That, in the opinion of this House, the government should amend Part XXIV of the Criminal Code-Dangerous Offenders-to provide:
- that where an offender is convicted of a ) a sexual offence involving a child, or b ) an offence set out in i ) section 271 (sexual assault) that has been proceeded with by way of indictment, ii ) section 272 (sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm), or iii ) section 273 (aggravated sexual assault),
or an attempt to commit any of these offences, the offender shall, before being sentenced, be examined by two psychiatrists to determine c ) in the case of sexual offence involving a child, whether the offender is likely to commit or attempt to commit such an offence in the future, and d ) in the case of an offence referred to in section 271 that has been proceeded with by way of indictment, or section 272 or 273, whether the offender is likely to cause or attempt to cause death, injury or serious psychological harm to another person through a failure in the future to control his or her sexual impulses; and
- that where the psychiatrists conclude a ) in the case of a sexual offence involving a child, that the offender is likely to commit or attempt to commit such an offence in the future, or b ) in the case of an offence mentioned in section 271 that has been proceeded with by way of indictment, or section 272 or 273, that the offender is likely to cause or attempt to cause death, injury or serious psychological harm to another person through a failure in the future to control his or her sexual impulses,
the Attorney General of the province in which the offender was tried shall direct that an application be brought to have the offender declared a dangerous offender.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about the safety of all Canadians. M-116 is a motion to amend part XXIV of the Criminal Code regarding dangerous offenders.
The motion is a culmination of an effort by my colleague the hon. member for Calgary Southeast and myself, to find a way to protect Canadians from sexual predators. This motion will make Canadians safer in their homes and in their streets.
With this motion an individual convicted of a serious sexual assault against an adult or any sexual offence where the victim is a child must be examined by two psychiatrists. If the two psychiatrists conclude that the convicted offender is likely to reoffend, the attorney general must direct that a dangerous offender application be initiated. The convicted offender would then proceed to a dangerous offender hearing. The offender would be declared a dangerous offender if the crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender was likely to reoffend.
There is nothing draconian about this motion by any stretch of the imagination. This motion would only apply to individuals convicted of serious offences. By having a convicted offender reviewed by psychiatrists, we are providing the crown and the courts with the most comprehensive information possible about the likelihood of this offender reoffending. There is nothing arbitrary or unconstitutional about this. The motion respects accepted judicial practice while protecting Canadians against dangerous offenders. What this motion would do is perhaps identify a Paul Bernardo, a Clifford Olson, a Fernand Auger or a Mitchell Owen after they had committed their first sexual offence.
Auger is the man who kidnapped, assaulted and murdered Melanie Carpenter. I have already introduced a petition to the House from the Melanie Carpenter campaign. Over half a million people signed this petition calling on Parliament to enact legislation to keep dangerous offenders, especially dangerous sex offenders, off our streets.
What is particularly disturbing about Auger's murder of Melanie Carpenter is that it could have been prevented. Almost 10 years
before Auger killed Melanie, he was convicted of two brutal sexual assaults on teenage prostitutes. Because the victims were prostitutes, Auger only got a sentence of two years less a day.
It was not until some five years later, after being convicted on a robbery charge and receiving a federal sentence, that Auger was closely observed by psychiatric professionals. Once they had an opportunity to assess Auger, they realized that they had a walking time bomb on their hands but under our current laws he had to be released. As a result Melanie Carpenter is dead. If Auger had instead been assessed by professionals after his sexual assault convictions of the two teenage prostitutes, maybe the courts and corrections would have known what they were dealing with: a dangerous offender.
This motion is a response to the demands of Canadians who are fed up with the failure of our justice system to protect women and children. We are not suggesting that we should randomly lock people up. We are talking about convicted sexual predators.
Another example is Mitchell Owen, the man who murdered 16 year old Pamela Cameron in October 1994 just two blocks from my constituency office. Owen had previously been incarcerated for the brutal sexual assault of a female in an underground parking lot. When he was sentenced the judge called him a walking time bomb. When he was released Corrections Canada advised that he was at high risk to reoffend. Would Pamela Cameron still be alive today had the contents of this motion already been in place?
