House of Commons Hansard #155 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was following.


Committees Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.


Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to revert to presenting reports so I can table the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Committees Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Committees Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Committees Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.


Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

As chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, I have the honour to table the sixth report of this committee.

It is a report in which the committee considered chapter 26 of the report of the Auditor General of Canada tabled in November 1996, entitled "Canada Infrastructure Works Program: Lessons Learned".

I draw the attention of this House to two recommendations in the report. As we know, the auditor general noted that the agreements did not set out specific requirements for carrying out timely compliance audits. Quebec is fairly advanced in this area and a compliance audit system has been set up for a sampling of projects.

Our committee therefore recommends that the officials responsible for the Canada infrastructure works program draw on Quebec's experience and negotiate agreements with their partners to set up a compliance audit system. They should also ensure that the quality and scope of the compliance audits satisfy the requirements of the federal government on the terms of the program.

The second and final recommendation is as follows. Our committee realizes that the calculation of the additional investment based on a minimum threshold represents a significant change in the terms of the agreements. It does not therefore consider this should be included in the negotiations under way to extend the program. On the other hand, the committee recommends that this element be taken into serious consideration in any similar infrastructure program the government may want to establish in the future.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Questions On The Order Paper
Oral Question Period

April 14th, 1997 / 3:15 p.m.

Cape Breton Highlands—Canso
Nova Scotia


Francis Leblanc Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-27, an act to amend the Criminal Code (child prostitution, child sex tourism, criminal harassment and female genital mutilation) be read the third time and passed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.


Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, before question period I was expressing my concerns over the practice of female genital mutilation.

I know that in Somalia and other countries the practice meets religious standards or preserves a sense of identity to their communities or it is done to preserve virginity and family honour. I think it is time that countries, including Canada, step in and protect these children from being assaulted and abused in the name of culturally acceptable practices.

The UN has been asked to put a stop to child labour and child abuse. It is therefore absolutely imperative for the UN to put a stop to this most savage abuse of children.

I urge the Government of Canada to take the lead on this issue by initiating talks with those countries which would be supportive of UN action in this regard.

It is clear that Canada should first address that kind of situation in this country and urge other countries to address the problem there. We must take every measure possible to protect children in this country and throughout the world.

I am therefore fully supportive of the section of Bill C-27 which makes it an offence for a Canadian citizen to obtain paid sexual services from children abroad or to engage in activities associated with child prostitution when they are out of the country. Of course I object strenuously to that kind of thing occurring in this country as well.

I would, however, be remiss if I did not question the effectiveness of this Canadian measure in eliminating child prostitution throughout the world. While it may bring Canadian citizens to justice in very limited cases, it will not stop citizens of other countries from engaging in sexual relations with children.

The Canadian Bar Association as well as a number of Canadian lawyers, including University of Toronto law professor Alan Mewett, criminal lawyer Douglas Usher and Windsor based criminal lawyer Michael Gordner, have all said that although Bill C-27 is an admirable statement of principle, it would be nearly impossible to enforce. That is my greatest concern about this bill. It sounds good, it looks good, but is it going to be enforceable?

I agree with these lawyers that it will be nearly impossible to enforce this portion of Bill C-27. The justice minister and his government must recognize this fact. One can therefore surmise that the Liberals have imposed this law in an attempt to create the impression that they are doing something about the sexual exploitation of children. I think it is a false pretence.

Alan Young, a criminal law professor at Osgoode Hall, said: "We have seen this before with Parliament enacting a law with little teeth. It has shown a good intent but it is just not an enforceable law. Think about it. How could it be? How are Canadian authorities going to become informed about these infractions? Any extraterritorial law is going to be fraught with political infractions and be near impossible to enforce. Look at what has happened with the war crimes prosecution. Ten years after the fact and there still has not been a conviction. It is embarrassing".

Canada is the 12th country to criminalize child sexual abuses committed by citizens overseas. Last summer representatives to the world congress against the commercial sexual exploitation of children urged governments to levy strong criminal sanctions such as those proposed by Canada in Bill C-37. Governments were also urged to promote strong co-operation between states and societies to prevent children from entering the sex trade and to mobilize nations around the world to help countries eliminate the sexual exploitation of children.

This action is absolutely imperative and in its absence Canada will do little if anything to eradicate child sex tourism. I would like to point out that the greatest culprits of child sex are not tourists or foreigners, particularly in countries such as Thailand where 95 per cent of child prostitution customers are domestic inhabitants. Foreign pedophiles account for a very small percentage.

What countries such as Thailand need to do is rigorously enforce their laws. Currently this is not being done. Perhaps to be more effective in combating the sexual exploitation of children, Canada could provide police training to countries such as Thailand to make it easier to catch and punish domestic sex offenders within their own country.

