Debates of April 15th, 1997
House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vote.
- Government Response To Petitions
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François Langlois Bellechasse, QC
Mr. Speaker, first I want to thank the parliamentary secretary and member for Prince Albert-Churchill River for agreeing to reverse the order during the debate at third reading, since the subcommittee on national security will meet at 4.45 p.m.
When Bill C-55, which amends the Criminal Code and several other acts, was first introduced, the official opposition expressed some reservations, particularly as regards new clause 810.2 of the Criminal Code, as proposed at the time, and the clause dealing with electronic surveillance.
I will get back in a few moments to these two clauses, which seemed to present a problem at the time, to see how these issues were solved.
Bill C-55 provides the Canadian justice system with the tools needed to deal with a new reality, with a new approach towards criminals and with changes to the criminals' behaviour, because the traditional notion of what constitutes a crime has evolved during the last few years and the last few decades in Canada.
Since this bill aims at keeping a closer eye on dangerous criminals, at providing the justice system with the means to act in
order to prevent dangerous offenders from being released, it is a step in the right direction, because it gives us tools we did not have before and without which we could not control, at the end of a sentence, the behaviour of an individual who obviously is going to reoffend.
Bill C-55 allows the government, through the courts, to act in order to control dangerous offenders by giving indeterminate sentences. It also adds a new category of criminals who will be designated as long term offenders and it includes provisions that make the release of some inmates subject to certain conditions, where the inmates will have to report and guarantee that their release will represent the lowest possible risk for society. We can easily agree that we need to get involved in these matters, as we mentioned at second reading.
That left us with the two obvious issues raised by section 810.2 and the provisions concerning electronic monitoring, which were giving up some problems. By the way, these two clauses were considered in detail in committee.
Section 810.2 as it was introduced in this House was totally unacceptable. It meant to give the attorney general the power to use an institution set up, according to our criminal law, to settle the relations between individuals, what is called a "peace bond" in English. This is a procedure created under British common law in which the state or the crown does not interfere. The classic example university students are given is that of a rejected lover who keeps pursuing his old flame, who in turns asks for a court order in order to get some peace, hence the term "peace bond", I guess.
In the original bill that was brought forward, section 810.2 authorized the attorney general to request, on behalf of the state, the issuance of a peace bond requiring the person against whom the peace bond has been issued to comply with strict conditions.
The state was interfering with private relationships in criminal or privacy matters, which seemed unacceptable to us when we studied the bill, and at the second reading stage.
Things have evolved, and our position was strongly supported by most witnesses who addressed section 810.2 specifically before the justice and legal affairs committee. Almost all of them said that the attorney general should not have the authority to request the issuance of a peace bond against someone.
And we can see where the problem lies because we can imagine a situation where a judge, having heard a criminal case, may very well decide to acquit the accused on the basis of reasonable doubt, but in the case of a request by the attorney general for the issuance of a peace bond, the same judge having heard the same evidence may say: "I did acquit you on the basis of reasonable doubt, but on the basis of the preponderance of evidence, I come to the conclusion that you have committed the offence and that measures must be taken to protect society against you".
So there was a risk of having a grey category of people in Canadian society. We would have had people who were guilty, people who were innocent, of course, which is the vast majority of Canadians, but also people against whom a peace bond had been issued at the request of the state and who, having not been convicted of any criminal offence, would have had to account for their time and whereabouts to a probation officer or to the court. We thought it was absolutely unacceptable.
In a free society such as ours where criminal law principles are based on age old values, we cannot tolerate or accept a situation where a person is in legal limbo, not knowing what his or her rights are.
There are innocent people, and every citizen is presumed innocent, and there are some who have been found guilty.
The amendments to section 810.2 mean that, henceforth, under the wording as it now stands at third reading, following pressure from the official opposition, following pressure from witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, section 810.2 has a new wording. I thank those who paid attention to the representations made for having taken them into account and given us a wording that now means that the peace bond provided for in 810.2 again becomes an bond between two people, to be used by an ordinary citizen against another person disturbing his peace.
