House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Truth in Sentencing Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Truth in Sentencing Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from June 3 consideration of the motion that Bill C-34, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we think about the sex offender registry and sex crimes in general, all our minds turn to our own children or to children in our families. It is hard to think of crimes that are more reprehensible than those that are of a sexual nature, particularly those of a sexual nature against children.

I think every member of the House would agree that every effective tool we can put at the disposal of law enforcement officials to ensure we can stop the crimes from happening or when a crime happens, we can get to the victims as quickly as possible to pull them away from harm is action we must take.

We the know of the Stephensons, who lost their son, and all the work they did in developing Christopher's law. It has led in Ontario to some very effective legislation, legislation that is used many hundreds of times a day and searched far more than the national registry. The success of that registry underscores the failure of the national registry. When we look at the statistics, and it is hard to believe, the Ontario registry is used four times more in a day than the national registry is used in a year.

I do not think there is any disagreement from anyone in the House that the sex offender registry is in need of modernization and amendment, and I welcome that debate.

I am greatly disappointed by the approach the government has taken. We had a bipartisan co-operative approach that was adopted by committee. All committee members had agreed that this was an item of importance, that we had a mandatory review to undertake, that we needed to update the legislation and we needed to do it in a careful, thoughtful way. We brought in witnesses from all different corners and had the opportunity to hear from them at committee about the types of changes that needed to be made. There was an expectation that we would then present a report and that report would be presented this week.

Imagine our shock when the government threw this legislation down on the table, put it on the order paper, short-circuiting all the work the committee had done, all the work in a collaborative, non-partisan way to find a solution. We can imagine how the witnesses who came before committee and made presentations on those changes felt.

The result, quite frankly, is legislation that is less than perfect. It really would have benefited from the input of committee and would have benefited from taking the time to ensure it was incorporated. It begs this question. Why would the government halt a process that was under way in committee, that was on its final stages of being completed to the point where we were to go through clause by clause tomorrow? Why would the government have short-circuited that process?

The only reason anybody could come up with was because the government desperately wanted to change the channel. It was mismanaging the economy. It had a deficit and a debt that was growing wildly out of control. It was desperately mismanaging the crisis with isotopes, making error after error, and it needed a channel change. What did it rely upon? Dumping everything it possibly could on the order paper that had to do with crime and justice to make itself look “tough on crime”.

In so doing, instead of having the House consider legislation that had the benefit of witnesses and of a mandatory review and having come with bipartisan, unanimous support from committee, it has rushed something to the table that is absent in a number of areas, and that is most unfortunate.

I want to talk about a number of points in the bill and some areas where we will have to redo the work of committee to get the bill into a form where it can take the proper action that a bill of this nature deserves.

First, we have to recognize that no matter what improvements are made to the sex offender registry, it is not a panacea. We should not hold this out as the solution to crimes dealing with sexual offences. Much more work needs to be done outside of the registry to reduce the amount of victimization we see. A lot of that work has to do with both rehabilitative programs and preventive programs to ensure the crimes do not happen in the first place.

We never hear about working on prevention from the government side, working on stopping crimes happening in the first place, working on ensuring that people who are to be reintegrated into society are going to be given the skills, tools and help they need to be productive members of society and that they will not re-offend, that we bring down that rate of recidivism. However, that has not been the priority of the government, which is a real shame because it is extremely important.

Second, we need to ensure we work with all levels of government, in every possible way, to share information and best practices, to ensure we not only integrate our enforcement efforts but also that we work together to break the cycle of violence and abuse that so often is symptomatic of these types of crimes.

In the bill itself, one of the key provisions is automatic inclusion. The argument made here is that right now, because of judicial discretion, there are a great number of individuals who are not put on the sex offender registry because judges make the decision not to put them on it. In fact, the numbers are quite high. We philosophically do not have a problem with the idea of automatic inclusion. We want to have an effective registry, but this is an area to which we have to pay great attention. If we do not, we could end up filling the sex offender registry with a huge list of people, some of whom are not really dangerous offenders. When a crime occurs and police officers turn to that sex offender registry, they could have people on the list where there would almost no likelihood they would have committed that crime. That will slow down the investigation and weaken the effectiveness of the sex offender registry.

