House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will try to explain it to my hon. colleague opposite.

It is fiscally irresponsible because it represents a spending increase of 20% over the last five years. This is part of this government's runaway spending that will come back to haunt us when the economy slows, whenever that may be. The government has spent 20% per capita extra over the last five years. It is simply not sustainable.

It is also irresponsible because it represents ad hoc side deals that have become the modus operandi of the government. Whether it is a side deal on health care for one province and another deal for the other provinces, or whether it be a side deal with the NDP for this budget or whether it be a side deal on equalization, pitting one region of the country against another, it is completely irresponsible to do these ad hoc side deals.

I do not know if the government has taken a new approach on federalism. Maybe the Liberals really do believe in asymmetrical federalism. These kind of arrangements do serious long term damage to Confederation. That is why this budget is irresponsible.

The hon. member opposite mentioned the previous Conservative government. He should know that the previous Conservative government was operating in a global climate, where members of the G-8 were all facing difficult fiscal and monetary challenges, of high interest rates and a high inflation. What he should also know is, operationally, that government ran a surplus. That is the most important thing he should keep in mind.

I might also add that government faced challenges directly resulting from structural problems given to them by the previous Liberal government.

Let me also add that this government likes to tout loudly about its accomplishments on fiscal prudence. What they need to realize is the two reasons for the balanced budgets of the late 1990s were the GST and free trade. Free trade led to a boom in manufacturing in Ontario, which led to a growth in government revenues.

More important, he should know that the GST accounts for about $40 billion in the government's revenues or 22% of government revenues. It has a $9.1 billion surplus. However, the Liberals, who fought tooth and nail against the GST, would find themselves in a $31 billion deficit today if it had not been for the far-sighted leadership of the Conservative government.

I hope these facts will help clarify the hon. member's confusion about where we are today and how we got here.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise at report stage to address Bill C-48, an act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments.

This bill is somewhat historic. This is the first federal-NDP budget in three decades. Of course our Conservative Party cannot support this NDP budget. Canadians did not vote for an NDP budget. They did not send the 289 MPs who are not NDP members of Parliament to Ottawa to vote for this. Even the Liberal MPs across the way who are now supporting this bill are not doing so for the right reasons.

If the kind of irresponsible and reckless spending contained in Bill C-48 were a good idea, then that spending would have been included in the budget original, but it is not.

Liberal MPs are now indistinguishable from their NDP coalition partners on matters of financial policy.

Let us all recognize Bill C-48 for what it is. It is a brazen and desperate attempt to hold onto power by a regime that has been exposed as corrupt, arrogant and untrustworthy. NDP MPs have paid a price to gain their budget. Because they have actively maintained this corrupt regime in power, they are now tarred with the same brush.

However, Bill C-48 is also something else. It represents higher taxes, a return to deficit spending and a deepening of the national debt that we had recently begun to get under some control. That kind of fiscal irresponsibility and recklessness has real consequences for working families and taxpayers across Canada. Ultimately, the ability of the government to spend money depends exclusively on taking money away from the average Canadian. For some folks, it means the loss of music lessons or sports camps for their kids. For others, they may have to cancel their vacation, the one that they were looking forward to all year long. Some Canadians are going to have to work that many more hours to pay this tax bill, but those hours are hours not spent with family and friends, enjoying life.

We have a very different vision of Canada. We believe in fair taxation, individual responsibility and limited government. We recognize that government is not always the best institution to address and solve every societal problem.

For example, in my riding of south Surrey--White Rock--Cloverdale, we have a private organization called the Peace Arch Community Services, or PACS. PACS helps thousands of people in my community every year, with everything from helping the unemployed find a job or helping the hungry with food to counselling for those addicted to drugs and alcohol.

PACS does receive grants from various levels of government to help provide some of these services, but it also raises a significant portion of its funding privately. Indeed, there is great support for PACS in my community, and that is amply demonstrated by the generosity of those who fund it.

Of course PACS is just one of many private organizations, from service clubs to faith-based organizations to community groups, that provide or fund services in the community to help the weak and the vulnerable in society.

My fear is that as the government ratchets up the spending and takes even more money from people's discretionary income, there will be less left in people's pockets to give to groups like PACS that is making a real difference in the lives of Canadians.

Our Conservative vision includes a significant tax reduction that would allow Canadians greater freedom to support such worthy causes. I have no doubt they will. I am excited about the possibilities for our great land if Canadians are given such freedoms.

We had some votes late Tuesday evening of this past week where a couple of facts became apparent.

The first is that our Conservative Party is keeping its commitment to work constructively within this minority Parliament. As an example, we supported Bill C-43 at report stage, despite our misgivings about several elements in the main budget. We want to make this Parliament work and our actions speak louder than mere words.

The second and unmistakable fact is the failure of the Liberals to pay anything more than lip service to making this Parliament work. We continue to see arrogance in action as the Liberals reject reasoned amendments put forward by my party to bring the budget and its spending in line with the commitments the government made in its throne speech.

I want to review some of those commitments. They were proposed by our party and endorsed by the Liberals in a vote in the House. We called upon the government to do the following: to ensure that the employment insurance fund would only be used for the benefit of workers instead of balancing the federal budget; to reduce taxes for low and modest income Canadians; to tell the truth in government budget forecasting; to make the electoral system more fair; and to give Parliament a real voice on key foreign and defence policy issues such as missile defence.

As we examine these points in order, we can see from this budget legislation that the Liberals have repeatedly broken their promises to Parliament and to Canadians.

EI premiums have not been lowered to the level where revenues are commensurate with expenditures. Instead, the government continues to run a huge EI surplus to help it balance the budget. This is doubly strange because in the years that the Prime Minister was finance minister, he explicitly stated that payroll taxes killed jobs. It is true that payroll taxes kill jobs and excessive Liberal payroll taxes under the Prime Minister have certainly killed tens of thousands of jobs. Promise made, promise broken.

The Liberals committed to reduce taxes for low and modest income Canadians. In fact the measly tax reduction offered by the Liberals works out to one cup of coffee a month or just $1.33 starting next year. That rises to $8 a month for an individual by the fourth year of the budget. How generous. By comparison, during the last election, the Conservative Party offered the average taxpayer savings of $1,000 annually by the fourth year.

