Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-41. Members have heard from our party why we feel so strongly about the government wimping out once again. However, we are getting used to that in this session of Parliament. There are so many issues in Bill C-41 to talk about but the one I want to spend a particular amount of time on is victim impact statements.
A case which comes to mind happened to Angela Richards, a young lady in my riding. I attended the verdict and the sentencing of Wayne Perkin, the individual who actually committed this horrendous crime. This individual had previously committed a sexual assault; he bound up a young lady and injected her with cocaine. He was subsequently sentenced and was then released by the parole board. Had he not been released, young Angela would still be alive today.
However, it would not be appropriate for me to stand here and give some political rhetoric. I want to read to the House and to anybody listening a victim impact statement provided by Corinne Schaefer, the sister of Angela Richards. This victim impact statement probably says it all about what is wrong with our system in Canada today. I will sum up with comments about Bill C-41 that truly identify what the problems are and why this government is so very ineffective. This victim impact statement was given on June 30, 1994 in Vancouver:
Two years have just passed since learning of Angela's murder. It is extremely difficult to write down the impact of her death.
I am confused about the value of this. A part of me feels this statement will have no bearing on whether or not an "appropriate" sentence will be handed down as I do not think there is any punishment great enough. I tend to think this may only be a therapeutic exercise for my benefit.
Already it can be seen that Corinne's confidence in the system, as much as anybody else's in this country today, is lost.
The other part of me wants to scream and cry out to you in my anger and pain. I want this statement to really make a difference. I know this is my only chance to finally have some say in this matter. All those days in court were gruelling and particularly upsetting when defence presented false allegations about Angie. It is awful to go through such tragic and deeply personal accounts of her death and do nothing but sit and listen. Now the opportunity for this statement presents itself, yet I am told I cannot comment on sentencing, nor how much I hate the accused and wish him dead. So through my fury and rage I will do my best to put into words how just two years ago my carefree and wondrously happy life was shattered upon learning that my precious baby sister was murdered.
I love Angie very much, more than words can say. How can I make you understand how much I miss her when I am still denying her death? I do not want to believe this and though I know in my heart that it is true, my heart has yet to accept it. Angie was not only my sister. She was my friend. There were no secrets between us. She was funny and witty and bright and loving and mostly always happy. She was everything that the accused is not. And now she is dead.
I want so desperately to know and believe that she was truly struck "out like a light" before being so viciously stabbed but I will never know, no matter how many times I replay that night in my mind. How horrible for her. I cannot help but feel guilty at not being there to somehow save her.
How did we lose such a beautiful and vital human being? She is gone from our life. Yet we are plagued with remembering her murder for the rest of our lives. A despicable excuse for a person, a criminal with such an extensive history, a parolee, a repeat
offender, someone I hope you will consider to be a dangerous offender, considering the current charge he is facing: 13 counts of sexual assault with a minor, and administering a noxious substance.
This kind of person the victim is describing is the kind of person the government is talking about getting parole after 15 years.
It makes me sick to write his name. I wish him dead so I do not have to worry about when he appeals parole and the day he gets out, which could be in 15 years. Every day I fear for his next victim, my life and for his. I figure I will be barely 50 years old and he will be out on the streets and I will still have it in me to kill him. Who can predict what the future holds? I wonder if I will ever be kind and caring again. I certainly will not be forgiving of this. I have become cynical, hard and very sarcastic. I am humiliated by the person I have become. I also tend to be paranoid. After all, who can you trust?
This is a victim impact statement and is not made up by me. It is by someone who is affected by the laws this government is bringing into place.
Even my dreams are nightmares and often show Angie's body cut up and floating in water or in a dumpster. Once I dreamt that she was brought to the hospital and was going to make it. The reality hit once again upon waking.
