Worse, as my colleague says. Much, much worse.
One of their own members has spoken out publicly about how bad it has become. On August 9, 1996 at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Toronto, the York South-Weston Liberal MP gave a speech which he titled: "Honesty, Ethics and Accountability: Does it exist in Canada's political system?" He spoke about all sorts of things, including closure. He talked about how MPs, in order to advance in the power structure of this place, usually have to sacrifice the public interest to their own ambitions.
We have a situation where members of the government will vote for closure or time allocation because they are afraid that if they do not, there will be some sort of punishment coming down the pipe. Yet they know in their hearts there should be more discussion on issues such as this one which has come back from the Senate.
The member for York South-Weston said in his speech: "The real power, the ability to influence, is concentrated in the office of the leader of each of the parties. It is most pronounced in the case of the government, where the power is in the Prime Minister's office, or the PMO as it is known. Surprising as this may sound, in fact, this country is run by half a dozen people, half of whom are unelected. This may not be something that Canadians realize, but it is something they should be extremely concerned about. These unelected officials have a tremendous influence over public policy and the careers of individual MPs. They determine who is rewarded and who is punished, and with that control they have the real influence, and with that influence they have the real power".
That says a lot about the types of processes that take place in the House which lead to closure on a very important issue like this one.
We are not criticizing the individual justice who has been honoured with a request that she go to the United Nations to work on a special tribunal. That really is not the point. The point is the way the government has handled this issue which could potentially place a judge in a conflict of interest position upon her return to Canada.
Time allocation and closure are not the only problems we have in this place. There are other problems which impinge upon the ability to properly function democratically and to discuss these issues in a fair and honest manner. One of those issues was brought up by my colleague, who mentioned that he had to go to you, Mr. Speaker, for a ruling as to whether he was free to speak in a committee of this House.
There are serious problems with the committee structure. In fact, the member for York South-Weston in his speech to the Rotary Club of Toronto, in talking about chairs of committees said: "Committee chairs should be elected by their peers as opposed to the present soviet style system. Elections for chairmen are currently a farce. The PMO selects a person and government MPs go through a phoney ritual to vote for the PMO choice".
That was certainly borne out by my observation of the system. For example, in September not only did the Vancouver area Liberal MPs vote for the PMO choices for chairs, but they also voted for members of the Bloc to be the vice-chairs. They voted for separatists. We know they are controlled by the PMO. That is very clear.
As the member for York South-Weston said as he closed his speech that day: "Restoring real power to individual MPs will ease cynicism and restore confidence in our system of government because it will make every single voter more powerful. By reforming the parliamentary system, the current concentration of power will naturally break down and that will, in my opinion, be a large step in the right direction".
That is very telling. It is a shame to hear today that the Liberal government has intervened to disband the riding association of the member for York South-Weston, to impose its Liberal bagmen appointed riding association to remove from nomination a member who chose to represent his constituents. It is a disgrace that we have to bring that sort of thing to the notice of the public. It should not be happening. Individual MPs in this place should have a great deal more power.
It extends so far into everything we do. I had a complaint from the Canadian Plywood Association in my riding. A market access subsidy in plywood is provided to eastern based manufacturers but has been discontinued for western manufacturers. Where is the fairness in that? These things are mostly done for political reasons. It makes people very upset in the west that they are constantly left out of decisions or are treated very shoddily. Certainly the Canadian Plywood Association is very upset by that decision. I was asked to mention that in the House so I am pleased I was able to bring it into my speech today.
Bill C-42 in allowing the appointment of a judge to the UN to work on a tribunal on war crimes really relates to the whole area of justice. We have heard several Reform MPs talk about how the justice system has deteriorated here in Canada and what a disgrace it is. I certainly have had my share of problems with illegal refugee claimants in my riding who continually commit crimes so they can use the system to stay in Canada.
There is quite a dramatic case in my riding. I will quote from another local columnist who states:
If you are caught doing something naughty, like forging and selling passports, make sure you come up before B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm, who is full of the milk of human kindness.
The judge sentenced an Iranian passport expert to all of three months, to be served at home with an electronic beeper.
The maximum sentence for forging passports is 14 years. What does Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm do? He gives him three months at home with an electronic beeper. What an excellent opportunity for a home based business. The man was working from home in the first place, no taxes to pay, no business licence and no GST returns. It is a wonderful home based business facilitated by a decision of an associate chief justice. Is it any wonder that people are disturbed with the way our justice system has gone when they hear that sort of thing.
The considerate court went on to say that the offender, Mr. Ashrafinia, was just a spoke in the wheel of a larger passport forgery operation. Now I ask, does being a spoke in the wheel mean that there is no responsibility and he should only get three months for forging passports? This man was charging $1,200 and $1,500 per passport. It sounds like a pretty profitable enterprise, especially since there is no GST or taxes to pay. Anyway, we should probably bring out the violins because the lawyer complained. He said that jail time for his client would be a hardship because he does not hear very well. There it is.
I am also quoted in this article as saying that I hope that we never start electing our judges because elected judges would probably begin reflecting community values and that associate chief justice would then have to start handing out the sorts of prison terms we would expect for that sort of disgraceful conduct.
In fact, if this House would pass my private member's bill dealing with the Immigration Act, we could deport these people in lieu of a sentence. We could get rid of them right out of the country without having to worry about years and years of Immigration and Refugee Board appeals, all sorts of nonsense that just drags the system on and on and on.
The member who spoke before me said that the Reform Party uses scare tactics to get people upset. The fact is the newspapers are full of this stuff. I have here a folder which is full of pages and pages about the disgrace of our justice system. It goes on day after day after day.
In the Vancouver Sun of Friday, October 25: ``Deportation of Ontario drug dealer overturned as unfair''. It is unfair to deport a drug dealer. The article states:
A federal judge has overturned the deportation of a convicted drug dealer, dealing a blow to a controversial law allowing some people to be deported without a hearing.
Justice Barbara Reed, of Federal Court of Canada, ruled it was unfair to deport Jeffrey Hugh Williams because the law did not require he be told why he was considered a danger to the Canadian public.
Tell me, does a convicted drug dealer need to be told why he is a danger to the public? My goodness, to the Liberals opposite, obviously he does. So we are stuck with him and he is released out into the public again to do it all over again. Mr. Williams is a
34-year old who came to Canada from Jamaica when he was nine. He was sentenced to a four-year prison term in 1992 for possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking.
I had another case in my riding. It took me five years working prior to my being an MP and as an MP to get rid of a convicted home invader and heroin trafficker in my riding. The Immigration and Refugee Board after he had been convicted of home invasion and imprisoned-home invasion is something that Canadians never even thought about 10 years ago and here we have home invasions going on.
Anybody who lives in the Vancouver area knows that home invasions have become something that we read about fairly regularly in the newspapers. If the member who spoke before me thinks there is not a problem, she should live in Vancouver for a little while.
This man was locked up for home invasion. The Immigration and Refugee Board listened to his appeal hearing on the deportation order and said: "He feels so remorseful about it, he is really not a bad person. We will give him another chance". Within three months he was on the streets again dealing drugs.
The IRB is so naive it should be disbanded right away. All of this relates right back to the whole way that this government approaches things. It brings closure on very important justice bills and forces us into having to deal with all these issues in just a matter of hours.