Bill C-43 (Historical)
Strengthening Canada's Corrections System Act
An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.
Peter Van Loan Conservative
Second Reading and Referral to Committee
(This bill did not become law.)
February 16th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.
Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada
No. We had set aside money in our budget for the pilot. We had also set aside money for the possibility that the provisions in Bill C-10, which were previously in Bill C-39, or in Bill C-43—I can't remember all the numbers now—might pass. So I'm not asking for any additional moneys. We have money set aside within our...our budget to pursue this if the legislation is passed.
Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
February 14th, 2011 / 6:55 p.m.
Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to participate in the debate on the motion to prevent debate on the content and substance of Bill C-59. I find it rather odd that the Bloc has supported the government's attempt to stifle any attempt at debate on the substance of this bill.
No one in the House can accuse the Liberals of not supporting the idea of eliminating parole eligibility after one-sixth of the sentence is served for economic crimes. Two years ago, my colleague from Bourassa, our candidate in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert and our member for Lac-Saint-Louis participated in a press conference with several of Earl Jones' victims to call on the government to quickly bring forward a bill to eliminate parole eligibility after one-sixth of the sentence is served, especially for criminals who commit major fraud and have multiple victims.
No one can accuse the Liberals of not supporting that idea. I think it is really dishonest of the government to make that kind of accusation when it knows very well what the Liberals' position is. This was pointed out by my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
Now I would like to talk about the debate and the fact that the Conservatives and the Bloc members want to limit the scope of the debate. Just seven months ago the members of the Bloc rose in the House to criticize the government for doing the exact same thing it is doing now with Bill C-59. The government moved a motion to block debate.
Last June, the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain rose in the House to criticize the government for moving a motion to block debate on the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. The Bloc member for Hochelaga also rose to oppose a government motion to block debate on Bill C-9, the Jobs and Economic Growth Act, by imposing time allocation.
We are opposed to this time allocation motion because we believe that Bill C-59 addresses a very important issue. Furthermore, for two years now, the Liberals have been calling on the government to eliminate parole eligibility after one-sixth of the sentence is served for economic crimes like those committed by Earl Jones, Vincent Lacroix and others.
I think it is a shame that some would have people believe that the Liberals do not want to protect victims. That is simply not true. When the government introduced Bill C-21 on economic crimes and it was referred to committee, the Liberal justice critic proposed an amendment to the bill to eliminate eligibility for parole after one-sixth of the sentence in cases of economic crime. The Conservatives and the Bloc defeated the motion.
Every MP is entitled to his or her opinion on bills that we are called on to debate in the House. It is a fundamental aspect of the democratic process. The operative word here is “debate”, and the collusion between the Conservatives and the Bloc is preventing us from acting as responsible parliamentarians.
We would like to hear from experts. We want to know how this bill will truly address a gap in the law, how it will do justice to victims, how this bill will improve the chances of rehabilitation for those who once lost control of their lives.
Perhaps we should indeed eliminate parole after one-sixth of a sentence for offenders who have committed serious economic crimes and left a number of victims.
However, for non-violent criminal acts that are not fraud, we believe that evidence has shown that parole after one-sixth of a sentence has been very effective and that the rate of recidivism is much lower.
We will never know what the experts might have said since this closure motion eliminates any chance to consult experts. With this government so eager to control everything, it has become somewhat of a tradition to just pass a bill without any idea of the facts that might call it into question.
The Liberals are against this closure motion. It is not justified, and we regret that the Bloc has decided to join the Conservatives to limit the debate on this bill. As far as the substance of the bill is concerned, in the past and still today, no one could accuse the Liberals of not showing their support for eliminating parole after one-sixth of the sentence for economic crimes.
In order to illustrate the government's intellectual dishonesty, I would like to present a chronology of the Conservatives' failures in their so-called fight against crime.
I am referring here to the various bills that have died on the order paper for all sorts of reasons or that have remained in the House or at committee indefinitely.
Here they are. Bill C-15, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued; Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions), died on the order paper before the House had a chance to vote on it; Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), also died on the order paper. It is certainly not the opposition that forced the government to prorogue Parliament.
Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and the Identification of Criminals Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, died on the order paper, and Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, on the faint hope clause, died on the order paper before being brought back this session. One committee meeting was held on Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, before it died on the order paper. Bill C-52, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for fraud), which is related to Bill C-59, the bill we are dealing with today, died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued. Bill C-58, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, died on the order paper. The prorogation of Parliament killed many bills.
Among the bills introduced by the Minister of Public Safety was Bill C-34, the Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act, which also died on the order paper. The bill to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act died on the order paper. Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code, died on the order paper. Bill C-47, An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations, died on the order paper. Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accelerated parole review) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, died on the order paper. Bill C-60, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America, died on the order paper.
To date, no meetings have been held to discuss Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code. Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions), was given first reading 51 days after Parliament was prorogued, and the committee still has not met to discuss that bill.
Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for fraud), was fast-tracked at committee in just one meeting and still has not reached second reading. Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, was given first reading 64 days after Parliament was prorogued, and the government delayed it for 26 days at report stage because of the debate on the short title.
Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act, was given first reading 89 days after Parliament was prorogued, and we are still waiting for the next step. Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (interception of private communications and related warrants and orders), was given first reading after 94 days, and we are still waiting. First reading of An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act took place 243 days after Parliament was prorogued. Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mega-trials), was given first reading and nothing more.
