House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was justice.

Topics

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Delta—Richmond East
B.C.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the third reading debate on Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act. I would also note that being Friday, I am wearing red today in honour of our troops, never forgotten.

This short title, though a mere six words, says so much and is so apt. At its core, it reflects the June 2011 acknowledgement in the Speech from the Throne that the Government of Canada has no more fundamental duty than to protect the personal safety of our citizens and defend against threats to our national security. Our government takes this constitutional duty to protect seriously.

It is apt because it reflects one of the most important issues that I hear about from my constituents and from Canadians across this country. Since becoming a member of Parliament and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I have had the incredible opportunity to meet with Canadians from all walks of life, from coast to coast to coast.

Whether I am meeting with victims, police, representatives from non-governmental organizations or individual concerned citizens, one issue that is always top of mind is personal safety and the desire to have greater confidence in our justice system, better balance between the rights of the accused and convicted, and a recognition of the effect and cost of crime on victims.

Everyone wants their loved ones to be safe in their homes and to feel safe in their communities. Canadians look to us, to the Government of Canada, and indeed to all parliamentarians to demonstrate real leadership in safeguarding them and in taking concrete measures to realize it.

That is a message that I have heard and continue to hear, and indeed that is the message and mandate delivered by Canadians to this government last May. This is what the safe streets and communities act delivers. Its proposed amendments reflect what we hear directly from Canadians, but let us consider what Canadians have said about Bill C-10 to all parliamentarians.

Bill C-10 will provide important new measures to meet unmet needs of victims. Importantly, it will provide victims of terrorism with a cause of action; that is, with the right to sue terrorists and those who support acts of terrorism, including listed foreign states, and to seek redress from them and hold them accountable.

These are historic measures important to victims and to Canadians generally. What have people said about these reforms to support victims of terrorists?

Maureen Basnicki, founder and director of the Canadian Coalition Against Terror, who lost her husband in the World Trade Centre tragedy on September 11, 2001, appeared before the justice committee to express her support for these reforms in Bill C-10. On October 25 of this year she said:

It has now been seven years since CCAT initiated the campaign for the passage of this type of legislation. During this time, no fewer than 10 such bills were introduced in the House of Commons and the Senate, with Bill C-10 being the most recent iteration. CCAT looks forward to the passage of the eleventh and final version of this bill within 100 sitting days, as promised by the government.

I am testifying today on behalf of Canadians who are victims of terror and on behalf of Canadians who are not yet victims of terror. I am here because it is a fundamental right of every Canadian, of every person, not to be a victim of a terrorist attack.

JVTA speaks precisely to this right. If this bill is effective even once in deterring a terrorist attack, it will have served its role in safeguarding that right. It will have been worth the thousands of hours of effort invested by Canadian terror victims in getting this measure passed.

The safe streets and communities act also proposes Criminal Code reforms that seek to consistently and adequately condemn all forms of child sexual abuse through the imposition of new and higher mandatory sentences of imprisonment, as well as some higher maximum penalties, and that seek to prevent the commission of child sexual offences.

I can think of no higher calling than to be able to participate in substantive legislative changes that better protect our most precious resource, our Canadian children.

What have others said about these reforms? Sheldon Kennedy, the co-founder of Respect Group Inc. and himself a survivor of child sexual abuse, said to the justice committee on October 20 of this year:

Is there a parent in this country who would have an issue with protecting their children from this predator--

He was referring to the offender who sexually assaulted him. He continued:

--and others like him? Pardons should be eliminated for all child sexual offenders, period...we need to toughen sentencing for child sex offences. They just don't seem in line with the damage they leave in their wake, not even close.

I would underscore that this is damage that lasts throughout a victim's lifetime. He continued saying that:

--the fundamental reason for change to these laws is simple: we can't let these perpetrators walk freely among our youth organizations, our schools, our neighbourhoods, and our workplaces. Children need to feel safe, and parents have to trust that the government is playing a role in protecting them. Criminals need to be held accountable and be dealt with consistently with clearly defined consequences.

He completed his remarks by saying:

I want to thank this government for standing up for victims and finally taking action. It's about time someone gets tough on criminals.

Again, from my point of view, how can such a victim's statements not touch all our hearts? Bill C-10 also proposes reforms to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that include imposing mandatory minimum penalties for the most serious drug offences.