The Liberals committed to reduce taxes, yet their pennies a day tax reduction is virtually meaningless for most working families struggling with rent or a mortgage or buying school supplies or clothes or food. One might also consider the fact that the government has done nothing to reduce the high cost of gasoline, a large component of which is federal taxes. Again, promise made, promise broken.

As for truth in budget forecasting, we have already seen backtracking on this commitment. We can easily add up the more than $26 billion in additional new spending commitments the government has made since introducing the budget in February. Nearly $5 billion of that total, contained in the legislation we are debating now, was to obtain the common support of the NDP. That works out to about $260 million per vote if we add it up and divide by the number of MPs in the NDP. Yet we have the spectacle of the government standing in the House day after day in question period denying that its spending spree is going to send us back into deficits and debt.

Business groups agree that the government has been less than forthcoming with the truth in budget forecasting. According to Nancy Hughes Anthony, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce:

Without a fiscal update, we are flying blind when it comes to Canada’s finances with only vague assurances from the government that it will be able to balance budgets in the future....Until Canadians are given all the facts and figures, we have every right to fear that we are flirting with future budget deficits given the government’s excessive spending.

Promise made, promise broken.

As for making the electoral system more fair, there are 57 different bills the government has introduced, including the bill we are debating today, yet not one of them addresses electoral reform. Promise made, promise broken.

The government promised to give Parliament a real voice on key foreign and defence policy issues such as missile defence. Yet earlier this year Parliament was totally excluded by the Prime Minister when he unilaterally decided to opt out of the U.S. missile defence system. Once again, promise made, promise broken.

In that same throne speech the government claimed “parents must have real choices” when it came to child care. Where is the choice? The fact is the government continues to discriminate against single income families in the tax code. It simply does not value the work of the parent who stays at home. If parents are to have real choices, it is critical to reduce taxes for all families with young children.

In our amendments to the other budget bill a couple of days ago, we gave the government the opportunity to meet its promise to give parents a greater choice in child care and it chose to vote against its own promise.

As we have seen with other Liberal promises, the throne speech amounted to all talk and no action. In this budget, once again it is promise made, promise broken. The Liberals have proven themselves untrustworthy promise breakers. Soon they will have to provide an accounting to the Canadian people for this.

In the meantime I will conclude my speech where I began, and that is to say that we cannot support this NDP budget implementation bill, Bill C-48.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Charlottetown
P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, earlier today the House, with the support of the Conservative Party , the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, passed Bill C-43 dealing with approximately $180 billion of program spending. We are now dealing with Bill C-48 which is an additional $2.25 billion per year over the next year with the clear caveat that the government will not go into a deficit.

The bill was referred to a committee. I would have thought that if there were any concerns, problems or difficulties the committee would have worked on the bill, improved it, enhanced it and set it back to the House. However, the Conservative Party in its alliance with the Bloc Québécois voted all the paragraphs down.

Given the relatively small amount of money we are talking about in Bill C-48, why was it not dealt with at the committee level? Was this action at the committee controlled by the Bloc Québécois?

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows that I am not a member of the finance committee, so he would also know that I was not at the discussions that occurred in that committee when the amendments were put forward.

I do want to draw to the attention of the member and the House that none other than the Canadian Chamber of Commerce suggested that this budget bill is a huge mistake for the country. This is a respected organization that has the admiration of economists and Canadians across the country. It is saying that this is a huge mistake. Nancy Hughes Anthony, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said:

Without a fiscal update, we are flying blind when it comes to Canada's finances with only vague assurances from the government that it will be able to balance budgets in the future. Until Canadians are given all the facts and figures, we have every right to fear that we are flirting with future budget deficits given the government's excessive spending.

That is exactly what is happening here. It is excessive spending. If the Liberals thought this spending was necessary for the country, why did they not include it in the February budget? It is absolutely clear to all Canadians that the only reason we are even debating the bill today is that the Liberals, in a desperate attempt to stay in power, were propped up by the NDP. The NDP and the Liberals are in bed together, propping up their own, call it what we may, form of power. It is ironic that they look to the other side of the House every now and again and suggest that we are in collusion with some other party when that is clearly not the case.

The NDP-Liberal-Buzz Hargrove budget, however we want to describe it, is an atrocity for the country. I hope that the people listening at home will begin to understand as more and more Conservatives stand up and make that point clear.

The Conservatives are here to get things done. We are here to work hard for Canadians. Part of our job as the official opposition is to oppose things that we think are harmful for the country. The bill is a prime example of something that will cause damage to the country. This bill, which is a page and a half long, is making large promises, some $4.5 billion, with no real fiscal spending priorities or plans whatsoever. This is basically another slush fund. The Liberals, and the NDP who are cooperating in propping up the Liberals, get to pull out of the hat whatever they want, whenever they want.

That is not what Canadians sent us here to do. Canadians sent us here to be responsible. Families in my riding work hard. They budget. They count their pennies and spend money according to priorities and plans that they have put together. Those priorities could be violin lessons, buying hockey equipment or taking vacations. There is a host of priorities that Canadians have on which they spend their money. They work hard to raise that money and they take care in how they spend it.

Yet the Liberals and the NDP members think the money comes from nowhere. They always forget the fact that it is hardworking Canadians who gave them the money in the first place, and they spend it as if it was nothing. They spend like there was no tomorrow.

It is time for the NDP members and the Liberals to wake up to the fact that Canadians will not stand for this any longer. Canadians are sick and tired of people wasting their money, as we have seen in the sponsorship scandal. They do not have any confidence in the government any more. They have seen $300 million wasted on programs that went to prop up the Liberal government, money that the Liberals used to re-elect themselves. They have seen $1 billion wasted on the gun registry.

My colleague beside me is the expert on the gun registry. He could tell the House where that money could have gone had it not gone to that wasteful project called the gun registry. Think of all the policemen, the MRIs, the benefits to health care, the people in my riding who are looking for shorter wait lists for hip surgeries and that sort of thing. That money could have saved those people a few days or a few months of waiting to get the treatment they need.

Yet the NDP members and the Liberals think they know what is best for Canadians. They are telling Canadians what their priorities ought to be when that is not the case at all.