For a while there I wished for my mom to die as I could see how much pain she was in. I cannot talk to mom about my sad feelings and how much I miss Angie because I hate to see her cry. She has cried so much I do not want her to see me cry because I do not want to upset her any more than she already is. It's crazy. Even though I need mom more now than ever I can't turn to her. I hate to see the pain on her face, how disoriented and scattered her thoughts have become, how tiny and frail she is to us all. It is disgusting and totally unforgivable. I am at a loss as to what life is all about.
The joy of my sons' births were diminished greatly by my grief. They have been cheated out of what would have been innumerable wonderful moments with their Auntie Angie. I wonder why I brought them into such a horrible world.
I am just now forcing myself to get therapy as I've exhausted whatever coping mechanisms I had and I'm starting to want to hurt myself badly. I'm scared I'm going to do something stupid. My husband is at a loss as to helping me. At times I just want to run away from it all and not accept this. My grief counsellor has assured me that I'm not crazy (which is somewhat comforting.)
My job as an RN in emergency is affected. I'm not able to show compassion for IV drug users, especially cocaine users.
This is what the convicted was.
In fact, I don't want to acknowledge them. There are increasing numbers of stabbing victims presented to emergency and I cannot help but think of Angie and how her beautiful little body was torn after 12 vicious stabs. I'm currently forced to look at alternatives.
The number one rule about doing unto others as you'd have them do unto you was taught to us at a young age. Angela understood and lived this rule; and only good should have come her way. I now realize that there are no guarantees to a happy, long life, especially within our faulty Canadian justice system.
I do hold the system responsible for her murder. I have learned a lot about the justice system and parole board. The foremost message I've received is that criminals seem to be rewarded, rather than punished.
Does that sound familiar?
How many more victims is it going to take before we stop tolerating this?
I am now compelled to join other victims in the fight to improve and strengthen our legal system in hopes that tougher sentences and less cushy prison environments will deter increasingly violent criminal activities.
Corinne knows what she is talking about. One has to ask why the government still includes a golf course at Ferndale penitentiary and so on. Where is the government coming from?
Believe me. I would much rather spend my precious free time with my family, than to have to fight to keep a murderer in jail for the rest of his life. He should never be paroled again.
Does that sound familiar?
The fact that he served only two years of a six-year sentence for attacking Ms. Eastman in 1986 is a joke. How lucky she is to be alive today. Again, I say, had he served his full sentence, my Angie would be alive today.
Why hasn't anyone taken responsibility for slipping up? How could he have been paroled so early? Are parole board appointees not aware of how manipulative these offenders are? Do they not realize that these criminals have nothing better to do than plan and plot for parole?
The emotional, mental and physical costs far outweigh any monetary losses we have encountered. I am however attempting to have the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board repay my mother over $800 for therapy she needed and probably should have continued, but for worry of the cost.
I'm also angry that reward money was used to entice certain individuals to give information. It is unfortunate but money talks. That $30,000 should have been used for a bursary in Angie's name at her high school. She would have like that.
My life has been tarnished forever. I am sorry for the people near and dear to me who put up with my broken spirit. All I know is this: I did make it through yesterday and am cautious about the future.
For the love of Angie, I write openly, honestly and beg that my statement will make a difference.
I can say to Corinne that her statement does make a difference. It has been read in the House of Commons for the government and all other people to listen to. However it is more than a victim impact statement. This is a statement from an average law-abiding Canadian citizen, hoping the government will finally clue in to the fact that legislation has to be a little stronger these days. We have to think of quotes like the one my colleague from Crowfoot referred to. It bears repeating. One parliamentarian in support of section 745 calls it "a glimmer of hope if some incentive is to be left when such a terrible penalty is imposed on the most serious of all criminals".
Where is the glimmer of hope for Angela Richards? Where is the glimmer of hope for all victims out there? A victim is not only the person who died. The victims are the direct relatives and friends of people who have been killed and maimed in this life. Where is the glimmer of hope? Why is a glimmer of hope being offered to the people who do this sort of thing?
The government had better clue in or the next time there is an election it will be sitting over here.