As my hon. colleague says, he will be able to appeal after 15 years under the new regulations but I do not want to get into that.
What could I tell this father when he asked what I would do if somebody tapped on my daughter's window with a butcher knife and the police just said: "Hey, you take your chance"?
I wrote to the Minister of Justice and the attorney general of the province of B.C. to ask if there was something we could do to change the system. The system is broken. It is not working. It is not protecting people like Carol.
I wanted the standard of proof in the Criminal Code to be lowered in the case of attempted murder. I also wanted to allow probation to be imposed along with sentences longer than two years less a day, which was not allowed at that time, so that judges would be free to give inmates longer sentences knowing they could be supervised afterward. Let me run through what happened after that to indicate the sad sorry state of justice.
The attorney general of British Columbia, whom I do not see eye to eye with politically on a lot of things, did have the courage to undertake a study of the Criminal Code. He is not in charge of criminal law but he did undertake a study on my behalf and he in turn made the two suggestions to the Minister of Justice.
When I met with the Minister of Justice upstairs in Centre Block he gave me this advice: "Why not try a civil restraining order instead of a criminal, court ordered restraining order?" That was the sum total of advice and help for this lady: "Last time he was under a restraining order from the courts, he stabbed you six times. That did not seem to work too well. So why not try a civil restraining order? That ought to fix him". That was it for an answer and that is not good enough.
This lady is running, hiding, changing her name. She has been beaten with a rifle butt. He has tried to throw her in the river. She has been stabbed six times. She has been living in fear and is on the run. So get a civil restraining order because the courts cannot deal with it. That is not good enough and that is why I made the demands I did at that time.
This was one of the first cases I dealt with when I became an MP. Three years later, the B.C. attorney general and I have been badgering the Minister of Justice. He has asked to have the issue put on the federal-provincial Criminal Code review. Finally after three years we are starting to see some changes in the law, and some of those changes are reflected in Bill C-55.
But again the minister has fallen short. There is nothing in Bill C-55, nothing in the legislative agenda, nothing in the works anywhere, nothing in the hopper that I can find to deal with this problem of attempted murder. It is not dealt with in this bill of course. It is not dealt with in any bill. We just have to put up with it.
The reason attempted murder is almost never successfully prosecuted in British Columbia is that it has to be proven, without a doubt, that the person meant to kill their victim.
I will cite this example again. This woman was stalked for months. She was beaten with a rifle butt. She was stabbed coming out of her apartment. Thankfully she did not have her children with her. She was stabbed six times until she dropped to the ground and lay unconscious.
The man told the crown prosecutor that he had stabbed her a few times, that he had stalked her, that he had beaten on her window with a butcher knife, that he had beaten her with a rifle butt, that she had fallen to the ground unconscious with blood pouring out of her, but that he had not meant to kill her. He told the crown prosecutor that he was just sending her a message. He said he was warning her.
It is sicker than sick. What does it take? What does a person have to do to be convicted of attempted murder, sever the head from the body?
This is wrong. The minister has to address it. The attorney general of British Columbia has demanded that the law be changed to stop this from happening. Regularly in British Columbia they plea bargain away the attempted murder charge because it has to be proven, beyond any doubt, that murder was intended.
What does it take? The case against this man was plea bargained away. Worse yet, it was plea bargained away over Carol's objections. It was plea bargained away without telling her. It was plea bargained away when they had promised her they would not do it. It was plea bargained away when she had told them that she wanted the case to be pushed to the maximum degree. This animal has to go away not only for the protection of the woman but for the protection of her children.
It did not happen. Again it did not happen. I have to wonder what it takes. I sat down with the minister and he empathized with me. He said: "Yes, that is a tough one. Why do you not get a civil restraining order on the guy?" That is not what I want. That is not what Canadians want. Canadians want animals like this to be treated as animals.
I believe all members of the House could cite cases in which a victim of crime asked to be notified if the perpetrator was going to be transferred to a nearby prison. They want to know for their own security. I have chased these cases down to the warden of the prison where the guy is incarcerated. I have asked the warden to flag the guy so that when he is transferred to Chilliwack, for example, I will know it has happened and my constituent will know that it has happened. It can happen, but we deserve to know.
