moved that Bill C-228, an act to establish a federal framework to reduce recidivism, be read the third time and passed.
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to speak at third reading of my private member's bill, Bill C-228, an act to establish a federal framework to reduce recidivism. This bill is near and dear to my heart, and I cannot thank all those involved enough for their efforts in seeing it through to this point.
I will begin with my staff, who have been incredible in working tirelessly on the bill throughout the process. All of us have learned. As I am part of the class of 2019, serving my first term in the House, it has been a steep learning curve, but I have had incredible staff support. There is one young gentleman on our staff who has put in a lot of extra effort, and I want to acknowledge all of his time. He is Jesus Bondo. He has done a tremendous amount of work on this bill and has been tremendous to work with. I express my gratitude to him and to all my other staff members. They have all been a part of this and helped make it possible.
I would also like to express my appreciation for members of all parties who have contributed to this process, who have spoken to this bill and who have been encouraging in the process. It has been a deeply rewarding experience for me. It points to how Parliament can work to solve societal challenges and accomplish great things when members work together. I express my appreciation to each of the parties represented here in the House of Commons.
I want to thank the witnesses who took the time to appear before committee to speak on behalf of this bill.
I think of the Hon. Graydon Nicholas, the former lieutenant governor of New Brunswick and former provincial court judge. He is of indigenous descent, from the Wolastoqiyik people. He gave tremendous testimony at committee and has been encouraging and inspiring in this journey.
I want to thank Tina Naidoo, from the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative. Tina has been incredible to work with. She spoke at committee about her organization and the work it has done. It has worked with over 30,000 people, who have been returning to their communities through its programs. They are finding their way back into the workplace and, obviously, finding a pathway to a successful re-entry into the community. It has been truly inspiring. I am forever grateful for the influence of Tina Naidoo, Bishop Jakes and the good folks from Dallas, who have done such great work on this.
I think of Cathy Latimer from The John Howard Society, who gave great testimony at committee, and the inspiring work that The John Howard Society does in helping those who are transitioning from the shadows, as it were, back into the communities. I express my gratitude to them.
I think of Stacey Campbell, who helped in the preparation of the bill. She is with Prison Fellowship Canada, which does great work. She was willing to appear when we first introduced the bill.
I think of Andrew Vähi of the Village of Hope, a great local organization that works with young men who are struggling with addictions and transitioning from incarceration back into the community through addictions programming and life skills development. They do great work there.
I think of Dr. Tom Beckner, who served as a chaplaincy expert and does great work. He is now retired, but he did great work with Bridges of Canada and Bridges of America, and helped train many chaplains all over North America. I thank him for his contributions.
I think of Dr. John Rook and the great work that he does in Alberta. I really appreciated his insights and his support for this initiative.
I think of Mitch MacMillan, who is a retired RCMP office and a local community police chief in the town of Woodstock, in my riding. He is in a local police detachment. He is also a former member of the National Parole Board. He spoke in favour of the bill and helped us in our preparations.
I think of a local farmer from my region, David Coburn. He has employed young men who have been in transition and given them an opportunity to find their way afterward.
All of these voices spoke together, along with those of members from the other parties. They gave good suggestions and helped build this bill to where it is. I am deeply thankful and consider it a great privilege to see it to this point.
I know that we all recognize the recidivism rate of those who will be back in prison within two years of being released from federal prison. It is a troubling rate. In some estimates, it is over 25% of those released from federal prisons, but it is much higher for those in provincial institutions. Rates are even higher for those from minority communities, such as the indigenous community, where the rate is nearly 40%. We definitely need to do all that we can to address these things.
The sad reality is that children whose parents have been incarcerated are seven times more likely to enter prison themselves at some point. If we could help break that cycle and reduce recidivism, we would not only help the individuals who have been affected, but we would also see a difference in generations to come. This type of initiative where we all work together through effective partnerships to make a pathway for successful re-entry after someone has served their time will be so much better for everyone.
I am so thankful for the embrace that the House has given to this point, and I trust and hope that members will continue to support the bill through to becoming a law. We all share the aim of stopping the revolving prison door, so once people serve their time and complete their sentence, they have a successful re-entry back into the community.
We must work with the provinces and respect their areas of jurisdiction and expertise. We must work with the private sector, as it could be the key to unlock an opportunity for a second chance. We must continue to work with the non-profit and charitable sectors that are so good at stepping in when others step out, of not giving up when others simply walk away and throw their hands in the air.
Many people who are doing incredible work often get overlooked, but by doing what they do, going into places that others perhaps would not go, allows many people, families and communities to move beyond a regrettable decision a person made at some point in his or her life. Our communities, families, provinces and nation all gain when we get past a wrong that was once done and move on to a brighter and healthier future.
This is truly an opportunity for us to work together to make lasting societal change. I believe that this bill will bring together the best that the public sector, all levels of government, faith-based organizations and non-profits have to offer to collectively find a long-term solution. It is an all-hands-on-deck approach to help some of the most wounded and vulnerable among us.
I have shared many times in the previous opportunities I had to speak on this bill about my good friend Monty Lewis. He was the founder of an organization that reached back into the prisons. He knew what it was like to be incarcerated.
Monty did not have an easy upbringing. He knew what it was like to live with addictions in his life. He knew what it was like to have faced violence and to have been a perpetrator of violence. He ended up serving time in provincial jails and then in the federal penitentiary.
Monty was in the hole of a prison cell at the Kingston Penitentiary. He had pretty much given up on life and was angry at the world. However, a Salvation Army chaplain began to faithfully visited him there, and he kept going to see him. I remember Monty telling the story of when this chaplain came to see him. He started hollering and swearing and told the chaplain to get lost, but the chaplain kept coming back. The chaplain showed Monty grace and hope. He showed him that would not give up on him.
To make a long story short, Monty had a dramatic change in his life. From the hole of a prison cell, his life started to move in a different direction. He served his time, got out and found the love of his life, Linda. They got married and he went back to work in the mines. He then felt this pull in his life that he could not escape. He said that he had to do whatever he could to help others who had taken a similar path to his. He did not want them to feel like their lives were over because of the things they had done and regretted. He started with $7.36 and began visiting prisons, sharing good news with people and being there when they got released from prison. His life and organization have been the true inspiration behind this bill.
I cannot help but think that somewhere in heaven Monty has a great grin on his face tonight, thinking a bill he had inspired is on the verge of perhaps passing through the House of Commons and could have an impact on the lives of so many others. I dedicate this bill, this evening, to him, his wife and their family for the tremendous sacrifices they have made and the hope they have provided many others.
I thank each one. I appreciate this opportunity and the support I've had to get this done, for the hope of all those who have felt hopeless at one point.