House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was elected.


Dangerous OffendersPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motion before us introduced by the member for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley is important. It touches an issue of concern to all Canadians.

This House must weigh carefully the response to be given these issues of sexual offences. The aim of the motion by my distinguished colleague from the Reform Party is to ensure that, in cases of aggravated sexual assault, the offender is examined by two psychiatrists to determine the likelihood of his committing another such offence.

If they determine there is such a likelihood, this person would be declared a dangerous offender and would not be released so long as they posed any threat to society.

On March 25, 1996, our distinguished colleague from the Reform Party said in this House: "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". The problem I see is that, despite the good and necessary intention of the Reform member, the effect of her reform would be the opposite to what she intended.

Listen carefully. Psychiatrists are human. They work in an area where things are never black and white. In mathematics, one and one make two. In engineering, the combination of two forces leads to a predictable and measurable result. When humans are involved, rarely do the specialists agree entirely. Should the motion put forward by our distinguished colleague from the Reform Party pass and the Criminal Code be amended accordingly, we would then find ourselves in the situation where the judge would have to make his decision on the basis of the opinions of two psychiatrists. Even then, these opinions would need to be agreement.

Let us imagine for a moment that one of the psychiatrists concludes as follows: "I have every reason to believe that this person will relapse into crime", while the other one comes to a different conclusion: "This person might relapse, but I am not sure. I have a doubt". In such cases, the judge would have no choice but to decide against designating the individual in question a dangerous offender.

In an area as difficult to assess as that of human behaviour, to ask two mental health professionals to agree on an issue with such radical, fundamental and crucial implications on the life of the offender is certainly no small task. The fact of the matter is that, in Canada, we already have the Criminal Code and legislation which, if enforced properly, should provide the required level of public protection. But the key words here are proper enforcement. Passing more laws that would be improperly applied would not solve the problem. Still worse, more legislation that would make enforcement more complex and more delicate could not help but result in the justice being sought being poorly administered.

At this time, the procedure for declaring a person a dangerous offender works well. Section 753 of the Criminal Code allows the courts to declare a person who has committed a serious personal injury offence a dangerous offender. This can, of course, include sexual offences; all of the offences are listed in section 752 of the Criminal Code.

But the one with responsibility is the judge, who must assess the reports from mental health and other specialists. It is not the

psychiatrists who make the decision, much less do they have to be unanimous in their interpretation of a situation.

Once an offender is found guilty of any of the offences listed in section 752, the court hears the evidence presented by the crown, basing its decision in part on the individual's inability to control himself, his clear indifference to his actions, and of course also on the brutality of the acts in question, for which the normal standards of restriction of freedom would not be sufficient.

Once the court's decision has been handed down, the law ensures that the court declares the person a dangerous offender and imposes indeterminate detention rather than some other sentence. The law is there. The public can be properly protected by this legislation. In fact, this is one of the most severe sentences a court can hand down. Here again, though, the court and the judge make the decision, not the psychiatrists.

Consideration must also be given to what actually goes on. In Quebec in 1994, there was only one dangerous offender, and only now, in 1996, have we declared another. This sort of inmate is found primarily in Ontario and in the western provinces.

Why is there a difference in behaviours between Quebec and the other provinces in Canada? Because-and this is the crux of my argument-Quebec has focused on prevention rather than remedy. In this sort of assault, punishment after the fact in order to protect the rest of society does not resolve or repair the prejudice suffered, the offence against the initial victim. Above all, the number of initial victims must be reduced.

For several years already, Quebec has had an effective medico-legal system to deal with the problem of the clientele under control of the law, including dangerous offenders. The system works well, and those suffering from mental illness receive proper psychiatric care. In short, Quebec's approach is a solution to Canada's problem, one that has already been put into practice and tested.

I would propose that, rather than invest in complex legislative processes whose results, as I have said, are far from guaranteed, we should be investing more in prevention and the treatment of these dangerous offenders where the medical system works with the legal system.

Quebec's experience is successful. It affords Quebecers security because preventive measures are in place.

I will conclude with these words: in this area, as in many others, an ounce of prevention is worth a pile of law books.

Dangerous OffendersPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on the motion put forth by my colleague from Surrey-White Rock-South Langley. It amends the Criminal Code to deal with those who are convicted of sexual offences, sexual assault, sexual assaults involving a child, and aggravated sexual assault. The motion calls for ensuring that the convicted individual be examined by two psychiatrists to determine whether they should have the designation of dangerous offender.

