Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-17 for the last time. It is unfortunate that there are two amendments which are completely unrelated to Bill C-17 which have been piggybacked on to the bill. That was done with the unanimous consent of the House because all members of the House supported the amendments which were brought forward. Bill C-17 was the medium through which those amendments were put forward, but the amendments are totally unrelated to the bill. I am going to direct most of my comments to the original bill.
Bill C-17 contains a significant number of updates and improvements to the administration of law which are long overdue and which we support. The efficiency of our police officers and our courts will be aided through a number of the amendments contained within Bill C-17.
Sections 4(6) and 4(7) of Bill C-17 will allow a peace officer to provide a statement of service without having to seek out a justice of the peace or notary to have the service sworn.
This change will improve police efficiency, reduce the workload of justices of the peace and redirect their expertise to where it is needed.
Similarly, section 145(5) and a number of subsequent sections of Bill C-17 will permit any peace officer to release an accused on a reconnaissance. Currently only the officer in charge can do so.
This amendment improves police efficiency by negating the necessity to bring in the officer in charge for a mere procedural action.
We fully support the changes in this bill that would enhance the way police would be able to conduct their business. We also support the portion of the bill which strengthens the proceeds of crime legislation by ensuring that criminals do not retain the profits of their crime.
Initially we opposed Bill C-17 because, as most Canadians are aware, Reform is vehemently opposed to measures that lessen rather than strengthen penalties for serious offences.
Today, however, we are reluctantly providing our support because we have confidence in the provinces that support these measures and confidence, as it has so indicated, that the crown will in the most serious of cases proceed by way of indictment by following a sentencing protocol.
We believe the justice minister was less than forthright with Canadians about the full impact of Bill C-17. The minister has touted the merits of this bill in that it modernizes the law and streamlines court proceedings but he has been noticeably silent about the reduction in penalties for certain very serious offences.
Although Reform supports the administrative changes contained within Bill C-17 I mentioned earlier, I would be remiss if I did not say this bill is a nebulous inconsequential piece of legislation which will be of little significance to the enhancement of the safety of Canadians, their children and their property.
Canadians are very concerned about their personal security and that of their families. These administrative changes will do nothing to protect Canadians from murderers, rapists and other sadistic criminals who roam our streets and enter our homes.
Bill C-17 cannot prevent serial child killer Clifford Olson from playing out his charade. Bill C-17 does not deny killers the right to early release.
Only a bill repealing section 745 from the Criminal Code can deny Clifford Olson and others from seeking early release, but the minister did not bring in a bill of this nature. Instead, he brought in Bill C-45 which still grants Clifford Olson and other first degree murderers an avenue for early release.
By doing so, the justice minister with the support of his Liberal colleagues, has forced the families of murder victims to relive their terror over and over again.
Bill C-17 will not stop Robert Noyes from sexually molesting another child. The former Ashcroft teacher admitted to abusing more than 60 children. As a dangerous offender, he was sentenced to an indefinite period of incarceration on 19 sex related charges.
Now the justice system has turned him loose. In June the National Parole Board granted Noyes escorted temporary leave and if that went well, Noyes was to be eligible for unescorted leave with day parole in February 1997. To date I have not heard whether he has been successful.
Only a bill like the one proposed by my colleague from Surrey-White Rock-South Langley requiring the examination of sex offenders by two psychiatrists will keep Noyes locked up where he belongs.
Bill C-17 will not alleviate the fear of Canadian parents that their children could be abducted, sexually molested or killed in any of our communities or on our streets.
The justice minister's news release at the time of the introduction of this bill stated that these amendments illustrate further progress on the government's safe homes, safe streets agenda. This is absolute nonsense. It is simply not true.
How does someone make safer streets and safer homes by reducing the penalties for crimes such as the forcible confinement of individuals and being unlawfully in their homes?
Canadians want substantive change within the justice system. They want pieces of legislation that effectively enhance public safety. They want legislation that sends a clear message to criminals that if they do the crime they must do the time. Canadians want legislation in the hope that it will deter ruthless thieves from entering and destroying the sanctity of their homes.
Canadians want a bill which repeals section 745 of the Criminal Code. They want the justice minister to vote in favour of victims and victims rights. They do not want a minister that upholds and protects the rights of criminals to the detriment of the law-abiding, peace-loving citizen.