I stand and testify to the fact that if there is anything we can do to stop this budget bill from passing, we will do exactly that, because we know that Canadians do not want it to pass.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to add my voice in objection to the NDP budget Bill C-48. I want to begin by saying that we as Conservatives believe that our goal should be to give Canadians the highest standard of living possible. In fact, we should aim to have the highest standard of living in the world and this budget flies in the face of that goal.

We as Conservatives would like everyone in this country who wants to have a job to be able to find one. We would like every region of the country to be treated equally. I will come back to that point. That is an essential point that we need to look at in evaluating this budget: treating every region of the country equally. We as Conservatives want economic growth and opportunities to be available to all people in this country. That is our aim. When we form government, every budget will meet that goal.

Every mom and dad under a Conservative government would know that at the end of the day their children will be able to fulfill their goals, live out their dreams, get an education, get good paying jobs, start a family, buy a home, save for their retirement, enjoy a vacation and start a business if they wish.

Our goal should be to tax families as little as possible. That is the opposite of what is happening with this NDP budget. Our goal should be to tax families as little as possible so that they can afford the day care of their choosing. If one parent wants to stay home and take care of the kids, we want that parent to have the option of doing so because taxes would be low enough for that to be affordable.

On a personal note, I got into politics to try to turn things around in this country. I saw how our country was going into decline because of what was happening here in Ottawa with regard to the policies. I want my children and grandchildren to have better lives. That is where I am coming from in evaluating this budget. I want my children to be able to live in freedom and security.

I look at what is happening in the community of Springside, the larger community of Yorkton in which I live and in Melville. Neighbours of mine see things constantly in decline. Agriculture is in crisis. There is absolutely nothing in this budget that addresses the concerns of rural Canadians.

My friends and neighbours are in waiting lines for health care. The NDP claims to be concerned about health care in this country. There is nothing in this budget that really addresses that issue.

The NDP, in writing a budget, is going to bring this country to its knees. Look at what happened when it was in government in Ontario. Look at what happened when it was in government in B.C. Look at what is happening as it is in government in Saskatchewan. My home province of Saskatchewan should be at least as well off as Alberta. It has every advantage, but it has had a government that has been choking the province to death. Now the same mentality is being displayed in this budget. We do not need this. This is exactly the opposite direction in which we should be heading.

The key point I want to make in my speech today is that this budget is dragging on rural Canada and western Canada. It is giving a disproportionate amount of money to large cities. It is not treating all areas of this country equally.

An example was given, and somebody did that math, that a large city with 20% of the population gets 50% of the money in this budget. Rural cities, towns and municipalities get proportionately less in this budget than large cities because of what has been put forward here, but rural areas face the same challenges as the cities.

They are expected to provide the same services as large cities are providing, but with much less. Very often those services cost more in rural areas. What is going to happen? This is going to create even more of a disparity between our rural and urban areas in Canada. This is unfair. That is why this budget is unacceptable.

I challenge the residents of this country to take a look at this budget and determine whether, if we had taken the money the Conservatives proposed in the last election and put it into infrastructure, we would not be a lot better off right now. There is no doubt in my mind that the answer would be yes. Yes, under a Conservative government we would be much better off.

We do not have the fair treatment for rural areas and families with children that we should have in a budget. One example that just jumps out at me is that the government is creating 120,000 day care spots. The Liberals do not know what the cost is going to be, but they say that this is what they are going to do. We have six million children in Canada. Let us look at the disparity, the unequal treatment, in just that budget item proposal for a big cross-Canada day care system. People in rural areas will get virtually no benefit out of this child care scheme.

I am frustrated when I look at the philosophy behind this. We as Conservatives feel very strongly that we have to start cleaning up government, as one of my colleagues has said, but instead we have the Liberals and the NDP with the opposite mentality.

I remember reading a quotation from former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in about 1984. He said, when he was voted out of office, that it was okay, they had “left the cupboard bare”; they had cleaned everything out and they would let the Conservatives take care of the mess.

This is the Liberal-NDP attitude: bankrupt the government so that when we as Conservatives come in we will have a huge problem in that we will have difficulty making ends meet. I do not appreciate having that problem. I have to strongly oppose a budget that is going to make this happen.

When times are good we should be paying down our debt, not spending money on open-ended programs. I wish I could disseminate this budget, although it is really not a budget. If we take a look at what the government and the NDP are calling a budget, it is the most pathetic thing we could ever imagine. As we read through it, we see that it states:

--make payments out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund up to the amount that is the difference between the amount that would, but for those payments, be the annual surplus...

There is no determined amount. It is like a slush fund. The government will spend “up to” this amount of money.

The Liberals and the NDP have four items in the budget itself. Those items are so brief that they are just a few lines. It says they are going to make “payments” for the environment. They are going to make payments for training programs and post-secondary education for aboriginal Canadians. They are going to provide affordable housing, including housing for aboriginal Canadians. They are going to put in more for foreign aid. That is the budget. That is it. That is the whole deal. I need more time to explain to Canadians how empty and bare this is.

As we go on, we see that it provides for the governor in council to make all of the decisions. The next line states “develop and implement programs”. That is creating more bureaucracy. It states “make a grant or contribution or any other payment”. Those are code words for slush fund. I ask Canadians to just look at this budget. I cannot believe that we are being asked to swallow a budget like this.

It goes on to say that that more crown corporations are going to be created. We should be moving in the opposite direction.

I beg Canadians to take a look at this empty budget. I cannot believe that we are asking people to approve this. The NDP members are always saying that we must make Parliament work. That is their mantra. Do we know what this budget does? It actually provides for bypassing Parliament.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from March 8, 2005, consideration of the motion that Bill C-275, an act to amend the Criminal Code (failure to stop at scene of accident), be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

June 16th, 2005 / 5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is another private member's bill aimed, once again, at increasing sentences by setting very high minimums. It aims to increase the minimum sentences for offences that are certainly serious. Basically, it concerns the offence of leaving the scene of an accident that might have caused physical injury or death. They hope once again to solve a problem, which has not grown especially worse in Canada over the last few years, by imposing minimum sentences of seven years.

What kind of a model is being used? I would remind the House again that experience proves that high minimum sentences are not effective. Every time I raise this matter, though, I have the feeling that I am talking to a blank wall, except when I talk about it informally with members of my own party. Sentences of this kind are of no use. The only possible result is longer trials.