Mr. Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, which represents over 41,000 front-line police, had this to say on November 1 of this year:

To be absolutely clear, the CPA entirely supports the goals and methods contained within Bill C-10...Every day our members see the devastating effects drug traffickers and producers have in all of our communities. Those police officers are the ones who constantly have to arrest the same drug dealers and producers over and over again and stop them from poisoning our children and grandchildren and robbing them of their futures.

Whether it is by keeping dealers and producers off the streets and out of business or by serving as a deterrent to potential dealers, Bill C-10 will help our members do their jobs and keep our communities safe. In simple terms, if you keep these criminals in jail longer, you take away their opportunity to traffic in drugs.

Bill C-10 also proposes much needed reforms to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, so that it can deal more effectively with violent and repeat young offenders and ensure the protection of the public.

The hon. Marie-Claude Blais, the minister of justice and attorney general of New Brunswick, had this to say about these reforms to the justice committee on November 3:

Without hesitation, we support the efforts to strengthen these laws aimed at protecting the victims of crime, protecting our children and giving a voice to victims.

As for changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, our prosecution branch supports the changes and feels that this bill will give the tools required to effectively protect the public. As per the Nunn Commission of Inquiry in Nova Scotia, we feel that this goal of protection of the public is a must. To that point, I think from past experience and speaking with justice partners, there has been an inability to deal adequately with extremely dangerous behaviour. Police and prosecutors require tools to protect the public and this act provides them with those tools.

I wish to also point out that, as confirmed by many provincial premiers and attorneys general, these are reforms the provinces have asked for from the federal government in our continuing dialogues with our justice partners.

I have taken some time to highlight what others are saying about specific components of Bill C-10, but I want to close with one last quotation about the overall importance of Bill C-10.

The president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Chief Dale McFee, on October 20 said the following, in part:

Canadians want to know that if they are victims of crime, the perpetrators will be dealt with fairly by the criminal justice system and will face the appropriate consequences for serious criminal acts. When we talk about terrorism, organized crime, serious violent and/or sexual crimes, producing or trafficking controlled substances, and many other criminal acts related to this bill, let me emphasize we are talking serious crime, and this type of activity simply is not acceptable.

In dealing with such crimes, we need to extend protection to the most vulnerable members of society, we need to enhance the ability of our justice system to hold criminals accountable for their actions, and we need to improve the safety and security of all Canadians.

This is what Canadians want, this is what Canadians deserve, and this is exactly what the safe streets and communities act would deliver. We are proud to stand up for the law-abiding public in Canada. We are proud to keep our commitments to victims.

These measures would help to ensure that our justice system remains one of integrity and that the right balance between the rights of the accused and the convicted are measured against the need for offender accountability and giving voice to their victims.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I noted that the parliamentary secretary said that this was a very important bill. I wonder, if it is so important, why are we allowing only three hours of debate at third reading. It would seem to me that it deserves far more.

One of my questions pertains to her remarks regarding the section that deals with child sexual assault. We agree, on this side of the House, that it is very important to protect our children. If it is so important to the government, why, when the opposition agreed to separate this part of the bill so it could have speedy passage, did the government refuse, and is now dragging things through the Senate when we could have had this piece of the act in place long ago and protected our children?

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are really two parts to that question.

As I said in my speech, this legislation has had many previous iterations before Parliament. We have had some 363 witnesses appear at 67 committee meetings, and 261 speeches, before today's speeches, on this legislation. This government feels the time to act is now and the time for talking about it is over.

With respect to the issue of child protection, it is true that the opposition supported the offences and the changes in sentencing with respect to child sexual offences. However, it did not support in any way the aspects of the bill dealing with drug trafficking, which was an attempt, among other things, to protect our children. It would target those who would traffic to our children, yet the NDP was content to have much softer accountability for those criminals and not go after organized crime.

We are not afraid of organized crime. We are not afraid of standing up for our children with respect to drug trafficking as well as child sex offences.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, if we listen to the parliamentary secretary, we would think that everything is okay. After all, the Conservatives bring in this bill which should have been eight or nine pieces of legislation and then the parliamentary secretary tries to give the impression that there is some sort of consensus of the stakeholders. The reality is that there is nothing close to a consensus from the stakeholders.

We have provinces that are completely offside, that are calling into question this legislation. We have many different stakeholders raising flags and saying that this legislation is fundamentally flawed. We have had the member for Mount Royal make amendments to the legislation, which the government turned down. Then the government recognizes and tries to amend it at third reading and finds out that no, it cannot do it.

