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House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was reform.

Topics

11 a.m.

The Speaker

I have received notice from the hon. member for Mount Royal that she is unable to move her motion during private members' hour. It has not been possible to arrange an exchange of positions in the order of precedence.

Accordingly, I am directing the table officers to drop that item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence. Private members' hour will thus be cancelled and the House will continue with the business before it.

Today is a supply day and I would encourage all members to refrain from using props in any way. I leave that just where it is.

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11 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

moved:

That this House recognize that the families of murder victims are subjected to reliving the pain and fear of their experience as a result of the potential release of the victims' murderers allowed under section 745 of the Criminal Code, and as a consequence, this House urge the Liberal government to formally apologize to those families for repeatedly refusing to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code.

Mr. Speaker, I am please to stand this morning to speak to this motion. Tomorrow in a B.C. courtroom a drama begins, initiated by one of Canada's most sadistic and despicable criminals, a drama that will rekindle the pain, horror and anguish of the 11 families whose children fell victim to mass murderer Clifford Olson.

The legal base for this horrifying drama has been created and sustained by the bleeding hearts who have controlled the Liberal and Tory governments for the past 20 years. That legal base is section 745 of the Criminal Code.

These bleeding hearts believe that a mass murderer like Clifford Olson should have a legal base to seek a reduction in his penalty for kidnapping, raping and murdering 11 little children.

Section 745 of the Criminal Code is irrefutable proof of the existence of that belief in the Liberal Party, the Tory Party, the NDP and the Bloc.

These bleeding hearts, supported by a host of judges, crown prosecutors, defence lawyers and touchy-feely groups, insist that Clifford Olson have this right in spite of the horror and terror Olson created in the minds of 11 innocent little victims as he savaged them in the pursuit of his own sexual lust and then murdered them after his lust was spent.

These bleeding hearts insist that Olson have this right in spite of the feelings of terror and horror suffered by the parents and families over the loss of their innocent little sons and daughters and the fact that these families will have to relive these feelings all because of the simplistic thinking of those who man our institutions of government and the clinging vines who suck their sustenance off a sick and pathetic justice system.

Compare the pain, the agony and the loss suffered by the victims and their families with that of a life term for Clifford Olson. He lives safe and secure. He does not have to work. He has the best food. His medical needs are provided. He has a coloured television. He has the right to vote and to initiate lawsuits over the most frivolous of matters, all at taxpayer expense. Now he has the right to appeal for a reduction of his parole ineligibility while taking the families of his victims through hell one more time.

These are the gifts of the bleeding hearts to Clifford Olson. These are the gifts to Clifford Olson from the Prime Minister of Canada and his Liberal government, from the Tory Party, the NDP and the Bloc, from the bleeding hearts in our court system and from the touchy-feely groups of society.

While providing all these gifts to Clifford Olson, what do the Prime Minister and the rest of them have to say to the families of his victims? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

I am splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Southwest. I will therefore be speaking for approximately 10 minutes.

I have repeatedly stood in this House, as have my colleagues, and asked one simple question, a question the justice minister, the

Prime Minister and the rest of the bleeding hearts refuse to answer. What is a fair and just penalty for the taking of an innocent life? Their silence to this question is their answer. They believe an innocent life is worth only 15 years imprisonment while their murderers are extended every right and privilege.

On February 24, 1976 the Liberal government introduced Bill C-84 to abolish the death penalty and to create two new categories of murder, first and second degree murder, both of which carried a minimum sentence of life imprisonment.

The 25 year minimum for first degree murder was the Liberal government's trade-off for the abolition of the death penalty. Instead of the death penalty, society was to be protected by the incarceration for life of those who deliberately and premeditatedly killed, with no consideration for parole until a minimum of 25 years had been served.

However, unbeknownst to Canadians the Liberal government betrayed them by slipping section 745 into the Criminal Code. Section 745 nullifies the term life imprisonment and bestows on killers an unjustifiable right to early release before serving a minimum of 25 years.

A life sentence is not about rehabilitation, it is about punishment and retribution for the most horrible crime in society, the unlawful taking of an innocent life and the devastating effect this has on society.

The Liberal government's Bill C-45 was nothing more than a meagre attempt by the justice minister and his government to sugar coat those repulsive provisions of the Criminal Code for reasons of political expediency. In doing so the justice minister violated his own promise to the Canadian Police Association wherein he had agreed to do business with it to support its position to remove section 745 in return for its support of this ill conceived and useless firearms control bill.

The Canadian Police Association learned from this experience that it cannot trust this justice minister or the Prime Minister.

I am not just expressing my view on section 745. This view is shared by victims' groups and countless Canadians across the country. Bill C-45 may delay but it will not prevent killers from getting a judicial review and ultimately a reduction in their parole ineligibility. Bill C-45 and a review of a killer's application by a judge does nothing but add an expensive layer of bureaucracy to our growing criminal justice industry. This will add to Canadians' financial strain and undermine their personal security.

The minister's June 11 introduction of Bill C-45, just 10 days before the House recessed for the summer, was nothing more than a half baked attempt to deflect criticism for not preventing Clifford Olson from once again making headlines despite the fact he had almost three years and ample support to do something about section 745 of the Criminal Code.

The justice minister's efforts to limit child serial killer Clifford Olson's bid for early release failed. And to the horror of all Canadians who have shared the pain of the Rosenfeldts and the other 10 families whose children were brutally ripped from their lives, on August 12, 1996 Clifford Olson was eligible for apply for early release.

On March 11, tomorrow, the initial process of Olson's application for early release begins, much to the horror of not only his victims' families but to the horror of all Canadian citizens.

March 11 will truly be a day of national disgrace. For the Liberal government to have turned its back on the families of Olson's victims, for the Liberal government not to have done everything within its power to prevent their anguish from festering more and more is absolutely appalling.

Every time a killer applies for a judicial review of his parole, the family and society relive the horrible memories and live in terror of the possibility that these killers will be released from prison early.

Every time Clifford Olson exercises his right, courtesy of the past and present government, to seek early release all Canadians visualize the pain and suffering his murder victims endured.

Section 745 of the Criminal Code demeans the value of human life. The Liberal government's refusal to eliminate section 745 clearly demonstrates the value it places on the lives of Canadians. The Liberal government, as well as the Bloc, believes the lives of our children and grandchildren are worth only 15 years.

I suggest that if the Liberal justice minister asked Canadians to place a value on the lives of their children, overwhelmingly their response would be life imprisonment or capital punishment.

