House of Commons Hansard #22 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was justice.

Topics

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to my colleague and again I would challenge him on a couple of things.

He talked about the Statistics Canada statistics for crime saying that crime was down. That is true if we talk about all crime, including petty crime. The fact is that petty crime is not reported anymore because nothing is done about it.

The fact is that violent crime and youth crime are up, and we are talking about Bill C-25, the amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

He talked about deterrence and prevention. I agree that if someone has already been sentenced that will not deter the person because it is too late. However, it might deter somebody else who looks at somebody actually being caught and actually being held to account for what he or she has done.

If we want to talk statistics, statistically an habitual offender, if he is in jail, will not commit the 15 crimes in the next year that he would have committed had he been on the street. Therefore, we are talking about deterrence, not necessarily of that person but of somebody else. We are talking about the prevention of crimes and, while that person is in jail, whether it is a youth or an adult offender is immaterial, the person will not be committing crimes.

Why does my hon. colleague ignore some statistics and selectively picks others.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, indeed, I was referring to Canadian statistics indicating that youth crime is down. In this regard, I would like to say that there is no such thing as petty crime because, when these petty crimes are not taken into account and nothing is done to rehabilitate young offenders, one day they will become hardened criminals and commit more serious crimes.

I agree that incarcerating an individual has a preventive aspect. What I am saying is that judges are in the best position to establish, on a case-by-case basis, the most appropriate sentence for a youth. A judge could decide to incarcerate a truly dangerous individual for a longer period of time in order to protect society. It is not up to us, the legislators, to automatically impose a predetermined sentence without taking the circumstances into account.

We have often heard the Conservatives criticize judges for political activism or for getting involved in politics, but the Conservatives want to do the opposite. As legislators, they want to get involved in judicial matters. In my opinion, as legislators, we must pass laws and then guide judges by indicating the maximum sentence for each crime. However, after that, we must let the judges decide what is most appropriate.

In the bill before us here today, it is especially hypocritical that the government talks about punishment as a means of preventing crime, yet it wants to amend the Young Offenders Act to include punishment as a deterrent. The government must make up its mind.

Is this meant to prevent people from committing other offences by putting them behind bars, or is it meant to deter other people from committing crimes? It is logically incoherent.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to what the hon. member had to say and part of what I do not think he understands is that our government does not disagree with the fundamental point that he is making, which is that there needs to be a focus on prevention. We agree with that.

In fact, we have worked very hard to support families and to support communities. We believe assisting families and communities is fundamental. Stronger families mean safer communities in my opinion.

What I do not understand and what I can never comprehend, when I hear these arguments from members of the opposition, is that they do not believe there should be an adequate punishment for crime. In my riding, people are very often outraged with what they see as lenient sentences that, quite frankly, do not fit the crime at all.

Our government is saying that sentencing is a deterrent. It is an important deterrent and Parliament should be giving direction to the courts in sentencing that we feel is fitting for the crime, in particular violent crimes, but more than that, because we made a serious commitment to Canadians for safer streets and communities.

Does the member believe that in order to have a justice system we must have just sentences, or does he believe that sentences should be completely immaterial to the crime and that we should just focus on prevention, keep the blinders on and pretend that crime is not out there, even though our communities tell us otherwise? Is that the approach he would like to take?

Would he prefer justice or would he prefer pretending it is not out there, putting the blinders on, talking kindly to people and maybe they will not do bad things anymore?

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, indeed, we believe that the punishment must fit the crime and it must be suited to the context of the crime. The only person who can decide this is a judge. Only the judge, while considering the guidelines set out by the legislators who establish maximum sentences, can determine the most appropriate punishment for the crime, the context and the individual in question.

Now, we, as parliamentarians, are all being asked to determine the minimum sentences for crimes x, y and z, full stop. And this is how to determine the appropriate punishment? Come on! We will end up with even worse disparities. For instance, two people in completely different situations will be slapped with the same minimum sentence, because the judge will not have had the latitude to gauge the most appropriate sentence for each individual. Thus, by taking away a judge's capacity to determine the best punishment, we are inviting the exact opposite: punishment that does not fit the crime.

