Mr. Speaker, as this is my first time rising to give a speech as a member of the 44th Parliament, I want to take a moment to thank the people of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex for re-electing me to this place on their behalf. It is a responsibility, honour and privilege that I do not take lightly. I am really grateful to them for sending me back here.
My re-election was made possible by everyone who supported my campaign, believed in me, had my back and helped me through this journey. With the dedication and professionalism of my team, the passion and commitment of our volunteers, the generosity and sacrifice of our donors and, of course, the love and support of family and friends, we were able to share our positive Conservative vision. I am grateful beyond words.
I would not be here without my amazing campaign team. I thank my campaign manager David Sverginsky, my official agent Doug Plummer, and the rest of my core team and staff without whom I would not be here. They are Russ Kykendall, Tony Reznowski, Yvonne Hundey, Anna Marie Young, Todd Gurd, Cheri Davies and Kim Heathcote; and the group of volunteers who canvassed with me almost every day: Archie Nugteren, Mark Etienne, Gerry Rupke, Steve Stellingwerff, Marius, Juliette, Hannah Kurjanowicz, Brandon MacDougall, and my predecessor, Bev Shipley.
I would also like to thank Julie, Angela, Holly, Candice and Jennifer for always being there and for their steadfast support throughout my political journey.
The sign crew put up over 3,000 signs. I thank them for their hard work and dedication.
A special thanks to my parents, Diane and Theo Rood, for their love and support. My dad took on the enormous task of installing the signs, removing them and just being there for me throughout this.
I thank my brothers Jeremy Rood and Steele Leacock, and my grandma, Helen Jamrozinski, for their love and support throughout this journey.
Going on to the bill that is before us, it should come as no surprise when I say the Conservatives are the party of law and order. We are the party that stands with victims of crime and their loved ones. We are the party that applies common sense and outcome-based principles to protect innocent Canadians from violent criminals who would harm others. We are the party that understands that it is criminals who are committing these crimes, not law-abiding firearms owners, anglers, hunters and sports shooters.
The Liberals claim to be serious about getting tough on crime, but their hypocritical actions speak louder than words. Last February, in the previous Parliament, the government introduced Bill C-22. The goal of this harmful legislation was to reduce the sentences for illegal gun smugglers and remove mandatory minimum sentences for many serious offences. That bill died when the election was called, but here we are again with the same bill, but with a different number.
Just months before the Prime Minister called an unnecessary election in the middle of a pandemic, my Conservative colleague introduced a private member's bill, which would have imposed tougher sentences for criminals who were caught smuggling or in possession of illegal guns, which is the larger problem.
Brian Sauvé, who is the president of the National Police Federation, has said that policies like what the Liberals are advocating for may be politically popular, but they fail to address the root cause of gun violence. He says:
The narrative is that we need to restrict gun ownership because that will curtail crime, when really the evidence is that illegal gun trafficking leads to criminals owning guns, which leads to crimes with firearms.
Therefore, we need to look at the source of the problem.
Crimes with firearms are exactly what the government claims it wants to stop, yet it voted against a bill and continues to fail to support legislation that will do just that. Does that sound like a government that is serious on tackling gun crime for the people of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex? It sounds kind of hypocritical to me.
Bill C-22 is back as Bill C-5, but with the same purpose. This legislation is a revolving door for criminals. It would do nothing to stop crime. It would do the exact opposite. It would repeal the penalties for crimes like weapons trafficking, reckless discharge of a firearm, discharge with intent to wound or endanger and armed robbery. It would also remove conditional sentencing for heinous crimes like sexual assault, kidnapping, child abduction, human trafficking, vehicle theft and arson.
That tells me the Liberal elites in Ottawa do not care about our safety or the safety of our loved ones. Conservatives like myself will always fight against harmful legislation like Bill C-5. Canadians do not want the justice system to be a constantly revolving door. Common sense must prevail for all common good.