I implore the Liberal government to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code. I implore the government to validate immediately the lives of all Canadians by making these cold blooded killers who would take a life serve a true life sentence or grant the people of Canada a binding referendum on the return of capital punishment.

If my appeal to the government is in vain and if the appeals of the families of murder victims fall on deaf ears, as they have in the past, then I make a commitment to all Canadians today. There will be a federal election soon. A Reform government will remove section 745 from the Criminal Code in its entirety. Then first degree murderers like Clifford Olson will serve their full life sentences. In addition, we will grant the people of Canada a

binding referendum on the return of capital punishment for first degree murder.

I make this commitment today in the memory of Christine, Colleen, Daryn, Sandra, Ada, Simon, Judy, Raymond, Sigrun, Terry Lyn and Louise, all who died horribly at the hands of Clifford Olson. I make this commitment to their families and to the memory of all murder victims, and to their families and to the citizens of the country. A Reform government will repeal this obnoxious and reprehensible portion of the Criminal Code of Canada.

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11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member's comments. Could the member for Crowfoot tell us how a Reform government would go about amending the Constitution in a way which would have the effect of removing section 745 and which would affect Clifford Olson's situation?

Surely the member is aware that this provision has been in the Criminal Code for some time now. This is a vested right under the law of this land which people have. I suggest to the member that in playing with people's emotions in this way, by attacking the law, he is being rather irresponsible. He knows, or he ought to know, that this is not a matter that could be removed in this case without a constitutional amendment. He knows or ought to know that no one on this side of the House has any brief for Clifford Olson. Everyone despises everything he did and everything he stands for.

Surely the member believes in a certain amount of respect for law. Surely he believes that we do not live-

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11:15 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

The law is wrong and we are trying to change it.

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11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Rosedale, ON

He spoke of living in a lawful society. He has trouble with gun control. After all it is guns that allow murderers to do their dirty work. This does not seem to bother him. It also does not seem to bother him to and suggest that a Reform government could wipe out the effect of section 745 while he fails to recognize this is a legal matter of great complexity which must be addressed properly. If he were honest in his speech he would address it now.

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11:15 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I take exception to my colleague's suggestion that I am less than honest. That is simply not true. That is a false statement, if what he has suggested is that I am not honest. I am honest and I am reflecting the honest and sincere concerns of the families of victims of crime.

He touched on an important point, the retroactive power of any government to remove the parole ineligibility section from the Criminal Code. We have researched this topic. Our legal researchers and others have indicated there is a question of the constitutionality of the powers of the federal government to remove the rights of Clifford Olson and others. It is a constitutional question.

The government, supported by the member opposite, has passed other bills which have been challenged constitutionally. It is being done today. Why not err on the side of the victims and the families? Why is this member prepared to support the government in putting those families through hell one more time, of having the horror and the terror reawakened one more time?

Why do we not think about the victims and their families more than granting privileges like the right to vote, like the right to sue and now the right to appeal a life sentence after serving only 15 years?

I ask this member to look at his own conscience and justify what he is saying to the families of the victims that have been raped and murdered by Clifford Olson. What would he say to them and what would he say to Clifford Olson? I know what he would say to Clifford Olson: "Here's your gift. This is your gift from the Liberal government. We will not try to protect the families from the rekindling of their fear, horror and agony".

That is what this member is saying. "We will not try that. Why? Because we are afraid of a constitutional challenge". But he is not afraid of a constitutional challenge in things like the Pearson airport bill that went through this House. No.

I find behind his comments a charade that is disgusting and reprehensible to the people of Canada who are concerned about causing the families to live one more time through that kind of agony and pain. Why do we not balance the law so that reasonable rights are granted the accused, but at the same time ensure that the families are not subjected to relieving their terror, not only this time at the hands of Clifford Olson, but if he is turned down he will be able to appeal again, and again and again.

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11:20 a.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too find the question from the last member on the other side of the House quite unbelievable. I would like to ask a very straightforward question of the hon. member for Crowfoot-

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11:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I guess the hon. member did not hear that the five minutes questions and comments has ended. We are now back on debate. The hon. member indicated that he was splitting his time with the hon. member Edmonton Southwest.

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11:20 a.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the House. I was under the impression that I would be following my Bloc colleague.

This debate brings to mind just about the very first comment that I made in the House. I recall it very specifically. I had been in the House and spoken once or twice before. I commented on something that had taken place when the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce who had been the solicitor general at the time, was involved.

When I made my statement he looked up at me and then after I had finished he rose on a point of order and said that was not the case, that he had taken part in the debate and that I was misquoting him. I apologized to the House and to the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. I believe now that he is no longer a sitting member I may name him. We all know that I am talking about the former solicitor general Warren Allmand. I am glad that I did apologize for what he felt was misrepresenting him. Although we come from different planets as far as our approach to criminal justice affairs are concerned, I came to know him over the succeeding couple of years as a very fine individual.

We may not have agreed on very many things as far as criminal justice affairs are concerned, but we found that we could honourably disagree and respect and like each other, even though we did not sing from the same song sheet.

Section 745 came about as a direct result of the abolition of capital punishment. The abolition of capital punishment came about, as members know, because it was considered that there were two standards of justice in our country. It was considered by many in the civilized world as barbaric and that capital punishment in the name of the state was still murder. It really puzzles me how the same people who can be violently against capital punishment can be at the same time in favour of abortion but that is a whole other story.

Another major concern with capital punishment is that from time to time the state makes mistakes. That is evidenced by what is going on now in Ontario with the Morin inquiry. The criminal justice system has becomes more capable of making scientific evidence available that will-I am talking now about DNA evidence-conclusively prove that someone was not involved. When we look back at what could have been a mistake in the name of the state we have to say we are glad we do not have capital punishment.

Opposition to capital punishment comes from the notion that in our society it is better that a thousand people go free than one innocent person be convicted. And carrying that to an extreme, it is better that the benefit of the doubt stay with the potential victim of the state so that an innocent person will not be punished. That is really the bottom line and basis of our jurisprudence, our criminal justice system, of our common law, that came to us over 800 or 900 hundred years ago and has stood us very well.

The quid pro quo for Canadians concerning capital punishment is that people who are convicted of capital offences will be in prison for 25 years, not for 15 years or not for 10 years. The quid pro quo to get rid of capital punishment was if someone, having committed first degree murder-we are not talking about manslaughter here, we are talking about premeditated murder as a capital offence-would find themselves in jail for 25 years. The maxim used all the time is "if you cannot stand the time don't do the crime".