The second thing I would like to point out is this hypocrisy. We hear talk about making our streets safer and protecting our communities, yet in the meantime, the gun registry is being dismantled. Is this not the most abysmal hypocrisy we have seen from the Conservatives? This will facilitate the circulation of firearms in our communities, yet we just heard that it is the opposition that is hindering the safety of our communities. The government must ensure that the gun registry is maintained as it is. Only then can we talk about the safety of our streets.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I am sure the hon. member would like to carry on the debate, but we have reached the time for statements by members.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, municipalities in my riding are looking forward to the roll out of the building Canada fund.

Unfortunately, most municipalities in my riding of Perth—Wellington did not benefit from COMRIF, created by the previous Liberal government. Most municipalities applied to all three rounds and received nothing. In the meantime, important projects have been put on hold.

Funding from our new building Canada fund along with significant investments in the gas tax fund will help our municipalities upgrade and renew their infrastructure. Our $33 billion of infrastructure funding over the next seven years is the largest single federal commitment to public infrastructure in 50 years.

I look forward to working with the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and his team in support of our municipalities.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, the federal government plays a critical role in the health of Canadians across the country. Recognizing such and to commemorate our country's Centennial in 1967, a previous Liberal government established a program to assist municipalities, large and small, to build recreational facilities such as community pools, libraries, seniors centres, ice rinks and baseball diamonds, just to name a few.

After 40 years of intensive and enjoyable use by children and adults alike, our country's deteriorating recreational infrastructure is in need of immediate attention. We must ensure that quality recreational facilities will continue to be available for our citizens of all ages to contribute to a positive lifestyle and, more important, their health.

Our towns and cities are in fiscal crisis and need financial federal assistance to address the compelling need. I urge the government, in partnership with the provincial and local governments, to immediately create a new infrastructure program dedicated to replacing our crumbling recreational facilities.

I say this to the Prime Minister. Yes, our municipalities are important.

World Peace Week
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, from November 17 to 24, YMCA World Peace Week will focus attention on the commitment of individuals and groups who work for peace. It is an opportunity for us to think about peace and especially our own ability to resolve conflicts around the world.

Since 2006, the situation in Darfur has steadily worsened; thousands have died, and people have been displaced, raped, starved and subjected to daily violence.

To restore peace in Darfur, the Bloc Québécois urges the federal government to increase humanitarian aid, continue to support the International Criminal Court and provide greater financial and logistical assistance to the African Union and the UN, in additional to engaging in diplomatic efforts.

Peace is not just the absence of war. It is also the creation of an environment conducive to the well-being and development of all human beings.

End Exclusion 2007
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, End Exclusion 2007 is an extraordinary gathering taking place in Ottawa today.

More than 300 delegates, representing over 90 organizations from across Canada, seeking meaningful equality for persons with disabilities are here working out a plan of action to convert their vision of an inclusive and accessible Canada into a new and vibrant reality.

They have a message for all of us: enough with the studies, enough with the promises, it is time for action now, time for the federal government to build a Canada where all people living with disabilities have the supports necessary to fully access and benefit from all that Canada has to offer, where we work together to remove barriers and ensure that active citizenship and full inclusion of Canadians with disabilities is a reality.

We have reached a turning point. It is time for the federal government to show leadership and improve the daily lives of the 12% or more of Canadians living with disabilities. It is time to get to work building a Canada where all citizens can enjoy full citizenship and where we base our values on equality, self-determination and accessibility. It is time for us to act so all generations will look on this moment with pride.

Afghanistan
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, this past summer there was outpouring support from my constituents, who signed a nine metre long banner for our troops in Afghanistan.

This was one part of a major effort led by Vernon, B.C. based HevyD's Old Fashioned Kettle Korn. HevyD's has also dispatched 2,600 commemorative bags of fresh kettle korn to the troops in Afghanistan, bearing messages from school children and cadets.