Nevertheless, we have a striking example here in Canada of the uselessness of minimum sentences. When I was young, I had never heard of marijuana. In fact, I never heard of it until I took my bar exams in 1966 and was starting to work in the crown attorney's office. It was around then that people started to use marijuana. The marijuana that could be found growing wild in Canada did not have any hallucinogenic effect. So all the marijuana that people consumed came from abroad. Do you know what the minimum sentence was for importing marijuana? Seven years. That should have dissuaded people. But instead, we had flower power and marijuana consumption steadily increased.

In 1982, I think, the Supreme Court decided that a minimum of seven years for importing marijuana was so severe that it was unconstitutional. So the minimum sentence disappeared. There was no particular increase in marijuana use at that time, though. It just continued.

First, people do not know what the minimums are. Then, they want minimum sentences, because they think everyone is like us and generally obeys the law. Most of the prison population, however, is totally different. When I was minister of public security, I asked that sociological studies of the type of clientele we had be redone. We could talk about a lot of things. I do not want to arouse sympathy needlessly, but these people can be described for the most part as social misfits.

In addition, I ask the hon. members whether they know what the minimums are. Do they know what they are for failure to register a firearm? Even we the legislators do not know what the minimum sentences are. How can they have an effect on the people in our prisons, who are for the most part unaware of these things and likely to commit such crimes.

A minimum sentence in any case would have an impact on a hit and run. Most people who lose it after hitting someone—because it is pretty traumatic—and flee the scene, later turn themselves in to the police. However, when they realize the minimum sentence is seven years for this kind of offence, I am not so sure they will do that.

The other example we have in Canada is the death penalty. Since we abolished it, the homicide rate has gradually declined. This shows clearly that other factors affect criminal behaviour.

There is another success in Canada. Not a total success, but still a success. It is the rate of drunk driving offences. There are far fewer today than there were 20 years ago. Nothing has been done about minimum sentences for this sort of offence. But roadblocks have been set up. The Supreme Court has determined that the Constitution permits it.

So roadblocks began to appear. These, of course, made it possible to test a goodly number of drivers. I remember, when the roadblocks first started, sometimes 10% or 12% of drivers were nabbed for impaired driving. Now thousands are stopped at roadblocks, but I recall two recent ones in Montreal where only four impaired drivers were detected.

People's attitudes have changed. For instance, when my children go out partying with friends, there is a designated driver. I never heard of such a thing when I was young. Attitudes have been changed through education.

I am focussing particularly on roadblocks because these stop people before they commit crimes. Again, most of the time people are far more concerned with being stopped than with the sentence they might end up with. Most of the time they do not expect to get caught.

I found a striking historical example in the case law of the British Columbia Appeal Court. The judge referred to the time when pickpockets were hanged in England. Their fellow pickpockets were at their busiest during the hanging. What a deterrent that was, don't you think? People may be deterred by fear of punishment, but are far more likely to be deterred by the likelihood of getting caught than by the imposition of a minimum sentence.

So the only effects this has are to fill up our jails and force judges to impose minimum sentences. I do not get the point, frankly. The people who propose these sentences seem to totally mistrust judges. They feel Canadian judges are the worst and are liable to give criminals who appear before them nothing but a slap on the wrist. They are absolutely determined to force minimum sentences on the judges in order to get them to take action.

This is not the case. It does force judges to impose sentences they feel are unfair, because they are locked in and must impose the minimum sentence.

Before imposing minimum sentences, further reflection is needed. This tendency to impose minimum sentences is very popular in the United States. Does anyone here think that the crime rate is much higher in Canada than it is in the United States? The more minimum sentences are imposed, the more the crime rate increases. Just check the statistics. The crime rate in Canada is comparable to that in the United States, except for homicide. The homicide rate is three times higher in the United States than it is in Canada. For the rest, the statistics are quite similar. Do you know how many people are in jail in the United States compared to Canada? Roughly seven times more people are imprisoned in the United States than in Canada.

The most recent statistics I found that are available internationally date back to 2001. From memory, the incarceration rate in the United States is 686 per 100,000 population, compared to 101 per 100,000 population in Canada. Do you want other global comparisons? For the European Union it is 89 per 100,000 population and in Japan, 50. In fact, the incarceration rate per 100,000 population in most civilized countries, except the United States, is around 100. If I recall correctly, it is slightly higher in England and Portugal. In some cases, the rate is as low as 50. Yet these countries have similar crime rates.

I understand that it is an easy way to gain popularity, and lord knows the United States overdoes it, which is what gives that country an incarceration rate similar to Russia's or some other such country that we would never want to live in. Minimum sentences have absolutely no effect on the crime rate in these countries.

It is obvious—perhaps because it is easy for me to convince my colleagues—that we will not support such a bill which, once again, is unnecessary and will create injustices and will certainly not resolve the problem it claims to address.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-275, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding failure to stop at scene of accident. This bill is commonly known as Carley's law and proposes stiffer sentences for those convicted of hit and run crimes. I would like to commend the members for Cariboo--Prince George and Abbotsford for bringing this bill forward.

I am sure many of us in the House know of someone who has been injured or killed by a hit and run driver. I know that we have seen many headlines. It does not matter what area of the country we are from, we have seen headlines, much like those that I am going to read here, especially for my colleague who just spoke from the Bloc. I think he misunderstood the purpose behind this bill.

These are the headlines: “Student killed in hit and run”, “Teen dies after hit and run accident”, “Hit and run driver still sought”, “Fatal hit and run driver gets slap on the wrist” and “House arrest for fatal hit and run”. Those are some of the headlines across the country dealing with hit and run accidents. Many of them, of course, have been fatal.

For the benefit of my friend in the Bloc, and I listened to his presentation carefully, the incident that brought this bill into being dealt with an offender in British Columbia that had 11 driving prohibitions and citations since 1997. In other words, he had been charged numerous times with impaired driving. He did not learn a lesson. It did not matter how many times he was charged, how many times he was convicted, he did not learn from any of those incidences. That is what brought this about.

The crowning matter was when he ran over and killed a young girl by the name of Carley Regan, a 13-year old girl. She lost her life unnecessarily at the hands of this driver. I can tell the House and the member from the Bloc who thinks this is an absurd bill that this story is being repeated and repeated across the country in just about every city. I am sure that the member of the Bloc can attest to similar types of situations that have occurred in his own province.