Why will the government members not open their minds and recognize that there are fundamental flaws in Bill C-10, and that amendments are necessary? Why will they not recognize the need to send this bill back to committee so it can be properly amended today?

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I reject the premise of that question from the hon. member. As I stated earlier, very pieces of legislation that have been before this House have been studied as much as this bill and its components. Yes, it is comprehensive legislation that brings together nine bills, but those have been studied, they have had witness testimony, speeches and committee hearings, as I have already pointed out.

As to dialoguing with our provincial and territorial counterparts, this is an ongoing matter. This is something we do continuously. It is disingenuous of the hon. member to suggest that we are not listening.

The Premier of British Columbia has praised the legislation. The Attorneys General for Saskatchewan and Manitoba have come out in praise of it. I quoted some of what the Attorney General for New Brunswick had to say. Not only that, the Attorney General for Saskatchewan publicly stated, “These are reforms we've been asking for. We've been asking the federal government to take action, and we're glad they have”.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, during the campaign, every Conservative went door to door across this country from end to the other and said that we would pass the omnibus crime bill within the first 100 sitting days.

I want to know if the member thinks that is an important commitment that our party should keep.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course it is important to keep our commitments. This is something that not only did this government campaign on in the last election but in several previous elections. We have consistently said that we will stand up for law-abiding Canadians and that we will protect victims. We pledged to do that within the first 100 sitting days and we intend to honour our commitments to those people.

Members heard in my statements comments from spokespeople for the victims rights groups. They have been waiting for this. They have been struggling for it. They have been advocating for it.

It is the right balance. We are the only party that is seeking balance.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, this omnibus bill always makes me think of the late Italian anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone. Before he died, he said that there were three kinds of policies: those that work for the Mafia, those that work against the Mafia and—the most dangerous of all—those that let the Mafia be.

There are a lot of measures in Bill C-10, but there are a lot of things missing too. It does not address the serious crime of money laundering. Where are the regulations against money laundering in this bill? Is there special punishment for people who import cocaine in containers? Will police officers be assigned to the fight against serious crime? The bill does not talk about that.

The government is increasing prison sentences for petty criminals, for people who sell drugs. We all agree that criminals must be punished. But we should start by going after organized crime, after the people who commit crimes, who bring in containers and order assassinations. I would like to know this will affect organized crime, when we know that any small-time drug dealer is easily replaced.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member. We need to be serious in our approach to organized crime. One of the very important parts of this legislation is that where someone is convicted of drug trafficking and it is proven that he or she is part of organized crime, then minimum mandatory penalties do come into force. There are aggravating factors set out in this legislation where someone is part of organized criminality, or where there are threats of violence or actual violence, or where our children are targeted in their schools and elsewhere. That is where the mandatory minimum penalties come into force.

Is it everything? No, it is not. However, not everything can be in one particular piece of legislation. This is part of an overall program of this government for greater truth in sentencing, to restore confidence in the justice system and to hold those criminals to account. We take the threat of organized crime very seriously and we will continue to move in that direction.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are debating this bill for the first time at third reading this morning and the debate will end this afternoon. This is a massive piece of legislation. This is an outrageous display of lack of democracy on the part of the government. Stakeholders right across the country are asking for more input.

The government, however, at the 11th hour is realizing that it should have passed some of the amendments that it rejected in committee and is now trying to stuff them in at the last minute. The government is floundering about trying to get this right and pretending that it has consulted all stakeholders.

The Canadian Bar Association has 10 reasons that Bill C-10 needs to be rejected. One of them is that this is a rush job. We should be much more diligent. We should be doing research and listening to Canadians. Why is the government refusing to listen to Canadians on the issue of Bill C-10?

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing rushed about this whatsoever. This is the fourth time that the drug trafficking proposals have been before Parliament. The component parts of this comprehensive legislation have been studied, debated and discussed. We have gone through clause by clause in committee. As I said earlier, 67 committee days were devoted to this, with over 261 speeches and 363 witness appearances, 50 of whom we just heard from in the last few weeks. There is nothing rushed about it.

However, what we are in a rush to do is stand up for law-abiding Canadians and keep our commitments to victims of crime who feel they are voiceless in the present system and want those who perpetrate crimes to suffer the penalties that are commensurate with the severity of the crimes.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say that I rise here today to speak to Bill C-10 feeling optimistic that I could change things. Instead I have the impression that my speech here today is like our swan song to everyone regarding a bill that is full of flaws and will do more harm than good.