Let me give an example with one of the terms that has been included in the bill, the term of voyeurism. One could envision a situation where voyeurism is something that warrants being put on a sex offender registry, such as an individual outside a child's window, looking inside. We would say that individual should be on the sex offender registry. That is the type of activity we would want to encapsulate in this. What about individuals who are looking from one apartment window into another? Clearly they should not have done it. Clearly it is inappropriate. However, are they dangerous offenders? Are these the types of people we want to mix on this list, thus slowing down the process and the police's ability to respond?

When I asked the question of law enforcement officers in committee as to what they would do in this situation, where it was a more minor offence of voyeurism and they did not feel that the person really should be automatically included on the sex offender registry, they said they would not charge that person. I think this is going to be a real problem. If we do not word this properly and do not deal with it with the right balance, minor offences will not be prosecuted because there will be a feeling by those officers or by the crown that if they prosecute these individuals, they will to be unjustly placed on the sex offender registry.

I certainly know no one in the House would want to see that happen, to see people committing more minor offences of a sexual nature receiving no punishment, such as indiscretions in the office place, or people at a party doing something they should not have done. We would not want to be turning the other cheek because of the fact that they did not want to put these individuals on the registry. In that regard, we have to ensure the list of offences is such that we really capture those dangerous individuals who would be the most likely to commit crimes when the sex offender registry is looked at.

Third, and this was discussed at committee, we need to ensure there is room for judicial expression in extraordinary cases. In other words, the threshold has to be very high. A judge would have to explain the rationale and have to be held to a very high standard. However, if there were individuals for whom placing them on the sex offender registry would be a gross miscarriage of justice, where it would be grossly unfair and disproportionate to the crime committed, we would expect and hope the judge would have some room to move.

If we completely remove judicial discretion, we do not get rid of discretion. I again point to the fact that we are just displacing the discretion from the judge onto those who are responsible for convictions, being the crown and the police.

The bill is important and it takes in a number of the things we were talking about at committee. It allows the tool of the sex offender registry to be used in a preventative way. One of the flaws with the system as it currently stands is law enforcement officers cannot use the sex offender registry proactively. If they something happens that looks suspicious, a crime has not been committed yet but somebody is where they really should not be and is acting in a very strange way, right now they cannot turn to the sex offender registry to see if that person may represent a risk. Clearly we would want the sex offender registry to be used in a proactive fashion, to ensure that in this kind of situation, police could deploy this to stop a crime happening in the first place.

The next important point is it expands and allows accredited law enforcement agencies to share and use information. Something like the sex offender registry should not be proprietary with law enforcement officials. The RCMP should not hold onto its information, police departments should not hold onto their information and not share and not communicate. That is going to lead to all kinds of things falling through the cracks into a system that frankly is not effective.

In this case, it expands and allows the information to be shared and utilized. Where we have to be careful and where we are going to want to ensure it is crystal clear at committee, is while sharing of information takes place, it has to happen inside police departments. We do not want this information to be circulated to the public or to go into hands of someone who might want to take some vigilante type action or some sort of action independently of the police force. In examples where sex offender registry information has got into the public's hands, it has led to very bad outcomes and does not increase public safety, so we have to watch that.

Another area that is important and has been long called for is the need to ensure that if someone commits a sexual offence abroad and then comes back to Canada, that the information is recorded and is a part of the sex offender registry. We do not want someone going to a foreign jurisdiction and committing crimes, being able to return to Canada and that information not showing up on our sex offender registry. It was a big hole before. This legislation addresses that.

The issue of automatic inclusion in the DNA databank is something we support in principle, but again, it is something we will have to look at in committee to ensure there is a proper balance in effect and that the information will be used in an intelligent, balanced fashion.

If anyone had listened to what transpired at committee, they would have heard there were some really key areas that were missed by the legislation. Perhaps it was because of its haste, just being dropped to change the channel, that this information was missed. However, police and victims rights groups have told us how important it is to ensure the vehicle information is included in the sex offender registry, such as the licence plate number, make, model, year and other identifying factors. Oftentimes it is a vehicle that would be identified first. That information should be updated regularly so if people change their vehicle, they are mandated to update that information with police departments. That was completely absent in the legislation. It was not there and I was surprised that it was missing.

