House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agriculture.

Topics

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to seven petitions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lachine—Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to its consideration of Bill C-32, an act to amend the Copyright Act.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour and the pleasure to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Immigration and Citizenship regarding its study of draft regulations for the landing of Convention refugees without identity papers.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that the Bloc Quebecois also laid on this table a minority report concerning refugees without identity papers.

There are two main differences between our report and the majority report. The first one concerns the waiting period. Second, regarding two of the countries identified in the regulations, namely Afghanistan and Somalia, we think it is discriminatory. That is why we have tabled a minority report.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Roger Simmons Liberal Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), to present in both official languages the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Health.

This is as a result of a decision that was made in the committee earlier today, recommending that the Minister of Health consider some transitional provisions relating to the sponsorship clauses of Bill C-71.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a member of this committee, I would have a very short, very brief comment to make following the tabling of this report by the chair of the health committee. The opposition objected to these proposals.

Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-78, an act to establish the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and to make a consequential amendment to another act.

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table today a bill entitled "an act to establish the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and to make a consequential amendment to another act". The result of several years of concerted efforts between the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec, this bill is aimed at improving the management and protection of the rich and diversified marine resources of that region of Canada, which is an absolute necessity after the flooding it has sustained.

(Motion deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Indian Act Optional Modification ActRoutine Proceedings

December 12th, 1996 / 10:05 a.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-79, an act

to permit certain modifications in the application of the Indian Act to bands that desire them.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-80, an act to provide for an integrated system of land and water management in the Mackenzie Valley, to establish certain boards for that purpose and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

(Motion deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-364, an act to amend amend the Income Tax Act (change RRSP deduction to a tax credit).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the RRSP system is to assist Canadians in building up capital to provide a reasonable retirement income. It is not intended to shelter wealth or to defer taxes on the amounts accumulated beyond the amounts required to provide for that reasonable retirement income.

Tax fairness and equity must be protected within our Income Tax Act. That includes making sure that the tax benefits do not unreasonably favour certain taxpayers over others. In the current RRSP system the RRSP deduction favours high income earners over low income earners.

Therefore to address these matters this bill proposes to convert the RRSP deduction to a non-refundable tax credit and to establish a lifetime contribution limit on RRSPs.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

moved:

That, no later than the conclusion of Routine Proceedings on the tenth sitting day after the adoption of this motion, Bill C-234, an act to amend the Criminal Code, shall be deemed reported back to the House without amendment.

Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate what Bill C-234 is all about. Bill C-234 eliminates section 745 of the Criminal Code. It extinguishes the right of a first degree murderer to have their parole ineligibility reviewed after serving only 15 years of a life sentence. Bill C-234 makes a life sentence mean life.

On November 21, 1996, in a ruling that my motion on the Order Paper was in order, the Speaker said: "The motion moved by the hon. member for Crowfoot in fact provides the committee with a period of time in which to consider and report the bill if it so chooses. At the same time, the motion provides the House with a mechanism to remove the bill, which is its property, from the committee so that the House itself can take up consideration of the bill".

The Speaker further stated: "The House does not know what has occurred in committee and consequently cannot know what amendments the committee has made to the bill. Therefore, if the House wishes to once again take possession of the bill, then the inclusion of the words "without amendment" establishes clearly that the House will be dealing with the text of the bill it adopted at second reading".

My motion is based on my privileges and those of my colleagues being breached.

The action of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs not reporting Bill C-234 back to the House impedes members from performing their legislative duties. It impedes members from debating in this House, an open forum unlike the committee, an issue which is of utmost concern to our constituents.

On December 13, 1994, Bill C-234 formerly Bill C-226, was referred to the justice committee by a majority of votes in this House. The minister of defence who was then the Minister of Transport, and the member for Vancouver-Quadra, along with 72 of their colleagues and all Reform members present in the House voted to send Bill C-234 to committee. All members who voted to send Bill C-234 to committee fully expected it to be reported back to the House, providing members another opportunity to debate the bill and where the final determination upon the bill could be made and I suggest should be made.