Under these circumstances, as my hon. colleague from Davenport said earlier, we are wondering why we are proceeding in such a hurry, with only two and a half hours of debate here today. It is unbelievable that we are at third reading and we have only two and a half hours to debate Bill C-10 and give it the House of Commons' final seal of approval. At 1:30 p.m., it will all be over and this bill will be sent to the Senate.

This week, the government tried to propose some amendments. Amendments are proposed in order to try to improve the bill or make changes to it. I am a member of the justice committee. The four NDP representatives tried incessantly to propose amendments, not to undermine the bill or its objective of making our streets safer, but to ensure that the objective the government keeps talking about would be achieved. Our proposed amendments were based on the information in several reports we received.

However, people need to understand how this bill was studied. Some have said that the committee conducted a thorough study of the bill, but that is false. I want everyone listening to us here today to know that that is false. Yes, perhaps it was studied in the past, but I was not there, nor were many others who were elected on May 2 to represent their constituents. It is true that the government had announced that it would be introducing a crime bill and that it would pass the House of Commons within the first 100 sitting days.

First, as the Barreau du Québec rightfully says, it is an irresponsible promise. Who can guarantee to Canadians that nine such diverse laws will be changed in the first 100 days? For example, we are talking about terrorism victims, the youth criminal justice system, crimes against children, drug trafficking and so on. These things take time.

I thought Parliament worked like this: at first reading the bill is introduced and at second reading we debate it. We are just scratching the surface with a cursory study. Indeed, some already had the benefit of previous studies from previous Parliaments, but these are not necessarily exactly the same bills.

We saw this with the firearms registry. The government introduced a similar bill, but added a few things. This bill is 100 or so pages long and contains 208 clauses to amend nine acts. We cannot just rubber stamp it because the government says so and that is good enough. As legislators, we have a responsibility, especially when it comes to the criminal justice system. This has an impact on the lives of Canadians. This is not just some bill that changes absolutely nothing. It affects people, victims, families and criminals as well. It affects everyone.

I have said from the start that this has been the most insulting debate I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of in my entire career. This has been the most insulting debate here in Parliament, both when I was here from 2004 to 2006 and now. Why? Because if we did not agree with a single clause in this government bill, we were accused of being pro-criminal, pro-pedophile, pro-whatever. In the meantime, we were just trying to make sure the bill did precisely what it was designed to do.

Can I say mission accomplished? No, not with the shortened debate, not when real experts barely had time to speak. I do not consider myself to be an expert on crime. Far from it. My area of expertise is labour law; but, as a lawyer, I have some knowledge of criminal law. Although it was some time ago, I remember the criminal law courses I took at university. I remember the principles on which this country was built and the presumption of innocence and the fact that the punishment must fit the crime. This is how I analyze things. I study the bill and ask myself if these principles are applied.

In addition, there has been a lot of talk about victims. We also heard from some victims, unfortunately not enough of them to my mind. I would have liked to have spoken a little more at length with some victims about their supposed approval, or endorsement, of the Conservatives' bills.

In fact the beauty of the Conservatives' system is that as soon as someone says it is fine, they immediately stop. They believe that saying it is fine means that there is agreement about everything. However, when we talk one-on-one with people and have a discussion, things are different. I can say that I had more discussions with witnesses who came to see us after the committee meetings because they were only given five minutes at the meetings. That is unbelievable. Our role, our responsibility and our duty, as elected officials and committee members from all parties, is to represent the entire population and not just the 39% of the population who voted for the Conservatives and who may not even have done so because of the promise to enact Bill C-10 within the first 100 days.

Our job is to listen to what these people have to say, have discussions with them and encourage them to think through their arguments to see if they hold water. This also applies to the objections of the Barreau du Québec and the Canadian Bar Association.

I would have liked to further discuss certain subjects but it was impossible because of the time allocated: five minutes. Members were unable to even finish their sentences without being interrupted. It was the same for those who were asking questions. If this is democracy in Canadian Parliament, I would rather not see how things work in countries that we do not think have a democratic system.

This was one of the problems with the process. Many of these victims told us that they did not know much about issues related to terrorism. I therefore understood that they were there only to discuss their right to have a say before a criminal who had served his sentence was released—when he was being considered for parole, for example. We understood that. When we talked with these people about it, there was no problem. Yet since the debate began on Bill C-10, the Conservatives have been saying that if we are not with them, then we are against them. That is not the way to move the debate forward.