Our society says that at minimum people convicted of capital offences will be imprisoned for 25 years. That brings me back to the ex-hon. member from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Warren Allmand. When he was the solicitor general he stated, I will paraphrase but at the time I quoted from Hansard that ``from this day forward the raison d'être, the reason of our criminal justice system, will be rehabilitation. It will not be the protection of society,'' which it had been up until that time. It was going to be from this day forward in Canada rehabilitation of the criminal.

That is not all wrong. It makes sense because the recidivism rate, the rate at which criminals would find themselves out of jail, back in jail, as everyone knows is just like a revolving door. It makes sense to try to stop this never ending revolving door of people getting into trouble and then back into jail, getting out and then going back in. The only way that we can possibly stop this is by rehabilitation. The notion of rehabilitation just makes eminent sense.

However, as it often is, when the pendulum swings it tends to swing too far. In my opinion and in the opinion of many the pendulum has swung far too far in favour of the rights of the criminals. It needs to swing the other way to give balance to the rights of victims.

When we are talking specifically about section 745 which is the so-called faint hope clause, we have to ask ourselves who should have the faint hope? How is society best served? Are we serving society by saying to everyone who commits a crime, as Edward Greenspan, the famous criminal defence attorney, has said, that a person's future should not be determined by one horrific event, no matter how horrific that event was? The idea is that everyone is deserved of a future and the opportunity to right a wrong, and that we as individuals should not be known forever because of the results of one mistake, no matter how horrific.

On the other side of the coin, how is society to be protected if we do not hold people accountable and responsible for what they do?

Our society has decided against the death penalty. Many people including myself believe that the death penalty is horrific and should not to be done in the name of the state. How are we to protect innocent victims? The only way is to ensure that before people commit a crime they understand the time that is involved. Before people make a decision to commit a crime they should understand they will be held accountable. To take another person's life in a premeditated first degree murder will result in 25 years behind bars, period, with no hope of parole. If they do their time properly in the future they will be allowed to leave.

In conclusion I move an amendment to the motion:

That the motion be amended by inserting the words "and immediately" after the word "formally".

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11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The amendment of the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest is acceptable.

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11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, the Reform Party motion focuses attention on the Clifford Olson case. This is a truly terrible case, and one that does not reflect well on the Canadian justice system.

Independent of the Bloc Quebecois position with respect to the amendments to section 745, studied here in this House when it was Bill C-45, does the hon. member of the Reform Party agree on two points?

Before the government's proposed amendment to section 745, does he think that a well-informed jury would have released an individual like Olson-assuming that there had been no changes to section 745? On the other hand, we know that section 745 has been modified and that the amendments to section 745 contained in Bill C-45 do not allow multiple murderers access to a judicial review. Does he consider that Olson is a multiple murderer and therefore, in accordance with section 745 as modified by the government, Olson will not be freed?

Can the hon. member provide me with some information? In my opinion, under section 745 as it was before, Olson would not have been released, and the amendments made by the government will make it even more difficult for him to obtain his release, because it will be blocked immediately.

His case has been chosen as typical. Although I do not wish to call them demagogues, they are coming very close to it this morning, by naming names and bringing all that up again. I know this is a serious matter, but could the hon. Reform member who has just spoken clarify section 745 for me? I know that they want to abolish it, but I am speaking of the present situation.

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11:35 a.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the fact that Clifford Olson is subject to review now makes this a particularly timely motion. The motion also reflects on every other section 745 review before the courts at this time.

The point is not the process by which a murderer is able to utilize the law. The point we are making is when will the law protect the victims. It is not that the criminal has to go through several more hoops and that it is more difficult to be released under the provisions of section 745. It is that section 745 exists at all and that it causes the victims to have to go through the judicial process one more time to have the scab removed from the sore and to be hurt once again. They then become the victims not only of the criminal but of our criminal justice system.

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11:35 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in response to the Reform Party motion concerning section 745 of the Criminal Code.

For the information of hon. members I note that section 745 is now section 745.6. The section has been renumbered as a result of the coming into force of Bill C-41 on September 3, 1996.

I want to spend a few minutes explaining what section 745.6 of the Criminal Code is all about. I fear there is still a great deal of misunderstanding about what the section is and what the section does.

Section 745.6 of the Criminal Code provides for a judicial review of the parole ineligibility period in cases of life sentences for those found guilty of murder or high treason.

In cases of first degree murder or high treason, the ineligibility period is set by law at 25 years. In cases of second degree murder, the parole ineligibility period is 10 years, unless the trial judge orders a longer period of from 10 to 25 years. Offenders cannot have their parole ineligibility period reviewed until they have served at least 15 years of their sentence.

The decision in a section 745.6 review is made by a jury of ordinary citizens drawn from the community. Under the section as recently amended by the government, the decision to grant an offender a reduction of his or her parole ineligibility period can only be made by a unanimous jury. Twelve members out of twelve must be convinced that the offender deserves a reduction in the parole ineligibility period before the offender can apply for parole.

After hearing evidence called by the applicant and by the crown attorney the jury-and not the judge or the crown attorney or the government-decides whether or not to reduce the parole ineligibility period. Where the jury decides not to reduce the period it may decide when the offender may apply again if at all. In any case it is not before another two years has been served.

In cases where the parole ineligibility period is reduced the offender becomes eligible to apply to the National Parole Board for parole when the parole ineligibility period as reduced by the jury is up. The parole board then considers the case and may grant parole in appropriate cases. In making its decision the parole board must consider whether the offender's release would present an undue risk to society.

The decision of the parole board has nothing automatic about it. Just because a parole ineligibility period is reduced and as a result an application is made to the National Parole Board, it does not mean in any way, shape or form that the applicant would get parole.

I emphasize a point that is crucial to an accurate understanding of the issue which may not be well understood by members of the public. The life sentence imposed on a person convicted of murder or high treason continues literally for the offender's entire life. Accordingly, even in those cases where such an offender is released on parole, offenders continue to be subject to the sentence for the rest of their lives and can be reincarcerated or put back in prison at any time, should they breach the conditions of release imposed by the parole board.

I repeat. The granting of parole by the National Parole Board is not automatic. It could and often is rejected.

I also remind hon. members of the House of the legislative history of what is now section 745.6. As some members will recall the section was enacted in 1976 at the time capital punishment was abolished. At that time a 25-year parole ineligibility period was established for first degree murder and high treason.