Why bring this motion forth in the first place? The reason is that the justice system has been unable or unwilling at times to protect innocent civilians against such individuals who pose a threat to society.

The designation is used but perhaps not often enough. The reason is that a bias exists within our justice system. The bias is in favour of the convicted criminal and not in favour of the innocent civilian. This started in the 1980s when the Liberal solicitor general of the day stated that from now on the justice department would focus on the rehabilitation of criminals instead of the protection of society. In our view that is not what the justice department is all about and my colleague's motion is aimed at reversing that in part.

We do not believe that locking up criminals is the answer. We do not believe that throwing away the key is the answer. Prevention certainly is. However there are individuals who have proven by their actions to be fundamentally violent sexual abusers and pose a continuing threat to society.

I have a real life example. When I worked in jails as a physician I was called upon during the weekend from time to time when an individual was about to be released but was violent. I went into a cell where a person went berserk and began beating up the individuals in the cell, including me and a number of guards. I had to commit the person who then had to be sent to a psychiatric institute. If I had not done that, the individual who had a conviction sheet as long as my arm, would have been released on the unsuspecting public only to commit another crime.

We should also look at this motion and apply it to those individuals who are about to be released at the end of their parole or when their warrant date is up. There are individuals who escape through the cracks. If they escape through the cracks and are let out into society, the only people who will be hurt are innocent civilians. We can also apply this designation to having two psychiatrists examine individuals who might pose a threat to society upon release.

It is important to say that the reason my colleague is putting this motion forth is fundamentally to protect innocent civilians. We

have seen a number of tragic cases such as the recent case of Melanie Carpenter. She was murdered by Fernand Auger, an individual who never ever should have been released from jail to walk the streets.

When this motion passes-which I hope it does and the Liberal members should be embarrassed if they do not support this motion-two other aspects have to be looked at. The first aspect is amending the charter of rights and freedoms so that designations of dangerous offender are not overturned using the charter. The second aspect is the division between criminal responsibilities which fall under the federal government and mental health responsibilities which fall under the provincial government. That is why the Minister of Justice must work with his counterparts, the provincial attorneys general, to try to work this out. It will be important for this motion to come into effect.

There are other strategies to deal with sexual violent offenders. There should be a national flagging system for violent sexual offenders and sexual offenders in general. This is long overdue. Now when sexual offenders move from one province to another, the police have no way of knowing who they are, where they are going and what their prior convictions are. It is important that we have a national flagging system to enable justice and law to take its course.

We need effective and consistent prosecution of sexual offenders. We also need better assessment before sentencing. This applies not only to dangerous sexual offenders but also to violent offenders in general. Right now because of the harried crown counsels and because of a lack of resources, we are unable to do that. We can change the way our spending takes place in order to ensure that this occurs for the protection of individuals. People, such as parole officers, who decide whether or not to deem a person a dangerous offender must be held accountable for their decisions.

Clearly we must also prevent the development of dangerous and sexual offenders from occurring. We are dealing appropriately with those individuals after they raise their heads. Many of these individuals have also been victims of terrible sexual abuse and violence themselves but it does not exonerate them from what they have done. It provides us with a window of opportunity in preventing these individuals from coming before our justice system.

We have to look at children who are at risk of violence, sexual abuse and neglect. We must identify those family units and children so that we can help them early on and prevent these things from occurring. We must identify families at risk and prevent these tragedies from taking place. For those tragic souls who do become victims of violence and sexual abuse, those children must be dealt with sensitively, compassionately and with the appropriate counselling, medical and psychological treatment they need.

We have to look at these individuals who become sexual violent offenders. They do not have the pillars of a normal psyche needless to say. Those pillars were destroyed, malformed or did not occur early on in their development. It is important to identify these individuals so that we bear upon them the appropriate treatment and counselling to ensure that they do have some semblance of normal development. That is the only way we are going to prevent these individuals from being terribly dysfunctional.

This not only needs to be applied to sexual or dangerous offenders but also to a number of other conduct disorders and criminal behaviour that occurs in our society. Many of these individuals also do not have the pillars of a normal psyche.