In 1995 the minister voted against private member's Bill C-226, which would have extinguished the right of first degree murderers to a parole ineligibility hearing after serving only 15 years of a life sentence. Canadians do not want the minister giving killers a glimmer of hope. They want killers behind bars and they want them there for a minimum of 25 years: not 15 years, not 20 years. Canadians overwhelmingly want murderers behind bars for the full length of their sentences.
What is the value of a human life to the justice minister, the Prime Minister and the Liberal government? Is it just 15 years? That is what they are telling the people of Canada. They are telling Canadians their laws are enhancing public safety. Nothing could be further from the truth.
On August 12, Clifford Olson was eligible to apply for a parole ineligibility hearing and in March, thanks to this government, this multiple child killer gets his day in court at the expense of taxpayers. The minister saw on the day that Olson once again made the national news how Canadians truly feel about his tough on justice amendments to section 745. The justice minister just recently witnessed the horror all Canadians experienced on March 11 when Clifford Olson once again was granted, courtesy of the Liberals, the opportunity to flaunt his sadistic crimes.
Olson is not the only eligible murderer. On July 10, Ralph Ernest Malcolm Power applied for early parole on his first degree murder conviction. In 1981, the 28-year-old Power, an ex-con out on mandatory supervision beat 20-year-old Sheryl Gardner's face to a bloody pulp with a hammer. He confessed he was attempting to stun her just a little so he could rape her. Power was caught and arrested for the murder of Sheryl after attempting to kill another woman.
The Minister of Justice should have brought in a bill that would keep Clifford Olson, Ralph Ernest Malcolm Power and many others behind bars. Why is the Minister of Justice not listening to the victims of violence and the Canadian Police Association? Why has the minister not repealed section 745? The Minister of Justice should be dealing with crime first and then administrative matters, not vice versa.
In the wake of the horrific crimes against Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, capital punishment is resurfacing as a major issue with Canadians. The evidence is growing that if Canadians were given the opportunity to vote in a binding referendum on capital punishment, an initiative the Reform Party supports, Canadians would choose to sentence our most ruthless and sadistic killers like Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olson to death. The Liberal government refuses to give Canadians this opportunity.
Canadians welcome Bill C-55, the dangerous offender legislation, but they want it strengthened and they want the minister to end statutory release. They want to end the automatic release of prisoners after serving only two-thirds of their sentence, even when science indicates these people will commit further crimes. Malanie Carpenter who was kidnapped, raped and murdered is one of the latest victims of this kind of Liberal mentality.
The minister promised to bring in an omnibus bill encompassing these two initiatives which would significantly enhance public safety. Instead we got Bill C-55, which falls short of Canadians' expectations. All Canadians have been given in the last year are half measures or bills like Bill C-2 and Bill C-42 which amend the Judges Act, Bill C-9 which re-instituted the law commission and now Bill C-17. Bill C-27, which we do support because it deals with child prostitution and stalking should have pre-empted all of
these bills. All Bills C-2, C-42, C-9 and C-17 do is make life a little easier for those involved in the justice system. They do not and will not make Canadians safer.
In fact Bill C-17 may give Canadians more reason to be concerned about home invasions because the Liberal government through Bill C-17 has lessened the punishment for this Criminal Code offence. That is why we give our support reluctantly to this bill.
Bill C-17 reduces maximum sentences and changes strictly indictable offences to dual procedure offences. The redesignation of offences from indictable to dual procedure permits and encourages judges to consider those offences as less serious and therefore permissive of a lesser punishment to include mere financial penalties.
While most of these offences are non-violent, with the exception of forcible confinement, they do involve intrusion into the sanctity of our homes and forgery which may deprive our most vulnerable citizens, our seniors, of valuable financial assets.
According to Statistics Canada, in 1994 break and enter accounted for 15 per cent of all Criminal Code offences while 25 per cent of all Criminal Code offences were for property offences. Eighty-one percent of break and enters involved forced entry. Property was damaged in 71 per cent of the cases and property stolen in 81 per cent of the cases.
Instead of expressing concern and outrage over these figures, the Liberal government is now saying these offences deserve a lesser penalty. These offences, which infringe on the financial and mental security of Canadian citizens, are going to be dealt with more leniency because of Bill C-17.