The only requirement that will be made under section 810.2, which is certainly a rather special peace bond given the consequences for anyone who violates it, is that an individual who wishes to avail himself of these provisions must so inform the attorney general.
I think it normal, in an orderly society, that the attorney general responsible for the administration of justice under the provisions of our constitutional laws be aware of what is happening before our courts.
The amendment to 810.2 disposes of our first objection in a positive manner. There goes one obstacle to our supporting Bill C-55. The public's rights are protected, but so are the rights of individuals, primarily the fundamental rights that are the heritage of those who for decades, not to say centuries, helped construct our criminal law, whether in the United Kingdom or in Canada. The values passed down to us are the same.
It would have been unfortunate if a section passed on the sly challenged the very basis of what makes our criminal justice system so rich, that is the presumption of innocence and the clear distinction between the rights of individuals.
Our second concern was about electronic surveillance involving those famous wrist bands to monitor someone without having to put him in jail. Was this appliance appropriate? One can still have concerns about it.
Of course, at present, there is a considerable number of inmates, probably even a critical mass, so to speak, who do not have to be physically detained to be monitored. Those people represent a low to moderate risk. Can we rely on a system whereby a person wearing a wrist band will stay in contact by telephone with a police station in order to allow it to monitor his presence inside a given perimeter?
Our main objection concerned the effectiveness of such a system and our capacity to apply it everywhere in Canada. Such measures would probably be easy to apply in cities like Toronto, Montreal, Quebec or Vancouver. However, in vast areas where communications are uncertain, where distances are so great that police stations that could act as headquarters for the monitoring of a criminal wearing a wrist band are quite far apart, I suggest that it would be difficult to implement such a system. Will inmates have to move to be eligible to the electronic surveillance program? I do not know.
I still have doubts, but some of my concerns were answered in committee by some of the studies. They were answered, but we should keep in mind that witnesses told us that in the United States, for instance, field trials have shown that should the authorities lose contact with an individual, the electronic bracelet could be used-this is not in the bill-to inject a toxic substance causing cramps, diarrhoea or other rather debilitating physical symptoms.
The loss of contact with the monitoring centre might be accidental. One must realize that there are limits. Let us try out the electronic bracelet. This piece of legislation could be revisited in a few months or a few years if problems arise; however, we should be aware that well organised groups, mainly south of the border, especially in the United States, have done research, are ready and have a technology that would make it possible to go much further and take steps that are unacceptable in a free and democratic society.
The reliability of an electronic bracelet system can also be questioned. Will people lose contact with their monitoring centre unexpectedly, by accident, through no fault of their own? False alarms are quite possible in this area. This is probably a chance we have to take, if we want to see how good the system is.
Of course, it will alleviate the problem of overcrowded prisons by not incarcerating a number of people who should not be put in jail and who are a financial burden first for the government, but also in terms of human resources remaining inactive. One should not think that keeping track from afar, by means of an electronic bracelet, of an individual who should be monitored is a panacea, the solution to all that ails us.
But since the evidence presented to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs shows that the advantages are greater than the disadvantages, we are ready to give it a chance and support the present wording of Bill C-55, including the clause on electronic surveillance of prisoners, subject to the earliest possible reassessment.
There were some other points, such as accelerating the rehabilitation of prisoners who do not belong in prison, or penitentiary in the case of federal jurisdiction. We can also support these measures.
In the end, after the committee review, our position changed because the bill was amended. Clearly I always come back to section 810.2, which was the main hurdle. Since it has been amended, we no longer have any reason to object to the bill so we will support Bill C-55 at third reading.
April 15th, 1997 / 4:45 p.m.
Prince Albert—Churchill River
Gordon Kirkby Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address Bill C-55 as amended by the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.
I trust that all members have noted the significant amendment to the judicial restraint order provision, deleting references to electronic monitoring.