What must happen will happen. The official opposition proposed a ton of amendments, which were rejected. We even had to fight like the devil for hours and hours just to have the right to propose amendments and to be able to debate for a reasonable period of time. I grew up thinking that I lived in a democratic country, a country that was not afraid of discussion and debate, where people could have differing viewpoints. Thank you dear Lord for granting us two days until midnight to do the work that was given to us and that should have allowed us to return to the House of Commons and tell our 308 fellow members of Parliament that we thought the bill could now be passed.

There is a third step called third reading. That is where we are right now. What does the government do once again for a 109-page bill that has 208 clauses and modifies nine fundamental laws that have nothing to do with each other? It allows us two and a half hours of debate.

That is laughable. I do not want to be a prophet of doom. I want to tell those watching at home that the government is claiming that Canada will be safer once this bill passes. Once the House has finished studying this bill, it will go to the Senate and there will be press conferences. I almost feel like a psychic with a crystal ball, since I can predict that the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety will go from police station to police station and will use people who have experienced unspeakable things and people who work tirelessly to make our country safer—I am talking about police officers—to claim that this stack of paper will have a positive impact on their lives.

Yesterday, I read a report that said that 94% of Canadians felt safe in Canada. The Conservatives make it sound as though there is a terrorist or a child rapist around every corner. I am not saying that terrorists or child rapists should not get what they deserve and I am not saying that we should not be cautious. But the government needs to stop sounding the alarm and making people believe something that is untrue and that is not based on any facts.

What we ultimately want is to ensure that the Canadian public feels safe and that criminals are punished for what they have done, based on the nature of the offence and the facts in their case. When I read stories in the newspapers and see that someone spent 20 years in prison only to be declared innocent, I feel rather cheap as a lawmaker and I feel that someone did not do their job. We are trying as much as possible to avoid situations like that.

After talking to one victim, I can say that there is absolutely nothing we can do, as lawmakers, to make up for what victims have been through or what they are going through. Money will never make up for what happened. Yesterday I met with people who work with victims of sexual assault. They say that governments must be more open, to ensure that victims of sexual assault are taken care of quickly, that they are believed and that they are not put on the spot and told that they may have been responsible for the assault.

If we could find a way to ensure that they are supported, to help them recover from their experience, perhaps they would feel a little better. If one was to go and see any victim of crime and tell them the government wants to be tougher on criminals, if one was to say that to any Canadian, myself included, I have no doubt that people would say they want these criminals to receive harsher sentences. As one expert told us—in the mere five minutes he was given in committee—sooner or later, these people will get out of prison. But how will they get out?

That is my concern, and I am no bleeding heart or anything. Once they are locked up in prison, can I simply turn my back and assume that their fate is sealed, that this menace, this dangerous individual, is no longer roaming the streets of my community? Prison guards, whom we did not even have time to hear from in committee, have told me that they are stuck with these people. The guards asked me what we are going to do for them, because they are afraid of working in prisons that are overpopulated. What are we supposed to do with that? The government does not care. The government says there is no need to worry about it, that is not the priority, that is not our concern. One day, if they fear a big headline in the National Post, maybe then the Conservatives will listen and do something about it. Maybe something tragic has to happen for them to act. The Toronto Star is on our side, but perhaps not entirely.

That being said, when we look at all this, there is no way that the bill has been completely thought out without any mistakes. Even the government acknowledges that. When we talk to the victims and we tell them that the offender might eventually be released, we take care of them and provide them with therapy. There are probation officers. We know how the system works because people are released from prison.

I do not know whether hon. members in this House know it, but there is now a section in which the word “pardon” will no longer be used. In Canada, we do not give pardons. If a person is guilty, they are guilty for life. It is true that getting pardon is a privilege.

During a committee meeting, the parliamentary secretary said that if a person commits an offence and is released, if he is given a pardon, then it is in fact society that is giving him a chance. Today, the government wants to suspend this chance for a pardon. It also wants to eliminate measures that told the person we were really going to give him a chance, but if he tripped up again, he would be sent back before the judge. These rules already exist. This bill is not inventing anything new. It is simply a mean-spirited way of telling someone that we are going to stamp his forehead because we want everyone to know that he made a mistake and he will have to live with it for the rest of his life.

