Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to speak today on Bill C-55, another attempt by the government to deal with dangerous offender legislation.
As many in this House know, over the past three years that I have been a member of this Chamber I have spent a lot of time and energy dealing with the aspect of dangerous offender legislation. In April 1994, over two years ago, I introduced a private member's bill that dealt specifically with the items that Bill C-55 is trying to deal with.
That piece of legislation has been before the justice and legal affairs committee for well over two years. Had this government really wanted to do something for Canadians in the aspect of dangerous offender legislation, it should have seen to the immediate acceptance of that private member's bill in this House. What the government has done over the past two years has been to introduce legislation that has dealt with partial elements of my private member's bill.
In the last session the solicitor general introduced Bill C-45 which saw the wisdom of taking a section out of my private member's bill dealing with the crown having to prove serious harm or death would be done to a child in order to keep somebody who was likely to reoffend incarcerated. My private member's bill suggested that it was a very difficult thing for a child to express the harm that was done and that it should not be a requirement and only the likelihood of an offender reoffending against the child should be taken into consideration. The government saw the wisdom in using that aspect in Bill C-45 in the last session.
Now Bill C-55 has been introduced in this session. It also is taking a part of my private member's bill which dealt with long term supervision for people who are deemed to be dangerous offenders or likely to reoffend. That clause, adding up to a 10-year supervision at the end of the sentence, comes directly from my private member's bill.
I have to give credit to the government for seeing the wisdom in those aspects of my private member's bill. I would still suggest that had the government been serious it could have enacted and brought into law Bill C-240, which is now Bill C-254 which sits in committee and deals with these aspects plus others.
As with Bill C-45 in the last session and now Bill C-55 in this session, the government is still falling short of providing that kind of protection to Canadians, that people who are likely to reoffend, to cause serious harm or death to an individual are going to be dealt with in a serious manner. Our party is planning a number of amendments which it is hoped will fill those loopholes the system will still have.
This legislation has not dealt with the time frame. Presently a dangerous offender must be designated at the time of sentencing. If for whatever reason the information is not there, the assessments are not done at the time of sentencing, one cannot deem an individual to be a dangerous offender.
This legislation is opening the window to a six-month period of time. What it does not deal with is that in that six months there is one month when the offender will likely be in a provincial remand centre waiting for his appeal to be heard. Then the offender will spend two months in an assessment centre having various tests and information collected. It will be three months into the six-month window before the offender is even incarcerated in his place of residence for the next number of years where he can be supervised and where his behaviour and attitudes can be monitored.
It certainly does not allow the offender any opportunity to take part in counselling to see whether counselling and treatment will be of any benefit to him. It does not allow any possible rehabilitation for the offender. It does not allow any possible length of time for the people who must make these kinds of determinations to review the individual and see whether he is likely to cause serious harm or death upon release.
The concept of six months will not do anything. I would suggest that the government go back to my private member's bill and have a good look at the reasons why it points out that the time to do this kind of assessment or reassessment is in the last year of this individual's incarceration. They can then monitor what kind of treatment this individual had, whether he refused treatment, whether the treatment did any good, whether there has been any effective rehabilitation, whether the individual has had a lousy attitude in the prison system where he has been constantly supervised and monitored. Six months will not allow the people working with this individual any opportunity to make those kinds of assessments.
We see once again the inability of the government to look at the options and alternatives that have been presented by other members of the House which may bring some solution to the problems at hand. We see the inability of the government to go beyond a limited response to the demands of Canadians.
Canadians whom I have talked to want some commitment from the government that it will make sure that known dangerous offenders who wander the streets, people who they know will likely reoffend and cause serious bodily harm or death to an individual are not out there on the streets. They want to know that when their children walk from school or a workplace that they will not become the victim of a person known to those who had them in their care
that they were likely to cause serious bodily harm or death to an individual.
Canadians are looking to their government for assurances that they will be safe on the streets. Once again the government has fallen short. Yes, it is a good step in the right direction. Yes, it is taking some aspects that are likely to work better than what we have now. But there is a refusal to make those decisions that will give the kind of guarantee or commitment by the government to Canadians that the government takes the risk seriously and that it will make those tough decisions to keep somebody incarcerated because it knows they are likely to cause serious bodily harm or death to an individual.
This legislation still will not help the Melanie Carpenters. Auger, her killer, would not be caught under this legislation. Mr. Auger who ended up killing a young Canadian girl who was in her workplace would still be out on the street able to find a victim. That is what Canadians want the government to protect them from. The government has an opportunity to do just that. I would suggest it is not too much for Canadians to ask of their government.
If we can lock up people because they do not pay their bills, or if we can lock up people because they abuse a substance, surely to God we can lock up people who are likely to kill innocent Canadians when we know they are likely to kill innocent Canadians. Surely Canadians can expect their government to bring in legislation which allows them to keep those dangerous offenders off the street.
Why is the government once again coming up short of the mark? Why is the government going part of the way and bringing in another aspect of supervision or another aspect of identifying dangerous offenders but not doing the right thing? When the system that deals with the care and the concern of these individuals is saying that we cannot afford to put these people back out on the street, why is the government not listening to it?
Six months will not do the job. It needs to be done the year before they are released. Only then can the decision be one based on fact and not just on what might or might not happen.
I would like the government to seriously consider the amendments which will be proposed by my party. I would like the government to seriously look at amendments which will make the legislation the best piece of legislation it can be in order to protect Canadians and to ensure there will be no Melanie Carpenters in the future.