I want to emphasize to members the crucial importance of this bill. The Canadian public has told us without equivocation that it wants the government to devote its attention to violent criminals, to spend the criminal justice dollar where it will do the most good.
Bill C-55 responds to that demand by giving the police, prosecutors and judges new tools for controlling violent offenders. It might have been easier for the government to simply amend the Criminal Code so as to lengthen sentences for every kind of offence. For example, if we doubled prison terms for every offence or imposed mandatory minimum sentences for every crime, it undoubtedly would have an impact. Of course the courts would be clogged with trials, are penitentiaries would be bursting at the seams and federal spending on corrections would expand almost endlessly.
I do not believe that Canadians want such sweeping, unselective measures. They have told us they want well targeted laws that get tough with violent offenders.
The public response to Bill C-55 has been very positive. The government supports the new long term offender concept which, in combination with the existing dangerous offender law, gives prosecutors another way to achieve long sentences for sex offenders.
I would like to briefly list the major innovations contained in Bill C-55. Each of these changes improves the criminal justice system's ability to target high risk offenders. Along the way I will
mention three of the amendments contained in the standing committee's report.
Bill C-55 improves the dangerous offender procedure contained in part 24 of the Criminal Code by requiring that a judge impose an indeterminate sentence in each case where a dangerous offender finding is made.
Previously it was possible in exceptional circumstances for the court to impose a limited period of incarceration, although such sentences were rare. In foreclosing that option we are not really limiting the alternatives available to the court. An indeterminate sentence is fully justified when we consider that the prosecution will have proven in a special hearing that the offender has shown a pattern of repetitive behaviour and the likelihood of causing death or injury to other persons or causing severe psychological damage on other persons through failure in the future to restrain his behaviour.
Bill C-55 also changes the date of the initial parole review of a dangerous offender from the third year of incarceration to the seventh year. It is important that offenders be eventually considered for parole. The fact that we are locking these offenders up indefinitely does not remove the need from a legal perspective for having a review of their dangerousness, but there never was any magic in conducting the first parole review after only three years. In fact, experience has shown that dangerous offenders are never released after such a short time.
A review at the seven year point seems more reasonable and more in line with the parole eligibility of violent offenders who otherwise receive long sentences of fixed duration. By the way, Bill C-55 would continue the provision for subsequent parole reviews every two years.
Another innovation created by this bill is the extension of the period during which the crown may bring a dangerous offender application. The proposed section 753(2) will allow the prosecutor to give notice to the offender of a possible intention to make a dangerous offender application within six months. It is quite possible that new victims or witnesses may come forward after trial who will show the true extent of the offender's criminality and whose evidence can fully establish the pattern of past brutality required to meet the dangerous offender standard. This new clause gives the crown the flexibility it needs to put together its case in the aftermath of a trial and sentencing.
A balance has been struck by the drafters of this provision. We have heard proposals to amend the Criminal Code to allow the dangerous offender application at anytime during the sentence or perhaps during the last year of sentence. Quite simply these models would not survive a constitutional challenge, a charter challenge, but this new window of opportunity is workable. It applies for six months beyond the conviction and sentencing.
It is circumscribed by rules that respect the rights of the defendant. For example, the prosecution must show that the new evidence has emerged that was not reasonably available at the time of sentencing and thus the crown has to exercise due diligence in the first place in marshalling evidence. Only when new relevant evidence appears can the delayed dangerous offender application be launched.
Bill C-55 also removes the requirement that two psychiatrists testify at every dangerous offender hearing. A few witnesses before the the standing committee criticized this change in the law as though it somehow impinged on the rights of the defendant or reduced his ability to defend himself. This change does not reduce the ability of the defendant to introduce expert evidence and call evidence. The Criminal Code and the Canada Evidence Act continue to apply. All this amendment does is avoid the requirements for two psychiatrists to appear at every hearing. Unfortunately there is a shortage of qualified available forensic psychiatrists in some parts of Canada. In fact, in many dangerous offender cases both sides end up agreeing that one psychiatrist should testify.