I studied criminology in university, and I have friends who are corrections officers, probation and parole officers. I hear the same thing from them all the time. It is the same people revolving through the doors committing the same crimes over and over again. If it is a provincial offence, which is two years less a day, they will not get the kind of help they would need. If they were sent to a federal facility, they would have help for mental health and addictions problems.
The government has a role to play in ensuring that Canadians, victims of crime and their families can exist freely and without fear in our society, but in Bill C-5, the Liberals are telling Canadians that these offenses are no big deal. Is it no big deal that someone could leave prison, steal a car, rob several businesses, assaulting the occupants with a weapon, and then attack a police officer on their way out? Apparently, the Liberal government thinks that scenario only deserves a slap on the wrist, not a guaranteed minimum punishment for harmful criminal behaviour. In fact, what is proposed in this bill would allow someone who did all the above the opportunity to not even spend a single day in jail.
Again, as a Conservative, I have to stand here and attempt to bring common sense to a government that is clearly showing no indication that it has any sense left, common or not. In fact, some days it feels like the Liberals have removed the words “common sense” from the dictionary entirely.
At the end of the day, Bill C-5 gets soft on gun crime and gives great relief to criminals and offenders. It is missing any good reasons why this policy cares for, protects or prevents repeat offences against victims of violent crime in Canada. It misses the mark on what should be targeted to stop crime and illegal guns. As Winnipeg police constable Rob Carver said, “When we seize handguns, the handguns are always, almost 100 per cent, in the possession of people who have no legal right to possess them. They're almost always stolen or illegally obtained.” Again, it is not the law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters who are committing serious crimes.
Let us now look at the final part of this so-called landmark progressive legislation. During an unprecedented national overdose crisis, we have a government that is actively trying to enable the criminal proliferation of drug trafficking, importing, exporting and production. Where is the sense in that?
I heard from Louis, a constituent in my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, who asked me, “Can we address the fact that known drug dealers are getting away with murder? We lost a grandchild.” What Canadians want and need is a compassionate approach to mental health and addictions recovery, and this is not found in Bill C-5. In fact, no part of this bill even attempts to touch on the subject, and it is too busy enabling the pushers.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health estimates the economic burden of mental illness in Canada at $51 billion per year, which includes health care costs, lost productivity and reductions in health-related quality of life. Addictions and mental health issues have costly and far-reaching impacts in our society and must be given proper attention in legislation to combat the crisis.
When will the government put forward legislation to address this impact instead of using a real crisis to score cheap political talking points at the cost of protecting Canadians? The Prime Minister and the Liberal members across the floor are all talk. They talk big and they make sweet-sounding promises to address serious concerns about gender-based violence, opioid addiction, systemic racism and other forms of discrimination. They make boldfaced claims to be helping Canadians, but then offer nothing of use.
What I see, and what the constituents I represent see when the Liberals grandstand, is hypocrisy. I see before the House a bill that is soft on gun crime and soft on the criminal drug enterprise. Canadians know bills like Bill C-5 are contrary to evidence, countless news stories and the testimony of victims. It should be impossible to ignore the madness of the government’s relentless attempts to gaslight Canadians otherwise.
Canadians expect the government to stand up for the rule of law, to protect victims first and to stand up for their rights. The government should be targeting violent criminals, sexual offenders and criminal gangs, and ensuring that the Criminal Code protects Canadians. Any changes should be made in a well-informed manner that protects public safety.
As legislators, we must represent and reflect the values of the average Canadian, and Canadians consider the crimes that Bill C-5 relaxes measures against to be extremely serious. By reducing mandatory sentences for serious crimes, Bill C-5 says elected representatives do not need to be accountable to the victims of these crimes. The utter hypocrisy of this bill and those who vote for it is staggering.
To vote in favour of this bill signals a victory for violent criminals who commit some of the most heinous crimes against the most vulnerable victims in Canada. It comes at a cost to victims and their families, present and future, and to the dignity of our great nation. That is a fact I find unacceptable, and it is why I will be voting against the bill.