This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #233 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-45.

Topics

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 13 petitions.

Inter-Parliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to table in both official languages the report of the Canadian section of the International Assembly of French-Speaking Parliamentarians as well as the financial report concerning the meeting of the co-operation and development commission of the IAFSP, held in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 4 and 5, 1995.

Firearms Law Sunset ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-351, an act to provide for the expiry of gun control legislation that is not proven effective within five years of coming into force.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce my firearms law sunset act today. My bill is seconded by the hon. member for Beaver River and co-sponsored by a number of members of Parliament. I thank my colleagues for their support.

If the bill is passed by Parliament it would provide a five-year sunset provision on all gun control legislation unless the auditor general has reported that the gun control law has been a successful and cost effective measure which has increased public safety and reduced violent crime involving the use of firearms.

The auditor general's report would have to be considered by a 12-member committee comprised of six MPs and six experts on firearms law. The committee report would also have to be presented to and concurred in by the House of Commons or a sunset provision would take effect immediately.

To argue against this type of sunset provision people would have to argue that they support gun control even if it does not work and no matter how much the gun control costs.

No one is arguing that gun control is unnecessary, only that the police time and resources should be spent on measures that get the best bang for the buck. That is exactly what the bill does.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present this morning.

The first petition contains 495 signatures from the North York area in the federal riding of York Centre. It deals with the protection of human beings, in particular, the protection of the unborn child. It prays that Parliament immediately extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human beings to unborn human beings.

It is my understanding that these signatures were collected within a matter of a few hours in one day.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition concerns the subject of euthanasia. Quite a number of people from all across Canada have signed the petition. It prays that Parliament ensure present provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously and that Parliament make no changes in the law which would sanction or allow the aiding or abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition is signed by a number of people from across Canada, primarily from southern British Columbia and the Surrey, B.C. area. It deals with the subject of witness protection, in particular, my Bill C-206.

The petitioners call on Parliament to pass Bill C-206 to give statutory foundation for a national witness relocation and protection program.

I am pleased to note for these petitioners that the government has brought in just such a bill which hopefully will be debated very shortly in the House.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the pleasure and the honour to introduce a petition signed by Canadians from New Brunswick, British Columbia, Ontario and elsewhere.

The petitioners call on Parliament to institute complete recycling, waste reduction, energy and resource conservation and clean-up and air pollution programs.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition signed by Canadians from Quebec, Ontario and elsewhere. These petitioners call on Parliament to allow people to use the grounds of Parliament Hill for the purpose of public interest.

This petition is signed by people from all over the place. I really do not understand the motives behind it but nevertheless I would like to table it.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present a petition which has been circulating all across Canada. This petition has been signed by a number of Canadians from the Vancouver, Surrey and Delta areas of British Columbia.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society. They also state that the Income Tax Act discriminates against families that make the choice to provide care in the home to preschool children, the disabled, the chronically ill or the aged.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to eliminate tax discrimination against families that decide to provide care in the home for preschool children, the disabled, the chronically ill and the aged.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions. The first is from 35 concerned citizens from my riding of Yorkton-Melville who are opposed to the approval of synthetic bovine growth hormone, known as BGH or BST. The drug is injected into cows to increase milk production.

The petitioners are concerned not only about health risks to the dairy cows, but also the serious risks to humans, including breast and colon cancer. They urge Parliament to keep BGH out of Canada until the year 2000 by legislating a moratorium on sales and use and until the outstanding health and economic questions are reviewed through an independent and transparent review.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by my constituents who are concerned about high government spending. Given that Canadians are already overburdened with taxation, these petitioners urge Parliament to reduce government spending and implement a taxpayer protection act to limit federal spending.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the hon. member for Hull-Aylmer, I am pleased to table a number of petitions. The first petition asks that Parliament not enact legislation which indicates societal approval of same sex relationships.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, a second petition asks Parliament to make no changes in the law which would sanction the aiding and abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition asks for the same protection for unborn human beings as those who are born.

I am pleased to table these petitions on behalf of the hon. member for Hull-Aylmer.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Roseanne Skoke Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the privilege to present to the House today a petition on behalf of 459 constituents in my riding.

