Mr. Speaker, in a document published in May 1993 from Ottawa the Prime Minister, in an election mood at the time, said: "Safe streets and homes should be a basic right of every Canadian". As he noted Canada's 40 per cent increase in violent crime he said: "Since 1984, the Conservative government has done almost nothing to combat the growing crime rate except half measures and lots of macho talk".
The Prime Minister has served Canada in this House for over 20 years. Perhaps some of the influence of the Conservatives in proposing half measures has rubbed off on the Prime Minister and his cabinet.
Bill C-41 in its intent and as far as it goes has many things that are supportable. I submit, however, that with this as with other legislation currently before the House, the Liberals are consistent. They are moving. I believe that is because the Reform Party members are listening to their constituents and are saying things on the floor of the House of Commons that typically have never been said here before. Through the pressure of the voice of Canadians being brought to this Chamber by the Reform Party the government is moving but, I submit, in half measures.
Let us reflect also on what my leader, the member for Calgary Southwest, was saying in 1992. While speaking in Belleville, Ontario on the issue of reforming the criminal justice system he proposed the two following things:
Number one: Reformers believe that a better balance should be struck between the amounts of public money spent on the apprehension, care and protection of the perpetrators of crime and the amount of public resource spent on helping the victims of crime. Combined federal and provincial spending on jails alone is about $2 billion a year. Police spending is $1.7 billion for the federal government alone. The court costs another several hundred million dollars each year, whereas the resources committed to helping or compensating the victims of crime are minimal.
The second thing he said was that sentencing and parole procedures should be reformed. He said: "We have proposed that automatic parole be eliminated altogether; that 25 per cent time off for good behaviour be the maximum amount by which a sentence can be reduced; and that sentencing guidelines for judges and juries be improved to ensure greater certainty and consistency in sentencing".
These proposals are in line with the recommendations made by the Canadian Sentencing Commission in 1987 but largely ignored by the federal government.
I believe that in 1993 when my leader made those comments that they were reflecting the values and judgment of Canadians just as they reflect those same values today in a more substantive way than is evident in the bill currently being considered by the House, which I have judged to be a half measure.
On the first issue raised by my leader that there must be a better balance struck between the money spent on criminals and their victims, I would like to present a couple of ideas. First, I think quite frankly that there is a problem in our wonderful free and democratic society with our news gathering systems and media. They have to set their own agenda and perhaps have to sell their newspapers or their advertising time on television.
Unfortunately, we have articles, for example from the Ottawa Sun on March 12, 1994, a two-page article outlining communications telling of a complex person expecting to emerge from jail as though her past and her crimes will be erased. It published a whole series of Karla Homolka's letters. In those letters there appeared, for example:
That card fits perfectly with my Mickey Mouse posters. Hey, I'm getting Sesame Street towels and sheets on Friday. My room is going to be the most juvenile in the whole institution but, hey, I like it that way.'' Another letter:I'm growing bangs, or at least I am trying to''.
This kind of sensationalism by the news media in my judgment does a major disservice to this whole issue. I believe that the fundamental tenets of our society are based on freedom of speech and access to information. But I challenge the news media in the way that it takes that information, distorts it, twists it, sensationalizes it and sells more issues of its newspapers by so doing. I do not think that is excusable.
However, there are responsible articles. I refer in the context of this speech to one from the Toronto Star dated June 26, 1994. I read in part:
Rick Sauve, serving a life term for murder, is the first lifer in Canada to earn a university degree behind bars.
Friedman, one of the people who was an instructor to him and who used to teach classes inside prison, said:
The greatest reward is when I talk to someone who has gotten an assignment back and they have got a 65 per cent and they are pleased as punch and say `wow, I can compete with those guys'. It literally brings tears to your eyes.
Claire Culhane of the prisoner rights group in Vancouver believes strongly that the public should support prisoners' attempts to get post secondary education. Our policy now is to warehouse them. If you are doing 10 or 20 years, are you supposed to sit there and vegetate? If they do not want tension in prisons they have to provide something for everyone.
The second part of the article is that in May Sauve was granted the right to apply for parole. A hearing will be held later this year.