Bill C-54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual offences against children) only made it to first reading. Bill C-5, An Act to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act was introduced at first reading by the Minister of Public Safety 15 days after prorogation. Two committee meetings were held and nothing has happened since. As for Bill C-23B, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, we are still waiting. After a few meetings on the subject, the minister was supposed to come back with amendments that he felt were necessary in order to make the bill more comprehensive and definitely more respectful. Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts was introduced for first reading 104 days after prorogation and we still have not met in committee to discuss it. Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act was introduced for first reading 232 days after prorogation and there it remains. Bill C-52, An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations was also introduced for first reading 243 days after prorogation and we are waiting for the next step. The Senate introduced Bill S-7, An Act to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act for first reading 49 days after prorogation and we are still waiting for the next step. Bill S-10, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts was introduced for first reading in the Senate 60 days after prorogation. Bill S-13, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America was introduced for first reading 237 days after prorogation.
I am pointing this out to prove that it is not the opposition parties that are slowing the process down. For all sorts of unknown reasons, the government introduces these bill and then goes no further with them.
To conclude, I would like to question the justification for Bill C-59 and the fact that the Conservatives and the Bloc felt this was urgent enough to warrant this closure motion, which is an affront to parliamentary dialogue.
Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act
October 19th, 2010 / 11:20 a.m.
Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
The bill is a combination of Bill C-43 and Bill C-53, which were presented in the last session and are back before us today as a result of the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue Parliament last year.
This proposed legislation seeks to end early release for criminals and increase offender accountability. We are hopeful, on this side of the House, that the legislation before us today can be improved in moving forward to the committee process. I would like to think that all of us have the same objective of ensuring justice initiatives contribute to making our communities and our streets safer places for all Canadians.
There is no doubt that in this House we do differ greatly in the type of approach that would achieve best results. The current Conservative government's approach to justice matters centres on spending $10 billion on prisons in the coming years. I am not convinced that investments in prisons, without resources for crime prevention, would achieve the goal of decreasing crime in our communities.
Statistics Canada tells us the crime rate fell 3% in Canada last year and is down 17% in the past decade. This includes a decrease in violent crimes and homicides. Rather than continuing on a course that is arguably achieving the desired results, the current Conservative government made dramatic cuts, an incredible 70% funding reduction, to crime prevention programs and also reduced funding for victims' programs by 43%. Now, after recording the largest deficit in Canadian history, in excess of $55 billion, the government is forging ahead to build republican-style super prisons, to the tune of anywhere from $10 billion to $13 billion.
While the Conservative government continues to push what it refers to as a tough on crime agenda, it neglects the instruments of government that have proven to be most effective in preventing crime. No one objects to offenders who have committed serious or heinous crimes being sentenced appropriately. However, by focusing solely on imprisonment, which carries a huge price tag and offers only short-term solutions, the Conservative government is failing to address the root causes of crime.
Governments are defined by the choices they make. The Conservatives are choosing to spend $10 billion on new super jails on the notion that this would make Canadians feel safe. This is a plan that would implement failed republican policies from the United States.
Conservative budget projections show a plan to double prison spending, by 2013, over 2006 levels. This represents an increase of well over 200%, while at the same time, funding for crime prevention programs has been cut by more than half.
Whatever happened to the premise of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?
In 2005, the last year of a Liberal government, the National Crime Prevention Centre supported 509 projects in 261 communities throughout the country, for a total investment of $56.8 million. In this current year, with a Conservative government, there are 285 projects, down from 509, funded with $19.27 million. That is less than half the number of projects, with only one third of the money being spent.
These are the wrong choices if the goal is to reduce crime and keep Canadians safe, and these are the wrong choices to prevent crime from occurring in the first place.
The crime agenda should be balanced. We need to be tough on crime, but we also need to be unwavering in our commitments to rehabilitation and crime prevention. We cannot forget that less crime is the objective and we certainly cannot ignore the costs associated with the government's justice agenda.
Parts of the legislation before us evolved from the Conservatives' 2007 report entitled, “A Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety”. The report called for a new direction to Canada's corrections. Expert opinion has suggested the so-called road map was significantly flawed in terms of human rights and human dignity and that it in fact threatened public safety, and also that it came at a tremendous cost to the taxpayer.
Instead of learning from the mistakes made in California, the Conservative government would have Canada head down the same path and make the same mistakes, the path that led to a staggering debt and did not improve community safety.
If the Conservatives' plan to build super jails and incarcerate more people by passing laws that prescribe minimum sentencing was a key to a safer community, the United States would be the safest place in the world. California has implemented the very crime policies that the Conservative government is now proposing. The State of California is on the brink of bankruptcy. Its current prison system costs $8 billion annually and is overflowing with more than 160,000 inmates.
An article in The New York Times, in March of this year, referring to the California prison crisis, says that California spends about 11% of the state budget, or roughly $8 billion, on the penal system, that there are 167,000 prisoners in California, and that new reforms are under way with the goal of reducing the prison population by 6,500 by next year.
If the Republicans have learned from their mistakes, it is only right that the Conservatives should also look to what is happening there and go down a similar path. California has incarceration rates 700% higher than in Canada. In 2008, Canada had the lowest crime rate reported in the last 25 years, so it is no wonder I am perplexed as to why the government would be so determined to proceed down a path that has proven itself to be ineffective.
Bill C-39 attempts to clarify that the protection of society is a paramount consideration for the Correctional Service of Canada in the corrections process and for the National Parole Board and the provincial parole boards in the determination of all cases. While public safety has long been a primary consideration, it appears that the government felt it necessary to elevate it to the status of paramount. I look forward to hearing more from the government as to the necessity of the change in wording.
One aspect of the bill that is appropriate is a provision that enables a victim to make a statement at a parole hearing. Every opportunity must be available to provide for the victims' voices to be heard. Bill C-39 strengthens the victim's access to information with provisions enabling the victim to access information on the reasons for a temporary absence and an offender transfer, offender program participation, and any offender convictions for serious disciplinary offences. Bill C-39 also legislates the victim's right to attend and participate in parole hearings. In this way, this legislation is a start in moving victims' rights in Canada forward, and for that I am appreciative.
