House of Commons Hansard #40 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conditional.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his speech. I would like to ask him a question about conditional sentencing.

Some say that the conditional sentencing system no longer works. I imagine that we will learn more in committee when witnesses appear before it. Some will speak of the effectiveness of this system.

If the system is not working well, does the member believe it is because the federal government does not provide the provinces with enough money to manage it?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right, especially because sentences of less than two years are administered provincially. First of all, the federal government has not invested enough in rehabilitation. We have seen that. Furthermore, if we decide to jail these people, they will serve their sentences in provincial institutions.

The Conservatives are trying to scare people. They want to promote their political interests with their tough on crime ideas. However, the provinces, not the federal government, will be footing the bill.

I realize that the committee will study conditional sentences. I hope it will ask to hear from those responsible, the provinces, because they will be footing the real bill.

This law was established in 1996 in order to provide for rehabilitation. It is less costly than placing someone under surveillance in the community. According to the report we have today, it costs 10 times less to serve a sentence in the community than in a prison.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been following this debate closely, as I have many of the amendments that have been brought forward by the government in its effort to brand itself as the party that is tough on crime. Having supported some of the bills it has brought forward with respect to criminal law amendments, I am consistently struck by how it is not really being tough on crime and I would prefer that it be smart on crime.

I have studied this bill and have spent a lot of time, not just in this session but in both Parliaments since being elected, dealing with crime legislation. All of us have enhanced our literacy, so to speak, on these issues. The bill before us today is talking about a blanket elimination of conditional sentences.

I know the member is very well versed in these issues. I do not recall any really high profile cases where conditional sentencing was an issue and yet the government is not proposing some small surgical amendments to deal with those cases, if and when they exist, but rather a broad-based elimination of the entire conditional sentencing system.

Is the member aware of any specifics that would culminate in a draconian bill like one? If so, would he comment on those and let me know whether this bill, to his satisfaction, addresses those?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. This bill does not address anything, other than the Conservatives' political deficit. They are really working hard on that. If a government is tough on crime, it cannot be smart on crime. The Conservatives talked about transparency in their election promises. As we can see from everything going on with the Afghan detainee issue, transparency is not one of their strong suits.

When it comes to integrity, the Conservatives are no smarter than the Liberals with their sponsorship scandal, if we look at what happened with Rahim Jaffer and the former status of women minister.

There was a $16 billion surplus when the Conservatives took power. We are now looking at a deficit of $50 billion. They are no smarter when it comes to economics.

All they have left is being tough on crime, but they cannot be smart on crime.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. He gave a wonderful explanation of how the Bloc Québécois see this bill. I would like to ask him a question about judges.

In every piece of legislation, the Conservatives seem to be questioning the judges' judgments. And that is no redundancy, that is reality. The judges are there to judge and to render judgments. Does he not think that this is contempt for the justice that is meted out by these great people we have in Canada?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

The symbol of justice is a set of scales. It is true that this balance has always been sought in Quebec and Canada. As I was explaining, we are not the ones who created this balance system, but rather our predecessors did. They made that choice.

The Americans made a different choice. Now, for purely partisan reasons, the Conservative Party is trying to copy the American system, which has gone way too far. As I was saying earlier, the Obama administration had to release over 30,000 prisoners. There was no more money to keep them in custody, and thus no more money for rehabilitation, and it was thought that their offences were not serious enough to warrant keeping them in custody.

Once again, it is a choice based on partisan politics. The Conservatives believe that by being tough on crime, they are pleasing the media, that are often present in courtrooms, but personally, I trust our predecessors' judgment, and that is not the kind of society I want to pass on to my children.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, from what we are hearing today from the members in their speeches, the wheels are definitely coming off this tough on crime bus that the government has been trying to drive for the last couple of elections.

The first example was the Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Mr. Steve Sullivan, who criticized the government for not taking action on victim's rights.

We had one of the ministers backtracking on another crime bill the other day, the two for one bill, and having to admit that it will cost $2 billion rather than $90 million.

Earlier today, a Bloc member indicated that under Bill C-16, at $52,205 per inmate, that will cost about $780 million for the extra prisoners and that will be paid by the provinces, not the federal government.

Does the member think the government has been negligent in not costing out this proposal before it brought it to Parliament or does he thing the government actually knows what the cost will be and just will not tell us?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right. I seriously think this is just political bravado by the Conservatives who are trying to score political points. I would not be surprised if they have not done any calculations. What is more, my colleague is absolutely right. The federal government is dumping the problem and its cost on the provinces and that is tough for them to take. I trust my colleague and I also trust the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin. I know they will be able to get to the truth in committee and show how the Conservatives are passing the buck to the provinces.

This will not solve anything and no one is asking for this. My colleague is right; there is no call for this. Whether we are talking about the prison system or the legal system, no one is asking for this legislation to be changed, especially not the provinces who do not want to end up paying the bill.

The House resumed from May 4 consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Opposition motion—Lobbying Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the motion and on the amendment.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #41

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the amendment carried.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform arrived late. Was his vote counted?

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It was not counted.

The next question is on the main motion as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion as amended?