The fate of this private member's bill, the fate of all private members' bills should not be left in the hands of just a few committee members beyond the authority of this House. The House gave life to the bill and only the House has the authority in its final determination. For a committee to kill a bill which was given life by this House and a majority of its members is a violation of our privileges as members of Parliament.

Bill C-234 was circumvented by the justice minister's Bill C-45. The committee allowed Bill C-45 to take precedence over the private member's bill. Bill C-234 was introduced almost two years before Bill C-45 yet Bill C-45, a government bill, was the bill chosen by the committee to be dealt with first. If I had not put a motion forward in committee to have Bill C-234 dealt with, this

private member's bill would still likely be in limbo today in the justice committee.

Bill C-234 was dealt with simultaneously with Bill C-45. However, Liberal members of the committee were obviously more favourable toward the minister's bill which clearly led to the demise of Bill C-234.

This was evident in that Bill C-45 was promptly returned to the House. In only 11 days, Bill C-45 was introduced, sent to committee, reviewed in committee, debated at report stage and third reading and passed. All this was done with less than two weeks before Parliament recessed for the summer.

The justice minister had almost three years to introduce bill C-45, but he chose to drag his feet. He chose to introduce Bill C-45 at the eleventh hour. The justice minister chose to gamble with the emotions of the Rosenfeldts and the other 10 families whose children were murdered by Olson. The justice minister lost that gamble.

The justice minister is directly responsible for Clifford Olson's August 12 bid for early release. He is directly accountable to the Rosenfeldts and the other 10 families whose children were ripped from their lives by the hands of Clifford Olson. The justice minister is responsible for Clifford Olson's newsmaking attempts for early release.

The justice minister claimed Bill C-45 was not about Clifford Olson. He claimed the bill was not a result of Olson's August 12, 1996 date to make application for early release. Why then was the minister and his government so intent that the bill be passed before the summer recess? Why did the Liberal government ask us and the Bloc not to unduly delay this bill?

We provided our co-operation despite the fact that we do not support Bill C-45. We did not then and we still do not support it. We gave our word that we would not block the passage of the bill because we did not want to be responsible in any way for Olson's bid for early release. Unlike the Liberal justice minister, we did not want the Rosenfeldts and the other families to have to relive a nightmare they have endured for the past 15 years.

Although Bill C-45 would still give the likes of Olson an appeal to a judge, which I find absolutely repugnant and beneath contempt, there was the possibility that he could be denied the full judge and jury hearing he now has under section 745 by virtue of the actions of this government.

Bill C-45 was stalled by the Senate and Olson once again grabbed the spotlight he so predictably seeks.

For the benefit of the members of this House who do not sit on the justice committee, I would like to read the testimony given by Sharon Rosenfeldt before that committee on June 18:

Emotional upheaval-that was what I felt on February 8, 1996, when I found out that Clifford Olson, the killer of my son, had applied for his 15-year judicial review. I do realize that the full application cannot be made until August 12, but I know that all the paperwork is ready.

I have known for the past number of years-

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I listened with great interest to what the hon. member was saying, but my understanding is that his motion really deals with trying to bring Bill C-234 to the House. It does not deal with Bill C-45 which has already gone through this House nor with the testimony of a witness before the committee.

If that is the case, at least my colleague should be given the opportunity to respond and enter into this debate. My understanding is that the motion-

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Order. The hon. member for Crowfoot has moved a motion that is before the House for debate. He is debating the motion and with great respect to the hon. member for Ottawa Centre, I do not think the remarks that he is making are far off the subject matter of the bill that was before the committee and which is the subject of the discussion. He is giving his reasons as to why the bill should have been reported. He may be expanding on that, but he is entitled to do so. I invite the hon. member for Crowfoot to resume his speech.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Merry Christmas to you too.

