Debates of the Senate  
  2nd Session, 39th Parliament,Volume 144, Issue 14.
    Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Bill to Amend - Second Reading of Bill C-13

On the Order: Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Oliver, seconded by the Honourable Senator Di Nino, for the second reading of Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments). (Honourable Senator Tardif)

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I wish to make some brief comments. I take to heart the comments that have been raised this afternoon with regard to Aboriginal languages and culture.

I wish to bring a comment to the attention of the members of the Senate and presumably to the committee that will look at this bill. In Saskatchewan in 2001, Aboriginals comprised 14 per cent of the population. While Aboriginals are a minority in Canada, they are a majority in the prison system. Although I do not know the exact figure, I believe the estimate is something like 80 per cent of the prison population is Aboriginal. The majority of the prison population is men. If one looks at prisons for women, most of those prisoners are also Aboriginal. It is important to look at this issue.

I do not know what percentage of those who are incarcerated speak an Aboriginal language as their first language, but I suspect it is a significant number. In order for those people to understand what the current legislation means to them in their daily lives, in order for them to understand the consequences of their actions and in order for them to get a fair trial, this must be taken into account.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.