The section was enacted after full and vigorous review and debate of the legislation. It was not, as some critics of the section have suggested, slipped into the statute books by stealth as a surprise to the unwary. It was a fundamental aspect of the compromise reached at that time by the House on the very difficult question of the appropriate penalty for murder. It was enacted as a response to the recognition the 25-year parole ineligibility period was significantly longer than murderers were then serving before parole in cases of non-capital murder and in cases of capital murder commuted to life. I am told it was enacted in recognition of the fact that 25 years without eligibility for parole was and still is longer than comparable periods in many western democratic countries.

The section was enacted to offer a degree of hope for the rehabilitation of some convicted murderers, as a protection for prison guards, and in recognition that in some cases the public interest would not necessarily be served by keeping offenders in prison beyond 15 years.

We all know that the public has concerns about section 745.6. Many have called for its repeal because they were worried about the risks this section could pose to public safety.

Others have invoked the fact that victims' families are victimized all over again when a judicial review is held 15 years after the trial, just when the pain of the trial is beginning to fade.

Others would like to define an appropriate minimum period of imprisonment for the most serious crime in our Criminal Code.

I share Canadians' concern for public safety. I am also moved by the suffering experienced by families of the victims of brutal crimes. The prospect of again victimizing these families during a public review before a judge and jury, when the offender has no chance of being granted a reduction in his or her parole ineligibility period is one of the reasons the government tabled the recent amendments to section 745.6.

The government has struggled long and hard with this issue. We have listened to all those who are concerned about section 745.6 and have considered all the perspectives of those who wish to retain the section and those who want it repealed. In the end, the government does not support the repeal of the section. We believe that the reasons that justified its addition to the Criminal Code in 1976 are still valid today.

The section exists to recognize the possibility that at least some offenders can change after serving 15 years of their sentence. Our challenge is to find a way to ensure that the provision is applied sensibly and in a way that reflects public concerns. Indeed, that is exactly what the government's recent amendments to section 745.6 will do.

Members of the House will know Bill C-45, an act to amend the Criminal Code, which received royal assent on December 18, 1996 and came into force on January 9, 1997, made three significant changes to section 745.6.

First, the amendments eliminate any possibility of judicial review under section 745.6 for all persons who commit multiple murders in the future. For the purposes of the amendments a multiple murderer is anyone who murders more than one person, whether at the same time or not, and this would include serial murders.

Second, the amendments create a screening mechanism whereby the chief justice of the superior court or a judge designated by the chief justice conducts a paper review of the application to determine if it has a reasonable prospect of success before the application is allowed to proceed to the review jury. If the offender cannot demonstrate that his or her application has a reasonable chance of success, the application will be screened out by the judge. This change applies to all offenders eligible to bring a section 745.6 application provided they have not already brought an application before the amendments came into force.

By introducing this screening mechanism the government has ensured that for applications brought after January 9, 1997 the victims' families will not be forced to relive the offence through a

public hearing before the jury where the offender has no reasonable prospect of success.

Finally, the amendments require that for all applications brought after January 9, 1997, the review jury must be unanimous in order to reduce the offender's parole ineligibility period. Before this change the jury had the authority to reduce the parole ineligibility period if two thirds of the jury or eight members out of twelve thought it should be reduced. Now the offender will have to convince each and every member of the jury in order to get a reduction.

The government believes that these amendments have responded to legitimate public concerns about the section 745.6 review procedure while at the same time preserving the essence of the procedure in recognition of the hope that some offenders may be able to change after serving 15 years of their sentence. However, the government has not been content to leave the matter there.

During the process of developing and passing these amendments, it was clear to us that one of the reasons for the public's concern with section 745.6 was that many people were unaware of the existence of this provision. Murder victims' families often learn of the existence of section 745.6 through the media, several years after the trial has ended and the murderer has been sentenced.

This belated discovery leads to a feeling of surprise and betrayal. This feeling of surprise and betrayal is evident among the lawyers of many victims who appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs when these committees were examining Bill C-45.

On February 27 the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announced that he had written to his colleagues, the provincial attorneys general, to ask them to issue instructions to their crown attorneys that victims' families are to be advised of the existence and effect of section 745.6 at the time of sentencing in all appropriate murder cases. At that time the Minister of Justice said: "I am asking the assistance of my provincial colleagues to ensure that this simple and practical step is taken to respond to the legitimate concerns of victims' families".

This government is doing what it can to ensure that section 745.6 is applied sensibly and in a way that reflects the concerns of the public. I am pleased to be able to take part in this debate, to set out true facts about section 745.6, about how it works and about the recent amendments and other steps this government has taken to respond to legitimate concerns on this matter. I hope my remarks will help set the proper tone for a more reasoned and thoughtful debate on this important matter of public policy.

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11:50 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments made by the Solicitor General of Canada. He made a number of comments but overall it is very clear that this government has no intention whatsoever to respond to the needs of the victims, the families whose children have been murdered that will have to go through this painful experience again.

The solicitor general indicated that he was deeply moved by the realization of the pain and agony that those families will have to go through again. But he was not so deeply moved that he would be prepared to do anything about it, which is the problem with this government.

There have been petitions and cries from victims across this land who have said they have done nothing to violate the law and yet they must suffer again and again and again. Where do they stand in the scheme of things? That is what they are asking. Why are they not being considered? Why are members of Parliament and our government being deeply moved but not so deeply moved that they are prepared to lighten the burden that these victims have to carry for the rest of their lives? Why must they have that agony reawakened time and time again?

According to the legislation the first 15 years is the longest period they may have in order to get over this horrible trauma. The murderers who apply and who take the victims through that agony again may apply within perhaps one, two or three years, certainly before 15 years again. There is a shortening of the period even if they are denied by the courts to have their parole ineligibility reduced, if they are denied day parole or early parole. If the murderer's request is rejected the victims' families will still have to go through that kind of torment again, and this government is unprepared to do anything about it.

Being deeply moved is cold comfort to these people who are seeking justice, a balance in our justice system, a balance between the punishment of a murderer and the rights of the citizens of this country, in particular families of victims.

He suggested that this bill was broadly debated and that Canadians knew about section 745 at the time it was placed in the Criminal Code.

We had a police chief appear before the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs who said that he did not know. He was a member of the chiefs association and they did not know. He apologized: "We must have been asleep at the wheel".

There was a lack of understanding. He made reference to the fact that the 25 year minimum that was imposed at the time capital punishment was removed from the bill was much more time than what was normally being served by first degree murderers. Then

why was it put there in the first place? Was it put there to deceive or dupe the public while section 745 was slid in the back door quietly, unbeknownst even to the police chiefs?