If the hon. member would like to debate this motion, by all means let him enter into debate to express his concerns about anything I might have to say about this bill.

I will continue to quote what Mrs. Rosenfeldt said when she appeared before the committee. It is important that this House and all citizens of this country know the terror, agony and pain that victims of crime go through. She said:

I have known for the past number of years that it was his right to apply and that in all likelihood he would. Yet for some reason, although my mind knew it could be a reality, my heart, emotions and soul denied it. I was afraid to think about it, so I put my feelings on hold, something I've grown accustomed to. I know how to make certain feelings go numb. I learned how to survive like that.

You see, I have to stay strong because I made a promise to my son as his coffin was being lowered into the ground that I would do everything I could as his mom to ensure that the person responsible for killing him would be brought to justice. I promised I would never leave him until that happened. I know I have to put him to rest and that he

deserves to be put to rest, but the laws in our country prevent both of us from experiencing any peace.

When I learned that Olson had indeed made the application, I was stunned. Suddenly many images flashed through my mind. I felt shock but I shouldn't feel shock. I felt angry but I shouldn't feel angry. I felt hurt but I shouldn't be hurting. I felt betrayed and I felt panic. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't stay still. I kept pacing from room to room. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream and I wanted to run-.

I hope the justice minister is hearing this. I hope that all members of the House are hearing this eloquent description of the pain and agony this mother is going through and which this government is perpetuating by the actions it has taken. Mrs. Rosenfeldt went on to state:

Why do we have to go through this again? I felt weak and vulnerable. I cannot lose my dignity again-.I went into the family room and I took my son's picture off the cabinet. I sat down and stared lovingly at him, outlining his face with my hands. He looked so perfect. You see, I always have to reconstruct his face in my mind because a hammer was used on him. He was beaten beyond recognition. I cradled his picture next to my heart and once again made the same promises I had 15 years earlier. I got on my knees and I asked God to give me the strength to keep my dignity.

This is very important to me because after Clifford Olson took my child's life, he also took my dignity for a while. I will not let Olson and the system do that again.

The justice minister failed to stop Olson. He failed to protect Sharon Rosenfeldt, her family and the 10 other families whose children were murdered by Olson, from feeling shocked, angry, hurt, betrayed, weak and vulnerable. Instead the justice minister and the Liberal government are protecting Clifford Olson and granting him rights he ought not to have by refusing to eliminate section 745 of the Criminal Code.

Bill C-234 protects the rights of victims. It protects the Rosenfeldts and other victims from enduring the painful memory of having their young children ripped from their lives.

Bill C-234 would abolish section 745 of the Criminal Code. It would take away the rights of killers to a review of their parole ineligibility. In doing so it would restore truth in sentencing by making life mean life with no hope for parole until at least 25 years of that sentence have been served.

In closing, to the members on the other side of the House who voted against Bill C-234, who voted in favour of allowing first degree murderers the opportunity for early release, I ask: What value do they place on the lives of their brothers and sisters and the lives of their children? Do they feel their lives are worth only 15 years? Will the joy and excitement which rings in the voices of their young children be forgotten after just 15 years?

I would like the justice minister and all members of the House to pause, particularly at this time of the season when our thoughts turn to our family members, both close family members and extended family members, and to members of our communities, to our friends and neighbours, and think about their own children and then justify to Canadians why their lives and those of all their family members is worth a meagre 15 years.

Convicted murderers, rapists and others who take it upon themselves to assault or take the life of another human being throw all their rights away the minute they launch their deadly attack, all their rights, except to a fair and just hearing. For the criminal justice system to provide a killer with a so-called glimmer of hope or to restore their rights is a further injustice to the victim, the victim's family and an offence to Canadians because the killers did not offer a glimmer of hope of any kind to their victims. No, they viciously and sadistically murdered them.