While the government would applaud itself for its efforts on behalf of victims, it also begs the question as to why the government chose to reduce the grant for victims of crime initiatives by a staggering 46% in the 2010 budget and cut the contributions to the victims of crime initiative by 34%. Although the Conservative government professes concern for the rights of victims, we have not seen those words translate into meaningful resources to support victims of crime.
The Liberal public safety critic has highlighted concerns about the correctional plans component of Bill C-39. The proposed bill provides that a correctional plan is to include the level of intervention by the service in respect to the offender's needs and the objectives for the offender's behaviour, his or her participation in programs and the meeting of the court-ordered obligations. In theory, it seems logical that the rehabilitation of an offender would follow a clear path. However, there is little merit in imposing the requirement for a plan without any sort of resources to support the development and execution of that plan.
Other aspects of the bill before us today include the expansion of the range of disciplinary offences to include intimidation, false claims and throwing a bodily substance.
As well, there is a section that would eliminate accelerated parole review for non-violent offenders. This is another area where the House will need to evaluate the cost of incarceration and the most suitable way for the offender to serve the sentence.
The last provision of the bill provides a peace officer with the authority to arrest without warrant an offender for a breach of a condition of the offender's conditional release. Again, this is another area where I look forward to hearing from the committee as to the possible issues that may arise from such a provision.
The true cost of the Conservative government's justice and corrections agenda remains a guessing game. Canadians deserve to know the price tag. The government's justice agenda is certain to cost well into the billions at both the federal and provincial levels and puts on all provinces a responsibility they just cannot afford just to satisfy the Conservatives' agenda.
It is challenging to stand in the House and support at second reading a piece of legislation while I have significant concerns about the costs associated with it. That is part of the bigger picture that we are facing today.
I look forward to seeing this bill back in the House following the committee's review, in anticipation that necessary amendments will be made to improve Bill C-39.
Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act
October 19th, 2010 / 10:35 a.m.
Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill, which comes at a very bad time. We will try to deal with this methodically. I want to respond to my colleague who just spoke. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is currently studying six bills, including Bill C-4 on young offenders. The review of this particular bill is not complete because the government has not yet tabled the necessary documents, as it should have done in June 2010. The bill we are discussing today could also die on the order paper because it may be some time before it is studied in committee.
I do not know whether my colleague, the member for Ahuntsic, is studying as many bills that affect the public in the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. If she is, then we have a serious problem. This government is playing politics and taking a piecemeal approach to justice issues, doing a little bit here and a little bit there. It has introduced a bill that I would say is extremely worthwhile and has been a long time coming. The Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this bill, and we would like to send it to committee as soon as possible.
Let us look at the dates of this bill. On June 16, 2009, we were examining Bill C-43. Summer arrived, the House adjourned, and then MPs returned. In October 2009, we were examining Bill C-53. Then, the government—not the opposition parties—decided to prorogue. This bill died on the order paper on December 30, 2009. Now, the government has re-introduced the bill as Bill C-39, which is the same as the previous bills C-43 and C-53. I hope this one will not die on the order paper, because it is very important.
The government is accusing the opposition of not looking out for victims, of not caring about them or being interested in them. According to the government, the only thing that the opposition cares about is criminals, and getting them out of jail as soon as possible. I never hear so many blatant lies from the other side of the House as I do when they talk about victims. We absolutely care about victims. The best example is that the Bloc Québécois has been calling for the abolition of the one-sixth of the sentence rule for two years now.
I will give a little legal lesson, more specifically on criminal law, for my colleagues opposite. It is a problem with criminal law that comes up when an individual is sentenced. The best example is the case of Colonel Williams. We can talk about him now, because he will probably be sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for at least 25 years. We can get back to that, because the government just introduced another bill. Let us take the example of someone sentenced to jail time. Bill C-39 applies only to someone sentenced to more than two years. That is extremely important. We are talking about sentences of more than two years in prison. The problem is that in provincial prisons, in Quebec in particular, this service already exists. However, even if the individuals are sentenced to two years less a day, they are still eligible for release after serving one-sixth of their sentence.
In terms of criminal law, let us look only at sentences of at least two years, for example, someone in Quebec who is sentenced to three years in prison. This person is sent to the regional reception centre in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, in the Montreal region. Regardless of where that person is from, that is where they are sent.
It takes between three and four months for the case to be dealt with. If the person was sentenced to 36 months in prison, after six months, or one-sixth of the sentence, that person is already eligible for release, and no one will have dealt with the case.
There is a gap there. We have long been saying that parole must be earned and that release after serving one-sixth of a sentence should not exist. I have 30 years of experience as a criminal lawyer. Some of my clients were released after serving one-sixth of their sentence. After having been sentenced to three years, they were released after six months and no program had been established for them, which made it far more likely that they would reoffend.
My colleague, the member for Ahuntsic, who is a criminologist and has worked with these types of people, probably knows what I am talking about. This is exactly what is happening in prisons. They cannot even begin to work with an individual who has one foot out the door if he was sentenced to two or three years in prison. He has practically left before he has arrived. Why? Take the example of one of my clients. We decided that it was better for him to be sentenced to 24 months in prison instead of two years less a day because it would take longer to serve a sentence of two years less a day in a Quebec prison than a 24-month sentence. One-sixth of 24 months is four months, and so he was released after four months. There was not even enough time before he was released for them to deal with his case and have a meeting to discuss a plan for his return to society.
That is the worst possible mistake. As I have been saying in this House for nearly six years now, the problem with the Conservatives is that they do not understand. So, I will try to explain it again. The Conservatives think that minimum prison sentences will solve everything. Nothing could be further from the truth, so far that even the Americans are beginning to realize it. Canada—and especially the Conservatives—seems to be a few years behind. In two or three years, they are going to realize they are on the wrong track.
