Mr. Speaker, Bill C-41 with all its original and recommended revisions is a manifestation of objectives, directives, purposes, even hopes and wishes that have been produced through a demanding problem solving process. By its very nature it can be classified as a democratic one, one in which information is gathered from a multitude of sources, from publications, studies, research, reports, individual and group experiences, input from all aspects of society, each being driven and governed by their own agendas, personal beliefs and value systems-an extremely complex process which produces a declaration of intent, purpose or direction; in other words a statute, a measure, a rule, a regulation, a law.
This government has used this complex democratic process to produce constructive reforms found in Bill C-41.
As we listen to members of the opposition parties we hear their subjective presentations, each believing that they possess some segment of the perfect law. No law made by man is absolute or perfect. No law is safe from the forces of change in a dynamic society. Each change brought about democratically brings us closer to the more perfect solution.
The justice department has heard the voices through the great country of ours and the outcome is a Criminal Code which is more balanced, fairer and rational than the codes of the past.
The section of Bill C-41 that lifts the Criminal Code to loftier heights is the proposed statement of purpose and principles of sentencing. For the first time direction is to be provided to the courts on the fundamental purpose of sentencing which contributes to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society.
Revenge is no longer the basic purpose of sentencing one who has committed an unlawful act. Although this may be judged to be true by some, a sentence will still reflect the seriousness of the offence.
To diminish the criticism of unjust sentencing the courts throughout the country must give similar sentences to offenders who have committed similar acts. A just law is one that is perceived consistently to be just and fair in every court of the land.
Significant is the statement of principle that states when an offence is motivated by hate based on the race, nationality, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability or sexual orientation of the victim, the offence must be considered as a more serious offence than in the past, thus demanding harsher sentencing.
This bill provides the courts with more options to distinguish between serious, violent crime requiring incarceration and less serious non-violent crime that could be dealt with more effectively in the community.
It is in this area that I feel the most positive strategies can be created to rehabilitate the perpetrators of minor offences. Community service options which have been determined co-operatively with officials of the judicial system, community leaders
and agents from various facets of society will without doubt produce the most effective results.
Rehabilitation programs which keep the offenders from any semblance of normal societal structures, in other words segregated or isolated, rarely are permanently successful. The position of segregation or isolation has built in connotations of inferiority of being a second class citizen. The proposed changes within this bill will reintroduce the minor offender to the normal patterns of community life.
Too often the poor are victimized by well intentioned rules or regulations. The 18th century law that jailed the offenders who could not pay their fines no matter how small the amount is finally being revisited and revised. Such offenders will be subject to other options such as community service or probation. This proposal will result in less crowded, safer prisons as well as decreased costs. Also, more human and financial resources will be free to deal with the more serious offenders.
Many of my colleagues have expressed their opinions regarding section 745 of the Criminal Code. Here violent crime victims are being provided the opportunity to present information which may influence parole decisions pertaining to the offender, a very worthy initiative that is also supported by police chief Karl Ratz in my constituency of Thunder Bay-Atikokan, as well as many others in the law enforcement segment of society.
There is much that can be said about the proposed revisions in the Criminal Code and the relationship to a safer and more just society. Many assumptions can be made and shall be made regarding the various sections of the Criminal Code without seeing their relationships to other forces in society.
It takes more than the breaking of a law to make a criminal. Criminal behaviour is precipitated by a myriad of social causes and ills. Desperate people often resort to desperate means in order to survive or to maintain the family unit. We must address the roles of poverty, racism, family violence, depression, plus many other factors to determine the relationship to criminal behaviour.
We could add a million more laws to the Criminal Code and operate under the illusions that the more we have the better and the closer we will be to the utopian crimeless society. That is nothing but an illusion.
Society must be proactive in the most aggressive manner to prevent crime, thus diminishing the need for impulsive, knee-jerk reactive measures. We must stop pretending. We must stop applying solutions of the 1930s to the problems of the 21st century. This bill brings us one giant step closer to a safer society.