Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill C-17. I am encouraged by the statements that my colleague from Crowfoot has made in reference to this bill concerning its shortcomings and the fact that we will be supporting it reluctantly. I too have very deep concerns about some of the provisions of the bill.
I have paid some attention to the shortcomings in the area of the reduction in maximum sentences. That really concerns me. As as a police officer for 20 some years in the city of Calgary police department I have experienced what reductions of sentences actually do in the courts. There seems to be a trivializing of sentences that are delivered when parliamentarians start tinkering around and reducing the maximum terms allotted to some offenders.
I look in particular at section 279(2) which deals with forcible confinement. When is the section on forcible confinement often
used? What kind of offender is charged with such an offence? For the most part it deals with the rapist, the sexual abuser, the person who has intent to kidnap or to hold against his or her will someone. It is most often a female or a child that the offender has attacked or is attacking.
In Bill C-17 the government introduced a reduced sentence lowering an indictable offence which had a provision of 14 years to one of 18 months and making it a dual procedure. A minimum sentence of 18 months can be delivered if the courts proceed by way of summary conviction.
Rape or sexual assault is a very serious offence. Yet the government has trivialized a good portion of the number of charges of forcible confinement laid in sexual assault offences.
Another provision in Bill C-17 comes under section 348(1). Breaking and entering a place other than a dwelling house is now considered a dual procedure offence with a maximum of 10 years. Again it has been decreased.