Madam Speaker, as a physician in my life before Parliament I would like to address the final victims bill of rights statement that the victim should know if a person convicted of a sexual offence has a sexually transmitted disease. I would like to relay the specific case of Margot Blackburn. In September, 1992 Margot was working in a church rectory. A convict was in the church doing community service on a day pass. The convict had a bad past record and he raped her.
He was caught of course, convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Margot, being up to date on medical issues, knew there was a possibility of an infectious disease being transmitted to her. This man was convicted. He admitted he had raped her. He said he was sorry and all the other things.
Margot asked if he could have given her AIDS. She applied to the court and asked for the perpetrator, Louis B., to have an AIDS test. When I tell this story to high school students across the country they look at me with horror when I say that the result was no chance, no AIDS test, zero. The convict and his rights take precedence over Margot Blackburn.
She wanted an AIDS test, and an eminently reasonable request it was in my view, since there would have been a significant gap between the time of infection and when a test would show positive in her. If the convict was positive, she would know full well she had reason to worry.
In Canada, the rights of the criminal in this case collide directly with the rights of Margot, and take precedence. I say to the kids: "You young ladies in this class, what do you think of the Canadian justice system when I tell you that? Whose rights should take precedence?" I have not had a single, solitary student in grade 12 say to me that Louis B.'s rights should take precedence over Margot's. They say absolutely not.
This issue, without question, puts the justice system into disrepute. Reformers want to change that. If a conflict exists between the rights of the victim and the rights of the criminal, the rights of the victim must take precedence.
I found a very interesting recent editorial in a newspaper written by someone who sits in this House, although not on this side, who very eloquently said that. The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime proposed in 1993 that the Criminal Code should be amended so that a blood test can be ordered when the court is satisfied that (a) reasonable grounds exist that the victim has been exposed to risk of infection, and (b) the taking of blood can be done without jeopardizing the life or safety from whom it is taken. In my view, no one can argue with that.
I will discuss a second case of a victim in Canada who I consider to be abused by our system. His name is Miles Fritz. He is a young man who lives in Cayley, Alberta. He is a master electrician and was working in the Yukon.
One evening while doing his dishes he heard a cry from outside. His 64-year old neighbour had been set upon by three thugs. Miles is a scrawny buzzard, something like me. Nevertheless he rushed out to save his neighbour. He found the three thugs literally kicking his neighbour unconscious. He leaped on them and beat them off. However, one thug drew a knife and stabbed Miles in his right forearm. Miles almost bled to death but they saved him with transfusions. As a result of this, he has a permanent disability.
A master electrician uses his right hand a lot. Miles has lost some nerve function, he has lost some power and activity. He will never again work as a master electrician.
The guy who stabbed him had been released on probation that very morning from prison. He received a sentence of nine months with two years' probation. What does Miles receive? Miles, who is a hero in my eyes, who saved his neighbour's life, receives nothing. Too bad, Miles, there is nothing for you.
The perpetrator gets counselling in prison for his drug addiction, for his past, for the way his mom and dad treated him, for the poverty that he underwent. Miles, the hero, gets a kick in the shins.
Miles puts our criminal justice system into disrepute. Reformers, every one of us, stand here today saying that if the rights of the victim collide with the rights of the perpetrator, the rights of the victim shall take precedence. We need a victims' bill of rights in Canada. I call on my colleagues in a non-partisan way to bring this to fruition quickly.