That is what concerns us here. It is not the fact that there are these occurrences taking place, it is the fact that they are not being addressed adequately for the seriousness of the crime, and that is the taking of someone else's life or the serious injury of another person. This bill hits those two particular points right on the head. It is a seven year minimum for loss of life and four years for severe damage or personal injury. This is what is happening here.

I will mention one other incident dealing with a Calgary situation. A young father had just come into my office last week. His daughter was killed by a hit and run driver on March 17 of this year. That hit and run driver, in spite of the low penalties associated with this crime, decided to make a run for it and he got out of town because he knew the law was on his heels. He made it all the way to Toronto and he climbed aboard a plane after dispensing some of his personal belongings. He was heading to England when the police walked on to that plane and slapped the cuffs on him. There is no question, when it comes to extradition for a charge such as this, that he would have gotten away scot free. That is how close it was. As it turns out, he is now before the courts in this country.

This family of which I speak is totally devastated by the loss of their daughter at his hands. I know from speaking with the father that he has serious concerns, as do many of us, vis-à-vis the penalties meted out to those who kill someone in a hit and run accident.

This family shares the view of a growing number of constituents and taxpayers in this country that these offenders are getting off far too lightly. The number of families is growing across this land. They are watching issues such as this come forward. They want to see parliamentarians address the matter. They know that there is a political answer to this particular problem. It is all in the legislation.

These people would like to see their concerns addressed in this House. I commend my colleagues, the members for Cariboo—Prince George and Abbotsford for bringing this matter forward. These members took some action. We are encouraging members in other parties in this House to support this particular action. It is not frivolous and not unreasonable.

If we think of it in our own situation, it may be one or our sons or daughters. I have been there. I have had fathers crying in my office over issues such as this. There was one particular case where a father's son was run over. The culprit got out of his car. The child had been eating an ice cream cone and the ice cream cone was splattered on the windshield of the car that hit him. The driver got out; he was drunk. He looked at the young boy on the pavement. He then got back in his car and ran over him again.

Tell me, is that a reasonable course of action? If the answer is no, and it should be no, then the person that is responsible should pay a price and not, as we have seen in the headlines in this country, receive a slap on the wrist or house arrest. There must be a minimum sentence brought into this picture. It has been far too long that we have not addressed this matter in the House including many other cases of drunk driving.

I beg to differ with the comments of my colleague from the Bloc that drunk driving numbers are down. If the statistics are recorded as being down, I will tell the House why they are down. It is because police departments across this country do not have the resources to put these programs forward.

The challenges in the courts for entrapment and all other charter arguments are outrageous. They are causing police departments to withdraw. It takes a great deal of effort and resource to reconstruct a hit and run accident. Bill C-275 also deals with the issue of plea bargaining on hit and run charges and it seeks to eliminate it.

We could not ask for a better bill to deal with all of the backroom negotiations that take place in a courtroom. I ask my colleagues on both sides of this House to support this bill. We owe it to Canadians to do everything possible to ensure that those who flee the scene of an accident will receive just punishment.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that everyone in this House will agree that leaving the scene of an accident where there is death or bodily harm is truly and utterly despicable. In fact, that is precisely why Parliament, in 1999, created a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for leaving the scene of an accident knowing there is death and a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for leaving the scene of an accident knowing there is bodily harm.

These penalties are indeed severe and, quite logically, they parallel the maximum penalties for manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm, and impaired driving causing death or bodily harm. These are all of course very serious offences.

Even if one were to agree with the minimum penalties proposed in Bill C-275, it would be inconsistent to propose minimum penalties for these offences of leaving the scene of an accident without proposing minimum penalties for the other offences that I mentioned. We cannot make seven year and four year minimum penalties for certain serious offences without ensuring that all other similarly serious offences have the same penalties. This bill fails in that regard.

I want to make it very clear to members who have spoken in favour of Bill C-275 that the opposition which they are hearing toward this bill from all other parties in the House has nothing to do with partisan politics. The opposition to Bill C-275 has everything to do, however, with the extremely serious matters of principle and of constitutional law.

In the first hour of the debate, some speakers noted that leaving the scene of an accident was unacceptable behaviour and it must remain a crime. No one condones it. However, speakers from all parties, except speakers from the Conservative Party, appear to agree with the proposals in Bill C-275 that these principles fail the principles of fundamental justice which are part of the Canadian Constitution, like it or not. These are important principles. They are not minor details or troublesome technicalities that could be legislated out of existence with the blink of an eye.

Frankly, the Supreme Court of Canada simply could not uphold in good conscience the validity of this bill. In my view, voting in favour of Bill C-275 would, or could, become a cynical or thinly veiled effort to manufacture a circumstance where it could then be said that the Supreme Court of Canada was thwarting the will of Parliament.

The proponents of Bill C-275 would have us believe that eliminating the requirement of a guilty mind, or mens rea is an easy matter. However, the reality is that when creating a criminal offence there must be an act that is accompanied by a guilty mind. Unlike a regulatory offence where the act in itself is a sufficient trigger, with a criminal offence there must be a mental element that accompanies the prohibitive behaviour. This is a bedrock principle of criminal law and fundamental justice. Bill C-275 proposes to eradicate this fundamental principle when it comes to the offences of leaving the scene of an accident knowing there is death or bodily harm.

There seems to be an underlying theme in some of the speeches supporting Bill C-275 that if we suspect but cannot prove impaired driving causing death or bodily harm by a driver who has left the scene of an accident, we should make it harder on the suspect by throwing out the requirement for the prosecution to prove the mental element of the offence of leaving the scene and get the driver on that issue instead. The prosecution would only need to prove the act of leaving the scene of the accident and the driver would be guilty regardless why he or she left the scene. This is exactly what the bill says as it is drafted.

However suspicious a court might be, our present Constitution tells us that unless the prosecution proves an offence beyond a reasonable doubt, there would be no conviction and no punishment.

The bill appears to be an attempt to punish without having to prove a guilty mind. In cases where the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the offence of impaired driving causing death or bodily harm against a driver who left the scene of an accident appears.

Certain members wish to eliminate the fundamental principles of justice in criminal cases, such as proof beyond a reasonable doubt and the guilty mind requirement. If that is their option, the only true option to seek is an amendment to Canada's constitution. Until there is a constitutional amendment, they will not succeed.