The long term offender sentencing category is at the centre of Bill C-55. This is a new measure. It not only enables the prosecution to seek extended controls over various kinds of serious sex offenders, but the procedure set up by Bill C-55 is linked to the dangerous offender process so that in many cases a long term offender finding may result as an alternative when a dangerous offender application does not succeed. It is worth taking a moment to explain the interaction between the two procedures.
Let us assume that we are dealing with a case of aggravated sexual assault involving an offender with a history of violent offending. Upon conviction for the individual offence of aggravated sexual assault the crown can seek from the court a remand for assessment by experts. This assessment with serve both purposes, either a dangerous offender application or a long term offender application. Hopefully the assessment will invoke the skills of psychiatrists, criminologists and others who can come up with a sophisticated assessment of the risk posed by the offender.
Once the assessment report is filed the prosecution can then decide which kind of application to make, but the crown has flexibility. This is the important point. Even if a dangerous offender application fails, the court can still find the offender to be a long term offender, provided of course that the criteria are met. In effect the court can say that the threshold for a dangerous offender finding is not satisfied but the same evidence supports a long term offender finding.
Alternatively, the court can move quickly to bring a second hearing on top of the long term offender issue and accept more evidence.
I would like to highlight one of the amendments contained in the standing committee's report. The Criminal Code already provides for input by victims of crime in criminal proceedings, either by personal testimony or through victim impact statements. It will certainly be important to hear from victims during the dangerous offender hearing. However, as I mentioned, when a dangerous offender finding is not made the judge may proceed with a second hearing on the long term offender issue. This could impose a hardship on crime victims if they have to testify again at a second hearing. Therefore the amendment explicitly states that any evidence already given by a victim or a victim's family at a dangerous offender hearing is also deemed to have been received at the subsequent long term offender hearing.
The long term offender idea has received broad support. During the standing committee hearings it was supported by the Canadian Police Association, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime and the victims rights group CAVEAT, among others.
It targets sex offenders. It essentially goes after that group of offenders just below the dangerous offender level. These are sex offenders who are likely to receive serious prison time but who perhaps do not warrant an indeterminate sentence.
Under Bill C-55 proposals they will indeed get their usual sentence of incarceration but in addition, and when found to be long term offenders, the court will order up to ten years of additional supervision in the community. Only when the offender has completed his penitentiary sentence, including parole, will the long term supervision period begin.
The long term offender criteria requires on the one hand that the court find that there is a substantial risk that the offender will reoffend, on the other that there is a reasonable possibility of eventual control of that risk in the community.
Are we trying to be optimistic and pessimistic at the same time? Let me point out again that the offender will get the usual sentence for imprisonment for his crime. The additional long term supervision period allows the national parole board and the correctional service to control the offender's gradual transition back to community life. The provision is intensive and the long term offender who breaches any of the conditions of the court's order can be pulled back into custody, not to mention charged with the newly created offence of breach of a long term supervision order.
The third pillar of Bill C-55, which is admittedly controversial, is the new judicial restraint order to be added to the Criminal Code as section 810.2. I remind my colleagues of the purpose of this new measure. This restraining order is modelled on the existing section 810.1 which was designed to prevent offences against children.
This new order is designed, somewhat more generally, to prevent serious personal injury offences. Despite the controversy swirling around this measure, its underlying principle has been clear from the beginning. The goal has always been to prevent violent incidents, to establish in a court of law the risk presented by certain individuals and to command those individuals to keep the peace and be of good behaviour; in other words, to meet the standard of conduct that is expected of them as participants in society. Conditions may be attached to these orders in much the same way that conditions are attached to probation orders or to other peace bonds.
