July 17, 1943 (19th Parliament, 4th Session)


Alan Webster Neill



The same principle is involved here as I was discussing last night in connection with another bill. It presses to an extreme degree the liability to prosecution by the use of language that is so conclusive and comprehensive as to take in almost anybody under any conditions whatever. The section as it stands now in the old act, giving the definition of a common betting-place, reads:
. . . opened, kept or used for the purpose of facilitating or encouraging or assisting in the making of bets upon any contingency or event, horse-race or other race, fight, game or sport, by announcing the betting upon or announcing

Criminal Code-Betting
or displaying the results of horse-races, or other races, fights, games or sports, or in any other manner. . . .
And so on. That is the present definition of a common betting place, and it is now sought to be amended by putting in the words "used or intended or likely to be" used for the purpose, and so on. That embodies the same vicious principle to which exception was taken last night. Section 8, the next section, applies the same principle to newspapers that circulate information calculated to assist people in betting, and now the mere fact of advertising the results of sports-baseball or any other sport of that sort-would render them liable to a heavy penalty. This is an indictable offence, making the accused liable to a year in gaol without apparently the option of a fine. "Used or intended or likely to be used." We know of places such as pool rooms and cigar stores where it is the custom for men to gather in the evening to learn, over the radio or otherwise, the results of sporting events of the day. It is now going to be made a penalty, a very serious offence, if you have a place where you do that, even if it is only "likely" to be used for that purpose-"intended or likely to be used." Is not that going rather far in restricting the liberties of the people? The explanation given on the opposite page is this:
The object of this amendment is to make more practicable the enforcement of the provisions of the criminal code with respect to betting.
I respectfully suggest that instead of making it more practicable it simply makes it easier and more convenient for the officers of the law. It is intended to make it easier for the officers of the law to secure conviction because at present they have to break into a place and find people engaged in betting and so on, and of course the material is there, whatever it may be. Now, however, it is simply sufficient to allege that the place is "intended or likely to be used" for the purposes mentioned. Surely that is carrying things too far. It is the old and evil doctrine of convicting a man first and letting him prove himself innocent if he can. Last night, speaking of a similar bill, the minister in charge, the Minister of Transport, was able to invoke the war as an excuse. It was a war measure, he pointed out, and we have to submit to certain restrictions of our liberty in war time, but that afterwards these restrictions would be removed. But this is not such a case, because we cannot conceive that the success of the war depends in any degree upon some petty cigar store being prosecuted for running a betting-place. And, as I say,
the penalty is severe. Such places are classed along with common bawdy houses as disorderly houses, and the penalty is up to one year's imprisonment and on repetition two years without a fine.
I suggested last night that in modern times the custom has been not to inflict very severe penalties with the idea of preventing crime. We have found that it is better, both from a humanitarian standpoint and as a matter of common sense, and moreover it is more effective, to make the punishment fit the crime without being excessive. Look back over history and you will recall that a hundred and fifty years ago it was' quite a common thing to deport people to Australia as criminals, and sometimes, going further back, to hang women for stealing a loaf of bread. Many instances are on record where such things were done. The idea behind such penalties was that extreme severity prevented crime. But the inhumanity of it dawned gradually upon people so that we no longer inflict such penalties.
I was curious to see what definition the dictionary would give of this word "intended," and I found it meant affianced lover. That did not give me much light. I want to know how anyone can tell what I "intend" to do under any given circumstances. I wonder the press gallery are not interested in this, because they also are liable under section 8.
Mr. ST. LAURENT: We have not reached section 8. If the hon. member will allow me to intervene at this stage I have an amendment to section 7 which will meet for the most part the objection he has voiced. Perhaps it would save time if I were allowed to put the amendment now. With respect to section 8 I shall have a modification to suggest which may facilitate discussion, but as regards section 7 I would move:
Strike out the second word "or" in line 35 and substitute therefor the following: "to be used or outfitted or equipped in such a manner as to be."
As amended it would read:
Used or intended to be used or outfitted or equipped in such a manner as to be likely to be used.

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