I have listened to the hon. Solicitor General of Canada. All his comments tell me that the government is not prepared to move, in spite of the fact that the justice minister said to the Canadian Police Association "we can do business; you support our firearms legislation and we will support your effort to remove section 745 from the Criminal Code". That is what he said on television. That is what we heard him say.

Members of that association are now coming to us and indicating they were betrayed, that the justice minister did not keep his word. That is what the people of this country are saying to us as we travel across the land, that the government is insensitive, that it is not hearing our cries and that it has less concern for the victim and more concern for the rights and privileges of the murderer, just as is being demonstrated in the drama that unfolding in a B.C. courtroom beginning tomorrow.

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11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Herb Gray Liberal Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the record of the House of Commons is there for everyone to examine. It will demonstrate, if one looks back at the period when section 745 was debated in this House, that the bill was fully debated. It was voted on in the usual manner. It was considered not only in the House of Commons but in the Senate. The idea that this was brought in by stealth is totally wrong.

If somebody in a population of 20 million people did not notice it, that is inevitable. It happens with respect to every piece of legislation. But the original section 745 bill was fully considered and fully debated.

I submit we have responded to concerns of victims through the amendments to section 745 which were adopted and proclaimed in force recently. In addition to that the attorney general has asked his provincial counterparts to make sure that victims in cases of murder are fully informed of the possibility of section 745 applications so this will not come as any kind of surprise.

My hon. friend is mistaken when he suggests that if an application to reduce parole ineligibility is rejected another application can be brought immediately. This is not the case. The applicant has to wait several years.

I point out that this does not lead automatically to parole if the application is successful. It is only successful if there is a decision by a jury of ordinary Canadians. This will simply lead to the applicant's making an earlier application to the parole board which does not have to and does not always grant the parole application.

I realize the difficulties here. This is not an easy situation. This motion is being brought before the House at a time when there could well be an application with respect to a very despicable individual, but the law is made on the basis of general application, not simply looking at one case, no matter how difficult it is.

I suggest that this government has given great consideration to concerns of victims in the amendments that were passed and declared in force recently. Therefore I submit that this motion which is votable should be rejected.

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Noon

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general has missed the point again. Whether or not Clifford Olson is granted early release there is a hearing taking place tomorrow on the issue. The families of those who had their children murdered by Clifford Olson will have to go through pain again.

I would like to ask the solicitor general a very direct, straightforward question. I hope he will give a very direct, straightforward answer. Have any of the changes the solicitor general and his government put before the House since coming to power in 1993 prevented a situation which is painful to the families of those victims who indeed are victims themselves? Have any of the changes made it so that they would not have to go through the pain of Clifford Olson having a hearing for early release?

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Noon

Liberal

Herb Gray Liberal Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend knows as well as anybody that the bill is not retroactive and does not apply to Clifford Olson. It was our intention to have it apply retroactively. I hope the Bloc will correct me if I am wrong. If there had been more co-operation from the Bloc the bill might well have covered the Clifford Olson situation but it did not turn out to be the case.

However the bill as amended will speak from and after the beginning of this year. It will make it less likely that victims will have the emotional and mental strain my hon. friend is speaking of because of the need for screening by a judge before an application can proceed, because it does not apply to serial murderers and because any decision will have to be unanimous. We are taking steps to help prevent the type of concern my hon. friend is talking about in future.

Unfortunately for reasons we well know the bill is not retroactive, but as I have said before and as difficult as it is when we are making public policy we are dealing with the best interest of the country as a whole. We cannot base legislative decisions simply on one case. We are taking meaningful steps to deal with the concerns of victims in these situations.

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Noon

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, before starting on the motion as such, I would like to say a few words about one of the Solicitor General's comments. He said that if the Bloc Quebecois had not delayed the passage of this bill,

Mr. Olson would have been eligible, in other words, he would have been covered by the new bill, the new section on parole.

I think the Solicitor General should consider that his government has been in power since 1993 and should have foreseen the eventuality of Clifford Olson applying for parole under section 745. The Bloc Quebecois cannot help it if the government was asleep at the switch, so to speak. When the government tabled the bill, it was already too late in the case of Mr. Olson. We tried to add a number of amendments to make the bill more in tune with the real situation.

Before the Solicitor General made this remark, which was both uncalled for and unwarranted, I agreed with his comments, his position and his explanations on Bill C-45 and the amendments to Section 745. However, I think that this brief flash of partisanship from the Solicitor General was unwarranted, considering that the government was responsible for the delay, if there was any.

That being said, to be sure everyone understands what this is about, I would like to take a few seconds to read to you the motion tabled in the House this morning by the hon. member for Crowfoot. The motion reads as follows:

That this House recognize that the families of murder victims are subjected to reliving the pain and fear of their experience as a result of the potential release of the victims' murderers allowed under section 745 of the Criminal Code, and as a consequence, this House urge the Liberal Government to formally apologize to those families for repeatedly refusing to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code.

Obviously, it is not up to me to defend the Liberal government. However, the Bloc Quebecois cannot agree with the way the Reform motion is worded. I am not trying to defend the Liberals, but this goes against everything we have been asking for since 1993, we, as members of the Bloc Quebecois, whose approach to the whole area of parole, social reintegration and rehabilitation is quite different from that of the Liberals opposite, from what we find in English Canada, and is, above all, the exact opposite of the Reform position.

It is appalling. If we read the motion presented by the Reform Party, and we consider everything they ever said about capital punishment, they are getting pretty close to crossing the line.

The message I heard from the two Reform members who spoke this morning reflects much the same attitude that Henry VIII, the king of England, had to his former wives and some ministers who were not to his liking. If they made any trouble, off with their heads! That is more or less what the Reform Party is proposing this morning. Remove section 745, reinstate capital punishment, stop investing in social reintegration and rehabilitation, and if someone is too dangerous, cut off his head or hang him or send him to the electric chair or whatever.

Wake me up! Is this Canada? This is not the philosophy that for years parliamentarians in this House have tried to get across to the public. Indeed, section 745 was amended somewhat and, as I said earlier, one can either support or oppose the amendments the government proposed. We in the Bloc Quebecois said that section 745 was more than adequate as it was worded at the time of the amendments.

Let us have another look at a case frequently cited this morning, that of Mr. Olson. Although, as a lawyer who has practised only eight or nine years, I may be wrong, I am convinced that Mr. Olson will not be granted parole under the rules of section 745, although there are certain acquired rights.