What about Clifford Olson? Here is a man who had a lengthy criminal record before his murderous rampage which left 11 Canadian children dead.
It is time for the justice system to consider the seriousness of sexual assault and realize that this type of behaviour is a clear indicator of a pattern of future violence. We are not trying to lock people up and throw away the key. A dangerous offender designation simply means that an offender is kept in custody until the parole board is convinced that the offender does not pose a serious threat to society. Parole eligibility would be after three years and then every two years. If rehabilitation and treatment were successful, the offender would not be incarcerated forever.
Motion M-116 would increase the odds that we would capture those offenders who pose a serious threat to the safety of every Canadian should they be released prematurely. This motion ensures that the correctional system is not pressured to release offenders who show no potential for rehabilitation.
Motion M-116 meets the Reform Party's objective of ensuring public safety. I would expect the motion to receive considerable support by all the parties in this House who are concerned with the safety of Canadians.
The Bloc Quebecois justice critic has frequently expressed her concern for the safety of women and children. I hope she is as concerned with protecting them from sexual predators as she is in protecting them from firearms.
I must admit that when we debated this motion on December 13 last year, I was very surprised by some of the comments from the government side. It seems the government member for Hamilton-Wentworth does not see the need for this motion because he "cannot accept that a Paul Bernardo necessarily will offend again". I found these comments from the government side to be shocking. I am not sure what could possibly make the member utter a comment like this. I am certain that Canadians are relieved he is not sitting on the National Parole Board. I doubt there are many Canadians who believe Paul Bernardo should ever be released because the member for Hamilton-Wentworth believes that he may not reoffend.
Then we have the comments of the member for Kingston and the Islands who criticized me and the Reform Party for our obsession with law and order issues. I do not apologize for my so-called obsession with crime prevention and the protection of Canadians. Perhaps if some of the government members were obsessed with law and order issues, they would be more willing to support motions such as this to protect Canadians against sexual predators.
In its red book the Liberal government devoted an entire section to safe homes, safe streets. It surprises me that the government would not wholeheartedly support Motion M-116 which is designed to protect Canadians and to ensure their homes and streets are safe. In fact, we are actually helping the government to keep its own red book promises.
On page 84 of the red book the Liberal government claims: "Dealing with the growing incidents of violent crime will be a priority for a Liberal government". According to the red book: "Every person has a right to personal security and a Liberal government will move to protect that right". Also on page 84 of the red book, the government claims to be particularly concerned with protecting women and children against violence. This motion would help the government fulfil its own promise. Motion M-116 specifically targets sexual predators and pedophiles.
Given this, I do not see any reason why the government would not strongly support this motion. Once again this government plays partisan games rather than putting the interest and safety of Canadians as a priority.
Unlike some of his colleagues, the Minister of Justice did express concern about the situation of dangerous offenders in our communities. According to the minister, the government is in agreement with the objectives of this motion. The minister indicated by his comments on this motion that the government recognizes there is a problem with dangerous offenders being released and possibly reoffending. He said that the courts may
indeed need extended powers to deal with these cases in order to protect the safety of Canadians.
I am pleased to see the minister at least recognizes that Parliament needs to enact legislation to protect Canadians against sexual predators. Given that the minister recognizes the need to protect Canadians against violence, we would expect the government to be eager to support this motion.
Motion M-116 will prevent tragedies where sexual predators reoffend. If this motion were adopted, perhaps Melanie Carpenter and Pamela Cameron would still be alive today.
Motion M-116 reflects the view of the over half a million individuals who signed the Melanie Carpenter Society petition and the hundreds of thousands of Canadians supporting the Peace and Justice for Canadians Association. They believe as I do that dangerous sex offenders and pedophiles belong behind bars and not on our streets until such a time as they will no longer pose a risk to Canadian society.
Canadians have had it with our judicial system which fails to protect Canadians against sexual predators. Motion M-116 would be a start in reforming our justice system to recognize the rights of women and children to the protection they deserve by the judicial system.