Mr. Speaker, first, the steps announced yesterday by the province of Manitoba and by the province of Ontario do not represent, as the hon. member has suggested, an abdication of federal responsibility. Rather they represent on the part of those two provinces an exercise of jurisdiction that is specifically provided by federal legislation, section 25 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which enables provinces to take those very steps. I decline the suggestion of the hon. member that this in some way represents federal inaction. It is quite the opposite.
Second, the single highest priority for the government in the area of criminal justice is the safety of Canadians. That priority is reflected in the action taken by the government on a variety of fronts.
Two weeks ago I presided at a meeting of ministers of justice from across Canada in Victoria. We decided on specific action to improve the Criminal Code, to introduce new sections and to work with ministers of health to ensure public safety.