Bill C-234 would restore that justice. It would make victims rights a priority. It would protect the families of murder victims. More important, Bill C-234 if adopted by the House, would place some real value on the lives of all Canadians.

I appreciate the Chair having ruled my motion to be in order and for allowing members of the House to make the final decision on Bill C-234. I would ask all members, whether or not they support the bill, to at least bring it back to the House so that it is this House which will make the final decision and not a handful of members of Parliament in the justice committee.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member went on at length to talk about his interest in ensuring the safety of Canadians.

It was the hon. member and his party that voted against every single piece of legislation that was introduced by the Minister of Justice that deals with the question of safety of Canadians. This is the very same member who did not hear the outcry from Canadians whose families were slaughtered by criminals. Many of my constituents have been killed by guns, by violence.

When the Minister of Justice introduced legislation that would ensure the safety of my constituents, these members voted against it. They voted against the gun control legislation. They have sanctioned the use of guns that are used in some cases to commit crimes. These are members of a party that voted against everything that had to do with the safety of Canadians from coast to coast. Now they stand up enraged, saying they were entrusted with the safety of Canadians.

They talk about the testimony of people who appeared before the justice committee. Where were they when people before the justice

committee were appealing for support for the gun control legislation? Why did they not support the gun control legislation that would have helped reduce crime? Why did they not support other government initiatives that deal with the reduction of crime?

I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that you cannot suck and blow at the same time and that is exactly what this member is trying to do.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, if this hon. member wants to stand before his voters during the next election and tell them very clearly that he voted in favour of the criminal rather than a safer society on Bill C-45 and on this private member's bill, let him do it.

Although he has taken the time of the House to raise the issue on the gun control bill, he has not told us how the registration of rifles and shotguns will reduce the criminal use of those firearms. Neither has the justice minister nor has any member explained how that will create a safer society.

Why did Reform vote against Bill C-41? We voted against Bill C-41 because the government created alternative measures for violent offenders. When Reform introduced an amendment to exempt violent offenders from alternative measures the government killed that amendment with this member's support.

Not only does Bill C-41 allow a legal process by which violent offenders may never see the inside of courtroom, it also encourages the courts to use conditional sentencing. From the time that Bill C-41 became part of our law two and a half to three months ago, the courts have freed rapists in at least in two cases, and a third one has just come to our attention. Serious violent offenders have been allowed to walk free while their victims have been traumatized and afraid to leave their residences. That is why Reform voted against some of the nonsense that comes down the pipe from the justice minister.

If this member wants to stand before his voters in the next election and debate with myself or any other member in the Reform Party, he will be skinned alive. Why will he get skinned alive? Because Reform wants reasonable and common sense legislation brought forward to deal fairly and in a balanced way with the safety of society and this legislation does not do that.

When our courts are encouraged to give conditional sentences to rapists that allows them to walk free while their victims cringe in their own homes, afraid to walk the streets, afraid to leave their homes, then there is something wrong with our justice system.

We will take them on in the next election and we will deal with these issues. We will allow the people to decide who is sucking and who is blowing. We can see clearly who is sucking and who is blowing in this country. It is the Liberals over there.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, what we have heard today is evidence of the Liberal philosophy. As a matter of fact, Canadians were astonished not more than a couple of months ago when the Minister of Justice, in the face of the people's cry for justice and in the face of all the victims of crime, tell them that the prime consideration of the criminal justice system must be the rehabilitation and reintegration of criminals back into society.

What about the millions of Canadians who are talking about the protection of society? What about consideration for the millions of victims of crime? The government continually supports the criminal. It does not give a whit for law-abiding Canadians. It does not give a whit for the victims of crime. The member for Ottawa Centre and the other Liberal members who are cheering him on today are evidence that the Liberal government cares only about its weak-kneed philosophy toward crime. It does not care about the cries of Canadians or the protection of Canadian society. Its system of justice stinks.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, all across the country there is a cry about the justice system and the Young Offenders Act. There is a cry for greater protection for those who are the most vulnerable in our society, our children and our senior citizens.