Do victims have rights? They do not. Prisoners are transferred. Sometimes we read in the newspapers that the guy has escaped from jail. The officials come back to us and say "gee, he slipped through the cracks". Victims were not notified. Victims have no rights. It is always written in terms of "we should consider notifying them". It may be that they will be notified. That is not adequate. That is why people continue to rise on this side of the House to speak on behalf of these people who say the minister is missing the boat.
There is something about mandatory supervision in the bill. The bill allows for some high risk offenders to be subject to ten years of supervision after release from their sentences. That is half of what I ask from the minister.
Up until this bill was introduced judges were frequently saying "I am going to give him two years less a day because then there can be some mandatory supervision afterward". If the guy gets 10 years, like he deserves, he cannot be supervised. He gets out and he is gone. This bill at least addresses that.
For that, maybe my three years of letter writing, begging and pounding doors and desks had an impact. I hope so. One never knows. The minister, I am sure, would not give me any credit. At least it is something I have been asking for, begging for, demanding, however you want to say it. At least it is there.
I want to note that there are provisions in the bill that I disagree with as well. There are accelerated parole provisions for so-called low risk non-violent offenders which will permit them to return to the community after serving only one-sixth of their sentence, a maximum six months in jail.
It seems there is something wrong. I do not know if this is the minister's idea of truth in sentencing. I do not know what it means. It seems there is an indictment of our entire penal system in this.
Why sentence criminals to jail time at all if the sentences are basically meaningless? They say to somebody, whatever the crime that if you do that, you are going to get a couple of years in jail. If you sentence the person, everybody walks away and says that should be the end of that.
Then they find out: "We do not want to punish them and, of course, we are not going to really rehabilitate them. We just do not want to have them, so jail sentence suspended". Off they go, one-sixth of their time.
This bill also gives courts the power to put people under electronic monitoring, even those who have never been charged with an offence. Do I want to see things toughened up in the criminal justice system? You bet. Do my constituents say that the criminal justice system is failing the law-abiding citizen? You bet.
They ask whether we should supervise and monitor dangerous offenders, pedophiles, sexual perverts, violent offenders and stuff. You bet. They want them supervised. They want to know where they are. They want to know who they are. They want to know when that person applies for a job in a day care centre. They want to know all that.
I do not think they want to take it the next step, which is to say that someone who has never been charged, I am going to put the shackles on him and he has no say. I do not know. Get tough on criminals, but criminals who have been convicted of something. We have to follow the rule of law.
The evidence points to a conviction in the case I mentioned. I think it is pretty clear. If the guy has attempted murder, at least I would toss the guy away and lose the keys. Besides that, people would say there is a due process that we have to follow. The due process includes getting before a lawyer, having their day in court. If they are found guilty, the full force of the law comes down on them. Protection of victims is paramount.
In our system people are innocent until proven guilty. I hope the government would listen to the concerns of many people who are concerned about civil liberties who say "I understand why you are doing it, I understand you want to protect the people, and so on".
I am not prepared to say that without their day in court, without a formal charge, without a hearing, without time to defend themselves, as some official says, that the person should be specially marked, the shackles thrown on him and we will be able to follow him around to the ends of the earth. I am not happy with that.
The government is schizophrenic on this. On one hand, it coddles the criminal. On the other hand, it lets people out after one-sixth of their sentence. On the other hand, it will not eliminate section 745.
It coddles the criminal in many ways. We could go into what goes on in the prison system. I could tell about the prison breakouts in my area. In prison now they refuse to wear certain coloured T-shirts. They just rioted in Kent. They say: "I can't be expected to wear a T-shirt that reflects my position as a prisoner. I want to wear whatever I want". They get away with it.
I wish I could say more. I have more private member's bills which I will be bringing forward on the criminal justice issue in the coming weeks. In my office I have a petition bearing 25,000 names dealing with sexual predators and the way the justice system treats them and what I and the people in my constituency would like to see done. I am happy to bring forward these concerns from my constituents and I hope that somewhere the justice minister or his people are listing to the concerns of Canadians. It is not evident in this bill.