When it comes to sentencing an offender for leaving the scene of an accident, knowing that there was death or bodily harm, the judge has the task of setting the penalty from within the range of penalties that Parliament has enacted. The judge must weigh all circumstances of the offence and the offender. All aggravating and mitigating circumstances must be taken into account and if the defence or the prosecution is not satisfied that the sentence is fit and proper, then either may appeal the sentence.

In cases of leaving the scene knowing there is death or bodily harm, the accused has a right to choose to be tried by a judge sitting alone or by a judge and jury.

Back in the era of capital punishment, there was often a suspicion that juries sometimes would look beyond the evidence in proof of a crime to the penalty that would apply upon conviction and sometimes they might refuse to convict.

There is nothing to suggest that judges are incapable of examining the evidence and registering a conviction, regardless of any personal view they may hold about a particular penalty range set by Parliament. I have every confidence that if the minimum penalties proposed in Bill C-275 were enacted and found to be constitutional, then judges would convict where there would be proof beyond a reasonable doubt and they would not hold the prosecution to an impossible standard of proof as a way to avoid imposing the minimum penalty.

I would not speculate on what juries might do. However, I can say that it is their duty to apply the same test of proof beyond reasonable doubt to the evidence, regardless of the penalty that would flow.

I do want to express my opinion that the minimum penalties proposed in Bill C-275 are somewhat troublesome. If the courts were confronted with these proposed minimum penalties, coupled with the elimination of a mental element for the offence, they would have no choice but to find that the provisions could not withstand constitutional scrutiny.

Let me be very frank. Even if I agreed that the proposed minimum penalties were justified and I were voting for them, I would not be so optimistic as to believe they would significantly reduce the incidence of leaving the scene of an accident. People leave the scene of an accident not because they carefully evaluate the penalties at that moment, but because they think they can completely avoid detection and prosecution or they are gambling that they can avoid detection and prosecution.

In closing, I have two things to say. First, I would ask the rhetorical question. Is leaving the scene of an accident, knowing that there is a death or an injury, deplorable behaviour? Of course it is. Second, does Bill C-275 respect existing constitutional principles that apply to criminal legislation? It does not, and I will be voting against it.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-275, and acknowledge the wonderful hard work that we have seen from the members for Abbotsford and for Cariboo—Prince George.

Every driver's worst fear is to accidentally hit a child who runs between parked cars and chases a ball out into the road or on a dark rainy night hitting someone who darts across the road instead of crossing at a crosswalk. These scenarios could happen to anyone. No one would like to go to jail after experiencing such a horrific event. These drivers are not the ones that Carley's law is targeting.

Carley's law targets the driver who hits someone and then makes a conscious decision to leave, possibly leaving the victim to die. Carley's law would protect Canadians from the driver who makes a choice to flee in the hopes that no one saw the licence plate. Carley's law would protect Canadians from the driver who has an accident and also had a few drinks that day and is more afraid of the penalties of the drunk driving conviction than they are for a hit and run and they choose to flee the scene. Carley's law would protect us from the dangerous drivers who already have a number of convictions and they are afraid of one more and they choose to run. That is who Carley's law will target.

On January 6, 2003, Carley Regan, a 13 year old Langley girl, lost her life when she was struck from behind by a hit and run driver. Carley was rollerblading. Her sister and her friend were bicycling right beside her when all three were hit. The two younger girls were knocked into the ditch, but thankfully were not injured. Carley died on the road.

At the time of the fatal hit and run, driver Paul Wettlaufer was under a driving suspension. On the night of the accident, Wettlaufer maintains he was not drinking or speeding and did not see anyone on the rural road. He said he did not realize what he had struck. When he did realize what had happened, he panicked and fled, leaving the dying girl on the road. Despite him leaving the scene and removing the licence plates from his vehicle, Wettlaufer said he was not trying to cover up the incident. Wettlaufer had 11 previous driving prohibitions and citations in six years.

Carley's law is close to my heart. Carley Regan lived and died in my riding of Langley, B.C. January 6, 2003, is a day that I, too will never forget. Before I was elected as a member of Parliament for Langley, I was the road safety loss prevention coordinator for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. I wrote the report on all Langley traffic fatalities. All fatalities are tragic, but I remember this one vividly because it involved such a young life, such a beautiful girl and a cowardly act.

As anyone who became involved in this case, I became emotionally involved and grieved the loss of that young life.

I had been to the roadside memorial in Carley's honour. In fact, after the accident, I drove that road regularly for a month at different times during the day and evening trying to figure out what had happened. Carley's death was a tragedy that affected many people, and it should not have happened.

To keep our sanity, police officers, health workers and others like myself who work on cases like, we try to keep an emotional detachment. With Carley Regan it was impossible to detach oneself. I would think about what if it was my child, what if it was one of my loved ones? The tragedy was that she lost her life. The tragedy was that the driver should not have been on the road that night. The tragedy was that Paul Wettlaufer had a choice to stop but he did not. He left Carley there dying.

Bill C-275, Carley's law would require a minimum of seven years to life for a hit and run causing death; a punishment less than murder sentences but greater than manslaughter. It would also equate hit and run causing bodily harm with attempted murder, a punishment of four years to life. Carley's law would prohibit plea bargaining cases of hit and run.

Wettlaufer was committed to trial to face charges of dangerous driving causing death. Crown counsel however plea bargained the case with Wettlaufer subsequently pleading guilty to three counts of hit and run and one count of driving while prohibited. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of probation and 10 years driving suspension. He served 12 months in prison and was released.

Carley's law, if passed, will prevent for the first time in Canada crown counsel from plea bargaining the charge of hit and run so that those who hit and run must face the charge. A message needs to be sent that it is unacceptable to evade responsibility by fleeing the accident site.

Bill C-275 is name for Carley Regan, but she is by far not the only victim. We have heard of others from members who previously spoke. In my riding of Langley right after Carley's death there was another Langley hit and run.

A Langley father of two, David Slack, was left to die on the shoulder of the Fraser highway. The person who hit him left him to die. He should have stopped. Right after that in Vancouver there was an elderly gentleman hit and left to die on the side of the road. This happens all too often and they flee with the plan that they will get away and not be caught, and often they are not.