Child Safe of Pictou county believes that all sex offenders who are being released from incarceration should have to inform the media that they are being released. This will allow the media to inform the communities of Nova Scotia of the names and addresses of the offenders being released.

Child Safe feels that this is of vital importance to protect the safety and well-being of our children.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, this petition from almost 1,000 Canadians asks the CRTC to regulate all forms of violence and abuse on television.

The citizens believe that one needs not to be shocked to be educated, to be informed, to be entertained. These petitioners applaud the CRTC hearings on this subject, violence on television, which are being held right now and to which I might add I had the honour of presenting a brief last Monday in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from September 27, 1995, consideration of the motion that Bill C-45, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Criminal Code, the Criminal Records Act, the Prisons and Reformatories Act and the Transfer of Offenders Act, be read a third time and passed.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity today to speak to Bill C-45 and related initiatives. It has been said many times in this House that our penal justice system lacks the means required to control high-risk offenders, including sex offenders.

The public has become increasingly fearful and intolerant of crimes committed by these offenders, especially when the victims are children. This is a very legitimate concern which Bill C-45 should help to alleviate by providing better protection for the most vulnerable members of our society. In many cases, sexual offences not only harm a person physically but also cause psychological damage that unfortunately may leave lasting scars.

If we want to improve public safety, we must act quickly and use the most effective means at our disposal. That is why we have opted for a comprehensive approach consisting of legislation and other measures that will help us deal with the problem on all fronts. As you know, Bill C-45 contains major amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that will increase public safety.

The principal changes include amending the provisions on the detention of sex offenders who attack children. To provide better protection for our young people, Bill C-45 gives the word "child" the broadest possible legal sense, in other words, any individual under 18 years of age. Thanks to the proposed amendments, it will no longer be necessary to prove that serious harm was or will be caused to the child by a sexual offence.

This change was necessary because in many cases, the impact of sexual abuse is not easy to detect in a child. The problem is further compounded by the fact that child abusers often tell their victims that the sex acts they are forced to commit are acceptable and not to be discussed with others. Research has also shown that the harm suffered by a child who is a victim of sexual abuse may not become apparent until years later.

For all these reasons, it is difficult and almost impossible to find out whether there was serious harm. Bill C-45 will fill this gap by giving the National Parole Board the authority to keep in custody any offender it deems likely to commit a sexual offence involving a child before the expiration of his sentence.

I would like to point out that we have before us a piece of legislation that is intelligent and sound and based on the latest scientific research. It was well received by many of the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs during its study of the bill. I may refer more specifically to the clinicians representing the Canadian Psychological Association. They found the bill perfectly reasonable in clinical terms, because, as they said, people sexually drawn to children, known clinically as pedophiles, have a much higher risk of recividism than those suffering from some other form of deviant sexual behaviour.

At times, treatment appears to have no effect on pedophiles. Accordingly, since the bill concerns offenders representing the greatest threat to the security and welfare of children, we believe it should go a long way to calming Canadians' concerns.

Before I talk about other legislative changes, I would like to return to the comments by the solicitor general on the point amending the provisions on detention. The fact that the change applies only to young victims does not mean that sexual offences against adults are of less concern to us.

All sexual crimes are serious, and the vulnerability of the victim, whoever that may be, is a vital consideration in each decision on parole or detention.

We must give ourselves the means to accurately assess the risk involved in a sexual offence, whoever the victim may be. In recent years, some people have wondered whether we can really assess the damage victims suffer when there has been no bodily harm. This is particularly important in the case of victims of sexual crimes.

As many of you know, the definition of serious harm in the present legislation covers both physical injury and psychological damage. As psychological damage is not apparent most times, it is often difficult to detect. In an effort to overcome this difficulty, the Department of the Solicitor General formulated guidelines on this last fall.

Accordingly, the people responsible for identifying cases of potential detention and commissioners responsible for deciding on them are better equipped to assess the psychological wrong a victim has suffered. They can therefore better recognize offenders who are more likely to cause serious harm in the future.

The department developed these guidelines according to the most recent research available on the psychological effects of crime for victims and on clinical diagnostic criteria. This major undertaking results from the department's commitment to clarify the concept of serious harm and to better protect the public against high risk offenders. Whether they are violent criminals or sexual offenders.

The bill contains other changes along these lines, as I mentioned earlier. Some of them have to do with Schedules I and II of the act, which list the offences for which an offender can be referred for detention.