There are many areas, but I will not cover them all. However, another area that is surprising is there is not really any discussion and coordination with the introduction of the bill in making the investments in things like software and technology. Data is only as good as its ability to be cross-referenced and analyzed and to show law enforcement officers exactly where they need to be and when they need to be there.

For example, to match past offences against the current situation, against the modus operandi, we need a software system that is able to take all the information and graphically represent it such that police officers can act instantaneously. We know that with crimes of this nature time is of the essence. Every second that goes by means there is more and more likelihood that someone who is abducted, for example, will not be found, or that a perpetrator will get away and never get convicted.

It is fair to say that it is right to take this legislation and move it to the next process to committee. However, it really is unfortunate, and I cannot stress this in a strong enough sense, that the government decided to short-circuit all the work of committee and to present it in the House. It would have greatly benefited from that process. Committee passed a resolution essentially saying that this undercut the ability of parliamentary committees to function, that it really showed enormous disrespect for Parliament. I cannot say that in strong enough terms.

When this happens and the next time we are asked to review a bill, I know that both witnesses and committee members will be a little hesitant to move a government item to the top. If this is the way committees are going to be respected and treated by having of our input tossed out, it is very disappointing. In fact, it is worse than being tossed out. Sometimes we are used to being ignored, but in this case it is worse than being ignored. We did not even get a chance to present something in order for it to be ignored, and that was a grave disappointment.

Certainly we are going to support sending the bill to committee. There are a number of improvements that have to be made. We are going to have to redo that work and recall all those witnesses. We will undertake that because this work is important. It is something that I know every member of the House cares deeply about and we on this side care a lot about.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly disappointed to hear about the problems the members have had in the committee with ample opportunity not being provided for both the members and affected, concerned members of the public to comment on the bill. It goes against the promise of the government for openness and transparency.

I have a couple of questions for comment by the member. I understand that one of the measures this bill proposed was that the registry be expanded to include sexual offences committed outside Canada.

There can be occasions where, in some countries, simply holding hands in public is considered a sexual offence. I wonder if the member could comment on some of the inherent dangers in having a mandatory reporting of sexual offences committed outside the country.

As well, has there been attention to including consultation with sexual assault centres in Canada, who probably have a lot to contribute to the deliberations of the committee?

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I go back to the point that I made. The hon. member is quite right that there has to be some element of judicial discretion for cases where placing someone on the sex offender registry would represent a gross miscarriage of justice.

I would also point out the fact that we have to be very careful with the list of offences so that the list of things that can place someone on the sex offender registry is well enumerated and articulated and will not allow the types of offences that the hon. member is speaking about to result in someone being wrongly placed on the sex offender registry.

Certainly members should be able to ask questions like this, raise concerns like this, without the government trying to play games and saying that somehow to ask questions like that is being soft on crime.

What we absolutely do not want to have is a sex offender registry that is rendered useless because it is overpopulated with people who do not belong on it. We do not want to see people who do not belong on it, who have committed lesser offences, being put on a list that is meant for serious, dangerous offenders.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his excellent speech and also for his hard work on committee.

I think it is very disappointing that the committee was not allowed to publish its results. The government could have taken those results and crafted a bill that was in the best interest of the public.

My hon. friend obviously listened to a lot of testimony and the members had fantastic and interesting debates in the committee trying to hammer out constructive solutions to deal with this, which is arguably one of the most frightening crimes that anyone can endure as a victim.

What solutions did the member hear in committee that perhaps the public would like to listen to and the government could use in crafting a bill? What solutions did he listen to in terms of identifying and protecting the public from this, one of the most heinous crimes that we have?

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the things we heard is that the registry needs to be able to be used on a proactive basis. I think the legislation does address that point. We heard that loud and clear.

The whole issue of ensuring that the vehicle make and model was present was incredibly critical, as was the ability of law enforcement agencies to work collaboratively to be able to share information and to not exist in silos, so that they can move with great haste on information that is obtained and that it is not caught up in bureaucratic red tape.

