My apologies, Mr. Speaker. The justice minister in Wonderland would have been more appropriate.
The editorial described how the justice minister has two views of citizens in Canada. One view is a deep suspicion of law-abiding citizens, that they might commit a crime. The other is that he has an abiding view that the criminals who have already committed a crime just need to be better understood. They need to be rehabilitated. They need to have their backgrounds checked. I chuckled over that because I do not think Canadians will buy that any longer.
I want to illustrate what I consider to be the real flaw in this legislation by talking about how insecure the citizens in my community are in their homes and streets. They are insecure in terms of the safety of their kids when they are at school. I would like to illustrate by example where the justice system is going. This example is not publicly known. The young man who was affected by this would not speak in public. He was concerned that he would be criticized by the media.
A young farmer lives very close to the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. In fact, his farm is right beside the Trans-Canada Highway. One morning he got up to go out and do his combining. As he left his farmstead he noticed a hitchhiker in the ditch along the Trans-Canada Highway. Farmers are really friendly in that part of the country. He stopped, rolled down his window and said: "Buddy, can I do anything for you?" The young fellow woke up and said: "No, I am just catching a few winks before I hitchhike on down the road". He said: "Are you sure I cannot get anything for you?" The hitchhiker said: "No, I am okay. Thanks a lot".
Off the farmer went. He climbed into his combine and went about doing his work. He worked for much of the day doing his rounds. He had a two-way radio in his combine and his brother from a neighbouring farm phoned him and said: "The RCMP want to see you. You had better come home". He went home all concerned. Maybe his wife and children had been hurt in a car accident, or some such problem. They had been visiting another locale.
The RCMP said: "Do you own a motor bike?" He said: "Yes, it is in my garage". The RCMP said: "I do not think it is in your garage. We just caught somebody. We chased him down the highway riding a Harley Davidson registered to you. He has crashed it on the Alberta side of the border near Medicine Hat. You better come and claim your motor bike".
He climbed into his pick-up truck and went. Sure enough, the hitchhiker who had been in the ditch, who had been just waiting for a ride to go down the road, had broken into his garage and stolen his motor bike. He had also broken into his House and stolen some of his money, some of his ID and a firearm, a pistol.
When our farmer friend got to the motor bike, it was badly damaged. These motor bikes are worth quite a bit of money. It was his pride and joy. He bought an old one and restored it. It was all smashed up. It was all bent up.
"I just do not understand how a person could do that. I was friendly to him. I tried to help him". The RCMP said: "This is not a nice dude. We have a record on him all the way from Ontario. He is a vicious criminal". He was able to hitchhike across our big land. He was not stopped. There was no problem for him, but he is caught now and he is in deep trouble with the law. He has broken into your house. He smashed into your private domain. Thank goodness your wife and children were not there because he might have done something really serious".
"Good", he said, "our justice system is going to take care of this dude. I am okay. I will just take my motor bike and my licks and go home".
"Just a second", asked the RCMP, "how did you store your pistol?" "I stored my pistol in my locked home. It is my castle, my domain, locked up. Nobody could get near it". "Have a trigger lock on it, boy?" "What do you mean?" "Don't you know the law? By the way, do you have a permit to take that pistol from your home to the shooting range?" "That's my personal protection against coyotes".
"You're in trouble, my boy. You're in trouble. You had better be talking to the Medicine Hat police because they have your pistol. The fine for what you have just done-you vicious, heinous criminal, not having your pistol locked up with a trigger lock and the ammunition in a different box".
The fact is he had all those things but he was accused of not having them. The fine is $800. There goes our young law-abiding farmer, back home, tail between his legs, whooped, no pistol, big fine coming.
He went to his friends and said: "I wonder what is going to happen to the real crook in this thing. What's going to happen to the guy with the criminal record from Ontario who has travelled across our country, who has stolen my Harley Davidson, smashed it in the ditch, stolen my ID and my wallet?"
He actually got in trouble, did our boy. He got in real serious trouble, did our boy. He got 18 months suspended sentence-a little pat on the wrist. Off he went, our criminal.
Could he be a dangerous offender? According to this he could not be a dangerous offender because he had committed a crime. He was misunderstood, probably had some poverty in the family. He probably had a dad who did not take care of him properly, a mother who did not understand him.
The crook in this case walked. The crook in this case smiled. The crook in this case laughs at our justice minister. The crook in this case ends up being the young farmer whose only mistake was not have an electric fence around his home to electrocute this sucker.
The whole idea of our justice minister in wonderland leaves Canadians from coast to coast insecure in their homes, in their schools and in their businesses, cynical about our justice system.
What should have happened here? This is so simple. My grade 9 son was here last week and he knows what should have happened. There should have been a real clanging, slamming of an iron door for the crook.
The young man may have made a mistake by not understanding the storage of the firearm. He had owned this .357 magnum firearm for 15 years. He should have had from the Medicine Hat police a simple document saying: "You must comply properly with the terms of storage for this firearm. Please make certain that you understand the rules". In other words, he should have had the slap on the wrist for a mistake. There was no mistake on the part of this other friend. None whatsoever.
A criminal justice system that sets out to prevent stalking, to prevent sexual predators, to prevent the serious violent crimes in our society is a good start. However, the cynicism that Canadians feel about our justice system will not be addressed by this bill.
Mr. Speaker, where am I at?