A lot of newsprint has been devoted to the question of electronic monitoring in section 810.2. The original bill envisioned electronic monitoring controls being imposed as a condition attached to the judicial restraint order but only where the court thought it would be appropriate and where such programs are available. In case some of my colleagues think that electronic monitoring is an abstract idea or science fiction I invite them to look at the facts. Several Canadian provinces use electronic monitoring in conjunction with supervision to manage probationers and other offenders.
British Columbia, for example, has 350 offenders in its program at any one time. These programs are expanding. Call it what you want, a control mechanism, a monitoring device, a crime prevention tool, electronic monitoring programs have their place.
However, concerns have been expressed about the capacity of the criminal justice system to use the technology appropriately and with sufficient moderation in the context of restraining orders. The most common use of technology has been to ensure that the offender remains in his or her home and only leaves the premises according to a set schedule.
We are all familiar with the concept of electronic bracelets being applied to offenders. The standing committee, after hearing a number of witnesses, concluded that we should be cautious in the use of such technology in situations that are entirely preventive. In other words, electronic monitoring, as presently used by Canadian provinces, curtails liberty to some extent. We should be careful in applying it where the subject is not actually convicted of any offence.
The reprinted bill deletes all explicit references to electronic monitoring in connection with the proposed judicial restraint order and I believe that this significant change should satisfy the critics of the legislation.
To summarize, Bill C-55 as amended, delivers on the government's commitment to strengthen the law to control sex offenders. It is solidly based on three years of work by the federal-provincial
task force. It is supported by the provinces which ultimately have the responsibility of prosecuting these offenders.
Police support this bill. The standing committee supports it and has introduced amendments to improve it. I commend this bill to my colleagues.
I just want to add that the bill presents another significant step forward in the efforts of the government to make our streets and homes safer places to be. The Minister of Justice has introduced significant reforms to criminal justice. As well, the Solicitor General has introduced a number of reforms. More reforms have been introduced to the criminal justice system, more steps have been taken to toughen up the criminal justice system than have ever been taken by any single government in the history of our nation.
This is something of which we can be very proud. This particular effort is the result of collaboration between the federal government, the provinces and hearing submissions from the many interested parties. I wish to thank all those who have been involved in the process.
As a number of commentators have indicated, the bill is the most significant improvement and change in the Criminal Code in dealing with violent offenders that has been introduced in decades. Of that we can be very proud. I commend the Minister of Justice for his efforts, those on the standing committee who have put forward some intelligent, common sense amendments and for all the hard work that has been put into this bill, a lot of people deserve credit. We commend it to the Canadian people.
Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB
Mr. Speaker, if that is the best this government can do, no wonder the country is in trouble. If that is the best bill the justice minister can come up with to deal with violent offenders, no wonder there are so many victims out there. It is going to continue because the bottom line is that violent offenders will still be released back out into the community. The checks and balances are neutral when it comes to dealing with the most violent offenders in our society.
Let us look at some statistics. These are from the parole board. This data from the board deals with violent and serious offenders. It states that only about one-half of a violent offender's sentence is served. I would assume that includes murderers. Attempted murderers, for example, serve an average of 48 months when the courts have really sentenced them to 94 months. That is only one-half of the sentence. The parole board is releasing violent criminals after they have served one-half of their sentence. In the cases of manslaughter, the actual time served by the offenders averaged 44 months when the original court sentence was 84 months.
Finally, with respect to people who have committee aggravated assault or rape, the average offender was released after having served 49 months, 4 years, of a sentence of 79 months. This bill does not address any of that other than the fact that the government insists on releasing the violent offenders back out into the community.
What are the answers? I think there are answers. First, we have to start looking at what is happening in our courts. A sentence given is not served any more, as I have stated. Approximately one-half of the sentence is served. It is high time we went back to truth in sentencing. The rehabilitative model that is touted on the government side has been a dismal failure. Truth in sentencing laws would bring some sort of balance back into the system.
If a rapist received a 10-year sentence, which it is unlikely, he would then serve that sentence. That is what we and the people of this country are looking for and want. People want to have a measure of safety in their communities. Unfortunately many people are not feeling that which will be very evident in the next election.