These lists will now include several violent crimes against persons and serious drug offences such as conspiring to commit serious drug offences, impaired driving, criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm, criminal harassment, and breaking and entering when the planned offence is listed in Schedule I.

The addition of this last crime means that an offender who breaks and enters a home with intent to commit a serious offence such as a sexual assault will no longer be eligible for the speedy review procedure and will automatically be subject to review for detention.

In addition, a number of sexual offences that have been repealed will be included in Schedule I so that any offender serving a sentence for one of these offences will be covered. The purpose of these amendments is to correct any shortcoming in the detention provisions that may compromise public safety.

Another important set of amendments provide for the house arrest of some high risk offenders who do not meet detention criteria. These amendments had been demanded by the members of Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, the former Standing Committee on Justice and Solicitor General, the Ontario commission responsible for investigating the Stephenson case, and the Canadian Police Association.

In response to their recommendations, the government recently made legislative amendments to Bill C-45, which were approved by the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs last March.

These amendments will enable the National Parole Board to require that offenders who must be released because they do not meet detention criteria but who need additional community support live in a community based residential facility.

This will allow the board to better monitor and manage these offenders and the risk they present, in order to strengthen the released offenders monitoring system and facilitate their reintegration into society.

While the legislative or policy changes I mentioned represent a sound reform, we must bear in mind that these changes alone cannot ensure greater public protection. We must not settle for longer prison terms for offenders. Most sexual offenders are sentenced to a definite term of imprisonment and, sooner or later, they are back in community.

To properly deal with the problem of sexual offenders, sustainable solutions must be developed. In this regard, many of the witnesses who testified at the justice committee hearings on Bill C-45 were of the opinion that the best way to protect society against sexual offenders in the long term was through formal phased release programs combined with treatment and support.

This has prompted the government to undertake a number of initiatives with regard to programs, including enhancing treatment programs for this category of offenders.

I will briefly comment on what we know to date about treating sex offenders. Research evidence shows sex offenders are not all the same. Their offences are influenced by a host of motivating and situational factors which vary from one individual to the next. Consequently, there is no single cause for sexual abuse and no single approach to treatment. However, there is general agreement among clinical practitioners that for many offenders the risk of reoffending can be reduced through continuity of treatment programs and relapse prevention.

In keeping with this view, a key component of our public safety strategy focuses on the expansion and enhancement of treatment programs for sex offenders. Research and pilot projects in support

of rehabilitation and safe reintegration of sex offenders are an integral part of this endeavour.

To ensure the federal correctional system uses the most effective management and treatment methods for sex offenders, Correctional Service Canada created a national committee earlier this year. This committee has developed standards to deal with the important issue regarding the assessment and treatment of sex offenders. The committee is undertaking consultations with provincial mental health and correctional agencies with a view to developing a national consensus on these and other issues of mutual concern.

To facilitate this effort I had the pleasure of opening the first conference on the national sex offender strategy in Toronto last March. This conference brought together sex offender experts from across Canada as well as from other countries to share their knowledge, refine our assessment and treatment methods, and find innovative ways of restoring public confidence in corrections and criminal justice. This is an important milestone, and I am confident good progress in this area will continue.

We are also active on the local front to help community organizations protect children against sexual abuse. Over the years, the RCMP has played a major role in this respect with its Canadian Police Information Center, or CPIC, a data base made available to police across Canada. This center provides computerized information on the criminal records of individuals who have been fingerprinted. Thus, local police can now check, on behalf of community organizations, the background of those who want to do volunteer work or work for pay involving children. It is one of many ways of helping to prevent direct contact between child molesters or sexual offenders and children in our communities.

Last November, the government announced that the CPIC had been upgraded so that checks run through this national data base can be even more efficient.

As a result, the CPIC now provides information on restraining orders issued in cases of family violence, orders prohibiting holding positions of trust around children and peace bond orders issued to child sex offenders. It also provides more detailed information on the criminal background of offenders, including a list of all sexual offences, whether summary or indictable, committed against children.

These improvements will provide a better profile of those people who could be a threat to the safety and well-being of our children. However, are these improvements sufficient? Some victim advocates have said that better information will be of little use if community organizations do not know it exists, or if they do not systematically check the track record of applicants with the local police force.