The parents must be brought into the early education system. Many of the parents of the family units where these children are abused do not know how to be good parents. It is not a federal responsibility but it is important to bring in the provincial ministers of education and the provincial attorneys general and their federal counterparts to deal with the situation nationally.

Unless we deal with the prevention of crime, we are not going to do what we want to do, which is to decrease the overall level of crime in this country.

In closing, much has been mentioned about the cost. The cost is important but the redistribution of the spending is important. First and fundamentally, to uphold the essence of the motion which is the protection of innocence in society, our justice department must move from protecting the convicted criminal to having as its primary focus the protection of innocent individuals. It is also important to focus on prevention. I remind the House that it is not only women who are victims of sexual abuse, but also men and young boys.

In closing, I hope the House is going to pass Motion No. 116 of my colleague for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley so that Canada will be a safer place.

Dangerous OffendersPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the motion as it affords me the chance to reflect on the many ways in which this government has managed to tighten up law enforcement in Canada.

As mentioned in the red book, the government is working to ensure both safe homes and safe streets.

Bill C-41, an act to amend the Criminal Code, received royal assent on July 13, 1995. It provides, for the first time, a statement of the principles and purposes of sentencing in the Canadian criminal law, a first in Canadian legal history.

The act provides a balanced approach that takes into account both the public's need for safety and the needs of the victim. It is

also in line with the principle that serious offenders should be treated differently than minor first time offenders.

In order to deal with the rising tide of hate crime, the act also provides that those who commit crimes motivated by hatred will receive a greater sentence.

The act also includes provisions to assist victims of crime by strengthening the process for awarding and enforcing restitution to victims.

As well, it provides the courts with more options to distinguish between violent, serious crimes that require jail and non-violent, less serious crimes that can be dealt with better by the local community.

With regard to the issue of youth justice, the House will recall that amendments to the Young Offenders Act contained in Bill C-37, came into force on December 1, 1995.

The amendments, which include provisions to deal more effectively with violent young offenders, complete the first part of a two-part strategy by the government to reform the youth justice system. The amended act includes improved measures for sharing information among school officials, police and selected members of the public where there is a concern about the safety of other persons. As well, police will now be able to keep, indefinitely, the records of young offenders convicted of the most serious crimes.

In addition, the amended act deals more strictly with the most serious violent offences by creating longer maximum sentences for those convicted of murder in youth court.

It also means that 16 and 17-year-olds charged with the most serious personal injury offences will be processed in adult court unless they are able to demonstrate that public protection and rehabilitation can be achieved by remaining in youth court.

I strongly believe that young people should be held accountable under the Young Offenders Act in a manner appropriate to their age and level of maturity. For that reason, I am pleased that the act provides for the consideration of victim impact statements in deciding on the correct response to offending behaviour. The chief goal must always be to discourage future re-offending by a young person.

By the way, a few weeks ago a group of law enforcement officers from my riding, representing various police departments, asked for my support for the establishment of a national DNA data bank. It is, therefore, my pleasure to mention that later in 1996, the Solicitor General of Canada plans to table in Parliament legislation providing for a national DNA data bank and the accreditation of laboratories conducting DNA analysis.

Also members will recall that Bill C-104 was adopted by Parliament in June 1995 and received royal assent on July 13, 1995. It provides for the first time in Canadian criminal law a clear and express basis on which police can seek warrants to take bodily samples from suspects for DNA testing. The changes help bring Canada in line with other industrialized countries and provide a reliable scientific basis for criminal proof or establishing innocence.

I know that the police in my riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton have joined law enforcement officers across the country in welcoming this powerful investigative tool which has already resulted in convictions.

I am also pleased to note that the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General of Canada are developing a comprehensive strategy for dealing with those convicted individuals who pose a high risk to society of committing serious personal injury offences when released. These proposals are expected to be before the House within the next few weeks.

The government is also examining the creation of a new category of serious offender, called a long term offender, which would permit courts to add periods of supervision of up to 10 years to the sentence of this category of offender.

As well, the government will be changing existing dangerous offender provisions to permit the court to designate an offender as a dangerous offender up to six months after sentencing. At present it is necessary for such a designation to be made at the time of sentencing.

I understand that the Ministry of Justice intends to extend existing peace bond provisions in the Criminal Code to permit a court to restrict the activities of those who may pose a risk of violent behaviour.

