Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill C-41.
Let me first pay homage to the hon. member for Halifax. Her comment about the influence her mother had on her definitely indicates a life well spent and she can be very proud of it. I am proud of it as a Canadian.
A lot of misinformation is floating around about Bill C-41. It is quite a comprehensive bill. It is a major bill. One hon. member mentioned some misgivings about the issue of alternative measures. Alternative measures refer to cases where jail is not appropriate and community service can be utilized. Rehabilitation is first and foremost and saves society money, as well as being more humane.
My seatmate from Mississauga South had a part to play in the bill, including special considerations for family members. I applaud him for that initiative.
The controversial section of the bill is section 718.2. It deals with hate motivation. One of the things I heard most often is that we are conferring special status on homosexuals. We are giving them special treatment. Let me just say that the law applies equally to heterosexuals and homosexuals.
If a group of gay people or homosexuals were to attack a heterosexual, the law would have the same application. Everybody is equal before the law. That is an important point to make because a lot of people would propagate misinformation on this bill.
When I listen to arguments in the House about hate crime I really am amazed. This is the year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of the second world war. We are all proud of the contributions that Canadian soldiers made.
Let us think back to what happened during the second world war. Everybody seems to forget. Let us talk about some of the hate crimes that occurred during that war. The horrors that the Jews suffered are well known. First they lost their property, their jobs, their civil rights. Then they were taken to the gas chambers. When the war came to an end six million Jews had died in the holocaust.
I cannot for the life of me understand how this year when we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of victory in the second world war we could have such flippant attitudes in the House about hate crimes. It is just amazing.
We have all heard about the Spirit of St. Louis that went from port to port looking for refuge for Jews. They were turned away at port after port and were sent back to their deaths. Nobody wanted to know or to believe this was happening.
A few short months ago we remembered the 80th anniversary of the massacre of the Armenians when 2.5 million people died. They died because of hate. Finally we seem to have some good news coming our way. Members of the IRA are putting down their arms. What is the basis of that conflict? It is a religious conflict-hatred.
Take a look at the present situation in Yugoslavia. What do we have there? It is not some minor disagreement. A holocaust is
occurring right now and it is based on hate. There are also the Hutus and the Tutsi in Rwanda. It goes on and on.
Recently I attended a NATO conference in Budapest in eastern Europe. The major problem discussed in the civilian affairs committee related to the treatment of minorities and avoiding the examples of history. How do you do that? It is done by recognizing that hatred for others because they are different from us can have a very drastic impact.
Let me express a bit of a disappointment. When this new Parliament started a new party came into the House that promised to treat politics differently and not heckle other people while they were trying to speak. I am referring to members of the Reform Party. They have been a major disappointment on this issue to me personally.
I come from the community of Kitchener-Waterloo where neo-Nazis have made their presence felt. They have marched in front of European Sound. They have spewed forward their hate propaganda. One of the Jewish activists in my community, Mona Zetner, had her house burned down. She had to go into hiding.
As a person who came to this country as a refugee having grown up in war torn Europe, I can appreciate what hatred has done. I would suggest to members of the House that perhaps they might think about that, look around at the problems in this world. Many of them come from hatred.
I heard many people talking about how this bill has had no support. The United Church of Canada supports this bill. The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations has urged members of Parliament to support it. The Urban Alliance on Race Relations support the bill.
I say this to my colleagues in the Reform Party because they often ask for the police officers' stance. The chief of police for Ottawa says: "As chief of police, I strongly support this legislative change that will allow my officers to effectively work to counter hate crimes in our community. I urge the quick passage of Bill C-41".
The Canadian Jewish Congress, a community so much more than many others knows the effect of hate and hate crimes, supports the bill. The list goes on and on.
Let me end with the support that comes from the Canadian Federation of Municipalities. At its March meeting held in Ottawa, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' national board of directors endorsed a resolution concerning violence arising from hatred over race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. FCM supports the position taken in Bill C-41 which would provide sentencing guidelines to enable judges to impose tougher sentences on those who commit crimes of hate based on race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.
These people represent the grassroots of the country and are at the level of enforcement of the law. I stand with them and I stand with my colleagues in the Liberal Party who are going to pass this bill. I am going to do it proudly.