Just going door to door in my riding I am picking that up at the door. I know that the members across the way are also picking that up. In fact, there are some people in the lobby right now visiting from British Columbia who are picking it up because they have been personally hit by crime as victims. Apart from that, the average person feels very uneasy and unsafe on our streets right now.
We talk about truth in sentencing and about a sentence given should be a sentence served. In other words, life should mean life with no eligibility for parole. Why should a first degree murderer get out on the street at any time? There is no reason for it. Why should a man who has taken another man's or woman's life get out on the street?
If we look at the statistics on first degree murderers we see that out of the 46 who applied for early release up to mid-1995, 11 killed women: their wives, girlfriends or people they knew. They received early release. I would say that a murderer would definitely fall into the classification of a dangerous offender. Yet those who have been convicted of that heinous crime are being released on to the street.
Eight of those 46 killed policemen. That is a deliberate act. No mistake can be made that it was other than the intention of killing the police officer, the person in authority.
Three of those murderers who obtained early release killed children. I am sorry but I do not see this bill addressing any of that. The sentence given by the courts is being chopped by the parole board and by applications for early release. Now other provisions under section 55 allegedly restrain them further but I do not see
where the restraint is. Violent offenders are still getting out on our streets. Bill C-55 does not stop it.
The parliamentary secretary spoke of indeterminate sentencing, that a court will decide whether or not the offender will continue to serve his time. That may be well and good but it is also putting it on the shoulders of the courts. The court's dealings with those types of offenders has not been very good.
I have an individual in my riding by the name of Tocher. I mentioned him the other day. Since 1982, he has been abusing kids. He abused three boys in the last set of offences. Now he is in court and has been given a short sentence again, something like 18 months. He has been doing that since 1982. He has been in and out of the court system five times for similar types of offences. What good are the courts doing? He has never been declared a dangerous offender. That available to the courts at the time. What is going to change? It is just going to be business as usual.
The answer to the alleged crowding problem in our prisons is to release him into the community. I do not see Bill C-55 changing a whole lot.
How can we have a guarantee that the message is going to get to the criminal? What is the guarantee? The criminal has to understand that if he steps across the line that this will happen to him. The sentence, the incarceration and the place where he spends it will not be pleasant because he stepped over the line.
We put an amendment forward on this bill. It was called a two strikes amendment. In other words, if someone commits a violent offence, and serves the majority of the time, the message would be sent to that offender that if he committed a second offence, he would go away for an indefinite period of time. The sentence will be a minimum of 15 years if he commits another violent offence, perhaps even longer, maybe even life.
That message has to be sent to the offender. It is a revolving door in our prisons. It is a well known fact that 70 per cent of those serving time have served time before.
There is no reason why the government could not send that message to a criminal. The criminals are getting arrogant because they know they can get away with too much. They are getting arrogant when they pick on our kids. They do it time and time again because nothing happens to them. They are not treated like criminals. Sure, they are restrained from moving around for a little while but everybody rushes to protect them and support them. Some say that it is society's fault. Unfortunately it is their fault because they are the ones who chose to commit the crime that put them in jail.
I have said these things in public before. There is no reason I should not have said them. I think the majority of people want to see stiffer penalties for prisoners.
I paid a visit to the Bowden Institution, a prison in Alberta. The prisoners heard that I was coming and circulated a petition about my anticipated arrival. Many of those serving time look at me as a threat because I tell them that they should be working for a living. Even if they are behind bars they should be productive. The productivity rate inside our prisons is a dismal shame. If prisoners are not unemployed in prison, the majority of them are underemployed by far. Part of my theme was that they should be working for a living.
Activist prisoners within the prison system circulated a poster that said: "Art Hanger is coming to threaten the inmates of Bowden. Art Hanger wants you to have no temporary absences or parole". They are absolutely right. I do not want them to have a lot of temporary absences or parole. Why should they have? They are serving time for committing the crimes that put them in there. They should be paying society back for their crimes. They should be doing something instead of being out on parole. The parole system is obviously not working.