Copies of “We Salute Our Heroes” CD and DVD packages will also be sent. The goal is to raise $100,000 for “We Salute Our Heroes Foundation”. This is an effort to support injured troops and their families.

Actions such as these reassure our troops of our support and that they are always in our hearts.

I salute HevyD's Old Fashioned Kettle Korn and all the volunteers for their efforts to support our troops.

Eid ul-Fitr
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, a major festival in Islam is Eid ul-Fitr, which is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. The month is also marked by prayer and charity. It is also an opportunity for Muslims in countries around the world to interact and develop a better understanding of each other's heritage.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the organizations involved, I extend an invitation to you and to all colleagues in the House and in the other place to attend the 13th annual Eid ul-Fitr celebration on Parliament Hill tonight, in Room 200 of the West Block, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Once again, this event promises to be an evening of celebration of all faiths and recognizing the important contribution the Muslim community makes to Canada.

On behalf of this House, I wish all Canadian Muslims a Happy Eid Mubarak.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Statements By Members

November 22nd, 2007 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today to recognize the pride of Manitoba, my hometown team, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. With a rich history of 25 Grey Cup appearances and 10 Grey Cup wins dating all the way back to 1935, the blue and gold are truly one of the CFL's finest.

I would like all Manitobans and Blue Bomber fans from coast to coast to coast to echo these rousing words when they take on and crush the not so rough Roughriders. Like the Blue Bomber victory march says:

We'll shout as you go charging by,
We'll send up our cheers to the sky,
Behind you we'll stand,
You're best in the land.
And we'll shout out our praise on high.
Fight! Fight!

Quebec's Economy
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of this session, the Bloc Québécois has been trying to get the Conservative government to listen to reason and understand the need to take immediate action in the forestry and manufacturing crisis. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Industry have said in this House that everything is just fine. The economic reality is not fine: an oil boom in Alberta, based on developing the tar sands, and a major crisis in the forestry and manufacturing sectors in Quebec.

The Forest Products Association of Canada, the Quebec manufacturers and exporters association and the Réseau des ingénieurs du Québec have recently thanked the Bloc Québécois for their position on the forestry and manufacturing economy. My colleagues and I share their concern for their future.

The Conservative government is having trouble recognizing the catastrophic situation Quebec's economy is in right now. The Bloc Québécois has solutions to propose. The urgency of the situation demands that the government take action.

Hobbema Cadets
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, today marks the second anniversary of the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps.

With over 970 participants, this remarkable cadet corps is the largest native cadet program in Alberta and perhaps the world.

Under the direction of RCMP Constable Richard Huculiak and Sergeant Mark Linnell, the program emphasizes native culture, sports, a healthy lifestyle and requires cadets to stay in school. It has proven to be such an effective crime prevention initiative that in two short years school attendance is up and there are fewer bullying issues, fights or other complaints.

So amazing are these cadets, that they received a standing ovation at the 2007 “Models of Excellence for Youth” Provincial Congress in Toronto, following the screening of the documentary Shades of Blue that tracked their remarkable progress.

The Hobbema cadets are discovering that there is an alternative to gangs, drugs and violence. With new found confidence, they are on the road to becoming responsible, future leaders who will ensure the traditions and values of their heritage are upheld in a safe and vibrant community.

I encourage the four Hobbema bands and the community to invest in their young people by continuing to support this most worthwhile initiative.

Health
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the untimely death of Ashley Smith, an 18-year-old inmate at the Grand Valley Institution for Women, has everyone talking about the care provided to inmates with mental health issues, everyone, that is, except the government.

Ashley Smith began her six year sentence as a young offender and it ended tragically four years later when she suffocated herself just weeks before she was to be released. This mentally unstable teenager had spent most of her sentence in segregation.

Canada's correctional investigator has been telling us for several years that Canada's penitentiaries are becoming warehouses for the mentally ill. Yet our prisons remain ill-equipped to treat those who suffer with mental health issues. Segregation should not be confused with treatment.

I call on the government to make it a priority to implement the mental health strategy that has been languishing since 2004, to ensure that no future inmate will end up sadly as Ashley Smith has.