Clearly, with section 745 and the amendments of the Liberal government, a case like Mr. Olson's would be blocked immediately. He would not be able to even submit an application, or, if he did, it would be immediately blocked, and there would be no hearing. It is even better for the extreme cases, like that of Clifford Olson.

Do we amend the Criminal Code every time there is a case like this? Do we amend the Criminal Code only whenever we have a mind to, because a particular event is so distressing?

Earlier, I listened as calmly as I could to the Reform member accusing the Bloc members and the Liberals of being bleeding hearts, but only for murderers. This is not what we have been trying to show since 1993. I will speak for the official opposition, I will speak for the Bloc Quebecois, the party I represent: we are indeed sensitive. We think we have to work toward a fairer society, one that is free, pluralistic and tolerant and that believes in rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

We have shown in a number of bills that we should educate not pummel society's deviants. Perhaps we should find out why they behaved the way they did.

When we look around the world, we see violence in society. We turn on the television and what do we see? Violence. Some toys encourage violence, even toys for children two, three or four years old: "Bonk your troll on the head, if you want to make him happy. Do not feed him, if you want something else to happen". We can start with these problems first, that is, we can look for a way to stop violence before it starts. As far as this whole issue is concerned, it takes time to find a happy medium.

As it stands, I think that section 745 was a compromise, which was how it came to be. The Solicitor General referred to that just now. This measure was introduced around 1976 under the Trudeau government, when the death penalty was abolished. This measure was introduced late in the debate in order to ensure a parliamentary majority in favour of abolishing the death penalty.

Much was said on this issue, and I imagine that Reform members, if they had been around at the time, would have been on the side of retaining the death penalty. Section 745 was aimed at obtaining the approval of the highest possible number of MPs in order to obtain the desired changes.

Section 745 was already an improvement. If memory serves, the average length of the sentence served by those found guilty of first or second degree murder was 13 years. With the introduction of section 745, prisoners had to serve 25 years, with the possibility of a judicial review still being referred to as the faint hope clause. There was indeed such a possibility, but inmates had to meet a whole series of conditions before obtaining their release.

Section 745 may have had its shortcomings, but if we look at the cases of people who made use of it, before the government's modifications, the results were not so catastrophic. I will give a few statistics.

As of December 31, 1995, before the government amendments, 175 inmates were eligible to apply for a judicial review. Of that 175, 76 had done so, and 13 of the applications were still pending. Of the 63 applications that had been processed, 39 inmates were granted a reduction in their parole ineligibility period but there were no immediate releases. As of December 31, 1995, there had been only one repeat offence, an armed robbery, by a person who had obtained a reduction.

You will say that even one repeat offender is too many. That is true, but that is still a pretty good batting average. I am not saying that nothing at all ought to be done. That is not what I am saying. We ought perhaps to start with the existing system, and look for alternative solutions. Is throwing prisoners into jail for the rest of their lives without any possibility of release, even after 25 years, a solution? I do not think so. I think this is going to extremes.

In spite of what people were saying and the position taken by a number of legal experts, the government decided to introduce an amendment. Perhaps under pressure from Reform members, who were asking questions daily about repealing section 745. So what has actually changed since the Liberals amended section 745 under pressure from certain people in the field but especially from the Reform Party?

The solicitor general was quite specific in this respect. I will not go into every comment he made on section 745.6, but roughly, as a result of the legislative amendments to this section, the two-thirds of the jury rule will no longer apply. In the past, someone who applied for parole had to convince two thirds of the jurors to obtain permission to apply for a reduction in the number of years of ineligibility for parole. This rule has now been changed. The jury must be unanimous.

The government is more or less doing what the Reform Party wanted to do. It did not repeal section 745, but the obligation to get a unanimous determination from the jury will make it very difficult to implement this provision. If a jury member does not like the look of the guy who is applying for parole, that individual will not get his parole.

The other aspect that was significantly changed, and in a case like Mr. Olson's, it would automatically be blocked, is the application for judicial review. It would be blocked altogether for perpetrators of multiple murders.

Third, a selection mechanism is created under which the chief justice of the Superior Court or a designated judge will have to determine, on the basis of written submissions, whether the applicant has a reasonable chance of having his application accepted by a jury.

If we add up the three criteria I just mentioned, one after the other, the individual will have to appear before a judge, the chief justice of the Superior Court or a designated judge, make his application, and then the judge determines whether or not he would have a chance before a well-informed jury of obtaining what he wants in his application for parole. If the answer is yes, he submits this to another judge who, assisted by a jury, will consider whether the individual's application should be accepted or not. Here, the jury must be unanimous.

All this applies to murderers who did not commit multiple murders. The government says: "No, we must keep section 745". Otherwise it would be like siding with the Reform Party or caving in to the Reform Party's demands. But on the other hand, it has put in so many criteria-the Bloc Quebecois was against this to start with-that it is tantamount to repealing the section, since after this screening process, nothing much will happen. In the end, there is practically no hope of obtaining anything under section 745.6.

We said that, after 20 years, and I will conclude with this point, because section 745 had already existed for 20 years, it was normal to take a little time to consider and review proposals, but it was most definitely out of the question to use the particular case before us, that of Clifford Olson, as a starting point. It was absolutely out of the question to start with such a distressing case, one in which children are involved, to try to amend the Criminal Code. There is perhaps a problem, but it is a problem inherent in the parole system.

Instead of going for piecemeal amendments-trying to solve one problem because a certain person is applying for parole, trying to fix something else because of pressure from English Canada and trying to correct some other problem because the maritimes are putting on a bit of pressure-why not look at the whole issue of parole?

Not all those in favour of a revision of the parole system are fanatics and extremists. In Quebec, we have cases, very sincere ones, where, for example, a father is even prepared to undertake studies and try to come up with a way for murderers to be taken

under the wing of the community and for them to be reintegrated as quickly as possible.

These people have a problem. You do not kill 11 people in a row for the pleasure of it. They certainly have a problem. We should perhaps be looking for the cause of the problem and see whether we can find a solution to prevent such things from recurring.

We will not solve the problem by trying to expand on one case and frightening people. I am not saying this debate is not important. I do think, however, that we are not in the right place. It is more the job of a commission of inquiry, of a parliamentary commission, to look at the problem in its entirety and review the entire parole process, including section 745.