The part that the government has completely ignored is investing in breaking the cycle of violence and abuse and ensuring that money has been put into rehabilitation and programs once people are incarcerated, because they do come out. We want to make sure that when they are out they are ready to be reintegrated into society.

Secondly, there are many areas that can be invested in to stop the crime happening in the first place. I think that has to be one of our greatest focuses, alongside enforcement, asking the question, how do we stop crimes from ever occurring? How do we reduce the rate of victimization?

If we really care about crime, we should be caring about stopping crime. That should be our first priority. We heard from a lot of different individuals that it is an area being missed and ignored.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Ajax—Pickering if he was told why the minister did not answer our questions? I was here last week when the minister came to give his presentation at the end of a meeting, but then he left and we did not see him again. I did not hear him explain why he prepared a bill without taking any of the committee's work into account. Was the member given an explanation in that regard?

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, to the hon. member, no, and it is a surprise. The committee passed a resolution asking for any kind of explanation as to why the minister circumvented the committee's process. Really, it was a slap in the face to the witnesses who appeared at committee, to all the members at committee who had worked so hard on trying to advance that agenda, to all the co-operation that was in committee to move other items off our agenda so that we could ensure that we dealt with this as quickly as possible. Really, we are left with only one possible conclusion: that the Conservatives were having a terrible week, that they were getting pounded on issues, from the economy to isotopes to missing files, and decided that they needed something to change the channel, so they used this issue and tossed it into the agenda for political reasons. That is reprehensible, in my opinion.

Here we have an opportunity to fix legislation, to work on something that every member of this House cares about and wants to see dealt with. To throw aside all the good work that has been done just because they want to use it as a channel-changer politically, I think, is wrong.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do agree with the member that it is a channel-changing exercise. I know the government is obviously concerned that it might be going to the polls fairly soon and it wants to put all its ducks in a row. That is probably why there is this accelerated effort here on the part of the government.

However, I did notice that the member talked about expanding police ability to access the registry for crime prevention purposes. I would like him to expand on that particular aspect of the bill.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech and I will expand upon it, the notion here is, if we can envision a situation where the police receive a call because somebody is acting very suspiciously and the caller is concerned because the person is around children and is acting in a very peculiar way, the police would have the opportunity to access the registry to see whether the person is in fact on the registry. Perhaps there is a radius restriction that the person is violating because he or she should not be within a certain distance of a schoolyard or a child. This would allow them to go up to somebody who is acting suspiciously and just check to see whether that person is on the registry and ensure that if there is an order in effect, that can be enforced.

We heard again and again that this was so important, because handcuffing police and law enforcement officials to not be able to use this information in an intelligent, proactive way is a mistake. However, I would point out the caveat to that, that the information be restricted, as I said before, to law enforcement officials and that we ensure that it is being used in a judicious and appropriate way so that it does not become something that is vindictive or that the information is being used proactively in ways not to stop crime but to get back at somebody. We absolutely do not want to see that.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the bill we are debating here is a very important one. It is important on two counts. The sex offender registry has been in place for some time now. The legislation provided a deadline for a committee to review it before Parliament would decide whether or not to make additions or amendments. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security was tasked with conducting that study, which it had undertaken and was about to conclude. But then came the minister with his bill, and it is clear that he did not pay any attention to the committee's suggestions, since the committee was still in the process of preparing its report.

The committee made haste, but the minister obviously has no intention of taking into account any suggestions that might be made, any of the hearings held or any of the witnesses heard by the committee. That is insulting to the committee, but it is not the end of world because, in politics, one has to be prepared to endure some very unfair insults from time to time. We have to develop thicker skins over time, while remaining sensitive to our constituents' opinions. I think that, above all, this is a discredit to the work of Parliament. The way this government works, it is as if there were no Parliament to which it had to account.

This is also an insult to voters who, when there is a matter important to them—and I believe there are many in Quebec and Canada who feel strongly about this issue—express their opinion to their MPs so that it can be taken into account. That has happened. Our members talk to us about it because they know that we sit on the committee. It allows us to make suggestions but they are to no avail because the minister has decided that he will ignore them and present his bill.