There are two fundamental problems here. I do not want to comment on the issue of this prisoner receiving the ability to be able to have the resources to get his university degree but I suggest that it is hard to imagine that the family of Rick Sauve's murder victim earned a university degree at government expense as a result of the loss of their loved one. What has the government been doing in terms of looking after them in the same way that the offender is currently being looked after?
I am not discussing the issue of whether Rick Sauve should have worked for his university degree. The issue I am raising in this case, as in others like it, is how much time, money and government resource is put at the disposal of victims versus the money and resources put at the disposal of the perpetrators.
The second issue is what my colleague from Fraser Valley West said on Tuesday. He made it very emphatic. Life is life, or at least it should be. Yet we see from this article that Rick Sauve was granted the right to apply for parole. We see a measure in this legislation that victims will be allowed to make representation at section 745 hearings.
While this is an improvement I believe that section 745 should be repealed in its entirety. The judge at the presiding jury or judge trial should have the ability to be able to set the sentence. The sentence should not be overridden at some future
point in time by people who were not party to the case in the first place.
This brings me to the second issue which my leader raised. Surely there must be some ultimate protection for law-abiding members of society.
In a paper produced by the MacKenzie Institute entitled "Streets of Fear, the Failure of the Criminal Justice System" the author, Brode, cited some very interesting examples of the problems with sentencing procedures in Canada.
Two Nova Scotia cases recently underline the inadequate judicial response to attacks on women. In Regina v. Swinamer a man forced his estranged wife into a truck and threatened to kill her. She escaped. Charged with unlawful confinement he was released on condition that he have no contact with his wife. Again he captured her. He drove her to a secluded area and raped her.
At his sentencing the court considered the offender's situation, that he had already spent five months in custody and had a good work record. His sentence, three months' imprisonment and 19 months' probation.
In Regina v. Desmond the husband had severely beaten his wife, thrown her out of the house. She suffered a fractured shoulder and pneumothorax of the lung.
Again it was the offender's situation that mattered for the trial judge considered that it was his first offence of this type and that he could lose his job if in prison. His sentence, 90 days to be served on weekends and two years' probation. This man except by the grace of God would have murdered his wife and he gets 90 days' sentence and two years on probation.
In my home town of Cranbrook this past weekend there was a march of citizens concerned about family violence. They were looking for changes in the criminal justice system and to see that inadequate sentencing for sexual assault is carried over into sentences for spousal abuse.
At an Ottawa conference on women's safety a couple of years ago Chief Brian Ford said that a first offence for assault on a wife usually results in a suspended sentence. Those for drunk driving are stiffer. Inexcusable.
What the government today is missing is the understanding that the late Judge Les Bewley observed, and I quote: "The control or reduction of crime depends on three essential elements: the certainty of detection of the offender; the speediness of the trial; and the certainty of punishment". He goes on to say: "These were all observed and taken for granted 30 or 40 years ago". Not any more.
I would like to introduce for consideration of members today the concept of retribution because the Liberal concentration has totally smothered this concept.
Take for example events which occurred in 1989 and 1990 in Perth, Ontario. Kenneth McLean, the convicted killer of Ruth Moore, had originally been convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 13 years. McLean had told friends: "If I cannot have her, nobody else can". He strangled her and then stabbed Ruth 24 times.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a new trial because of technical errors in the judge's rulings. At his retrial McLean pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and thereby became eligible for parole in another 18 months or released on mandatory supervision in three years. In effect, he would serve six and a half years for Ruth Moore's death.
The victim's family was outraged and violence almost erupted in the courtroom when the new sentence was imposed. The presiding judge, Dan Chilcott, sympathized with the family. He told them he understood their feelings of outrage but then he added: "Retribution plays no part in our system as far as I am concerned".
About retribution the Mackenzie Institute says: "Retribution is the root of society's motivation to punish those who seriously breach our standards of accepted conduct. Retribution is not revenge, for revenge is arbitrary and self-seeking. Retribution is a measured response to a past offence imposed after due process and it is proportional to the gravity of the offence. It does not gratify individual loss. It enforces the legal order and reflects society's abhorrence to violence. To grant lenient sentences is to say that violent acts are acceptable and are not to be truly punished".
