He is being generous. Perhaps he is generous and more practical than you, Madam.
But seriously, having sat on the justice committee with the hon. member who just made these remarks, I know that, on a number of occasions, in the interest of advancing certain issues, we have all set aside our political affiliations and petty partisan concerns. We have done so with various issues, and I am prepared to do so again today on this issue, which deserves the full attention of this House.
Before answering his last question, a word about the appointment of judges, which he mentioned. Indeed, we in the Bloc Quebecois believe that the appointment of all judges should be carried out in a much more enlightened, much more transparent fashion, as we requested when a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada was appointed, recently. Our call was not heard, and I hope the hon. member will pursue the matter on the government side so that we can eventually have legislation governing the appointment of judges to ensure it is carried out in a much more transparent fashion. And this extends beyond the office of the Prime Minister, who, with a stroke of the pen, decides who will be a justice of the supreme court or superior court. These are, after all, very important positions.
I believe they will eventually come around and share our views, as they have done regarding many other issues. After all, when it comes to certain issues, the Bloc and the province of Quebec seem to be 15, 20 or 30 years ahead of the government members sitting across from us.
The last question has to do with the compassion—I guess it is the right word—that judges can show when no minimum sentence is set. The word “assessment” could also be used. If we set a minimum sentence in a legislative provision—and I agree that such a minimum should be set in some laws—we remove any possibility for the judge to assess the facts before him.
I would not want to sit on the bench and to hear witnesses, including victims, describe a situation. Sometimes, the victims are not completely innocent. As I said earlier, things are not always black or white. I can imagine a judge saying: “Sir, I must sentence you to two years in jail, because the act requires me to do so. In the old days, I might have given you just six months, with a possibility of treatment in some institution, because you have a serious alcohol problem and because you have children”. This is another aspect which should not be overlooked.
Sometimes, five, six or seven children may depend on the individual. Is society better served by sending that person to jail and forcing the children to go on welfare? Is this the ultimate purpose of these changes? If so, I want no part of it.
The issue has to be reviewed very carefully if we want the judges to have a good understanding of the situation but also if we want to send a clear message to the population saying that no, it is not acceptable to drink and drive.
Yes, I am with you all the way on this; yes, you will find me by your side to further this issue, but I believe we must proceed carefully and analyze the situation in detail so that we will have the best legislation possible to fight against this scourge.
I am not sure that by having a minimum penalty of one, two, or three years, this will help achieve our objective, because I have never seen any study nor has any study ever been tabled showing that there is a direct link between increasing the penalty and seeing a decrease in repeat offences, or in the number of drunk driving cases, of thefts or anything else.
I think I am still part of the generation that is really committed to rehabilitation, prevention and education.