Although this is a serious matter, it does remind me of an amusing story from my career. When I was a lawyer, a judge once invited both sides to provide sentencing submissions. When we had finished making our submissions, without leaving the hearing, the judge pulled out a written decision. Fortunately, there was a court of appeal to correct the errors he had made by not taking into account my very pertinent remarks, which were taken into consideration by the court of appeal.

It is also interesting to see the minister running away. He comes here to defend his bill. At the end of the day, when there is not enough time to listen to his speech and ask him some questions, he runs away at the end, because the House is scheduled to talk about another subject at that time, but he never comes back. I understand he might be ashamed of his behaviour, although I doubt it. Maybe he is not ashamed of himself. In any case, he will never face the music.

However, it is an overly complex bill on a subject that could have been set out much more simply. It introduces some improvements, which we could probably elaborate on, but I do not want to let any secrets slip until we have finished our report. There are, still, some improvements here, such as that of adding to the list of offences for which a judge should order the offender be on a list of dangerous offenders the offence of compelling the commission of bestiality. It is a rare crime. In 27 years of practice, I am aware of only one such case and it was not one I represented. It was a case I watched being argued. It was ordered to be in camera. The room had never been so full. All the lawyers in the region had come to attend this bizarre case. It was bestiality involving a cow. The farm worker had been surprised by a girl who reported the strange tale. The individual could be heard denying it.

In any case, I think that bestiality is more a matter of mental illness than a criminal matter. It is a crime committed usually by people of lower intellect who are on the edge of mental illness. Obviously, if they go so far as forcing the commission of it, this is the offence provided for bestiality. It is indicative of depravity that should be on the offender registry. As for murder, it could be added, but murderers, as far as I know, are sentenced to heavy prison terms and are in prison for a considerable time as it is.

There is another improvement. It is typical of Conservative behaviour. The law provided it already for the most dangerous offences, but, in fact, it covers just about the whole gamut of sexual offences, especially all those involving children. That is totally understandable and also desirable in this legislation.

However, for all these offences, the judge should automatically order the individual be placed on the list of dangerous sexual offenders. This unfortunately does not happen in all cases. The judge essentially had no discretion, except in one instance, which I will explain shortly. It was found that the crown prosecutors did not use this power often enough. And so, rather than correct the problem with the crown prosecutors—and this is typical of the provisions of the Conservatives, who take no chances and settle the matter—it will now be automatic.

What will happen if the crown prosecutors—who failed to indicate, through inadvertence or some other reason, that the individual should not be included in the registry—do not so advise the judge or if the judge does not think of it? Will it be an administrative decision? We will likely get our answer on this a little later on.

I am surprised that this opportunity is not seized to ask ourselves serious questions. The funding for Crown prosecutors across Canada, and Quebec also, has been insufficient for quite some time. That is certainly an area where there is still a fiscal imbalance and where the provinces do not have enough money to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities. As we know, while criminal law falls under federal jurisdiction, the provinces are responsible for the administration of justice. The complexity of criminal law is increasing and that makes Crown prosecutors work very hard. It is therefore not surprising that some of them refrain from requesting enforcement under such circumstances.

As part of the public hearings that were held and that can be discussed here, we heard an extremely interesting presentation on the enforcement of the Ontario law. The hon. member for Ajax—Pickering quite rightly indicated that it was enforced four times more often in a single day than the federal one is in an entire year. These public hearings made it clear that it is important to know that this list is for the exclusive use of law enforcement personnel and must remain confidential.

This registry is created for preventive purposes, and must not be construed as punishing and stigmatizing individuals, which would have a discouraging effect on those who make genuine efforts to get treated for their sexual perversions while serving their sentences and after. Some sexual perversions are very hard to treat. I am told that the attraction to children is all but impossible to get rid of. What can be brought under control, however, is the urge to act on that attraction. If these individuals are too stigmatized or harassed by police, they risk becoming discouraged, which in turn will compromise their efforts to benefit from the treatments received.

In Ontario, the police are made aware of that. They act on it and, when they have to deal with registered individuals who could be suspected when a child has been abducted, simply because they live nearby, they do so with a professional attitude. They are not suspected on any other grounds. If they are not the perpetrators, they are to be approached in a professional fashion.