For the last 25 years that kind of philosophy has held sway in the creation of laws that grant greater and greater rights to the criminal. The Liberals have had the opportunity to show that their philosophy would create a safer society. However, that philosophy, that bleeding heart mentality, has failed. If it had worked it would have been wonderful but it has not worked. It has failed.

The victims of crime who appeared before our committees are crying out for some sort of changes. Those victims are full testimony of which I speak. They represent the common sense of the vast majority of Canadians who are speaking out on this whole issue of crime and the protection of society.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

John Nunziata Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to make some submissions with respect to this matter.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I remind hon. members that the hon. member for York South-Weston has the floor. I think members might want to hear his speech.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

John Nunziata Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Canadians, in due course, will have the opportunity to pass judgment on the record of the government with respect to criminal law reform.

Over the last three years and many years before that, Canadians have expressed in clear and unequivocal terms their desire for a balanced and just justice system. We have seen over the last number of years a justice system that is unjust, a justice system

that is imbalanced, a justice system that appears to put the rights of criminals and those charged with criminal offences ahead of the rights of victims, families of victims and Canadians generally. Canadians are not happy with the criminal justice system.

What the government has done or what the government has not done, Canadian people will judge. It has had the opportunity over the last three years to bring in some meaningful criminal law reform.

For example, the government has made some progress with respect to the Young Offenders Act but the progress has been limited. It did go far enough. The Young Offenders Act still does not have the support and respect of Canadians. In my view it is an invitation for young people to break the law. It treats 16 and 17 years olds like children. Sixteen and 17 years olds are able to understand the difference between right and wrong. They are able to drive. For all intents and purposes they are adults but for some reason the government insists on treating 16 and 17 year olds like children.

The police across the country, those involved in the criminal justice system, have been crying out for changes to the Young Offenders Act.

What about murder in this country? What about murder and the penalties for murder? A law on the books today allows convicted killers like Clifford Olson, like Paul Bernardo, like Colin Thatcher, like all the other hideous murderers, to apply to be released after serving only 15 years of their sentences. That is unconscionable. That is not what Canadians want.

Canadians want a justice system that reflects their abhorrence at the crime of murder, premeditated first degree murder; the degenerates in our society who believe that they can deliberately take the life of another individual and then only serve 15 years.

I had a bill before Parliament, a bill that has been endorsed by every police association across the country, a bill that was endorsed by every victims' group across this country, a bill that was endorsed and approved by the overwhelming majority of Canadians. This government had a choice. It had an option. It could side with the criminals, it could side with first degree killers, Clifford Olson, Paul Bernardo and others, or it could side with the victims, the families of victims and the overwhelming majority of Canadians.

What route did the government take? Initially my bill to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code was endorsed in principle. Over 80 Liberal members of Parliament supported that bill. That was the will of this Parliament, the supreme law-making body in this country as far as criminal law is concerned. Over 80 Liberal members of Parliament, including the Minister of National Defence, the minister of Indian affairs and others indicated publicly that they would support the repeal of section 745.

That bill, having received the endorsement of this Parliament, was then sent off to the justice committee. What a farce that was. The committee members rushed the bill through within a matter of hours. Is that a reflection of the government's commitment to consultation? We had mothers of murder victims pleading with the justice committee. Priscilla de Villiers and others came forward. Mothers of murder victims pleaded with members of the justice committee, saying: "Please bring some sanity to our criminal justice system". Those pleas fell on deaf ears.

The Liberal majority on the justice committee decided that they did not care about their constituents. They were not really reflecting the views of their constituents or all the people across the country who want to repeal section 745. Instead they became voting machines again, trained seals.