In response to that legitimate concern, the solicitor general, justice and health departments are working to set up a national awareness program, in co-operation with the Canadian Association of Volunteer Bureaux and Centres. Starting this fall, and for the next few years, public information and education documents will be prepared, and training sessions will be provided to police officers as well as to volunteer and sports organizations in more than 200 communities across the country, in an effort to ensure better screening of volunteers and staff.

As for high risk offenders who remain a danger to society at the end of their prison term, we are pursuing our efforts to find an adequate solution to the problem. We work in close co-operation with our provincial and territorial counterparts, and quick progress is being made. Every province and territory has agreed to make the best possible use of the Criminal Code provisions which relate to dangerous offenders.

These provisions authorize judges to impose an indeterminate jail term to offenders who, in their opinion, remain a danger to society.

The solicitor general also announced last March a national flagging system to identify at an early date those offenders who may later be considered for a dangerous offender application. Should any offender who is flagged be prosecuted in the future, all relevant background information held by other jurisdictions will be available to assist prosecutors in deciding whether to bring in an applicant.

The solicitor general and the justice minister in conjunction with their federal, provincial and territorial counterparts have agreed to an examination of legislative changes with regard to creating a new category of long term offender. This could lead to special preventative measures for a broader range of violent offenders, especially sexual predators such as pedophiles, including up to 10 years of supervision following the usual penitentiary sentence.

The ministers have agreed that other criminal justice options will be explored for offenders who are at the end of their sentences and who are still believed to be too dangerous to be released into the community. In this regard the solicitor general and the justice minister convened a meeting of leading constitutional lawyers and other experts this past spring to review the limits and possibilities related to the detention of offenders beyond the end of their sentence. This will allow for a full examination of possible strategies under the criminal law which might be viable to achieve greater public safety.

All these measures seek to increase protection of the public against high risk offenders and to restore the confidence of Canadians in our criminal justice system. They are based on a progressive policy dealing with practical issues related to therapeutic programs for offenders, and with the development of the most effective program strategies to treat sexual and other high risk offenders.

Our criminal justice system must be balanced, so that we can truly make our country a place where Canadians and their children can live without fear of being victims of violence or sexual abuse.

I believe that Bill C-45, along with related initiatives and the work that will continue to be done in the months to come, clearly shows that the government intends to do its utmost to make our communities safer. I am sure that members from both sides of this House will help us achieve that goal through this bill.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would dearly love to stand here today and say I will support Bill C-45 but if I did I know exactly what would happen. If our party did that I know exactly what would happen. People across the way would turn around and say: "If the Reform Party supports it, I guess we have gone far enough. We have done our job".

Therefore we will not support this. We will continue to hound government members over issues of criminal justice to let them know they have not gone far enough and that the public right to protection is much greater than the rights of criminals. We will continue to pound that message home. The member for Wild Rose, the member for Crowfoot, the member for Calgary Northeast, the member for Yorkton-Melville will be on the government like a pack of hounds until we get some real tough justice in this country.

One of the concerns I have about Bill C-45 is that it is extremely narrow. It does not go nearly far enough in addressing the concerns of other people. We had a big to do in the House not very long ago when an hon. member was accused of mimicking another hon. member. There were screams and yells of sexism in the House. People were running around saying: "You people are bad. You are sexist". That was a bunch of baloney.

The real measure of how prepared people are to stand up for women is in their actions, not in their words. We are not seeing the action in this legislation that really defends women to the degree they should be defended. Why in this legislation do we not have measures to hand down the same types of penalties that are being proposed here and even tougher penalties when women are sexually assaulted?

Why can women not enjoy the same protection in the law? To me that makes sense and that is why we cannot support this legislation. I know if we supported this people over there would say: "Good, we have them on side. We do not have to do any more". My goodness, all it takes is a stroke of the pen. All they have to do is spend a couple of more minutes writing that type of amendment. Then we would have protection for women as well. Why not go the full way? Why not do it all?

Another concern I have with this legislation is that it does not address the huge problem of young offenders who are sexual predators. I will read a letter in a moment from a constituent of mine who talks about this problem. Before I do I remind hon. members across the way about an incident that happened not too many years ago on the west coast.