It is important to note that 96% of people who are pardoned become and remain good citizens. You just have to talk to people, particularly young people. When I was with the law faculty, some of my colleagues had problems becoming a member of the bar because they had made youthful mistakes. If a person has a prior criminal conviction, he cannot become a member of the bar. Often, people do not even think to request a pardon and do not realize that they can until the last minute. Now, the government is making it more difficult to request a pardon, even in the case of summary convictions.

The government will say that we are thinking too much about criminals, but that is not the issue. We have to achieve a balance. The parliamentary secretary was saying that the Conservatives are the only ones who have a balanced approach, who are logical and who are there for everyone. That is untrue. Everyone agrees that the bill is dangerous because it has so many shortcomings. Why? I am not the one who said this but, according to experts, the people who get out of prison will be more hardened criminals. We have witnessed this. The Americans are now doing the opposite of what we are doing. So there is a problem.

Sometimes, I cannot understand how politicians think. When something goes wrong, they do not do anything about it, and when something goes right, they try to cause trouble to the point where things could go wrong but then they do not do anything about it.

Yesterday, I watched the Minister of Justice's press conference. It took eight months to implement two bills that had already been passed. The Conservatives are tough on crime when it suits them and when they want to send a certain message, but forget about logic and consistency. The official opposition has absolutely no lessons to learn from this government, which is completely illogical. The government is so illogical that, in committee, when it was time to propose amendments and do some serious work, the Conservatives did not want to admit, even for a fraction of a second, that there might be problems with their bill. Proposing amendments would be a little like admitting that errors had been made. They tried to do it quietly just before the vote on the final report. They were embarrassed about it.

I am eager to see if they will give some instructions to our friends in the Senate. If this bill returns without amendments, it will mean that adopting a flawed bill within 100 days is more imperative and important than the merits of the bill. This bill will bring shame to the Conservatives.

I carefully read the 208 clauses of the bill and I found absolutely nothing that really helps the victims. It is one thing to go on the road and give the impression of being tough on crime to please victims. Other than sitting down with and talking to people before offenders are released, I can tell you that there is very little that could make the victims feel that they are being looked after.

The Criminal Code is not a tool for taking care of victims. To take care of them, we must try to make them feel less like victims. We have to ensure that the offences are clearly defined. No one is claiming the opposite. All the clauses on terrorism are just smoke and mirrors. No victim will be able to obtain a dime from the countries on the terrorist list.

These are discretionary lists that change depending on our diplomatic alliances. So much for that. I will now answer questions and ask further questions during the next 10 minutes.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member's speech. It is very clear that she is opposed to Bill C-10. She talked about statistics, but I wonder if she has seen a poll from Leger Marketing, which was published in recent weeks. This poll shows that nearly 80% of Quebeckers are in favour of a more repressive justice system. Another poll released yesterday shows that one out of two Quebeckers in major cities does not feel safe.

The hon. member was honest. She admitted that, even though she is a lawyer, she is not an expert in criminal law. I would ask her to comment on what Marc Bellemare, Quebec's former justice minister and attorney general, and a criminal law expert, had to say. I quote:

Everyone agrees with rehabilitation. But first, do we have the right to provide better protection for victims and children? It is time to do that. The polls show that four out of five Quebeckers want our justice system to be stricter. I agree 100%.

That is an argument in favour of Bill C-10. He absolutely agrees with these measures.

He also spoke about Quebec values and said:

Minister Fournier did not speak for all Quebeckers in Ottawa. I think this bill is in line with Quebec's values.

Safe Streets and Communities Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member. As regards the Léger Marketing poll, it confirms precisely what I was saying. If I were asked whether I want authorities to be tougher on crime, I would obviously say yes. However, I want to mention to the hon. parliamentary secretary that another poll was also conducted, specifically on Bill C-10. It shows that Quebeckers, that people from my province, do not support at all the Conservative government's approach.

So, which of these polls is the most relevant to today's issue? I would say it is the one on Bill C-10, which shows that this approach, this way of making our streets safer, is not what Quebeckers want.

As regards certain aspects of the bill, it is clear—as was pointed out by an hon. member when she put her question to the first speaker on Bill C-10—that the Conservative government had the consent of the House regarding crimes against children and pedophilia. It could have removed these provisions from Bill C-10 and we would then have had more time to deal with other bills.

As for the hon. Marc Bellemare, he expressed an opinion. One should understand that Marc Bellemare dealt primarily with victims of traffic accidents. I take his comments as another opinion, like all the others, and I will examine it accordingly.