We could really debate the facts, with precise figures in hand and not with the tabloids, the rags that give their readers far more than they could ever want in an effort to sell papers. We could have the figures, the exact statistics. People who have regrettably had a bad experience could come and tell us what they really want: what would be right and what would not be right.

It is not true to say that everything is wrong with the parole system. Changes certainly need to be made to bring it more into line.

Earlier, I mentioned toys. Perhaps there are things we could do as part of an overall assessment of this problem. The legislator could make some changes, regulate certain things that are the source of the problem. To do so, however, the matter has to be looked at very seriously. It cannot be done simply on a whim. We must not speak with our hearts alone on the atrocities we see in the papers.

It is easy to do so, and perhaps it pays off politically. I do not know whether it pays off in English Canada, but I do not think that it helps the cause at all and it does not lead to a fair balance in society, when the government takes it into its head to attempt to move the Criminal Code always a little more to the right.

That said, you will understand why I am totally opposed to the motion tabled this morning by the Reform Party.

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12:20 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wish the hon. member for Berthier-Montcalm would pay a little more attention to Reform members when they are speaking. Had he been paying attention he would have noticed that of the two Reformers who have spoken so far this morning one wishes the reinstatement of the death penalty. The other one wants its continued abolition. This is a 50:50 split between the two speakers. However they both agree strongly, and I agree, that section 745.6 is an abomination. It is unfit to serve the criminal law of a country that values decency.

The hon. member seems to have missed the point of the motion. We have debated the issue on two occasions in the House. We have debated it when a private member's bill came forward to abolish section 745. We debated it again in conjunction with Bill C-45. In both those cases arguments were very wide ranging. Reference was made to dozens and dozens of specific cases where section 745 allowed the most despicable of individuals to apply for parole and ultimately get it.

Of the 43 who applied prior to 1994, 15 were granted immediate parole after application. Let us not hear this nonsense about it being a faint hope clause. It is a pretty good piece of hope if anyone asks me.

What we are debating today refers specifically to the Clifford Olson case. We are debating it from the point of view of the families of that monster's 11 victims that are being dragged through all this muck and mire again for no good purpose.

We know the man will not get out of jail, but why does the system allow him to make the application? Why can he twist the justice system to his own ends and get a bit of publicity? Apparently he has an ego as big as a house. At the same time the unfortunate family members have to relive the horror again. If he does not get a review this time he will be able to appeal regardless of what the solicitor general said.

There has already been an instance of a murderer who applied for a review that was refused. He was allowed to appeal. We are not talking about oddities. We are talking about real people and real things that happen to real people.

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12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I hear the statistics being cited by members of the Reform Party, I am convinced we must take a very serious look at this issue, with accurate statistics to hand.

I do not wish to question the hon. member's figures; I myself have figures provided by Statistics Canada, and I think they are as reliable as his. And they do not point to nearly as many parole applications as the Reform Party member mentioned.

In Manitoba, four offenders obtained a partial reduction. One was turned down completely; a grand total of five offenders applied, in 1995, under section 745 as it then stood. In Saskatchewan, two offenders obtained a partial reduction, while another was turned down. A grand total of three offenders and murderers applied under section 745. The only province where there were more than seven people was Quebec, with 28; two were turned down.

Earlier, I mentioned cases of recidivism for 1995; there was one. That is already too many, you will say, but there was only one. That is the first thing I notice about the Reform Party, which does not seem to have the same figures we do. Perhaps we will have to sit down at some point and compare our figures and particularly our sources.

The second thing is that, if the Reform Party took the trouble to read the amendments introduced by the government, it would understand why we were against these amendments. The reason is that, for all practical purposes, the Liberal government's amendments are almost the same as what the Reform Party is calling for, which is the repeal of section 745.

Section 745.6 imposes so many criteria that, when all is said and done, almost nobody will be eligible.

The last point I would make to my hon. colleague in the Reform Party is that I read the opposition's motion very carefully and that is why I oppose it. I also listened very carefully to the two Reform Party members who spoke before me, and this only strengthens my resolve to oppose the Reform Party's motion.

This motion calls on the Liberal government to formally apologize to families for repeatedly refusing to repeal this section. This is the same Reform Party the great majority of whose members refused their support on a number of occasions, when the Bloc Quebecois merely asked the House to recognize that Louis Riel had been wrongfully executed. We were not asking for public apologies or anything like that. We were asking for recognition that Louis Riel was fighting for democracy and freedom and calling for responsible government. The Reform Party members would not give their support.

Now they go all teary eyed on us and move a motion completely divorced from reality. They do not take the time to look at what is really happening. They do not give the right figures in the House; in any event, I have my doubts about their figures, and we are at cross purposes.

I can assure the hon. member of the Reform Party that, before taking a position, I read his motion very carefully, that I listened with what for me was unusual calm to the discourse of the Reform Party members, and I have reached the conclusion that my position, the position of the Bloc Quebecois, which opposes this motion, is the right one.

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12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There are approximately two minutes remaining with half going to the member for Crowfoot and the other half to the time member responding.

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12:25 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be as brief as I can.

Bill C-45 was the justice minister's bill that tinkered with section 745 of the Criminal Code. We opposed it from the beginning. We voted against it but we would not delay it. When a representative of the government approached our caucus to ask us to allow the bill to go through before the summer recess without any delay tactics, we said certainly we oppose the bill and will vote against it.

If the bill had gone through before the summer recess and were passed by the Senate before August 11, 1996, Clifford Olson would have had to appear before a Federal Court judge. The families of his victims would have been screened. The judge would have made a decision on whether or not he had a likelihood of succeeding and could have stopped his application there.

However it was the Bloc that refused to allow the bill to go through before the summer recess and allow Clifford Olson his full court press before a judge and jury. That is the reason Clifford Olson is now making his application for that full court press before a judge and jury.

I have listened to the Bloc members, as I listened to their previous speeches on Bill C-45. I would ask the hon. member what is a fair and just penalty in his mind. I hope he will answer that question. Those who have been asked that question before have not answered it. What is a fair and just penalty for the taking of an innocent life, the premeditated murder of an innocent person? Is it 15 years? Is it 25 years? What is it? What value does the hon. member place on the life of an innocent human being?

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12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to touch on two things before I answer the hon. member's last question.

First of all, I believe that if the Reform Party member found that the government was not moving fast enough with the desirable amendments to section 745, under British parliamentary rules he would have been free to table a private member's bill in this House to amend that section. He could have done so as far back as 1993. We must conclude, therefore, that the hon. member from the Reform Party was asleep at the switch, dozing along with the Liberals perhaps, and did not table any modifications at the appropriate time.