This registry can be used to prevent crimes. It is widely used by the police when a child has been kidnapped. This helps narrow down the areas to search. I do not recall the exact statistics, but the murder of a kidnapped child who has been sexually abused happens usually within the first few hours after kidnapping. The registry is a useful tool for the police. Once a child has been kidnapped, the police can quickly consult the registry to see whether it indicates that there are sex offenders in the surrounding area. The registry is also important for certain types of crimes, for example with kidnapping, when it is not yet known whether it was for sexual or other motivations. It is perfectly normal for this information to be given.

This brings us to the practical operation of such a system, and to some reflection. Is it really important to increase the number of sexual offences required in order to be placed on the registry? When police officers check the registry after a child has been kidnapped, instead of getting 15 potential suspects, they get 400 or 500. The time they spend looking into those 500 people is time that will not be spent on perhaps more relevant searches. There are also some drawbacks to the registry being overused. We must take this into account, and clearly the Conservatives are not in the habit of doing so. It is always the hardest way, and not the most efficient.

By the way, there is only one reason to not even wait for the committee report. They are trying to make it look as though they are doing something, without truly caring whether it is effective. One of the additions is the obligation to provide DNA samples. This is very important. This is another registry we have examined. Our report is not yet released, and we have not yet seen a bill. But we know from the Auditor General that the DNA registry is not getting the funding it needs.

Of course results can be obtained in very little time in urgent cases, but in 99% of the other cases, the ones deemed not urgent, it can take over a year to get an answer back from the DNA databank. The databank gets some $2 million or $3 million in funding per year but it is so backlogged with Parliament passing two bills last year allowing the collection of DNA samples that existing labs have not yet started recording data in the bank; they cannot start because they do not have enough funding.

We were told that it takes between 18 months and two years to train a scientist well enough to testify in court about DNA evidence. It is clear that the government must put up enough money to make the databank more functional. This is yet another case of the government demanding more from expert witnesses without providing enough funding to make it happen.

There are other improvements that this 35-page bill fails to make. This issue could have been dealt with in a much shorter bill. It is confusing and incomprehensible to most ordinary people, even to those used to reading legislation. For years, I have been telling the federal government that poorly written legislation is poorly understood and then poorly applied, but it persists in its ways. Here, crown prosecutors are once again not applying the law, but in this case, it seems to me that what they are being asked to do is relatively simple.

The databanks are being overloaded. There comes a point when we have to wonder, seriously, whether it is less useful to the police as a result.

In any case, there was a need to improve this act after three years. There is no requirement to do so, as with other acts, such as the Anti-Terrorism Act. We suggested improvements, but none of them were made. In this case, it is nice to think that if we had suggested a few amendments, they might have been implemented. For example, we would like to see an improvement whereby dangerous sexual offenders' vehicle registration numbers would be added to the registry. If a child is kidnapped and the kidnapper is seen getting into a vehicle, it is important to be able to consult the bank, and with a registration number, it is possible to see whether this person is on the list of dangerous sexual offenders.

We agree with the changes in principle. The problem is that we were willing to cooperate and we did cooperate, but the minister did not take any of our suggestions into consideration. Nevertheless, we are going to make ourselves useful by making the necessary changes to the bill he introduced at the wrong time.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

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 Random—Burin—St. George's, Employment Insurance; the hon. member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, Fishing Industry.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kitchener Centre.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my friend's comments, and I thought he was balanced in his remarks. In particular, I enjoyed some of the descriptions of the events he experienced over his years before the courts.

I practised almost 30 years before the courts in Ontario, and I can appreciate his disappointment with the judge who, after the full submissions, took out a judgment that had been previously written. I have had that experience myself before the courts. In fact, I was somewhat disappointed to have had the same experience in the House last January. After the government spent several months and many hearings and submissions putting together a budget, members of the New Democratic Party refused to vote for it without even having read it.

I am grateful to the minister for having introduced the bill. It seems to have produced a spirit of multi-party cooperation in the House, and that is exactly what Canadians have been asking for.

Despite whatever criticisms the hon. member has been able to find, is the bill sufficiently without flaws that he and his party are going to vote for it?