Statement made on 26 May 2010 by Senator Larry Campbell
Hon. Larry W. Campbell:
Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak to you today as the critic on Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime).
Bill S-9 replicates Bill C-26 as it was passed by the House of Commons in the previous session. As honourable senators will recall, Bill C-26 was being reviewed by the Senate in the last session when Parliament prorogued.
I would refer honourable senators to the speech I made on Bill C-26 on October 29, 2009, as my feelings on this legislation have not changed. However, I will briefly address the main legislative changes that the bill proposes.
This bill deals with trafficking, importation and exportation of property obtained by crime, but its main purpose is to target auto theft. This bill establishes the distinct offence of theft of a motor vehicle. It creates a new offence for altering or removing a VIN — the vehicle identification number — and creates new offences for trafficking in and possessing for the purpose of trafficking property obtained by crime.
This bill will give law enforcement agencies more ability to target organized crime groups, specifically those who have profited greatly from auto theft crime in the past.
We are all aware that auto theft in Canada is a serious problem. Motor vehicle theft is estimated to cost Canadian taxpayers in excess of $1.2 billion a year, and the dangers involved put their safety at risk.
Nonetheless, auto crime has declined substantially in recent years. This is due in large part to the hard work and dedication of Canadian police forces. Our law enforcement agencies have been able to evolve and adapt to changes in criminal activity, and so should our legislation.
I support this bill. It is another good step in the ongoing fight against auto theft in Canada. However, there are some issues I would like to see raised in committee when this bill is studied.
Some of the statistics that have been used in the study and discussion of this legislation are not as up to date as they can or should be. We cannot expect our justice system to effectively battle vehicle theft if our legislation is based on old data.
I would also like to see some more concrete evidence to support the implementation of minimum sentencing for third-strike vehicle theft offences.
Honourable senators, the changes proposed by Bill S-9 are an important step towards reducing auto theft in Canada. This bill should be sent to committee to be studied without delay.