In addition, existing dangerous offender provisions in the Criminal Code, when applied, can result in an offender being incarcerated for the rest of his or her life. This is much stricter than the three strikes and you are out system in use in the United States.

In short, as all the examples I have cited demonstrate, no government in Canadian history has done more to crack down on crime and criminals than the present one.

Dangerous OffendersPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley for the opportunity to speak in support of her Motion 116.

The motion calls for amending the section of the Criminal Code dealing with dangerous offenders. The motion asks that once an individual has been convicted of a serious offence or sexual assault against an adult or any sexual offence where the victim is a child,

then they must be examined by two psychiatrists to determine their propensity to offend again.

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 where the crown would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender was likely to reoffend.

Ideally, this motion addresses the concerns I have heard from Canadians across the nation. They are fed up with the judicial system and its failure to protect women and children against sexual predators.

Our system has failed these people time and time again, as can be seen from the list of the following names: Clifford Olson, Paul Bernardo, Fernand Auger, Mitchell Owen, Joseph Fredricks, Melvin Stanton, Daniel Gingras, Bobby Gordon Oatway. The list is growing every day and so is the fear on our streets.

One only has to pick up the latest newspaper. For example, last Friday, May 24, the headline in the Vancouver Sun read: ``Child molester due for unescorted leave''. It reported that one of B.C.'s most notorious sex offenders, ex-B.C. teacher Robert Noyes, is due to start a 15-month program of unescorted absences from prison to attend a sex therapy program in the Montreal area.

Noyes was declared a dangerous offender in 1986 after pleading guilty in the B.C. Supreme Court on 19 counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse of children. He also confessed at a parole board hearing that there were at least 60 victims and hundreds of incidents of abuse of children in various B.C. cities.

The National Parole Board feels that he is now considered an acceptable risk under the new structured prison release plan. However, it also states that his ex-wife opposes his release as does the city council of Ashcroft where Noyes taught before he was arrested in 1985. They have requested the dangerous offender be kept in prison.

The parole board has decided against granting day parole to Noyes who has been diagnosed as an incurable bisexual pedophile. It feels he is one of the most treated sex offenders in the Canadian prison system, but doctors who have treated him have found him to be manipulative and deceptive. This is another case of a known sex offender who has not been assessed properly and who will be released into society knowing he has not been adequately rehabilitated.

Ultimately we will need assurances from those who work outside of the judicial system, namely psychiatrists, to adequately evaluate these sexual offenders. This has been proven by the auditor general's report which clearly stated that Correctional Services Canada is not adequately rehabilitating these individuals.

The auditor general reports that sex perverts are receiving millions of dollars in treatment programs but that the government has no idea if they are working. He also found that Correctional Services Canada was supposed to rehabilitate the 14,000 offenders in its care, although there were serious weaknesses in some of its rehabilitation programs.

For example, it was reported that about $10 million was spent in 1994-95 to treat approximately 1,800 sex offenders. However, the auditor general found that a disproportionate amount of money was spent on a few offenders without any assurance that the program was achieving any positive results.

In addition, about $1.7 million of the correctional services total sex offender program budget was used in the Quebec region on a contract to treat a mere 20 sex offenders per year, which works out to about $85,000 per person. The remaining $8.3 million was used to treat the 1,800 sex offenders across the country which in comparison is only about $4,611 per person.

It is obvious that people are coming out of jail who will reoffend time and time again because of inadequate rehabilitation. This is once again confirmed by the auditor general. He found that 35 per cent of sex offenders who have been released from the federal prison system were not receiving relapse prevention treatment, although such an initiative is viewed as critical to reducing recidivism. He found this shortfall occurred more in the prairie and Quebec regions, the two regions with the largest proportion of sex offenders.

With these failures occurring throughout our justice system it is easy to see how this motion would offer people some hope, knowing that a convicted offender is being reviewed by trained psychiatrists and thereby giving the court system more information for determining whether an offender will reoffend in the future. This would provide not only a second opinion, but also a second chance in protecting Canadians against these convicted sexual predators. Most important, it would recognize the rights of women and children and the protection they deserve from our system of justice.

In the last couple of years Canadians have started to take justice into their own hands when they found out that these offenders were being released back into their communities without being rehabilitated. People from Val d'Or, Quebec, Prince George, B.C., and Toronto, Ontario, to name just a few, have mounted campaigns by plastering posters and pamphlets warning against such people as Joe Cannon and Bobby Gordon Oatway. They know that the only way to protect themselves is to take action themselves.