The poster also said: "Art Hanger wants you to be involved in slave labour". I do want them to work, absolutely. Why should they not work? They call that slave labour. They should be doing all kinds of things. Maybe they should even be earning a wage and a portion of it could go to support the victims they victimized. They could pay for their room and board. Then maybe they could keep some of the money left over as a stake for when they get out.
There is another nonsensical part of the Correctional Service of Canada's policy. Inmates are only allowed to accumulate $80. When they walk out the door of the prison they have no money in their pockets. They have barely enough to survive for a night. They should at least be earning minimum wage but they should be productive. They should be doing something.
The poster goes on to say that I want them to have no recreation. The riot in Millhaven was a result of change in routine. Inmates felt they should have more recreation time. To get their point across they killed a man. They wanted to tell management they were unhappy because they were not getting what they wanted, more recreational time or a return to the old routine. There is something wrong with that mentality.
The poster goes on to indicate that I want them castrated and tortured. I do not want them castrated or tortured. Nor has Reform ever said that in any of its policies. This is their concern. I understand why they may have that concern in that 70 per cent of the inmates in the Bowden Institution are sex offenders.
There is something wrong with the attitude of the offenders in our jails today. It has been nurtured by the corrections policy and supported by government sanctioned rights. There is something wrong.
It went on to say that I wanted them locked up for 24 hours. I want them locked up for 24 hours. In fact I want them locked up until they serve their entire sentences, as do most people in the country do. The violent offender should not get out until he has served his sentence. The violent offender should stay in there and work to pay for his keep.
The poster summed up their list of complaints about me in the following statement: "Art Hanger wants you dead". I do not want them dead. I want them to correct their behaviour and I see that the present system is not helping them do that. It is creating arrogance among the prison population. They know they will not be punished for what they do. They will be detained for a while, but everybody rushes in to protect them, to help them and to counsel them. There is no punishment. from the viewpoint of those inside that is what our system is all about. I might add that is shared by prisoners in other prisons. I have talked to enough prisoners to know.
There is also something wrong on the management side, the policy makers. Along with two other members I had an opportunity to go to Edmonton maximum security in December 1995. There was a lot of snow on the ground. It was much like northern Saskatchewan where the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister lives. The prison houses approximately 400 prisoners. The warden heard we were coming. He wanted to make sure the staff of the prison knew we were coming. He sent out a memo which happened to get into the hands of the press and of the Reform Party. This is what it stated:
The members for Calgary Northwest, Fraser Valley West and the member for Wild Rose will be visiting us on December 1, 1995. These gentlemen are known to be ardent critics of CSC and are quite vocal in expressing their views.
I want to ensure that Edmonton Institution is at its best, giving very little reason for criticism. Therefore this institution will be spotless. Areas needing paint will be painted. Inmates will be visibly at work during their tour (as they should be anyway) and programs will be in full swing. This includes the protective custody unit.
I do not want to see inmates lying around doing nothing (not that this would happen anyway). I have not seen a lot of activity that involves inmates shovelling snow. The walks should not be cleared with snow-blowers. Push shovels are more appropriate. Buy them if you need them.
For what? The message was just because we came to visit them. They wanted to have the appearance that everything was okay and that everyone in the prison was working. There is something wrong with a policy that allows things like that to happen in our prison system.
As a result Bill C-55 is an attempt to sound like something is being done. What is being done? Nothing. There is no punishment in the present correctional system. There is no accountability as there should be. It is a revolving door.
We would like to see accountability. We want to see sentences delivered by our courts fully served, especially those of violent offenders. We want to see two strikes legislation. Why should a person after being released once and committing another violent offence have the same opportunity to serve another short sentence and be back out on the streets to do it for a third time? Why should that happen? No wonder the list of victims and victims groups is growing. It will continue to grow because violent offenders are still being released into society. Their behaviour has not been corrected in spite of all the programs and the case management reports.
