Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of Bill C-42 which amends the Judges Act.
Bill C-42 sets out the terms on which Canadian judges can participate in international activities, international technical assistance programs and/or the work of international organizations.
Although the bill does not specifically say so, it would appear that these amendments to the Judges Act are to assist Madam Justice Louise Arbour. Madam Justice Louise Arbour is to take up her appointment to the United Nations team prosecuting war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda.
Chief justices are granted the authority to extend leaves of absence to their judges for periods of up to six months. In situations such as Judge Arbour's, the governor in council's approval is necessary as her appointment will be for longer than six months. Bill C-42 will simply ensure that Madam Justice Arbour, and similar appointments for longer than six months, will not require governor in council approval.
The Judges Act does not clearly stipulate who is responsible for the remuneration of UN appointed judges. Bill C-42 does clearly designate the UN as the payer of Judge Arbour's salary and similarly appointed judges' salaries during the time of their UN appointments.
I am confident most Canadians would agree that it should be the responsibility of the UN to pay such salaries. Canadians, in my opinion, would be agreeable to providing legal expertise to the UN but not additional financial support. Therefore they would be
opposed to paying the moving expenses and other reasonable travel expenses of UN appointed judges as outlined in Bill C-42.
The UN or other international bodies which second Canadian justices should be fully responsible for all moving and travel costs associated with the appointment. We will be introducing an amendment during report stage of Bill C-42 in this regard.
On March 6 of this year the Liberal government amended the Judges Act through Bill C-2. Madam Justice Arbour's appointment by the United Nations occurred in February 1996. Bill C-2 was introduced and passed therefore subsequent to Arbour's appointment. I question why the government did not incorporate the Bill C-42 changes into Bill C-2. Another bill, Bill C-48, is soon to be before the House and proposes additional changes to the Judges Act.
Bills C-2, C-42 and C-48 may streamline administrative matters pertaining to judges, alleviating some judges' preoccupation with bureaucratic concerns and allowing them to get on with the real task at hand: ensuring that justice is served; ensuring that convicted criminals serve time which is proportionate to the severity of their crimes. These bills, really nebulous and inconsequential pieces of legislation, will be of little real significance to Canadians.
Canadians do not really applaud the minister's initiatives in this regard. Canadians' primary concerns are not with these administrative justice matters. What Canadians really care about is their personal security and that of their families. These administrative changes we are spending our time debating today will do nothing to protect Canadians from the murderers, rapists and other sadistic criminals who roam our streets and enter our homes.
Canadians want substantive change within the justice system. They want pieces of legislation that do something to enhance public safety. They want a bill which repeals section 745 of the Criminal Code, not legislation which merely tinkers with that betraying section of the Criminal Code which allows convicted first degree murderers the opportunity for early release.
Canadians want first degree murderers' right to a parole eligibility hearing after serving only 15 years of their 25 year sentence to be completely abolished. Canadians do not want the minister giving killers even a faint glimmer of hope. They want killers behind bars and they want them there for at least 25 years, not 15 years, not 20 years. Canadians overwhelmingly want murderers behind bars for the full length of their life sentence.
Canadians also want dangerous offender legislation brought in by the Minister of Justice and they want the minister to end statutory release. The minister has promised to bring in an omnibus bill which would encompass these two initiatives, an initiative which would significantly enhance public safety. We have yet to see such a bill. Instead we have these three insignificant administrative bills.
The Liberal government's failure to make our homes and streets safer is evident in its lenient justice legislation which has done more to threaten public safety than it has to enhance it. Bill C-37, amendments to the Young Offenders Act, is a prime example of this failure. The government failed to amend the act in accordance with Canadians' frustration with youth violence and frustration with Liberal justice leniency.
Reform believes the age limits covered by the YOA should be changed. We recommend lowering the YOA age definition of a young person to 10 to 15 years of age from 12 to 17. This is in recognition of the fact that there are offenders under 12 years of age who currently slip through the system and go on to be full-fledged youth criminals because the justice system cannot deal with them. This was very evident a few weeks ago in Toronto. An 11-year old boy with accomplices aged 10, 13 and 15 abducted and raped a 13-year old girl. This young offender was well known to the police who had on more than one occasion picked him up. This well known juvenile criminal taunted police with the fact that they could not charge him.