They can no longer trust the prison system to ensure the rehabilitation of these offenders. They are calling for the names and the pictures to be published to protect their children from these animals.

It is no wonder Canadians have lost hope, knowing that the Liberals would argue against this motion. The Liberals feel that legal experts, not medical experts, know best. They feel that only the crown should consider all the evidence available in order to estimate whether an application will be strong enough to meet the legal standard of who should be deemed a dangerous offender. They feel that passing this motion into law would increase the probability of locking people up and throwing away the key.

As well, this motion is considered dangerous because of those individuals who may have a genuine sense of wrongdoing or remorse. We run the risk of giving them no hope.

It is obvious that the government has no intention of making the interests and safety of Canadians a priority with such pathetic excuses for not supporting this motion.

We are no further ahead with the opposition party. The member for Saint-Hubert sees this motion as nothing more than reactionary mentality when there are no more than isolated cases. She claims we are making political hay at the expense and suffering of victims of crime.

One thing is very obvious when we hear the arguments from both the Liberals and the Bloc: they are both arguing in favour of the rights of sexual predators and the infallibility of the criminal justice system.

In my opinion they are way off the mark. The criminal justice system is fallible. This is proven by the Reform Party who listens to what the people want and, in turn, proposes the legislation which is obviously needed. This motion will protect our society, our families and our children from the animals who are set free on a daily basis. At no time would the Liberals or the Bloc ever consider the victims who have suffered at the hands of these sexual predators.

Therefore, now is the time to support this motion. We must move immediately to amend the Criminal Code and allow the psychiatric experts to ensure the public is protected from potential repeat sex offenders who are a danger to our children, women, families, society and our nation.

The most elementary of our duties in the House of Commons is to provide legislation to protect the lives and the properties of Canadians. This motion, when accepted, will help to accomplish that. I applaud my colleague for having brought it to our attention. It will fulfil the most elementary of our duties.

I have to shake my head when I listen to a Liberal giving a speech, as I did a few moments ago. He talked about all the wonderful Liberal accomplishments of the last three years: Bill C-37, Bill C-41, Bill C-42, Bill C-68, Bill C-45 and it goes on. Three years later things are not better, they are worse.

The Liberals have once again failed to meet a commitment of the red book which said they would make the streets safer, communities safer and all the rest of the baloney. Once again they might as well chuck the red book on the floor. They have failed. They are failing dismally in this area. This is their opportunity to look sensibly at legislation which will prevent violent sexual predators from returning to our communities. It is an extra measure of safety on behalf of the victims of this land.

Surely these people are not so silly that they would push it aside and say: "No, we are not interested in an extra measure. The legal system knows best".

I know that Canadians are fed up with the inability of the government to come up with any reasonable legislation that definitely says it is going to be better. It has done nothing whatsoever. What little bit that has been accomplished has been covered up by all the rotten legislation it has attempted to bring in.

Let us accept some sensible solutions. Let us look for some sensible solutions, something that is right for once.

Dangerous OffendersPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Wild Rose has used wild and whirling words to support this motion. I intend to use a little common sense and balance. That is what we are here for, to look at things with a sensible and critical eye.

No one on this side of the House believes for one moment that some of these sexual animals, as my colleague characterizes them, should be granted all kinds of rights. What we are arguing is that the Christianity which most of us profess should probably underline our legal system and the laws that we pass in the House. That includes such ideas as let he who is without sin cast the first stone and that everyone may be redeemed and everyone may be rehabilitated. That is what I would like to concentrate on.

My friend from Wild Rose says things are not better but he presents no evidence or facts to support this claim. Quite the reverse. The evidence and facts indicate that the rate of recidivism is down, that the number of repeat offenders is down. In fact, except for some fairly specific communities, crime is down.

My colleague does make a statement that is correct. The human condition is not perfect. Our system of government is not perfect. Our system of laws is not perfect. However, they will not be perfected by jumping at easy solutions, at autocratic, mandated, non-balanced ideas about how to correct people's behaviour.