They were told what to do by the Prime Minister's office. They were reflecting a bleeding heart attitude to the criminal justice system which has caused Canadians to have disrespect for the laws of this country. Instead of truly representing their constituents and staying true to the votes they cast in this House of Commons, they decided to save the Minister of Justice some embarrassment.

The Minister of Justice was listening to a bleeding heart minority in this country that believes convicted first degree killers should have the opportunity to be released after 15 years.

Instead of responding to the wishes of Canadians, this government decided to respond to the wishes of convicted killers. This government decided to perpetuate the injustice in our criminal justice system by simply tinkering with section 745 of the Criminal Code. In so doing, the government not only exhibited an abysmal ignorance of the will of the Canadian public but it called into question the parliamentary system.

The other night the Prime Minister said on television that he was a democrat. He said that he believed in democracy. But democracy spoke in this House in its purest form. Members of Parliament voted to repeal in principle section section 745 of the Criminal Code. Then what did this government do? It used the back door. It manipulated the process. It voted not to report the bill back to this House. What a shame and what a shameless act to circumvent the will of the majority, the will of this House.

Thank goodness, Mr. Speaker, that you in your wisdom decided that was unjust and undemocratic. Now the opportunity rests with this House to bring that bill forward. Government members have the option to change their minds but they would have to reconcile

the votes they cast several years ago to repeal section 745 with their vote today.

They cannot have it both ways. They cannot pretend on a vote to be committed to criminal law reform and the repeal of section 745 and then acquiesce in this House like trained seals, like voting machines. Wake up and smell the coffee, my friends. The people of Canada want changes to the criminal justice system and they want them now. MPs either represents their constituents or they do not. They are either true representatives of the people or they are not.

This is not the time to engage in partisan politics. This is the time to truly represent and bring meaningful changes to the criminal justice system, and here members of Parliament have that opportunity. When they go to seek a further mandate from their constituents they will have to explain to their constituents why they sat on their hands and allowed themselves to be manipulated by backroom boys in the Prime Minister's office when they had a choice. That is what they will have to reconcile.

The repeal of section 745 and criminal law reform are matters that will put this government to the test in terms of its commitment and credibility. On many occasions over the past three years the Prime Minister has invited Canadians to judge his government by the red book. He waved that red book inside and outside of caucus. He said "you judge us based on the red book".

Lest we forget, there is a major chapter in the red book on governing with integrity. That was the commitment the Prime Minister made on tape, on radio and television stations. Each member of Parliament, I included, went out to the people of Canada and said: "Vote for us because we will provide honest government. We will govern with integrity. We promise you that we will not be like Brian Mulroney. We will not engage ourselves in duplicitous governance. We will govern honestly with you, for you in our government".

Their actions with respect to section 745 and my private member's bill would lead one to seriously question the credibility of this government and would challenge Canadians to reflect on the promise to govern with integrity. If they were truly governing with integrity and with honesty they would reflect the wishes of Canadians.

This is not a frivolous matter for Canadians. This is a serious matter. They fear for the lives of their family and children. They want a balanced justice system. It is time government members woke up and realized what Canadians want.

If they are true democrats in the true sense of the word, then they will stand and insist that the bill be brought back to this House and that this House once again pronounce itself. They will have the option either to vote for or against it.

Dare they vote against the repeal of section 745, each and every one of their constituents will be made aware of that. The Canadian Police Association, as we speak, is asking every member of Parliament to indicate what they have done to contribute to the amelioration of the criminal justice system in this country. All members of Parliament should start thinking about what they have done personally, as a member of Parliament, not as part of a voting machine but as an individual member of Parliament, to improve the criminal justice system in this country. Yes, their constituents will judge them, based on the contributions they have made in improving the criminal justice system.