Carley's law would make Canadians aware that if a person hits someone with his or her vehicle, the person must stay at the scene. Carley's law will save lives.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving are asking us for sentencing reform. MADD says that current practices are making a mockery of the Canadian judicial system. MADD Canada wants conditional sentences eliminated for the crimes of impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm. Canadian courts have been frequently handing out conditional sentences for violent crimes, which were never intended by Parliament.

In an impaired driving crash where a person has been killed or seriously injured, there needs to be appropriate sentences handed down that reflect both the seriousness of the crime and our value of life.

Every driver in Canada is aware of the punishment drunk driving. As we have heard, fear of a drunk driving conviction can be an impetus for a person to commit a hit and run, which is just as serious a crime, if not more so. Therefore, if we establish penalties for one crime, we must keep them in line with others. We need Carley's law to keep drunk drivers from simply leaving the scene of an accident to avoid an impaired driving conviction.

MADD Canada wants an active commitment from all members of Parliament to initiate a comprehensive plan that will answer for the loss of lives and the social cost of these crimes.

I am one MP who will do that very thing. I believe legislation like Carley's law needs to be part of a plan. For a justice system to promote public safety and generate public safety confidence, it must place a premium on truth.

Canada's current sentencing system does not promote truth in sentencing. In section 245 of the Criminal Code, 25 years can mean only 15 years and 15 years does not really mean 15 years when we consider parole eligibility: clock running from the point of arrest, not the point of sentencing.

Federal law now permits conditional sentencing, intermittent sentencing, suspended sentencing, merged sentencing and sentence administration. Truth in sentencing means when a judge issues a sentence that is what one will serve.

Carley's law shows the need for complete sentencing reform in Canada. Carley's law highlights the need for truth in sentencing.

The official opposition has been calling for a complete overhaul of our sentencing legislation for many years. Opponents of mandatory minimum sentencing say that it gives unwanted direction to judges who, some fear, have too much flexibility in sentencing. In reality judges are so hemmed in by the current restrictions on sentencing that they have no room to impose the higher sentences that the public demands. We never see maximum sentencing.

Canadians want sentencing reform. We need to bring forward sentencing reform. We need to follow guidelines and principles of minimum sentencing. We can start that right now with Carley's law. We have heard the tragic stories. It is not adequate. My riding of Langley demands better and Canadians demand better. It is our responsibility, each of us in the House, to provide that.

Let us allow Carley's law, Bill C-275, to proceed to committee. If amendments have to be made, the drafters of the bill are open to that, but it will be a good start to providing accountability and eliminating the ability of people to flee from their responsibilities.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wajid Khan Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-275 aims to toughen the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident where there is death or injury. It also aims to make it a whole lot easier for the prosecution to obtain a conviction in death or injury situations. I am certainly not in favour of persons leaving the scene of an accident and escaping liability. However I am also not in favour of Bill C-275. I take note that the Minister of Justice is also not in favour of Bill C-275.

The bill would keep the maximum penalty at life imprisonment for a driver who leaves the scene of an accident where there is a death. It will also jack up the maximum penalty from 10 years to life imprisonment for a driver who leaves the scene of an accident where there is an injury.

I want to note that the maximum penalty for criminal negligence and impaired driving causing death is life imprisonment, just as it is for leaving the scene of an accident that results in a death. However the maximum penalty for criminal negligence and impaired driving causing injury is 10 years. Why is it then that Bill C-275 proposes life imprisonment as a maximum penalty for leaving the scene of an accident where there is injury? I find this part of the bill inexplicable.

Bill C-275 also proposes to toughen sentencing by creating a minimum penalty in death and injury. There would be a minimum penalty of seven years imprisonment for death and four years imprisonment for injury. Here again it is important to look at the fact that for manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving during a police chase causing death, impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm there is no minimum penalty.

Why is it that the death and injury cases of leaving the scene would have a minimum penalty of seven years and four years respectively, while the other offences of similar gravity have no minimum penalty?

The proposal in Bill C-275 appears to be widely disproportionate compared to the penalties for similar offences. I can think of no rational explanation for this.

I see that Bill C-275 aims to make the task of the prosecution easier. This also sounds very noble until one realizes that the bill proposes to eliminate the mental element of the criminal offence of leaving the scene of an accident in death and injury cases.

Upon careful reflection, we appreciate that the requirement to have a mental element within the definition of each criminal offence is a very fundamental aspect of our criminal law. The purpose of such a requirement is to ensure that purely accidental acts will not be criminalized. I find it of more than passing interest that people who are so ready to rail against the charter as shielding offenders are likely to be quite happy to stand upon these same charter rights if one day they are facing criminal charges or need other charter protection.

The truth is that although most of us will never be charged with a criminal offence, the charter is there to ensure that we can sleep well at night and assure us that we will not be deprived of our liberty without respecting principles of fundamental justice. In Canada we take our freedom for such treatment as this for granted. It is only because the courts so carefully protect these fragile freedoms that we take so much for granted.

Often enough, the prosecution cannot prove all elements of a criminal case, including the mental element, beyond a reasonable doubt and the court must find the defendant not guilty as charged, however suspicious the court may be. Most of us will agree that this is the price that we must pay in order to have a system that awards unfairness and wrongful conviction.

Bill C-275 does not share this view. It would throw caution and fundamental principles of justice to the wind and would say that if drivers commit the act of leaving the scene, they are guilty, regardless of whether the prosecution can prove that there was an intention to escape liability and regardless of whether the prosecution can prove that there was knowledge of death or injury. The mental element would no longer matter.

Even if this did not violate the charter, which I believe it does, surely our sense of basic fairness would tell us that we should not be criminalizing every person who leaves an accident scene in which there was death or injury. Given the wide range of reasons that might exist for leaving, surely the existing mental elements within the definition of the offence serve the purpose of ensuring such fairness.

To jump upon the bandwagon of Bill C-275 would be like saying that we should eliminate the mental element of an intention to kill for the crime of murder and charge even cases of accidentally causing a death as a criminal offence of murder because it would make it so much easier for the prosecutor to get a conviction.

I would imagine that people who do flee the scene of an accident with the requisite mental intent do so because they fear that if they remain they will be liable. Therefore they take a chance that they can escape any liability and they leave the scene. The thought process would remain the same, even with the harsher penalty of Bill C-275. The drivers who would leave the scene fear liability and they choose to flee the scene in the belief that they can avoid liability. The question that they are asking themselves is whether they will get caught, not whether the maximum or minimum penalties have been increased.