We may get somewhere, as my colleague from Guelph-Wellington said, if we work together in our communities to solve the problems of crime. We may get there if we support community groups that are already working on programs to integrate the alienated, trying to improve education and care of children and helping young people have self-confidence and a confident look at the future, so they are not looking, as we say, at the devil that has work for idle hands to do.

That is the way the problem of crime will be solved, by getting rid of poverty, getting rid of unemployment and getting rid of people's malaise and fear about the future.

Let us be clear on what this amendment to the Criminal Code would require. First of all, every criminal who is convicted of a serious sexual offence, namely sexual assault under sections 271, 272 and 273 of the Criminal Code, would have to be examined by two psychiatrists in order to determine the risk of reoffending. If the psychiatrists conclude that the risk is high, then a dangerous offender application must be launched.

There would be no discretion on the part of the judge and certainly not on the part of the crown prosecutor. Under the present system the judge considers relevant information about the offender's criminal history, his or her mental state, usually as a formal pre-sentence report. Of course the perspective of the victim of the crime is considered. In other words, in a normal case a range of information is taken into account in order to establish the appropriate sentence.

What would happen if it was compulsory to remand every convicted sex offender to a psychiatric facility for a thorough examination by two expert psychiatrists so that these psychiatrists could give a precise prediction of the risk presented by every criminal?

Under the current law the crown attorney and the judge are the authorities who decide whether or not to seek the opinion of psychiatrists on the danger posed by a convicted person. It is not the other way around. The psychiatrists do not tell the officers of the court whether to proceed with a dangerous offender application.

There is a good reason for giving the crown and the judge the discretion to seek a detailed psychiatric examination of the offender and to initiate a dangerous offender application. It is because the dangerous offender process is essentially and primarily a legal one, not just a question of psychiatric prediction.

The crown attorney has to decide whether or not the dangerous offender application will meet the legal standards set out in part XXIV of the Criminal Code. For example, section 753 of the code requires the crown to show that the offender, by his conduct in any sexual matter including that involved in the commission of the offence for which he has been convicted has shown a failure to control his sexual impulses and a likelihood of causing serious injury in the future. This is a legal test, as our courts have repeatedly pointed out. There is no point in making an application under part XXIV if it has no chance of succeeding.

Indeed, the dangerous offender rules require that psychiatric evidence be presented for both sides at the dangerous offender hearing. There may be a difference of opinion among qualified psychiatrists just as there may be among qualified lawyers or qualified prosecutors or, I would suggest, even qualified judges.

I also note that the ability of psychiatrists and psychologists to assess the nature and degree of risk of offenders has certainly improved in the last decade. I have heard Canada described as a leader in this field. I further note that the Correctional Service of Canada employs a wide range of clinical and actuarial testing in its intake and case management programs for federal inmates.

This proposed amendment to the Criminal Code gets the balance wrong. It would compel the crown to bring a dangerous offender application every time a pair of psychiatrists reached a medical conclusion about risk. Life is full of risks. We surely do not have to illustrate that beyond a reasonable doubt.

Perhaps if the motion called for discretion it might receive support. However, the motion advocates a sweeping measure that would diminish the role of judges and prosecutors and indiscriminately force every case of sexual offending to proceed through a lengthy, expensive examination by psychiatrists, even when there is little chance of those psychiatrists labelling the offender as high risk.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association has stated that there is already a shortage of qualified forensic psychiatrists in Canada. The Correctional Service of Canada and the provincial departments of justice are already hard pressed to find enough psychiatric advice for priority cases.

It is interesting that the Reform Party will spare no expense in this area, even if the chances of winning a dangerous offender case are thin. To put this in context, I refer members to some figures released very recently by Statistics Canada. In 1994-95 the federal government spent $913 million on adult corrections. The provinces and territories spent $980 million. The capital costs of building federal penitentiaries increased 70 per cent between 1990-91 and 1994-95. It costs about $44,000 per year to keep a person in a federal penitentiary. The per capita cost to operate the adult corrections system in Canada represents $65 for each person in Canada.

There is a way to be selective and strategic in the way we employ our limited resources. The speech from the throne from February 27 of this year contains the following statement:

The government will focus corrections resources on high risk offenders while increasing efforts to lower the number of young people who come into contact with the justice system. The government will develop innovative alternatives to incarceration for low risk offenders.

Motion No. 116 is typical of measures. I said at the beginning of my remarks that I selectively demand indeterminate detention for crimes which should be targeted more carefully.