A sexual predator, a young offender, and his family moved into a new community. Because he was a young offender no one knew about his past. Not even the police knew about his past. The people next door definitely did not know about his past when they invited him to come over and babysit. I think everyone can imagine what happened. That young man subsequently raped and murdered the little girl next door and nobody was the wiser to his past because the Young Offenders Act protected him. That is insane and ridiculous. There is no reason in the world why this government cannot address those types of problems.

Yesterday in the House our leader asked the justice minister what he will do to ensure that when there was a conflict between the rights of criminals and the rights of victims the scales of justice were tilted to the side of the victims. He gave us a lot of rhetoric.

We would like to see some action. It is too late for that little girl in British Columbia but it does not have to be too late for the rest of the country. All it requires is a stroke of the pen, a little initiative. Why is the government holding back? What is the possible motive for not addressing this issue?

To me it can only be a misguided sense of responsibility or charity to the criminals. Yes, these people sometimes come from bad backgrounds and bad environments. I feel bad about that. I am sorry they turn out to be criminals in many cases and sexual predators in some cases.

At the end of the day, as sorry as I am for that, the responsibility of government, the justice system and the House is to ensure that the rights of the public are raised above the rights of the criminals. There is no excuse for not dealing with that in this legislation. It should be in there.

We have to keep plugging away until we get some changes not only to bills like Bill C-45 but also to the Young Offenders Act. It has to happen.

I will read a letter from a constituent of mine whom I talked to on the phone a few days ago:

I am writing to you because of something that happened to my family this past summer. In late July of this year I had my nephew come and stay with us. He is 13 years old and I had no reason to believe my worst nightmares would come true. During the four days of his stay he sexually abused my oldest sons, ages four and five. My two year old son does not talk yet, so if there was any abuse perpetrated against him I will never know.

I reported the crime to the local RCMP and to social services in the community where he comes from. It was during a talk with another family member that I was informed of the sexual abuse committed against her children, one girl and one boy, by my nephew some seven months prior.

It has been a long summer for my family, not only in dealing with the devastation of having our young children become victims of a sexual crime at such a young age, not that any age is acceptable, but in waiting for justice to be served. By justice I specifically mean waiting for the police and the courts to hold the 13-year old criminal accountable.

This past Monday, September 19, I found out that according to the Criminal Code, Michael, my nephew, is immune from prosecution, not because he did not commit a crime but because he is 13. The first sexual crime was not reported to police. The family of the children and the family of the abuser and social services decided it was an act of an immature boy experimenting with his developing sexuality. It was because of this cover-up that I was unable to protect my children. Therefore my children became the young, innocent victims of his second attack that we are aware of.

I am disgusted and helplessly frustrated with the whole situation. The RCMP officer was quick to assure me that they would get him the next time. Am I supposed to feel proud to be part of a society that surrounds young criminals in a blanket of protection while ignoring the pleas of the whole families that are victimized? By not holding these young criminals accountable based on their age, are we not inviting them to victimize again and again, stealing innocence, forever changing lives?

There is so much more I want to say but more importantly now I know I must take action. I believe if I do not take some action to see the laws changed to protect the young potential victims, then I have not done my job as a parent. If the police and courts cannot help my children get justice, then I must go above them.

Monte, I cry at night because of what this 13-year old did to my children and it torments me to know he will never be punished for this crime. It is just unacceptable at any age to abuse our young future in any way. If we do accept it we have failed them and ourselves. I write this letter in faith that you will be my voice, Monte. Somehow it does not seem enough, words on paper, but it is a start.

This letter says more eloquently than anybody in the House could ever say just how devastating and unnecessary these crimes are. That is what is so frustrating.

I do not really understand why the police did not intervene. They say the boy was 13. My understanding is he should be culpable when he is that age. I certainly put a phone call in to the police to talk to them about that.

However, the whole point is that if this young man were accused, brought to justice and convicted, it would not necessarily mean he could not do it again, because the public would never know what he had done. That is crazy. What are we doing here? Why are we allowing this to happen? It is ridiculous.

I look around here and I see people who are of high intelligence and mature individuals who must understand exactly what this does to people. Why are we not doing something about it? Why is the government not moving legislation today to fix this? I do not understand it. The people at home do not understand it. If it were just a case of not understanding that would be one thing, but it is the terrible damage it does that is so frustrating.

