OTTAWA, ON – David Tilson, Member of Parliament for Dufferin-Caledon, stood in the House of Commons today to begin the debate at Third Reading on his Private Member’s Bill: C-217 (Mischief Relating to War Memorials).
The Bill, which was passed by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights at the beginning of April, amends the mischief section of the Criminal Code by adding significant penalties for any person convicted of mischief against a war memorial, cenotaph, or other structure honouring or remembering those who have served in our Canadian Forces and those who have died as a consequence of war. It seeks to impose minimum penalties of a fine not less than $1,000 for a first offence, a prison term of not less than 14 days for a second offence, and a prison term of not less than 30 days for all subsequent offences. Both opposition parties voted against the Bill at the Committee stage
During his address to the House of Commons, Mr. Tilson drew attention to Canada’s proud military history and the sacrifice made by the Canadian Forces.
“We are a country that values freedom and liberty to the point that we have sent, and continue to send our sons and daughters to the dangerous places in our world in defense of that freedom and liberty. We understand collectively as a country what this has cost us in lives sacrificed,” stated Mr. Tilson. “To properly honour that sacrifice, we have erected war memorials and cenotaphs across the land where communities gather to pay tribute to those who have fallen and those who have served. Mr. Speaker, we would repay that sacrifice and service poorly indeed if we did not do all we can to deter the senseless desecration of these honoured structures and places.
Following this morning’s debate, there will be one final hour of debate, likely in September, before a final vote. The Minister of Justice, the Veterans Affairs Minister and Cabinet have all indicated their support of the Bill.