Second, judging by the comments made by the Reform Party member, it can be demonstrated to all Canadians that the Senate is pointless. This we demonstrate daily, I think, but he is the one who has just demonstrated that we could very easily do without the Senate, since the time taken for examination in the Senate is time wasted. If there were no Senate, Bill C-45 could have been adopted faster and royal assent could have been obtained more quickly, so that it could have taken effect much earlier. In a brief aside, we are

certainly in agreement with abolition of the Senate; it is of no use and costs the taxpayer a fortune.

In addition, the hon. member of the Reform Party is asking me a highly complex question: What is a fair prison sentence, and do I think a human life is important? Certainly, a human life is important to me, but it is equally important to determine what a fair sentence is, and this is not something that can be answered quickly off the top of one's head.

One thing is certain, I am opposed to the principle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, for this is not the kind of society we live in. When someone is appointed to the bench, it is because he or she has the capacity to examine the case, taking into account the facts, the murderer's background, and a number of other elements, in order to find the fairest sentence. If someone is sentenced to 25 years, but allowed to apply for judicial review under section 745, I think that is starting to be fair. I could have said more, but I see that I am out of time.

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12:30 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be dividing my time with the hon. member for Vegreville.

It is sad that a motion such as this is necessary. It is also sad to listen to members of the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberal Party drum up every imaginable excuse as to why this motion is unnecessary. The latest excuse made by the Bloc Quebecois is that because its private member's bill on Louis Riel was not supported, it cannot support a Reform Party motion.

We are talking about real live families having to suffer through the indignity of having all the facts dragged back into a court where they can be cross-examined by the murderer himself. It is disgusting that we even have to discuss these facts today.

I would like to know how anyone in this House cannot support this motion today. The motion states that this House recognize that the families of murder victims are subjected to reliving the pain and fear of their experience as a result of the potential release of the victims' murderers allowed under section 745 of the Criminal Code. That is the first part of this motion.

How can the government not admit that is true? Tomorrow is a sad day, a national day of disgrace that Clifford Robert Olson will be on a telephone pleading his case that he should be released early because he has done enough time, 15 years, and he should be released early from his life sentence and is that not a good idea.

It is an absolute fact that the families of these murder victims are going to have to relive that whole incident because this government has not cancelled the provisions of section 745. The first part of this motion is absolutely true in every way, shape and form.

Clifford Olson pleaded guilty to these 11 murders. He has received a life sentence. He is in there for at least 25 years. We all know and all hope and pray that he will be in there for life at the very least.

Even after all the tragedy that went on, even though the government paid $100,000 to find out where all the victims' bodies were, even though he got 25 years instead of, as many people would argue, an exchange of his life for having taken so many lives, even after all of that and he is in jail where at the very minimum he should be, what has happened? He is now before these victims' families saying that he should be let off early.

He will be on a speaker phone from the Prince Albert penitentiary in Saskatchewan. If the hearing takes place he will be transported to Vancouver at taxpayer expense for the hearing where he will interrogate the families of his victims, probably later this summer if that goes ahead.

Unbelievably section 745 allows guys like Clifford Olson to cross-examine the families of his victims because probably he is going to be acting on behalf of himself as his own lawyer. We can imagine what that is going to mean. As in the first part of this motion, is it true that they are going to have to relive the pain and fear of their experience? It is absolutely true. It is a disgrace but it is true.

The second part of this motion states that this whole thing is allowed because under section 745 of the Criminal Code the Minister of Justice has not deemed it necessary to disallow it.

As the Canadian Police Association, CAVEAT and other victims' rights groups have, we have supported the repeal of section 745. There has been a groundswell of support for that across the land.

When the member for York-South Weston brought forward a private member's bill to repeal section 745, we supported it. We supported him in committee. We supported that the bill come back from committee earlier. We have tried to get it back in the House for resolution. As the member for Crowfoot has mentioned, we even agreed to hurry some legislation that was otherwise ineffective through the House of Commons in order to specifically cut Olson off at the pass, so that he could not get in there and grill his own victims' families. We specifically did all of that.

What is going to happen? Because the minister will not deal with this the Liberal government is going to allow this to take place. This tragedy is going to start tomorrow.

How about an apology, something that the ethics counsellor could possibly teach the guys across the way? How about an apology to the families for repeatedly refusing to repeal section

745? That is a small thing to do. Again, when we are looking at the very least, and we do not expect a lot more when it comes to justice issues from Liberals, but at the very least they could apologize for what these families are going to have to go through.

The names on this ribbon that many of us are wearing today are the names of the victims of that animal some years ago. The families of those people are now going to have to relive the entire horrible incident from beginning to end because of this government's inaction.

It has already been mentioned that of the 43 murderers who have applied for early release under section 745, 70 per cent of them were successful and some who were not will be allowed to reapply in three to four years.

It is disgusting that is taking place. Furthermore, we now have a double standard. Those who are convicted of multiple murders will not be allowed but a single murderer can get away with that and apply for early parole. It is a special status for single murderers and this is disgusting as well.

I want to give a couple of quotes if members are wondering why so many people are annoyed, outraged and enraged at the justice system. When Joanne Kaplinski's brother Ken was murdered some years ago, her request was denied to present a victim impact statement. At the hearing the judge said: "The pain and anger of the Kaplinski family has no place in this court". Imagine an attitude that says the family, the victims, those who live on with the tragedy cannot give their two bits worth but the perpetrator, the murderer, can drag up every so-called character witness to testify at the hearing. It is truly disgusting.

I want to bring forward something I can see happening in this upcoming campaign. In my own constituency the local Liberal candidate, John Les, has expressed his outrage at a horrible paedophile in our area and has suggested that this man should be hanged for his actions. This man is truly despicable. He has been in the national papers. He is an animal and it is a horrible thing but I do have to ask of my running opponent: who do you think you are running for in his upcoming election?

The Liberals will not entertain, Mr. Les, the idea that capital punishment is a credible alternative in these justice issues. They will not entertain it at their convention. They will not entertain it in a free vote in the House of Commons. They will not entertain it in a national referendum. They will not entertain it in their caucus. They will not talk about, they will not allow it. So get used to it because you are going to take part in and run for a party that is not going to listen to your view.

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12:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member knows that we have a procedure in here where all comments are supposed to be addressed to whomever is in the Chair and not to somebody in a riding or somebody on the moon or anywhere else. I would ask the member to respect that.