I believe that prosecutors, courts and juries with the help of psychiatrists will in most cases pass appropriate judgments on sex offenders. I will not support this motion.

Dangerous OffendersPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Dangerous OffendersAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Lawrence O'Brien Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of points with regard to a question I raised with the Minister of Transport on May 17 which dealt with the safety of the Nain airport in northern Labrador.

Nain is a small community of 1,100 people and is 20 miles from the world class nickel find at Voisey's Bay. It has come to the fore in terms of the necessity for the Governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador to do something about overall safety.

Before I talk about the safety issue in Nain I will give some background as to what this entails. Nain is 200 miles north of Goose Bay, the central community in Labrador. It is a community comprised totally of aboriginal people, Inuit people. They resettled in Nain from far northern communities along the north coast of Labrador all the way up to Iqaluit in the Northwest Territories. They came to Nain during the middle of the century for different reasons, not the least of which was to have better services.

One such service was an airstrip which was built in the 1970s to meet the needs of those people. The airport is 2,000 feet long. It is on the side of a major hill with downdraft winds. There is overcapacity because of the mining find, the exploration and the mining development in Voisey's Bay.

There are as many as 100 to 300 movements per day of helicopters and fixed wing planes. This has has caused grave concerns not only to the people of Nain but to people all over Labrador, and to people all over Canada. It affects people in Toronto and in Vancouver who work in the mining industry. It affects anybody and everybody who travels to and from the community of Nain.

There are basically no firefighting services, a deficiency we have to contend with. The weather station is due to be automated. I plead with the Government of Canada to ensure there is a person remaining in that weather station because of the difference in variations of automation. If a plane is coming in and there is freezing rain close to the ground or at different altitudes, those instruments may not pick it up. I plead with the government to reconsider its views on that.

There is the question of air traffic control. Air movement determines the control of a plane when it takes off or lands. It is according to the wishes of somebody from Transport Canada. It is extremely important to ensure it is similar to air traffic control. I know the minister is considering that. He is dealing with it. I want to make sure the department continues to deal with that and recognizes nothing but the utmost safety is first and foremost at hand there.

I will make a couple of points about the economy of the area relative to this issue. The people of Nain certainly want the airport to be upgraded and would like a new one down the road, but safety is first and foremost. They are not about to say no to the mining industry. They are supportive of developments but not at any cost. Environment, safety and so on are important.

One of the mining companies in the small community of Nain, NDT Ventures, wanted to mine next to the water reservoir. On May 23 the community held a plebiscite to show the importance of this. Of the people who voted, 64 per cent were in support of doing that exploration and 36 per cent were against it.

The point I am making is that there is room for exploration. There is room for mining. There is room in that community to do things. The people are supportive. They need to work but not without proper safety and control.

With that being said, I will close by saying I welcome input from the government. The minister has been very helpful. He responded very positively to my question. I welcome his further comments.

Dangerous OffendersAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario


Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Labrador for the opportunity to make further comments on the situation at Nain airport.

Since taking his seat in this House of Commons on April 15, we cannot help but notice that the member for Labrador is a real digger. He is a man of action, a solid worker and a strong voice for his constituents.

The issue of Nain airport is a priority on his agenda. Nain airport is provincially owned. As the minister reported earlier, Transport Canada aviation staff have been monitoring the increased aviation activity in the vicinity of the Nain airport since the beginning of the Voisey's Bay mineral exploration. I am certain my hon. friend will be glad to hear that a number of safety measures to facilitate the increased traffic levels have already been implemented.

An aviation safety review team visited Goose Bay and Nain at the end of April. While the team did not identify any violations of aviation regulations, a number of safety deficiencies were identified. The safety review team is now in the process of finalizing its report and recommendations.

I am pleased to report to the hon. member that departmental officials will be meeting with provincial officials next week to finalize an action plan to address all the issues identified. Atlantic region officials have planned a series of visits to Nain this year as part of their monitoring program. Safety is Transport Canada's top priority, and we are confident that by working together with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, all the safety issues reported will be resolved.

The minister is eagerly anticipating his visit with the hon. member in Labrador this summer to see firsthand the developments in Voisey's Bay. He is looking forward to working together with the hon. member on the issues of concern to his constituents in Labrador.

Dangerous OffendersAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 6.38 p.m.)