My friends over here have pounded away at the government, asking it to bring in some changes that address these types of things, and it has not. It has not addressed them. It would be so easy. We frittered around with tiny little pieces of legislation over the last few days when we could have been dealing with things of real consequence, things that would really help people.

Maybe I was idealistic when I took on this job, but I thought we could bring some of these obvious problems to light and perhaps something would happen, perhaps there would be changes. It has not happened. It does not happen, and that drives me and everyone here crazy. I know it drives members across the way crazy. There are people who sit on the back benches who ask why we cannot change this. I do not know the answer to that. I guess the only people who know the answer to that are the people who reside in cabinet, where all the decisions are made.

I encourage them to open up their ears and realize that by not acting to bring down some fundamental changes in the justice system they are allowing people to get hurt. If they are not consciously and not maliciously doing it, they are unconsciously doing it. However, the effect is the same.

I encourage government members to start thinking about some of these victims out there, to start supporting some of the amendments like my friend from Wild Rose brought forward the other day, which would compensate victims, and to start opening their eyes to what is happening out there in the real world. When that day comes there will be 52 Reformers standing up and giving the government 100 per cent support.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, I would love to support this bill but I know what would happen if we did. This government would take that as an excuse to quit. Therefore, it is with reluctance that I say it is a step in the right direction but it does not go nearly far enough. We will not give the government an excuse to quit. Over the next several months my friends will be on the heels of the government every day.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter into this discussion.

The member from the Reform Party said the actions of the government drive every member of the Reform Party crazy. He inferred that the same is applicable to this side of the House. Let me agree with the first part of his statement and very strongly disagree with the second part.

The member, in his convoluted statement, said he supports what we are doing but that it does not go far enough as far as he is concerned, so he and his party will vote against this bill. I have sat in the House for the past two years and I have never ceased to be amazed as to how simplistic the Reform Party's attitude has been to this whole issue. It seems to me that during many of their interjections and their discussions they are promoting a very simplistic justice system, very simplistic solutions to a very complex problem.

They are forever talking about victims and victims' rights. I am amazed that a party that purports to be for law and order would not support the victim groups that want stronger gun control and support the government's legislation. Maybe the member can tell me how and why he does not support gun control as asked for by victims groups as well as the police in the country.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I assure the hon. member from across the way that he does not speak for all his backbenchers. I have talked to many of them and I know where they stand on the issues.

With respect to the whole issue of victims' rights, many members of our caucus have been in regular contact with victims groups, have been supporting them, have been proposing legislation through private members' bills that would help them. We moved a motion in the House the other day which the government did not support. That motion would have provided some kind of compensation to victims. I want to make it very clear that we come down four square on the side of victims.

On the issue of gun control, I think it is an improper characterization to say that all victims groups to a person believe that gun control will somehow staunch crime in the country. That is obviously wrong. I also point out, as my friend from Yorkton-Melville has claimed in the House, that many police, I would argue the great majority of rank and file policemen, do not support gun control as it has been proposed in the House.

If there is anything simplistic in the House it is the comments of the hon. member across the way. I argue there is not a person in the country who has watched this channel for any amount of time who would ever doubt for a moment the sincerity of members on this side of the House when it comes to standing up for victims and hounding the government to bring about some changes which, to the government's credit, it is starting to bring about in some of this legislation.

We will continue to nip at the heels of the government until we start to see some real substantial changes in all areas of criminal justice.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Morris Bodnar Liberal Saskatoon—Dundurn, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has made reference to a particular case and read a letter. I take it the hon. member is well aware that laws are made by the federal government but the enforcement of these laws is strictly in the hands of the provincial governments. Barking in the Chamber is the wrong place. Comments have to be made to the provincial attorneys general to make sure matters are taken care of.

The John Howard Society has put out statistics showing that a substantial number of young people are convicted of offences, and 31 per cent of the young offenders are incarcerated but only approximately 20 per cent of adults are incarcerated. Proportionally there are more young offenders being incarcerated than adults. Yet we can see the Reform Party is clamouring for stronger sentences. As well, it appears that more young offenders are being charged but the crime rate of young offenders is not going up.

With the position the Reform Party is taking, is it indicating there should be more incarceration facilities built in this country for young offenders and perhaps resort to a system similar to what is developing in California?