The Liberals believe that 10 and 11-year-olds should not be held accountable for their criminal actions. If the Liberal government had heeded our well-founded advice and amended the YOA under Bill C-37 to include 10 and 11-year-olds, there may well have been one less rape victim in the city of Toronto. One more young person may not have been so brutally traumatized.
Our amendment to the YOA to include 10 and 11-year-olds is supported by the Canadian Police Association and Victims of Violence.
The Liberal government does not believe that 16 and 17-year-olds are mature enough to accept full responsibility for their criminal actions. We believe that youths aged 16 and 17 are old enough to assume full responsibility for their crimes and therefore in all cases of violent crime they should be tried in adult court.
The reverse onus provisions contained in Bill C-37 place the onus on the young offender to demonstrate why he or she should not be tried in adult court. The court will have the discretion to accept or reject the application, all at a tremendous cost financially and resource-wise to the Canadian taxpayer.
Even if the 16 or 17-year old is tried in adult court, they will not receive an adult sentence. Anyone under the age of 18 convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life can be paroled in between five and ten years. Anyone under the age of 18 convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life can be paroled after only a maximum of seven years.
This Liberal government, which professes to be making our streets and homes safer and to be improving our justice system, is responsible for the reduction in the parole eligibility of second degree murderers under the age of 18 from a maximum of 10 to only 7 years.
The Liberals believe that the publishing of young offenders' names must be prevented by law. Their priority is the protection of the offender. Reformers believe that the only way to truly make our streets safer is by removing the extra privacy and secrecy provisions of the YOA. YOA records should be accessible and the names of violent young offenders should be published. Our priority is the protection of society, not the protection of criminals.
The Liberal government has continually placed the rights of the offender ahead of the rights of the victim. Under Bill C-37 it continues to emphasize rehabilitation, not victim compensation.
We believe that the sentencing of young offenders must emphasize victim compensation, community service, skills training, education and deterrence to others. Opportunities for rehabilitation must be emphasized in a disciplined environment.
We believe that parents of young offenders should be held legally and financially responsible for the criminal actions of their children if evidence clearly shows that they have not made a reasonable effort to exercise parental control. Despite overwhelming support for this amendment to the YOA, the Liberal government maintains Canadian parents should not be held responsible.
Bill C-41 is another example of the government's failure to make our streets and homes safer. In Bill C-41 the Liberal government introduced alternative measures, which is its answer to the overcrowding in Canadian prisons. Although in some cases alternatives to prison may be acceptable, we are opposed to the system outlined in Bill C-41, as is the Canadian Police Association, because it does not stipulate what offences are to be part of the alternative measures program.
Nowhere in the bill did the Liberal government define alternative measures, nor did it stipulate the limitations to be imposed on the use of alternative measures. This leaves far too much discretion to the courts to interpret what is meant by this portion of Bill C-41. This could lead to an abusive use of alternatives to prison, particularly in areas of the country where prisons are overcrowded or there are backlogs in the courts. Potentially, violent offenders could walk. Does this provide safer communities and safer streets? I do not think so.
Bill C-45 is another example of Liberal leniency. Under this bill the Liberal government, despite our strong opposition, chose to continue allowing violent offenders back on the streets before serving their full sentences. We propose that all violent criminals must receive full term sentences. Statutory release, conditional release or parole must not be given to violent offenders.
We also proposed that offenders who commit another offence while on parole must serve the remaining time of the original sentence and then full term for the second offence. The Liberals defeated our amendment. The government defeated a safer measure despite its claim it is making our streets and homes safer.
We also proposed that when the parole board grants parole to violent offenders and that offender commits another violent crime while on parole, an inquiry be held into the original decision of the board to release the offender. The Liberals defeated our amendment. The Liberal government defeated a proposal aimed solely at protecting the Canadian public.
The justice legislation introduced by the Liberal government today clearly demonstrates that it has broken its promise to make our streets and homes safer. What further demonstrates this broken promise is the absence of legislation. The government, despite demands from all across Canada, including the police and victims of violence, has failed to repeal section 745. The Liberal government has also failed to bring in dangerous offender legislation. The evidence is clear that the Liberal government has failed to make Canadian streets and homes safe.
We support Bill C-42 but we do not support the Liberal government's preoccupation with accommodating the growing justice industry while failing to more vigorously protect innocent victims and law-abiding Canadians.