The public is not shocked when someone receives a four-year sentence, but rather when that individual gets out after one year. The public is shocked by the fact that people are not serving their sentences. That is precisely what the Bloc Québécois has been criticizing for some time.
Whether my Conservative friends like it or not, minimum prison sentences do not preclude offenders from being eligible for parole. Even with a mandatory minimum of three years, the individual is still eligible for parole. That is what the Conservatives do not understand. Once again, we will try to explain to them that it is the parole system that needs to change. The parole system needs to be changed so that people who are sent to prison are not released unless they have a plan for their reintegration into society. That is the problem. In the example I gave of someone who has been sentenced to three years, if he is eligible for parole after six months, he will sit back and do nothing.
That is why we are calling for the elimination of parole after one-sixth of a sentence is served. That is also why we hope to vote quickly to pass this bill. I know my Conservative Party colleagues always overreact because of the worst criminals. In the case of Colonel Williams, who has committed a rash of unspeakable crimes in the Belleville and Trenton area, if he is sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, society will take care of him. He will be sent to prison, as he clearly deserves. I will not try to defend him here, since I am not his lawyer.
That is not the problem. The worst criminals deserve the harshest sentences. That has always been true. The problem lies with individuals who are not criminals, but who are going down a path of crime. If we do not stop them, if we do not take measures to stop them, they will become hardened criminals. Generally they are individuals who are serving their first penitentiary sentence. Obviously it depends on the crime, but in most cases, a person's first penitentiary sentence is somewhere between 3 and 10 years. Those are the people this bill absolutely must catch and as soon as possible.
When I say “catch”, I mean we must encourage them to do what it takes to return to society with a plan in order not to reoffend. The problem is that the parole board does not help. It does not have a chance to work with the individuals. If an individual is eligible for parole after one-sixth of his sentence, what will he do? Take, for example, an individual who has a three-year sentence. When he arrives at the regional reception centre—every province has them—it takes three to four months before his case is reviewed. What do you think he does in the meantime? He plays cards, watches television, drinks Pepsi and waits. No one works with him, at least not very much. Someone needs to work with him as soon as he arrives at the penitentiary.
There is something my Conservative friends do not understand. I will explain it to them yet again. An individual who is sentenced will return to society and if he is not properly prepared to return to society, then, unfortunately, he will reoffend. It is a known fact that the risk of recidivism for this type of person—I am talking about those who receive sentences between 3 and 10 years—is quite high. The risk is there. We have to find ways to correct this.
Quite honestly, this is a good bill. This afternoon, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is going to study Bill C-22 on Internet child pornography. We all support this bill. It must be passed. Everyone agrees that this legislation needs to be put in place. It must be passed, but the government will have to submit it to us. The same holds true for Bill C-39. We must deal with it as soon as possible because it is a good bill. The parole board needs to be able to implement it. But no work is being done right now because no one knows whether the bill is going to come. The bill might not pass and could die on the order paper because of an election in the spring of 2011, for example, which is not such a far-fetched idea. It could happen. Suppose there is an election in the spring of 2011. If the government has not submitted this bill to us—we have six bills to study—then it is going to have to set priorities for the committee. We have already agreed to study Bill C-22 while we wait for the translation of the report on Bill C-4 on young offenders, as I said earlier. But it is important to pass Bill C-22 on child pornography.
There is the other bill on vehicle theft—I cannot remember the number—that we discussed before the House adjourned a week ago. Everyone supports this bill.
The government should do the sensible thing and say that since the opposition supports a number of bills, they will be sent as soon as possible to be studied, discussed and passed.
Since this bill will likely be studied by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, I think things should go quickly. But we have to give the penitentiaries the means to prepare release plans. This is the process where an offender is told that he has five years left to serve, for example, and he has to begin, now, to take part in preparing a release plan or serve his last five years.
At least the individual still has the choice in prison. But it is clear that he may leave—and will leave—after five years. There needs to be some follow-up with this person. During the entire prison sentence, the individual offender's treatment needs to be personalized, just as the courts hand down personalized sentences.
The individual must be made aware that their release from prison is as much their responsibility as the crime they committed. The person was found guilty or pleaded guilty to the offence and was given a sentence. However, after they are sentenced, many individuals tend to sit in prison and just wait for the end of the sentence. This bill should put an end to that. We must change the attitudes of people as they enter the prison by asking them about their plans for release and what they want to do. Do they want to finish school? Do they want addiction treatment? Do they want some sort of training? What do they want? That would set the wheels in motion so that they can leave prison better equipped than when they arrived.
Obviously, that is not what is happening right now. The National Parole Board, the prisons and the Correctional Service of Canada are not able to provide these services. That would require many things. The government supports this bill, but it needs to invest the necessary funds. Why invest? Because criminals will eventually be released. Victims need protection. They are always talking about victims.
There is something that we do not understand about the Conservatives. The National Parole Board takes care of victims, especially in terms of the prison system. This organization's main priority is the rehabilitation of an individual who is rejoining society, but the victims must also be protected and every possible step must be taken to keep that individual from reoffending.
I am being told that I have only two minutes left, but I could go on about this for a long time. I would like the Conservatives to remember this: automatic sentences have never solved anything. A minimum prison sentence has never solved anything, and that will not change today. All the studies presented to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that minimum prison sentences have never led to a decrease in crime.
We must ensure that these individuals serve their sentences, keeping in mind that they will one day return to society. It is clear that we will probably never see people like Colonel Williams, who will receive a minimum sentence of 25 years for a double murder, outside the prison walls. But we will see people who were sentenced to five to ten years in prison, and some are already close to being released.
Did people like Mr. Jones or Mr. Lacroix, who owned Norbourg, learn their lesson? With all due respect, I think that the only thing they learned was not to get caught.
Unfortunately, with the current system, prisoners learn more about not getting caught than they do about preparing for their release.
Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act
October 18th, 2010 / 6:20 p.m.
Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-39. Once again this is an example of the government having bills under different numbers at different times. Just last year we were speaking to this bill, which was Bill C-43 at that time. Now because the Prime Minister once again prorogued the House and shifted us back to having to start over again, we have no choice but to go through that process again.
Nevertheless, as previous speakers have addressed the bill today, we have observed that there are some parts of the bill we support, but we have some other issues with other parts of the bill. As has been indicated by the Bloc speaker, the Bloc will support the bill going to committee. One would hope that we will be able to resolve differences on these issues at the committee stage.
Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. The short title to the bill is strengthening Canada's corrections system act. It was introduced and received first reading in the House under the original Bill C-43 in June 2009. That is how long we have been dealing with this bill.
The bill is designed to improve public safety in a number of ways: first, stating explicitly that the act of participation of offenders in attaining the objectives of the correctional plan is an essential requirement for their conditional release or any other privilege; second, expanding the categories of offenders who are ineligible for an accelerated parole review and the categories of offenders subject to continued detention after the statutory release date when they serve two-thirds of their sentence, for example, offenders convicted of child pornography, luring a child or breaking and entering to steal a firearm; and third, extending the length of time that offenders convicted of a subsequent offence must serve before being eligible for parole and increasing from six months to a year the waiting period for a hearing after the National Parole Board has turned down a parole application.
In addition, it would authorize a peace officer to arrest, without warrant, an offender who is on conditional release for a breach of conditions and it grants the Corrections Services Canada permission to oblige an offender to wear a monitoring device as a condition of release when release is subject to special conditions regarding restrictions on access to a victim or geographical areas.
As the critic for our party pointed out, this is a very lengthy bill and there are many changes, improvements and amendments to the bill.
Also, it would increase the number of reasons for the search of vehicles at a penitentiary to prevent the entry of contraband or the commission of an offence.
The bill also focuses specifically on the interests of victims, which has been dealt with by several of the previous speakers. For example, initially the bill would expand the definition of a victim to anyone who has custody of or is responsible for a dependant of the main victim if the main victim is either dead, ill or otherwise incapacitated. Also it would allow disclosure to a victim of the programs in which an offender has participated for the purpose of reintegration into society, the location of the institution to which an offender is transferred and the reasons for the transfer. These are additional benefits to expand the interests of victims of crime.
In addition, the bill entrenches in the act the right of victims to make a statement at parole hearings. As the member for Windsor—Tecumseh pointed out, this is a new section of the act. It is something that certainly will be appreciated by victims and victims groups in this country.
As well, a number of the clauses of the bill make minor amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, such as linguistic modifications or re-formulations designed to clarify legislative intent. Some sections are also designed to make the administration of sentences more effective, for example, increasing the maximum number of members that may sit on the National Parole Board. A government member talked about the number of National Parole Board members being increased from the current 45, I believe, to 60. The difference is that they would be full-time members rather than part-time members. We do not see a problem with that.
I understand my time is up for today and that I will have further time to complete my remarks the next time we debate this bill.
Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act
October 18th, 2010 / 5:15 p.m.
Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC
Mr. Speaker, as usual, this government is introducing a bill that I have begun referring to as a microwave bill. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security should have been studying this bill long ago, but the Prime Minister decided to abusively prorogue Parliament in December 2009.
In fact, because of the Prime Minister, Bill C-39, introduced on June 15, 2010, is a combination of two bills that died on the order paper, namely Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code, introduced in June 2009, and Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accelerated parole review) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, whose short title is Protecting Canadians by Ending Early Release for Criminals Act.
As usual, we have become accustomed to this government's showy, dramatic titles that are, of course, always accompanied by a circus when they are introduced.
So there is nothing new on the horizon, which is serious. It is serious because peoples' safety should come before political games. Instead of creating a circus and rejecting Bloc bills in bad faith, this government should start thinking about taking real action in terms of public safety.
One of the provisions in this bill would abolish the opportunity for parole after one-sixth of the sentence. Since June 2007, the Bloc Québécois has been proposing that parole after one-sixth of the sentence be eliminated because we feel it undermines the credibility of the justice system. We believe that such an action would restore the public's confidence that has been abused by people like Vincent Lacroix and Earl Jones.
On September 14, 2009, we introduced a bill specifically focused on that measure. All victims and the general public unanimously agree on that measure. On two separate occasions we called for the unanimous consent of all parties to pass the bill quickly, so it could be applied immediately to people like Earl Jones and Vincent Lacroix. And what did the Conservatives do? Twice—not once, but twice, so no one could say they did not understand at first, but I am sure they must have understood the second time—they refused to pass the Bloc Québécois bill. And that is terrible, given that with this Bill C-39, they have now presented a provision that they could have agreed to in 2007. This provision would have meant that people like Earl Jones and Vincent Lacroix would not be entitled to parole after only one-sixth of their sentence is served. But in reality, now we can debate the bill all we want, and people like Earl Jones and Vincent Lacroix can apply for parole after only one-sixth of their sentence is served—all because the Conservatives refused to take action quickly when we asked them to.
We will not accept that. Despite the Conservatives' bad faith, we will vote in favour of this bill because we want to study it in committee, since we think it has some interesting points and we feel it is extremely important that more consideration be given to victims. We are prepared to look at this and move it along for the benefit of the public.
We will also vote in favour of this bill because the Bloc Québécois already proposed some of these provisions back in 2007, as I mentioned earlier, including eliminating parole after one-sixth of the sentence is served. There is also the notion of making inmates accountable for their reintegration programs and questioning the virtually automatic statutory release that occurs after an inmate has served two-thirds of the sentence.
At present, in order to keep in custody offenders who are known to be dangerous, but who are due to be automatically released after serving two-thirds of their sentence, a parole officer and the whole team have to make a specific request to have these offenders detained, when they know the offenders will reoffend quickly and violently. I have been a part this process, called a detention, as a parole officer.
