Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. I will be splitting my time with the member for Langley—Aldergrove.
Before I begin, I want to recognize one of the people in my community of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. That would be one Ethan Katzberg, whom I met about a year ago. Over the summer, Mr. Katzberg became the world champion in the hammer throw. This is an incredible accomplishment for anybody, but more so for somebody of his young age. He is in his early twenties. We are so proud of him. Under the tutelage of Dylan Armstrong, a medallist in the Beijing Olympics, Ethan has really made Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo proud. I thank him for his contribution and congratulate him.
I also want to recognize a young man who passed away over the summer. His name is Reid Enzo Ross Davidson. I believe he has a relative who works on the Hill here. He was the grandson of somebody I look up to immensely, Enzo Lizzi, who is a pillar of our community in Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo and also a pillar of our Italian community. I wish his family, Michael and Lisa, and his partner, Georgia, condolences through what would be a difficult time. Mr. Davidson was only 24 years old when he passed after a motor vehicle accident.
To me, one of the critical elements that we should be focusing on here is the number 246. By my math, and I was never really good in math, it has been about 246 days since the premiers asked the government to act on bail. We are just now debating this bill at second reading. The NFL playoffs came and went; we had a Super Bowl champion crowned and a new season started in that time. Hockey playoffs came and went. The Stanley Cup was awarded. This actually happened even before we found out that the Prime Minister himself admitted to staying in a $6,000-a-night hotel when he went for the Queen's funeral.
That is how much time has passed. In fact, between the time that the Liberal government tabled the legislation and the time that the premiers had written their letter, it was about 112 days by my math. It had really reached a crescendo at the point when the premiers were begging for bail reform.
The Minister of Justice tells us that they are ready to move lightning fast to get this done and that when there is a problem, Liberals act. Members will have to forgive me for asking this: How long does it take for Liberals to act? Is it 246 seconds, 246 months or 246 days? What is it?
How many police officers need to get hurt on the job for Liberals to act? How many shopkeepers need to have things stolen from them or to be the victim of a robbery? How many women need to be the victim of intimate partner violence at the hands of somebody who should not be on bail? I once heard someone, a Liberal, say they could look at one's calendar and tell me one's priorities. Let us look at the Liberal calendar.
For 246 days, this issue has languished. I remember that it was over the Christmas break last year when the then minister of justice told us there really was not a problem with bail. Constable Pierzchala was killed, allegedly by somebody who was on bail at the time. I expected that the government would return with bail legislation. If we want to talk about common sense, that would have been the common-sense thing to do.
Sometimes there are inflection points in society, and the expectation is that government will act. However, the Liberals came back and told us there was nothing to see, the system was working as it should and dangerous people would be detained. Unfortunately, the premiers did not agree. More importantly, Canadians do not agree.
The issue with bail, in my view, has really come to a head. I receive letters. I believe many of my colleagues receive letters.
Not too long ago, I was in my colleague's riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, and we had a public forum about bail and crime. I was amazed to see that crime was so out of control that, in a small community of about 4,000 people, customers were having to press a buzzer to be allowed into a store because there was such a concern.
My colleague in the NDP, in referencing what the hon. Leader of the Opposition said, said that people are just being arrested for shoplifting, and it is no big deal. Sometimes that shoplifting is very expensive. My colleague should tell that to a person who runs a small store and is losing a couple of thousand dollars a month of their livelihood. That is $24,000 a year. That might be the difference between making a car payment, being able to afford a mortgage or putting food on the table and not doing so.
When people trivialize the import of some crimes, saying that they are not serious offences and are just breaches, with all due respect, I would say that breaches of court orders are serious offences. The court has said something, and somebody is willfully and deliberately saying they think otherwise and are going to choose otherwise.
This is obviously a subject I am passionate about; it is something I dealt with a lot formerly as a Crown prosecutor, as well as something I taught. That is why, when I was first elected, I promised to bring in a private member's bill on bail, which I did almost immediately in Bill C-274. It essentially said that if offenders have three indictable offence allegations with penalties of 10 years or more, the offenders will be presumptively detained, except in exceptional circumstances. The reason for this is that exceptional circumstances are often why legislation is found to be unconstitutional for outlier cases. We build in what is called a “safety valve”; in doing so, we make the legislation constitutional. Bill C-274 talked about three serious allegations at different points in time.
Then there was Bill C-313, which was another private member's bill. That bill was in direct response to the alleged killing of Constable Pierzchala. It proposed to change the reverse onus. This is the way I see it. We are talking about reverse onuses; people have gone into what a reverse onus is, so I am not going to get into that. What we are attempting to do right now is to expand the reverse onus.
There has been widespread discussion about supports, but I believe the next step for Parliament to take is to discuss changing the nature of the reverse onus, and here is why: Let us say that we have a medication that is supposed to be working and has been working to varying degrees, but we want to apply it in a more widespread manner and hope it works better. To me, that is what we are looking at with the reverse onus, which we hope works, as opposed to changing the treatment in itself. Perhaps we have to get to the target of the reverse onus, because right now, from what I have seen, the reverse onus is not necessarily doing what it is supposed to do. That is something I encourage Parliament to consider as we move forward.
I want to acknowledge another constituent of mine. Mr. Glenn Fieber passed away at 84 years of age. I went to school with his children. May eternal light shine on Mr. Fieber. I extend my condolences to his family.
The last person I wish to recognize is Mr. Ron Maguire, another person from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo who passed away recently. He was known as Mr. A&W because he started working at A&W and then built up A&W restaurants. He received the key to the city and the Freedom of the City. My condolences go to his wife, Lynne, and his daughters, Kristi and Robyn.
It has been a pleasure to talk about bail and bail reform. I hope we can continue to have reasoned discussion in hopes of making Canada safer.