I thought of another case management report directed to the killer of a policeman. A fellow, Craig Munro, allowed a police officer to bleed to death after he shot him and held him hostage. Now he is applying for early release. He is a shooter. The man should not even have an opportunity to make application. Yet the government is insisting on leaving that provision in there. It is insisting on turning violent criminals back out on to the street under Bill C-55.
I turn to one of the most significant devastating crimes in this decade and in the ones coming up. I am referring to the area of sex crimes, pedophilia, and crimes against children. It already is extensive. If we talk to the sex crimes and child abuse units in any police department, we find they cannot even handle the number of complaints they get. They have to refer them to social services. The cases they are referring are becoming more and more intense, difficult and substantive. The police cannot keep up.
How will we handle pedophiles? Long term offenders provisions will not do it. The parliamentary secretary to the justice minister should explain how that will happen. It will not going to happen. It will be status quo court decisions and status quo incarceration for very short periods of time.
I just finished relating the story of Mr. Tocher and the number of times he has been in and out of the prison system. He kept going back and forth over the last 15 years. He is victimizing our kids. Is it any wonder parents complain when they see somebody hanging around a playground zone such as happened in Calgary? Parents complained about a adult male hanging persistently around the playground zone. They were frightened and the police could not do anything about it. He had a record as a pedophile and the police could not do anything about it.
I said I would do something about it. They organized and protested in and around the park until the police went in there and laid some charge on him. It is awareness. Parents are concerned about their kids and the long term offender provisions in Bill C-55 will not touch them. Most police officers, most prison staff and even psychiatrists say that pedophiles cannot be cured. What can we do? We should keep them in prison for a long, long time.
It should be on the shoulders of the psychiatrist and whoever else signs the document that releases a pedophile to guarantee he will not reoffend. If he does they should pay the consequence. Somebody has to be held accountable and that is not happening in our present system.
Many provisions in Bill C-55 sound like they are doing the right thing. Pedophilia is inadequately addressed. The Criminal Code should be expanded to address the impact which pedophilia has on kids.
I have not addressed the judicial restraint provision which, as the parliamentary secretary stated, will be in section 810 of the Criminal Code. That provision will be extremely difficult to enforce.
The Reform Party will vote against the bill, in part because the government did not accept the amendments put forward by Reform. Those amendments would have made the bill much stronger.
The Deputy Speaker
It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Davenport-the environment; the hon. member for Chicoutimi-social housing.
The House resumed, from April 11, consideration of the motion.
Private Members' Business
The Deputy Speaker
It being 5.30 p.m., pursuant to order made Friday, April 11, 1997, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion M-260, under Private Members' Business.
Call in the members.
Before the taking of the vote:
Private Members' Business
The Deputy Speaker
The recorded division will be taken row by row starting with the mover.
(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)
Private Members' Business
The Deputy Speaker
I declare the motion carried.
Private Members' Business
Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate to the House that if I had been here for the vote, I would have voted yes. I would like my vote to be registered for the next divisions.
The House resumed from April 14 consideration of Bill C-44, an act for making the system of Canadian ports competitive, efficient and commercially oriented, providing for the establishing of port authorities and the divesting of certain harbours and ports, for the commercialization of the St. Lawrence Seaway and ferry services and other matters related to maritime trade and transport and amending the Pilotage Act and amending the repealing other acts as a consequence, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.
Canada Marine Act
The Deputy Speaker
The question is on Motion No. 1. A vote on Motion No. 1 applies to Motions Nos. 30, 50 to 57 inclusive, 60, 63, 82 and 113.
Canada Marine Act
Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If the House would agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting yea.
Canada Marine Act
The Deputy Speaker
Does the House give its unanimous consent?
Canada Marine Act
Some hon. members
Canada Marine Act
The Deputy Speaker
The problem is that everybody voted yes last time. Apparently we will need one more vote.