Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his support.
The .05 is a recommendation by MADD Canada. If the government will take the initiative, show leadership and instruct the committee to go forward with the hearings, the recommendation of .05, .03 or whatever could come forward. The rationale behind it would certainly be related to the committee and may show up in the report as .04 being the recommendation. I understand what he was saying, and I certainly agree with him.
To address the second question, the problem we have in the courts today is that there is a profound initiative to try to keep people out of jail. The courts are backed up. The prisons are full. The philosophy of provincial governments, under direction from the Minister of Justice, is not to put people in jail. Therefore we find that the judges are more open to hearing suggestions of lower sentences to qualify for the conditional sentencing provisions.
We find the judges more concerned with getting into the flow of what the attorney general of the province or what the justice minister of the country is thinking about keeping people out of jail. They seem to be more open to lenient sentences.
One way to fix it is to tighten up the latitude the judges have. They have a latitude now from 0 to 14 years. That is a huge range. We find people walking out of courts every day who have been charged with serious impaired driving offences, because the judges have simply said that they will be given two years less a day with no rationale. Immediately they qualify for conditional sentencing.
In a case in my area the judge erred in his decision. When the decision came down at 3.5 years I got on to the media saying the judge was out to lunch on his sentence. I stated all the reasons why.
We also encouraged the crown to appeal the sentence and the crown did so successfully. Lo and behold all arguments the crown put forward in the appeal were the things I had said were wrong with the sentence.
As a result the court of appeal added two more years to the sentence. The fact is judges have the option of choosing to accept whatever precedent the defence lawyers are putting forward. In a majority of the cases they are choosing the precedents on the low end of the scale. We have to tighten them up and we can do it through minimum sentencing.