I will be voting against Bill C-275. It just goes too far because it proposes penalties that do not logically fit with the penalties for similarly serious Criminal Code offences. It goes too far because it proposes to eliminate the mental element for the most serious situations of leaving the scene of an accident, namely, death and injury situations.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I must be one of the luckiest fellows who ever walked the face of the Earth that I have to get up and speak behind the nonsense that I just heard coming out of the mouth of the member across the way. Just in case he does not think about it, Carley's family, the survivors of this victim, will be suffering for life.

In those types of accidents, whether it is through negligence or whatever, we do not know if the individual would have survived if the hit and run driver had stopped to lend a helping hand. However, what we do know is that when an accident like that happens we have a responsibility to stop and do everything we can to attend to the situation confronting us.

Most of these events are usually caused by someone who is impaired. We heard that several times in the justice committee. Drunk driving is common in a hit and run. There is no way in the world there should ever be any excuse for anybody to leave the scene of an accident. If we want to use alcohol impairment as a state of confusion or that the poor guy did not realize what he had done, we are really doubling the injustice that happens in this country. There is no excuse first of all for an individual to even be behind the wheel when he is in that condition.

Apparently, the individual in the case of Carley, as I understand it, was a suspended driver. He was not even allowed to drive. His licence was gone. I think the only reason that an individual like that would leave the scene is for his own sake. He was not respecting anything about the victims he may have created because of his decision to do what he did.

This morning I was a little surprised to find out that many of the people responsible for, not only hit and run accidents but accidents that cause death or injury, do not even do any jail time. House arrest, community service and probation have become far too much of a common practice under the Liberal government. It has become worse in the last 12 years than I have ever seen it in the past.

If we continue to sit back idly and say, in these particular cases, such as the case with this young Carley, that we do not need to do something about it, that it is too scary or whatever the last speaker was trying to say, that it is too hard on the perpetrators, the law-breaking individuals, that is just getting to be so commonplace in the country and I am really getting tired of it , as are most Canadians. They are absolutely sick and tired of the fact that we do not take some of these things a lot more seriously. The only way that we can really show that is to enforce the laws by making certain that the penalties reflect the crime.

This was a little girl who lost her life through someone's total negligence and ignorance, or whatever we want to add to it. She and her family received a life sentence, while her perpetrator, from what I understand, served only about eight months of the intended four or five year sentence. He was out on parole in a short time and living a good life.

What kind of message does that send? Should we not be very concerned about protecting society? Is not one of our most elemental duties as members of Parliament to come to this place and make laws that concentrate on protecting the honest, law-abiding people of our land, instead of listening to that cry towel baby over there talking about the poor perpetrator and asking what will happen to him and to future ones if we get too tough on these guys.

By the way, it might not meet the charter test. That is what they will say. I do not think the charter was invented to protect those kinds of guys to that extent. That is not the purpose of the charter. That is another excuse and another lawyer's haven to have some kind of an opportunity to defend someone and make more money.

When are we going to get serious in this place? I have been here for 12 years. I have been waiting for some things to happen in here that will make it safer for society out there. We have to make people realize that if they are not going to be responsible for their actions, they will wish they had been. We have to give people cause to think before they do such activities.

There are so many of these cases now. This is not a one time event. We need only listen to the news and we will hear of people all across the country who are being injured or killed, with the individual responsible being a hit and run driver. Sooner or later we have to wake up to the fact that if we do not get serious about correcting the situation by making laws that reflect our intent, it will never happen.

I could probably stay here until midnight, and I will, I imagine, wondering why in the world an individual would get up and make a speech like that, but then maybe I should not be too hard on the individual because I know that most Liberals who come in here to make a speech on any bill usually have a canned speech that some bureaucrat wrote. They go and pick it up. It is their chance to give a little talk, whether they know what they are talking about or not.

There was no compassion in that speech at all, except compassion for the criminal, the person who caused the crime. That is what I heard throughout the speech. I heard that we cannot be so tough on these guys who do these things. I heard no compassion for the victims.

A victim testified recently at the justice committee. He asked the justice committee if we would please reflect a little more on the victims of these crimes when we make laws. This person was referring to an accident that happened to him. He was struck by a drunk driver. He has been forced to live with an artificial leg ever since that particular tragedy. It has changed his lifestyle completely.

The focus was never on this person and his accident. The focus was always on the perpetrator, who was able to walk away and live happily ever after. Meanwhile, this guy is living in torture and misery because he wears an artificial leg. I see members of the justice committee in the House tonight. They will remember him. He simply asked that when we make laws if would we please reflect a little more on the victims and quit reflecting so adamantly on the rights of the person who committed the crime.

Carley's family is suffering for life. They have a life sentence. They have no choice as to whether they can serve it or not. They do not have a parole hearing to go to some time in the future to ease them of their pain and misery.

However, we could help future families. We can take on these kinds of cases and remember that no family should ever feel that justice has never been served as a result of a tragedy that happened to their loved one.

One day we will have someone sitting on that side of the House who will have the courage to invoke these kinds of things that will bring a little more sanity to this justice system and which will concentrate a little more on the victims and their rights and not so heavily on those who continually break the law. I understand that the perpetrator in Carley's law had broken the law and was convicted several times. That is why his licence was suspended.

We just keep allowing this to happen until one day the event that happens is so tragic we wonder why it has happened. Leniency is one thing; stupidity is another. I think we have almost reached the point of stupidity when we make the decisions that we make in this place with regard to the rights of the victim compared to the rights of the criminals and those who break the law and put our society at great risk.

I encourage people to start thinking about that in this place and to stop thinking about what some liberal bureaucrat wrote on some piece of paper for some fellow over there to give a speech on when he probably does not even know what he is talking about. I encourage people to start thinking about it seriously, from the heart, and to support these kinds of initiatives and start making society a little safer.

Perhaps one day we will wipe the grins off the faces of those Liberals who like to come in here and say, “There is that Wild Rose man on the rampage again”. Let me say that this Wild Rose man will be in the defence of victims forever before I will ever give in to criminals.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It being 6:30 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired. Accordingly, the question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.