Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Thank you for your speech, Senator Sinclair. This question has been brewing in my mind throughout the discussion, and I finally got a chance to stand up and ask it.
When people talk about terrorism, typically what they're talking about is the most extreme form, and in some of the prior speeches we were told that the sentence was life imprisonment.
Within the Criminal Code, is there a range of terrorism offences? Is there a range of remedies for that or punishment? What are the consequences?
With those terrorist events that we all abhor, is not the consequence life imprisonment, and would you not think that having someone in prison for life would be better than deporting them somewhere else where we have no control over them or we don't know where they are or what they are doing?
Senator Sinclair: Thank you for that question. You're inviting a lawyer and a judge to dive into the Criminal Code of this country and read you the provisions that talk about this. I'm not going to do that.
Various provisions allow for differential sentences or different sentences for different offences depending upon one's level of participation. There is a principle of sentencing that one also has to keep in mind, and that is that as much as possible, the sentencing judge has to treat all of the accused who are involved in the same activity in the same way or in the same range of sentencing. You can't be harsher on one of them unless there's a reason to be harsher on one of them. So if they are all equally involved, they get an equal sentence. If one of them happens not to be a dual citizen and one from whom you can take the citizenship away, I can see a judge declining simply to honour the fairness of sentencing principle.
But, yes, you are quite right that the range of sentencing for the various offences that are available for acts of terrorism range from whatever one does in furtherance of an act of terrorism — it can be as simple as driving somebody to a site — all the way to actually exploding a device that kills people. The sentencing range would be quite wide in that circumstance.
Senator Dyck: I have a supplementary question.
With the amendment that is before us, would it then cover the offences that are relatively less harmful as opposed to the ones that are much more severe, where the person has actually done something that has resulted in the death of other people?
Senator Sinclair: Thank you again for the question. As I read the amendment, it is limited to those situations where people are sentenced to five years or more. Normally that particular kind of sentence comes from those offences to which a person is entitled to a trial by jury, and so, as a result, it is one of the more serious offences that one faces in the Criminal Code.