me extremely proud as a Canadian and as an Albertan to see the love and support offered right across the province. It will be a long road ahead in rebuilding those communities affected, but I have no doubt in the spirit of Albertans to come together and get it done.

Until next time
Earl Dreeshen,
MP Red Deer