Unbeknownst to Canadians, the Liberal government has been slowly moving in this direction over the course of its mandate, a direction we are opposed to because not only has it not been sanctioned by Canadians, it may very well lead to an increase in crime, not a reduction, which is what we in this party seek as do most Canadians.
A shift of this magnitude in how we punish or-should I say in a politically correct manner-how we hold criminals accountable for their actions should be reviewed and then approved by the public.
Bill C-41, which has now been in force for a number of months, introduced alternative measures: alternatives to incarceration, alternatives in fact to a court hearing. This portion of Bill C-41 was overshadowed by the hate crime part of the bill which gave added protection under the law to a category of citizens including those classified by sexual orientation, an undefined term.
If asked today, I am confident very few Canadians know that the Liberal government has provided the means for a whole host of criminals, including sex and other violent offenders, to do community work rather than spend time in jail.
It is most unfortunate Canadians were not aware of the full scope of Bill C-41 which was described by the Canadian Police Association in the following manner: "Bill C-41, with few exceptions, is unwieldy, complicated, internally self-contradictory, duplicitous and what is worse, all of it completely unnecessary for anyone of any knowledge of or use for the common law heritage of Canada".
We would not have objected so vehemently to the alternative measures section of Bill C-41 if the government had specified which offences may be applicable to alternative measures. We could support the use of alternative measures for specific non-violent offences, to reduce expensive court procedures and incarceration. However, no such specifications appeared in Bill C-41.
The Reform Party submitted an amendment to Bill C-41 that would have exempted violent offenders from alternative measures. However, the Liberals on the justice committee killed that amendment.
Since the proclamation of Bill C-41, which also encouraged the courts to use conditional sentencing, at least two convicted rapists and others are walking free on conditional sentencing while their female victims are afraid to leave their homes. That is unacceptable. I hope the minister will bring in an amendment to the Criminal Code that will restrict conditional sentencing to non-violent offences so that rapists do not walk free like the two in British Columbia.
I would like to draw to the attention of the House the sections of Bill C-17 which concern us. The present law dealing with forcible confinement of a human being makes this offence an indictable offence with a maximum sentence of 10 years which classifies this as a very serious offence.
Under Bill C-17 the severity of this offence will be lowered significantly. The maximum penalty will still be 10 years but it will become a dual procedure offence which may be processed by either indictment or summary conviction. This means that under a summary conviction procedure, this offence can be reduced to a maximum sentence of 18 months or only a fine of up to $2,000.
Section 348.1(e) of the Criminal Code regarding breaking and entering for places other than a dwelling house is also changed to a dual procedure offence and the maximum sentence will be reduced from 14 years to 10 years under indictment. Not only that, but it can be tried by summary conviction with a maximum penalty of 18 months or simply a fine. What does this say to society? What does it say to the criminal?
The offence of being unlawfully in a dwelling house, Criminal Code section 349(1) has also been changed to dual procedure with imprisonment of up to 10 years or processed by summary conviction. Currently, unlawfully being in a dwelling house is an indictable offence with a maximum imprisonment of up to 10 years.
Similarly, section 367 of the Criminal Code regarding forgery and section 368(1), uttering forged documents, will be amended to dual procedure offences with imprisonment of up to 10 years or processed by summary conviction, whereas the current punishment is indictable only with imprisonment of up to 14 years.
It is these sections which initially had us opposed to Bill C-17. As stated earlier, we remain concerned that these Criminal Code amendments will signal to the courts that these types offences are to be treated in a less severe manner than is currently the case. As we know, the decision on whether to proceed by indictment or by summary conviction is made by the crown. It is with this fact in mind, and following consultations with some provinces which provided us with the assurance that in most of these cases the crown will still proceed by way of indictment, that we reluctantly provide our support today for Bill C-17.
Canada is facing rising crime rates, particularly violent crime, raising fears regarding personal safety, escalating costs to administer justice and to house prisoners and to top it all off a growing debt which severely limits spending.
The task of the federal Minister of Justice to deal with these problems in unison will be difficult but not insurmountable. Bill C-17 is not at this time part of the answer. It does not address the increase in crime in Canada and it does absolutely nothing to confront the causes of crime.
Therefore, we will support Bill C-17, an inconsequential piece of Liberal legislation, but we do so regrettably for the reasons given.