Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
Along with my colleagues, many of us have said that we encourage this bill to be the source of great discussion and deliberation at committee. Therefore, our side of the House will ensure it goes in that direction. However, we have pointed to some very serious issues that are in the bill but are also recurring issues in the bills the government has put forward with respect to crime.
One of those main issues we have is the way the bill could allow for decreased discretionary power on the part of our judges. We know that judges do critical work, not only as part of our justice system but really as part of our society. Their side of work is one of those key pillars on which Canadian society and Canadian democracy are built. Unfortunately, that is something the Conservative government has tried to chip away at, the work that judges do, that important part around discretionary power that they have bestowed upon them and use with great care and sensitivity day in and day out.
The other piece we do not support is the increased pressure, the hardship that this legislation would put on so many victims, people who have already fallen through the cracks of society, who are among the poorest of the poor, who in so many cases have lived a life of poverty and immense challenge financially. The bill would do nothing to address that reality which so many people face in the justice system.
I also want to speak to the extent to which this and so much legislation put forward by the government when it comes to crime really points to the hypocrisy in its tough on crime agenda. Where we can see that best is in a constituency like the one I have the honour of representing. Just last week, the chief and council of Lac Brochet along with the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Denesuline First Nation in northern Manitoba came together and talked about the atrocious conditions people who were arrested in their community faced simply because the community had nowhere to put them. This is because the RCMP has closed the one holding cell that exists in the community and will only allow it to open if somebody with proper training can manage it.
The kicker is that there used to be a program funded by the federal government to ensure that people from Lac Brochet and northern communities could have the training to police their communities and to ensure that people who were apprehended would be in a safe space. The federal government has cut that funding. This program no longer exists for training and the end result is people have been taken to the arena of the community, have been chained to a door on the floor of that arena and treated with the kind of ignorance and offence that we cannot imagine in Canada. That is because this community has said it wants to ensure the public safety of individuals, it wants to ensure these people are away in a place where they will not harm anybody and themselves and the federal government is nowhere at the table to ensure they have a dignified way of doing so. Unfortunately, the government has turned around and absolved itself from any responsibility when that is not the case.
We are dealing with yet another bill where the government is claiming to want to do something to ensure our communities are safer and that victims are protected, but when communities in northern Canada want to do that very same thing, they do not have the support from the federal government to do so.
On the topic of prevention, the bill talks about fining criminals, but where is the money to make sure we do not have criminals to deal with or to reduce the number of people who end up falling through the cracks into a life of crime or on the other side of the tracks?
In communities like those I represent, and I will speak to The Pas, gang prevention funding has come to an end. A very successful program in the inner city run by The Pas Family Resource Centre has been told that its funding will not be renewed and it has no ability to service children above six years old to prevent them from joining a gang.
Is this the response that the federal government truly wants to show to a community that has struggled with gang violence in recent years? Are we going to wait for a shooting to happen, a death or another young person to be thrown into jail before that gang prevention money comes back to that organization?
Why is the federal government shutting out organizations like The Pas Family Resource Centre? Why is the federal government saying no to communities like Lac Brochet that want to prevent more criminals coming into our system? Why is the federal government not working especially with aboriginal communities that are often the source of so many people falling through the cracks, especially in northern Canada, and ending up in our correctional system?
If only that kind of passion for eliminating crime was infused into prevention, rehabilitation and supporting safer communities, then we could see a genuine approach to dealing with crime. Rather, there are half-baked bills like the one we have here and the rhetoric we see in the media where leaders in aboriginal communities have said that public safety and victims' rights are the very things they are concerned about, but when it is about partnering with the federal government, it is nowhere to be found.
I also want to point out that when we are looking ahead to try to truly deal with preventing and cutting down crime in our country we are in the best position to do that by looking at the evidence, listening to the advocate organizations that are on the ground and to the victim organizations that are on the front line, such as Elizabeth Fry or the John Howard Society. We should be listening to correctional workers who are increasingly concerned about what legislation like Bill C-10 would mean. We should be listening to the concerns of people who work with victims and to what the people within the justice system are saying.
Let us follow their lead. Let us follow the evidence-based research that indicates prevention and rehabilitation are the way to go. That is where the investments need to be made in order to truly cut down and eliminate crime and, at the end of the day, make our communities safer.