It takes a huge analytical effort to show that an inmate who is automatically released after serving two-thirds of his sentence will reoffend violently in very little time. There are very few detentions. They are used only for the most dangerous offenders, and that is unacceptable.
The Bloc has been proposing since 2007 that the government do away with automatic release after an offender has served two-thirds of his sentence. I could give some examples, but I would rather go on.
It is important to provide legislative tools for the people who are working very hard to maintain a balance between public safety and inmate rehabilitation. The mission of Correctional Service Canada and Quebec's correctional service is to maintain a balance between public safety and rehabilitation, which is hard work.
We must not lose sight of a very important point: rehabilitation is the key to public safety. If we introduce a system where public safety equals repression, we are going to find ourselves in a society where safety is seriously challenged. When we talk about rehabilitation and prevention, we are talking about public safety.
Unlike what certain demagogues say, prisons and penitentiaries are not some kind of club med. When people go to prison, they enter what we call crime school. People who have committed more or less serious crimes and who have more or less led a life of crime end up in prison and will develop new skills, make contacts and learn ways of doing things that make them more effective criminals.
If they go to prison for drug trafficking or another offence, they will get even better at committing crimes, hence the need for rehabilitation. The point of rehabilitation is to give tools to criminals to make them less dangerous or not at all dangerous to society. That is a key part of ensuring public safety.
It is important to understand that rehabilitation is key to protecting society, especially since many of these prisoners will be released one day, even those who were sentenced to life in prison. A 25-year-old who is serving a life sentence will be released one day, if he is rehabilitated. Sometimes, a prisoner will receive 10 or 15 years, and after going through the correctional system is just as dangerous or less dangerous. All of these people will get out one day, which is why rehabilitation is so important.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives do not understand that word. In fact, they simply do not believe in rehabilitation because they think that repressive incarceration is the answer. Incarceration is the most serious consequence for a criminal offence in Canada.
Incarceration is punishment in itself. Unfortunately, what this government does not understand is that there is a difference between “consequence” and “punishment”. When our children misbehave, there are consequences and rewards, but incarceration in and of itself is punishment and consequence. What more do we want? Why make incarceration even more repressive since being incarcerated is a consequence and punishment in itself? Applying revenge mentality to the law has to stop. The law is there to create justice and fairness and to make society safer.
This bill goes against the current mission of the CSC, which seeks to protect society by assessing the risk posed by inmates and encouraging them to take part in programs. We all agree that society must be protected, but the government is twisting this ideal to insidiously change the CSC's mandate through this bill. It is not very clear. We do not really know where the government is going with this.
I invite all hon. members to look more closely at this attempt to change the mandate that tries to achieve a balance between rehabilitation and protecting society from the perspective that rehabilitation equals protecting society.
As I was saying, the longer people remain incarcerated, the worse things get, but some people do not understand that. In less serious cases, people should be able to benefit from rehabilitation because, in any event, these individuals are assessed at every stage. The correctional plan is updated regularly, after three months, six months, a year. When these people appear before the board, their file is reviewed again. They are monitored. When they are released, because they are eligible or rehabilitated, they are monitored on the outside by Correctional Services. They have a meeting once a week, either at home, at work or at CSC offices. They are monitored closely until the end of their sentence. I think Correctional Services does good work.
However, it needs to be recognized that certain individuals cannot really be rehabilitated, such as those with psychiatric or psychological conditions. In my personal practice I met some who, unfortunately, could never be released because they are too dangerous. We must then ask ourselves if those people should be incarcerated in a prison. Should they not be incarcerated in a psychiatric institute or hospital? Unfortunately, the bill does not really answer this question. What do we do with very dangerous people who have serious psychiatric issues and who cannot be rehabilitated in the community?
Another important point about this bill concerns the place of victims in the correctional system and their right to be involved in parole hearings. There is also the issue of authorizing the correctional services and the National Parole Board to share information with victims. It is fundamental, not only to the healing process, but also to feel safe as a person who was victimized by another person, to have certain information about the offender, such as where they are, what they are doing, and to know if you will run into them while grocery shopping or at the corner store. It is important to have certain information. However, I wonder—and we can take an in-depth look at this in committee—how much information should be given? What information is relevant? I do not really have an answer to that. The committee will surely enlighten us on that issue.
I really hope victims can have access to information. But what kind of information are we prepared to have? The information should pertain to these people's safety and the healing process.
Even though the Corrections and Conditional Release Act clearly recognizes the interests of victims of crime and the role they can play in the corrections and conditional release process, victims and victims' rights advocates told us that many aspects of the current system made no sense and that victims were dissatisfied. These people will be able to give us some further clarification in committee.
The government tells us that victims have an important role to play. I am trying to understand what the Conservatives have done for victims since they came to power. There was the famous bill that was introduced at one point and then dropped off the radar. It seemed to be designed to give the police tools to fight cyberpedophilia and child pornography. We do not hear anything about it anymore.
The former ombudsman for victims of crime, Mr. Sullivan, was unceremoniously dumped. In mid-August, three and a half months later, he noted in a letter to the minister that the government had found money to expand the prisons yet was cutting funding for victims programs. He also came to see us in committee and told us that this government's actions were all about criminals and that the government was doing very little, if anything, for victims.
This year, the budget for the ombudsman's office will increase by barely 1.08%, and grants and contributions for the victims of crime initiative will decrease from 41% to 34%. Meanwhile, the government is talking about boosting funding for incarceration by several million dollars to build new prisons or expand or renovate prison wings. Mr. Sullivan was right: this government is all about getting tough on crime, but it thinks that by focusing on criminals or increasing sentences, it will solve victims' problems. Unfortunately, that is not what the ombudsman for victims of crime and the victims themselves are saying.
