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.