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Third reading of Bill 63 - The Petty Trespasses Amendment and Occupiers' Liability Amendment Act

On Thursday May 20, I spoke at third reading on Bill 63 - the Petty Trespasses Amendment and Occupier’s Liability Amendment Act. My comments are below:

Bill 63–The Petty Trespasses Amendment and Occupiers' Liability Amendment Act

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): While we supported Bill 62 in the interest of ensuring a strong approach to biosecurity, we do not support this. We believe that this legislation, this amendment to the petty trespassers act, goes far beyond what is common sense, and I will take you through–take members of this Chamber–the reason for this.

      We have recognized not only in Manitoba but in Ontario that the petty trespassers act has been used to ban people from going to visit their loved ones in personal-care homes. This is an act which can very easily be badly misused if one is not careful. And that is where we start: that one has to be very careful with this legislation or it can be very badly misused.

      In this legislation, we tried to suggest four amend­ments to the government which would have taken some of the nonsensical components out of this legis­lation. Under this amendment, it is now an offence, all right, to walk on your neighbour's residential lawn with­out their permission. This is an offence which is subject to a fine of up to $5,000.

Now, are we going to fine postmen who walk across lawns in Winnipeg? Are we going to fine chil­dren who walk on their neighbours' lawns to play? This is ridiculous legislation. It should not have passed any sort of common sense filter that should've been present and demonstrates that the government is lacking some common decency and common sense.

      The second area that we suggested an amendment was where the bill creates an exemption for people using a pathway to the door of a building, and that is good and is reasonable. We suggested that it not be just a pathway but that it also include a road to make it very clear that a person could drive up on a road in a rural area to somebody's home and that that would not be an offence. That was reasonable to us to elim­inate problems with people driving into their–up to their–visit their neighbours. You know, this is beyond common sense to not include roads as well as path­ways or sidewalks.

      Next, we included a mention–an exemption for individuals who unintentionally entered land. We think that this is reasonable, particularly given that this is new legislation; a lot of people will not have heard that it's now going to be an offence to walk on your neighbour's lawn. It's reasonable in the urban as well as a rural context to put in this legislation an exemption for people who unintentionally enter the land or walk up on somebody's lawn.

      The fourth amendment we put in had to do with ensuring that Indigenous persons could exercise their Aboriginal and treaty rights. Now, the minister has sad that this does not take away from any Aboriginal or treaty rights, but the bill does not say so. And the bill doesn't have reasonable measures within it to protect or exempt Indigenous people who are exer­cising their Aboriginal and treaty rights. It is not common sense to not put that in there to make sure that it's very clear, as it should have been.

      And the last comment I want to make has to do with a situation of individuals like Colten Boushie, who entered into land, and in doing so, his purpose was mistaken and he was shot. We do not want people shot in Manitoba because of petty trespassing. We do not want situations as have occurred in the case of Colten Boushie in Saskatchewan.

      So, we are not supporting this legislation. We will vote against it. We will vote against it because this legislation doesn't meet a standard criteria of common sense which legislation should meet, and it may–by its passing–create a situation where it puts people in dan­ger, in danger of death in–given past experience.

      So we are strongly against this legislation. And this has nothing to do with being against farmers or rural people; it has everything to do with the fact that  this legislation is not a piece of legislation which makes common sense and we think that legislation should be sensible and not overreach, as this legislation does.

      So, thank you, Mr. Speaker, merci and miigwech.

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