Mr. Speaker, not only is that opposition party trying to take Quebec out of Canada but it is also disrupting the House, and I see no need for it.
I referred to the amendment of the hon. member for Wild Rose, the amendment we are debating today. It is absolutely and totally unjustified that the member from the Bloc would interrupt me after I made the connection.
The amendment of the member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine which we will be debating later calls for full term detention for those convicted of sexual offences against children because serious harm is understood. For all other cases serious harm must be proved in court. It is time serious harm is understood for more of these serious crimes.
I fully support the amendment of the member for Wild Rose. His amendment will put some of the much needed common sense, accountability and responsibility back into our justice system. His amendment takes into account the rights of the victim, an individual who is all too often forgotten in our so-called justice system.
The Reform Party believes that the rights of victims instead of the rights of criminals must receive the highest priority in our justice system. When the rights of the victim and the rights of the criminal are in conflict, the rights of the victim must in all cases be given the highest priority.
The amendment calls for the offender to pay 30 per cent of his or her income as restitution or for psychological counselling for the victim of a sexual assault, aggravated assault or sexual assault with a weapon. This common sense puts some responsibility where it belongs, with the offender. Thinking about this amendment, I wonder why on earth the offender even gets a salary in the first place.
When we talk about common sense and accountability in our justice system, I am reminded of an interesting editorial written by Ted Byfield in the September 11 issue of the Alberta Report entitled ``Memo to Allan Rock: Please check out what's going on in New York City''. The editorial deals with the opposing concepts of the root cause of crime. I quote from it because it sums up the Liberal philosophy and shows why our justice system is in such a mess. The editorial discussed effective deterrents to crime as does the hon. member's amendment:
Back in the '60s our sociological experts made an amazing discovery. Crime, they found, is caused by poverty and social circumstance. Criminals are therefore not responsible for what they do; "society" is responsible. Any notion of "blame" for a crime was thereafter reflected, or at any rate, any blaming of criminals. The idea of "punishment" was summarily jettisoned. Crime called for counselling, understanding, sympathy, not punishment. No longer must we think primarily of protecting the public from the criminal; we must protect the criminal from the public.
This type of thinking has been the theme of the politically correct and is still held by the Liberal government as it was held by the Conservatives and the NDP before.
Mr. Byfield went on to explain that this type of thinking has placed us in the mess we find ourselves in today. He cited the experience of William J. Bratton, a former police office who was the security director for the New York subway system and is now the police commissioner of New York City. Mr. Bratton took the advice of two rogue criminologists who advocated cracking down on petty crimes because it would send a firm message on what kind of behaviour would and would not be tolerated.
When Mr. Bratton was the security director for the subway system he began cracking down on so-called petty crimes like graffiti and panhandling. The incidence of crime on the subway fell almost immediately.
After five years, Mr. Byfield writes, serious felonies fell by 64 per cent and robberies by 75 per cent.
By giving harsh punishments for serious crimes, this also sends a message to criminals that serious crimes will be met with serious punishments. This is the theme the hon. member for Wild Rose carries into his amendment.
Mr. Bratton continued this policy as police commissioner and the city experienced very similar results. The drop in crime has been very dramatic. Yet as Mr. Byfield explains, the criminologists were not pleased with the results. In the words of one criminologist it would verify the contention that crime is somehow a voluntary activity, that crime does not represent in any way the drives and forces and compulsions that are beyond the individual's control.
This is a quote from a criminologist speaking out against the view that we should be tough on crime. To repeat, in the words of this criminologist, being tough on crime would, with the results found in New York City, in the subway system and later in the city, verify the contention that crime is somehow a voluntary activity, that crime does not represent in any way the drives and forces and compulsions that are beyond the individual's control.
This reminds me of the Liberal idea that crime is motivated by poverty and other socioeconomic factors; society is at fault, the criminal is not responsible for his or her actions. On the other hand, Commissioner Bratton's view about the root cause of crime is very simple. Mr. Byfield believes the root cause of crime is criminals. I agree with him, although I recognize there are individuals who have experienced abuse and neglect which may lead them toward a life of crime.
However, ultimately it is their own conscious decision to commit a crime. It is within the limits of our self-control to choose not to commit a crime. The choice is made by each one of us, every day, and each one of us should be held accountable for our actions and decisions. The law must be changed to recognize this, that each individual has the freedom of choice when it comes to committing crime.
As a result of the focus on the rehabilitation of criminals instead of protection of law-abiding citizens, our society is living in fear of criminals.
If we are looking to point a finger of blame for the breakdown of our justice system, or maybe it should be more accurately called our legal system, we could point to a lot of people. When looking at our law makers, members of Parliament who have sat in the House, we can point to all of those members who have supported legislation based on the politically correct but incorrect assumption that the cause of crime is anything but the criminal and that the criminal somehow does not have the power to choose not to commit a crime.
If I were to pick a pivotal time and a pivotal statement, I would look to a former Liberal solicitor general, I believe in 1972, Jean Goyer, who consciously changed the focus of our justice system from a top priority of the right of citizens to feel safe and be safe and the rights of the victim to a new focus in which the rights of the criminal and rehabilitation of criminals were given top priority.
This is a sad commentary not only on the Liberal government of the time but on all governments since that time. I believe it is time now for a political party that is willing to change the focus back to the right of citizens to feel safe and to be safe to take control.
If the government does not do what Canadians want and if it refuses to change the focus back to what it was before the Trudeau government, we will be the government that will make this change. It will happen sooner than most of the members across the floor would like to believe.
I support fully the amendment of the hon. member for Wild Rose.