Furthermore, when the government prorogued the House, it killed two bills supported by Canada's police chiefs and the former victims of crime ombudsman, specifically, legislation that would have facilitated online investigations, as I said earlier, especially regarding crimes of a sexual nature against children. I asked Mr. Sullivan what he thought and he told me something rather extraordinary. He told me that if he were prime minister, the Internet legislation would be his top priority and it would be the first bill he would bring forward. Indeed, cyber-pedophilia and child pornography are rampant on the Internet.
A press release I saw on the Internet on October 3 stated that the government is tackling cybercrime. However, after reading the article, I realized that it did not include anything about the Internet legislation.
To close, I would like to mention Bill C-343, introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead. The bill will help victims of crime, particularly by allowing them to be absent from work and receive an income while dealing with their grief or trauma. The bill was introduced in this House but unfortunately, the government voted against it. I thank the other parties for supporting the bill. I truly hope that when it comes back before the House, we will win our case, because it is important for victims.
April 20th, 2010 / 4:25 p.m.
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
From our perspective, restitutions are court orders. They're part of an offender's sentence that a judge has given them. From our perspective, they're obligated to pay that money, whether they're in prison or not.
That doesn't mean you're going to take every cent that the offender makes while in prison, but for someone who's in there for a long period of time, $6 a day adds up. Restitution orders, depending on the type of crime--certainly financial crime can be quite high--in many cases involve a relatively modest amount of money.
So we think the government should do that. They took some steps, I think, in Bill C-43 to make it part of the correctional plan. For those offenders who have other sources of money and have restitution orders, then that money should be used to satisfy those restitution orders.
April 20th, 2010 / 4:20 p.m.
Andrew Kania Brampton West, ON
Finally, on page five of your report you talk about, on June 17, 2009, the introduction of Bill C-43, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Based on your comments here, you believe it would have helped victims in some measure. Is that correct?
April 20th, 2010 / 3:35 p.m.
Steve Sullivan Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for inviting me to appear before the committee to brief you on our most recent special report and to discuss, more generally, important issues impacting victims of crime in Canada. The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime was created to give a stronger voice to victims. By inviting me here today, you are taking an active role in engaging the government on victims' issues, and I thank you for that.
As some of you may know, our office has a mandate that enables us to help victims on both an individual and a national scale. Directly, we talk with victims every day, helping them resolve their complaints and answering their questions. Indirectly, we recommend change that will ultimately help all victims get better support, fairer treatment and a stronger place in the justice system.
My goal here today is to share with you a new perspective on some issues you are no doubt familiar with. I do so knowing that real change can start in this room. It was a number of years ago that the committee on justice that looked at the Corrections and Conditional Release Act recommended the creation of an office like ours, so I understand how real change can begin. I remember sitting in a small courtroom in 1995 in Prince George, British Columbia, with the mother of a murdered child and his sister. He was murdered by an individual on federal parole. When the inquest looked at the circumstances of his death, and also at how Mrs. Fichtenberg was treated by the system, one of the recommendations that came from that process was the creation of this office.
I can remember working with members of Parliament from various parties, including who was then a fairly rookie member of Parliament, the Honourable Peter MacKay, when he put the motion in the House of Commons. I worked with Liberal MP Ray Bonin as he presented a bill in the House of Commons that had wide support from all members of the House of Commons, and I remember the day that the Minister of Justice and Minister of Public Safety appointed me Canada's first ombudsman.
It is the power of committees like this one that can take serious issues and help make things better for victims and all Canadians. This is my last week as ombudsman, and I can say unequivocally that I am proud of the work we have done so far. We have resolved some very difficult complaints efficiently and compassionately, and I have to give credit to the National Parole Board and Correctional Services of Canada for working with us to resolve those issues. I have worked in this area for 15 years, and I can say without a doubt that the way we handled those cases and the way we resolved them probably wouldn't have happened without the creation of this kind of office.
We made recommendations to the government on Internet child sexual exploitation, the sex offender registry, victim fine surcharge, more training for judges, and restitution. I am proud to say the government has taken issue on many of these points. We played an instrumental role in helping the RCMP resolve a decade-old problem with privacy issues in making referrals to victims about services, and we are working with them to help finalize a national policy that reflects our recommendations. But there is more to do. The report that you have in front of you makes 13 recommendations to the government on how we can feasibly and effectively achieve meaningful change for victims of crime in Canada by dealing with the federal corrections and parole system.
Some of these recommendations are a more formal presentation of points that I made to the government in the past, and I was pleased to see that Bill C-43 incorporated amendments to address some of these issues. While that bill would have significantly reformed the current corrections and parole system and enhanced the role of victims within that system, there are a number of important issues that remain unaddressed. And though the bill died with the prorogation of Parliament, I would suggest that we now have an opportunity to get that bill right. By incorporating a few changes, we can strengthen the bill before it is re-introduced so that we can be more effective for all Canadians.
While I am certainly happy to answer any questions you may have about that report, this will be my last opportunity to address the committee as ombudsman, and there are a couple of broader issues to touch on in the time remaining in my opening remarks.
I think it is important to understand that we talk about victims of crime. Their needs and concerns are complex, and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions and there are no easy solutions. They are long-term, they are difficult, and sometimes we have to challenge our own notions of what they look like.
This is national victims of crime awareness week, so it's a very fitting week for me to be here. Yesterday at the event and today at a different event, I listened to victims of crime talk about their needs and their concerns and heard victim service providers talk about the challenges they face in trying to meet those needs on behalf of victims. They talked about lack of services, or not being aware of services, lack of information. They talked about treatment by the system; in court, not being respected in their opinions. And yesterday the Prime Minister spoke at the opening of the symposium for national victims of crime awareness week and he talked as well about the imbalance we have in our system that focuses so much on offenders and not so much on victims.
