Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the speech from the hon. member for Macleod. His comments were very appropriate as we debate Bill C-55, amendments to the Criminal Code, high risk offenders. This is the
government's response to Canadians, saying we are going to be tough on crime.
We just heard the hon. member for Macleod point out to us that when the government wants to get tough on crime it gets the wrong guy. The young hood who committed the major crime of stealing, robbing, helping himself to the guys wallet got off virtually scot free, whereas the young farmer had to pay the price.
This type of attitude has to stop. There are many situations in the country where people become victims of crime. When a person becomes a victim of crime, they change their opinion about the offender, the criminal. Obviously the people on the government side have been quite fortunate because they have not been victims of crime.
But let us talk about it from the perspective of a victim. We have heard about and we see every day, unfortunately and far too often, our citizens being murdered, raped, assaulted, victimized, robbed. That means that every time a crime is committed there is a victim and that victim is an innocent person who does not deserve to have that crime inflicted on them. It is the responsibility of the government to stop criminals from harassing and putting fear into ordinary law-abiding Canadians who just want to live their lives in safety and in peace. That is in danger and we hear it time and time again.
I have heard our leader, the hon. member for Calgary Southwest, tell us about the time he was at a town hall meeting talking about crime and justice. He was asking the people what they wanted. An elderly couple stood up and said: "Do you know what we want? We want to be able to leave this meeting, walk down the street to our car and drive home, park our car and walk into our house which is currently in darkness and feel safe. Safe as we walk down the street, safe as we drive home, safe as we park our car, safe as we unlock the door in a dark house and walk in and safe as we live there at night. But we do not have that". That is what every Canadian wants and that is what this government is failing to deliver. People want to be assured that the streets of this country are safe.
We have crime protection units all across the country. We have crime watch. We have all these organizations which are just great, and I commend every Canadian who participates in these, but they are participating in holding up a justice system that is being ignored and let down by this government. It is far more interested in looking after the criminal than looking after the victim.
When a crime is committed and the police arrest a suspect the victim becomes a disinterested bystander. The fight is now between the government and the suspect, where the government proves its case and the suspect puts up his defence and a decision is rendered guilty or not guilty. The role of the victim has been completely bypassed and ignored, and the victim feels like they have been trashed by the system. That is what we are trying to stop. We need compassion for the victim and we have to ensure that there is a proper punishment handed out to the criminal, not like what my friend from Macleod was saying.
We have very loose and open parole systems in this country. We have a parole system that says even though someone is sentenced to a period of incarceration by a judge for this length of time, they can actually get out by serving as little as one-sixth.
That does not mean they are going to get out after serving one-sixth of their time, but when they serve as little as one-sixth of the sentence imposed by a judge, somebody else comes along, some parole officer, a patronage appointment by the way, who is making $100,000 a year because they happen to be well connected with the right political party at the right time, and sits in judgement and says: "The recommendation or the decision by the court, by the judge, at the time the criminal was found guilty is irrelevant. We are going to let this guy walk out on the street". Now they are going to say: "Maybe we are going to put some more restrictions on that".
We have been debating Bill C-45 which says that if a judge recommends that a person be locked up for 25 years, after 15 years we should take another look and let him out on the street. That is being soft on crime.
While the Liberals may talk about their dangerous offender class the whole point is they want to get these people back out on the street faster and as quick as possible, ignoring the recommendations of the judges, ignoring the wishes of Canadians in the street, ignoring that these people are going to be committing crimes on an ongoing basis. That is what has to stop.
If the government gets into this whole realm of dangerous offenders, and this is what it wants to do, why did it not bring in Bill C-55 earlier? There are many people who should be locked up for a very long time who are already walking down the street, courtesy of section 745 which allows earlier parole. Now it wants to bring in this type of legislation before the election to say "look how good we are".
I do not think this legislation is very good. While it is a good start, it is only a start. It is not in any way, shape or form recognized as a bill that is going to really address the issue which is going to punish our criminals, which is going to make sure they realize the benefits of a disciplined environment, shall we say, in prison where they learn normal rules of society. I know that may be difficult in prison, but we can start.
The only time that I have seen the inside of a prison was as a member of Parliament. I had the opportunity of visiting the maximum institution in Edmonton. I have to admit our visit was quite sufficient. There is no requirement there for people to cut their hair, be dressed properly and get to work. They have a problem filling in their time. They laze around.
We need an institution that puts people to work all day, every day, six days a week, so that they can be ready to work when they go back out into the general public. We let them lie in jail and by mollycoddled. I think I heard my friend from Fraser Valley West the other day talk about the fact that they are going to get a cost of living increase in jail. What is a cost of living increase in jail? We should not be paying these people unless they are actually producing something.
Bill C-55 is a small attempt, a poor attempt and not much of an attempt to really make Canadians feel more comfortable about being out in the streets, to know that the streets are safer, that they can feel this government is concerned about them as individuals more than looking after criminals. It is a small start. Let the Reform Party finish the job after the next election when we are given the right to be over there on the other side.