Again, there was a recent incident in my hometown of Cranbrook. An individual had been sitting with his ex-girlfriend. She decided to have a bath. Following an argument he went in and shoved her face down in the water. She smothered to death. I grant you he confessed to the crime, but after both the crown prosecutor and the defence asked for a five-year sentence for this murder, the judge in his wisdom said: "Oh, no that is not good enough. We are going to give seven years". What is this? What is a life worth?
When we have lost the concept of retribution, of making the penalty fit the crime, we have lost an essential element of our judicial system. All judges should understand they are on the bench to administer retribution. Courts do not exist to sympathize with the criminal, but to adequately punish for a wrongdoing.
The greatest deterrent to crime is not necessarily the severity of punishment, rather it is the certainty of punishment. The prevailing system of parole and automatic remission of sentence has made punishment uncertain and in many cases unlikely. The
danger lurking in the criminal's mind that he will pay the prescribed penalty for his act simply is not there. He knows the parole system will spare him even in so-called life imprisonment. The criminal justice system therefore becomes a deception. It leads the public into believing that criminals are being punished and it shields the criminal from paying the penalty.
I wish to introduce the major reason I will vote against this bill and in conclusion I want to briefly address the declaration of this bill, that where crimes are motivated by hate this is deemed to be an aggravating factor. The minute this House strays from the fundamental principle that all Canadians are equal regardless of race, language, creed, colour, gender or religion, we open up the entire Pandora's box of inequality.
Let me give an example which was reported in
B.C. Report magazine on September 12 of this year. George Mammolitti, the 32-year old NDP MPP from Toronto who spoke out forcefully against Ontario's same sex benefits law before it was defeated in June has been the target of harassment, abuse and threats.
The magazine reported that after the defeat of the bill Mr. Mammolitti received about 300 abusive and threatening phone calls often in the middle of the night. Many of the callers uttered racist epithets and told Mr. Mammolitti to go back to Italy. He was also sent a handwritten note containing a threat to kill him in front of his children. Police determined the note had been mailed near the legislature but were unable to determine who had sent it.
Mr. Mammolitti has call display telephones in his office. As a result, Craig Smith, assistant to the associate culture minister, Shirley Coppen, was found to be responsible for at least some of the abusive calls Mr. Mammolitti had received. When Mr. Smith was approached he admitted to making the calls. He was suspended with pay for three days and no criminal charges were laid.
The hate provision strides into very dangerous territory. It pits members of supposed majorities against citizens of appointed minorities. A victim is a victim and a perpetrator is a perpetrator. If the shoe had been on the other foot, if Mr. Mammolitti supposedly representing the majority of Canadians had been going after Mr. Smith supposedly representing the minority of Canadians, Mr. Mammolitti would have been in serious trouble. As it is, it does not work that way.
What are we doing getting into this with this kind of judicial law? When a person's head is kicked in, it is kicked in. Curbing is a very gross action which I believe is coming out of the slums of New York or the American inner cities. The victim is put down with the back of his head to a curb and then someone applies boots to his forehead with great force. Something has to give. A murder of that type occurred in Coquitlam within the last three months.
Now I ask: What possible service does this law serve? If the people going through due process are convicted of that crime, what possible service does it serve our society? Does it serve the victim's relatives? Does it serve the offenders if the judgment of the penalty is based on whether the victim was an identifiable minority? Clearly these people did it out of hate. Was the victim just an ordinary guy and these were a bunch of goofball fools who took this person's life? Well that is okay, we do not have to give them as tough a penalty I suppose but remember, the victim is still dead.
We are entering into very dangerous territory with this particular provision in the bill. I truly understand the motivation, but my father said it best: You cannot legislate morality.
In conclusion this is a situation of half measures. It is dangerous because it raises expectations of citizens. That leads to lost hope which when these half measures do not work leads to loss of faith in law and order.
If I could have the attention of members opposite I will make them an offer. I will provide the Q-tips for cabinet if they pledge to use them so they can hear what ordinary citizens are saying. Canadians want an end to the half measures this bill represents.