I plead with those members of Parliament who have a genuine interest in criminal law reform to stand up for what they believe in for a change. Stand up for meaningful changes to the criminal justice system so that Canadians can stand proud of their elected representatives.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member for York South-Weston on a very eloquent speech. He hit the points just right this morning not only about the failure of the Liberal criminal justice system and the inadequate legislation which has been brought forward over the last three years but also, and perhaps just as important, the failure of the Liberal government to live up to its commitment to Canadians to restore integrity and credibility to the House of Commons and to the governance of Canada. Perhaps that is even more important because it strikes at the very heart of the problems that are inherent in the system of governance which exists in Canada today.

I have travelled throughout my riding and across Canada and I know that what the hon. member for York South-Weston said was very true. Canadians are deeply concerned about the inadequacies of the justice system. They know that the legislation which has been brought forward over the past three years is totally inadequate in addressing the criminal problem which we have in Canada today.

I commend the hon. member for York South-Weston for bringing forward this private member's bill. Had it been supported by the Liberal majority, it would have seen the repeal of section 745. It is what Canadians want. It is what they are demanding. It is what they are crying out for. It is high time that those people over there started to listen to Canadians.

One of the things I am asked as I travel around the country is what can we do as individual members of Parliament and what can Canadians do. Every day we see members of Parliament tabling petitions in the House. Those petitions are protests from average Canadians from coast to coast. They are crying out for justice, for change and for the reform of the system.

I would like to ask the hon. member for York South-Weston what is the next step. He and others have tried. I have tabled nine private members' bills in the House of Commons in three years, and seven motions, trying to move the government of the country which enjoys the majority in this House. I have tried to move it in the direction that I feel the majority of Canadians want it to move in.

What can be done now that it has squashed the member's private member's bill? We know the majority of Canadians are crying out for that change.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

John Nunziata Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess when you are at 50 per cent in the polls you can afford to be smug and arrogant. However, as a journalist pointed out the other night, when the government is faced with honest questions from Canadians, it is like a bucket of cold water.

The government, it appears, has been sailing along for the last three years assuming that re-election was a matter of course, assuming that the Canadian public would continue to support it regardless of its actions.

Canadians are much smarter than that. History is full of politicians and political parties that have taken the public for granted. It is full of politicians and political parties that have become smug and arrogant.

Many a political party has been leading substantially in public opinion in between elections. I have been through a lot of elections. I have seen a lot of politicians and leaders, David Peterson, Lyn McLeod, Brian Mulroney; the list goes on and on of people who had substantial support in the weeks and months and a year before an election.

It is important that Canadians continue to speak out about their feelings about the criminal justice system. Quite frankly, I am shocked that people like Darlene Boyd, Debbie Mahaffy, Priscilla de Villiers and Donna French have not been able to move members of Parliament with respect to section 745 and criminal law reform.

These are women, mothers who have lost children to murders, hideous, awful murders that have shocked the country. These are mothers who, in order to deal with their grief, have channelled their energies into trying to change the criminal justice system.

There are members of Parliament who pretend to be sympathetic, who pretend to understand, who pretend to share their grief. However, when the time comes to be truly representative and to listen to these mothers who have lost children to murder, what happens? Members of Parliament turn a deaf ear.

It is important for all Canadians right across the country to continue to speak out, to continue to challenge their politicians, call their members of Parliament, tell them how they feel, tell them that they are not happy, tell them that unless there are meaningful changes to the criminal justice system, when they have the opportunity to vote they will take that matter into consideration.

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Vaudreuil Québec

Liberal

Nick Discepola LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I was in my office and I could not help but rush down here to participate in this debate on the motion. I would like to put the facts straight.

The only difference between their proposition and our proposition is on the fundamental debate of whether 745 should be repealed.

The government members believe that the measures the Minister of Justice put forth are sound measures. Let me remind the hon. members that if we had repealed 745, like the member from York South-Weston wants, like the Reform Party wants, it would not have prevented the likes of Olson that the member hides behind today from applying for early review.

Let me state also that repealing 745 will not-

Bill C-234Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

I thought you said you were going to put the facts forward.