I was a little disappointed, however, that he proceeded in his speech focusing almost exclusively on how we treat offenders. On the day we were supposed to remember and recognize victims of crime, he talked about Karla Homolka, Clifford Olson, and Graham James. And I can tell you that when he left and a discussion began among those victim service providers and within those workshops, the issues we talked about were very different. They were very basic about trying to meet the needs of victims of hate crime, trying to meet the needs of male victims of sexual abuse, trying to raise awareness and prevent crime.
You'll know that roughly 2.5 million crimes were reported in Canada in 2008. That is reported crime, different from what the actual crime rate is. Of that 2.5 million crimes, fewer than 5,000 offenders went to federal prisons. If all we talk about is who's going to our federal prisons, then we ignore a large number of victims of crime. We asked the government to commit funding in different areas.
We had asked them in this most recent budget to commit $5 million—a relatively small amount of money when we are talking about federal budgets—to a model called child advocacy centres. Now, if you are from Edmonton or Montreal or Niagara, you will know what those centres are. They are centres that meet the needs of child victims who are going through the system. They bring together everybody who provides services to that child and they provide it in a child-friendly environment. It is an American model. They have over 900 centres in that country; we have three or four in this country. We had asked the government to provide a small fund that would help communities establish those. I have been to Victoria, Toronto, Winnipeg.... I know Halifax is working. There are communities across this country trying to get a centre for their children. There were no discussions and we have not talked a lot.
One of the things I had hoped we would do in our office is look at the area of sexually trafficked young people. We know that disproportionately young aboriginal girls are being lured away from reserves, and they are being trafficked across this country. There are young boys who are selling themselves on the street for shelter and for food. We need to have services, programs, and shelters to help those kids get off the street. They are not the kinds of victims we like to think about. I know we have some officers in the room. They can often be very difficult individuals. They are belligerent, they don't want help, they won't ask for help, they don't think they need help. But these kids are being sexually assaulted every single day. We often don't think of them as victims of crime, but they are perhaps among the most vulnerable.
We don't have any programs that will help prevent the repeat victimization, multiple victimization of people. We know in a recent StatsCan report that 2% of the Canadian population experiences 60% of all violence offences. If we could target our efforts to those individuals who we know are victims, who we know are more at risk of being victims again, and try to help focus our efforts on prevention, we can actually prevent individuals from being assaulted or sexually assaulted, or having their homes broken into again.
The research tells us, and in my experience in working with victims for over 15 years, what matters most to victims is the process. They expect information from those involved in the process and the system. They expect to be respected, they expect information, and they expect to have a voice and for people to listen to that voice. If we do all those things well, what the research tells us is that victims are actually less focused on the outcome, which means the sentence. So if we do better by victims throughout the process, they are less concerned about what the sentence is. They certainly expect people to be held accountable, and they expect appropriate sentences, but they will no longer judge the value of the harm done to them by the time we put somebody in prison.
Governing is about making very difficult choices—and I have a lot of respect for those of you who go into politics, because it is about making difficult choices—and in this current fiscal environment those choices are more difficult than ever. I think the Prime Minister said before this budget that it was the most difficult because he had to say no so many times.
As my final recommendation to the Prime Minister and to the government, we have asked that the government refocus its efforts and its priorities on trying to meet the real needs of victims of crime. Sentencing and the “get tougher on crime” agenda will not meet the real needs of victims of crime, who are suffering every day, who call our office every day, who have trouble making their mortgage payments because they have lost their job, whose kids are acting up in school because they can't get counselling. These are real challenges that victims of crime face every single day. Obviously we need to have prisons, and we need to have programs for offenders who are in prison. I think we need to spend, as the Prime Minister talked about yesterday, an equal amount of effort and time on the needs of victims as we do on the needs of offenders.
I'll cut it short there, Mr. Chair, and hopefully try to answer some questions the committee might have.
March 30th, 2010 / 9:25 a.m.
Executive Director, Gang Awareness for Parents
First of all, to answer your last question first, when you were talking about the victims ombudsman, I think that Bill C-43 before the House is absolutely perfectly written. It addresses many concerns from victims.
In fact, we are attending a parole hearing just weeks from now, and it's crazy how they decide how it's done. The murderer sits in front of me, we have to sit behind him. We're not allowed to look at him, we're not allowed to look at him. He's not allowed to look at us. How archaic is this? This person murdered somebody, we're there, and we're asked to come and give a victim impact statement about how this person affected our lives.
First of all, we have to present our speech two weeks ahead of time so he gets to read it before. Then after he reads our victim impact statement, he can just go, “Well, I'm not meeting with these parents; I forgo my stuff.” So it puts us through a massive hell up to that point. That is all being changed, as I understand it. I have asked, actually, this next parole board if I can actually face him, and we'll see. I have not been told that I can, so we'll see. This addresses that.
As far as the national program, I know many of us here are all talking about what's happening today locally and what we're all doing for prevention. I think at the federal level, there are funds available to help eliminate organized crime, etc., but try to apply for them. I would invite every person on this panel to go and download some of these applications and try to fill them out yourself. Don't get a lawyer involved, don't get anybody else involved, but try to fill them out yourself. Paul referred to how much time we spend--and I'm the newbie here, I've only been in business for seven weeks. My wife has tried to fill out some of these applications. So when you talk about what can be done, that can be done.
I addressed to this committee at the very end of my speech how I just cannot understand how we as a country can have a 27% increase in funding to build more prisons and hire 4,000 new staff. Hire 4,000 new staff? Take that 4,000 new staff and direct them into prevention programs. To me, that's not even a question, because I believe the 4,000 people working previous to gang involvement can certainly help every single person who goes into that jail way more before they get there. That's my personal opinion. And to answer what the federal level can do perfectly, it's that right there. To me, that's absolutely a no-brainer.