However, I firmly believe that before the federal government concentrates any more efforts abroad it should deal with the growing problem of child prostitution and child pornography in this country. It should establish a child sex registry, something Reform has been urging since 1993. I also suggest the government support local police efforts to inform people when a pedophile is released into their community.

It is unfortunate that the Liberal dominated justice committee did not support my colleague from Surrey-White Rock-South Langley in her attempt to have child sex offenders deemed dangerous offenders and thus detained until being evaluated as no longer being a threat by at least two psychiatrists.

I support the portion of Bill C-27 that imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment for persons found guilty of profiting from juvenile prostitution. I have some concerns regarding the effectiveness of imposing only a five year minimum sentence. Pimping is a serious offence and as such should carry a severe penalty.

Under section 212(4) of the Criminal Code obtaining the sexual service of a person under the age of 18 is an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years. Bill C-27 alters this section of the code by adding that it is an offence to obtain sexual services of persons believed to be under the age of 18 years. I have great difficulty with this portion of the bill. The justice minister is asking the crown to prove what a person may or may not have believed at a specific moment. How can this be done?

Is this another law that looks good but cannot be enforced? Is this simply another dumb law? Is it another stupid law like Bill C-41, which allows convicted rapists to walk free? Is this another example of the kind of legislation that comes out of an ivory tower but cannot be properly and adequately enforced by our justice system? How can you prove something is believed, that someone believed or did not believe something? How can people's thoughts be on trial when it is impossible to establish those thoughts?

This is precisely what the justice minister plans on doing under this section of the bill. Witnesses dealt with this particular portion of the bill and expressed concerns about the ability of the justice system to enforce it. They dealt with what the purpose of this was, to allow the police to use undercover operatives in sting operations; in other words, a woman peace officer poses as a prostitute and when she is approached by a john she says she is under 18.

As was pointed out in testimony and by others I have spoken to outside the committee room, how is a conviction going to be registered when the accused only has to say "she may have said that she was under 18 but it was obvious to me that she was older". Here we have a situation where the accused can say he thought she was older. In fact she would be older because the police would not be using anyone under the age of 18 in a sting operation.

How are we going to enforce this part of the bill? It looks good, it sounds good but how are we going to use it? Is it a practical law? I say it is not.

The sex trade in this country is a booming industry in which children are a hot commodity. Child sex consumers demand young flesh, and violent parasites, the pimps, happily supply that demand. This is an absolutely deplorable situation. The demand for child prostitutes will not go away as long as child sex consumers know their risk of arrest is minimal and if caught the penalty is only a maximum of five years.

According to the B.C. attorney general's office only eight B.C. men have been charged for buying sex from a juvenile since 1988. My goodness, that is close to nine years and less than one conviction a year. What is happening in that province? Why is that the case?

By contrast, 215 pimping charges were laid between 1988 and 1993. Sexually exploited children deserve protection in the Criminal Code with all other children who are victims of sexual predators. Whether they are sexually abused on the street instead of in their homes or schools, the penalty should be the same.

All children, especially those who are products of abusive and dysfunctional families who have forced them to retreat to the streets where they are further abused, deserve equal protection under the law.

We have today child molesters, people who have had sex with children, who are walking free because of conditional sentencing. Here we have an example of the government doing something with its left hand and exactly the opposite with its right. It is passing a bill that pretends to get tough on those who would sexually abuse a child or who would have sex with a child under the age of 18. Yet it passes laws that allow those people to walk the street after conviction, to walk free. What kind of a government is this? How do we make sense of this kind of a bill? How do we make sense of the overall legislative agenda of this government? It is impossible to do so.

When we ask the justice minister to do something about Bill C-41 and the conditional sentencing we heard what he said today and all of last week, that he is not prepared to move. He is not prepared to protect the children and the women who are abused and raped. These individuals are now walking the street free. It is confusing and it is unbelievable that the justice minister would bring in laws that conflict directly with other pieces of legislation that he puts forward designed to protect members of society and to protect victims of crime.

If we ever hope to reduce and eventually eliminate juvenile prostitution, we must address the reasons why children are turning to the streets where they are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Despite the justice minister's admission in the fall of 1995 that he had no money for crime prevention, preventive crime measures must be implemented, particularly in relation to juvenile prostitution and young offenders. Those children who turn to the streets and a life of crime must be given an alternate safe haven where they are given some hope and assistance to have a positive and productive future.

The government now says, after 30 years of overtaxing and overspending, having borrowed $600 billion, and having increased taxes to the point where 50 cents of every dollar that a person earns goes to one of the three levels of government, that we have child poverty where one child in every five lives in poverty. It says that the root cause, at least in some cases, of poverty is that the families are becoming dysfunctional and the children are going to the streets and entering the prostitution racket.

The policies of the government have led to that. When the government takes 50 cents of every dollar out of the pocket of every wage earner and the people who create the wealth in this country, what can be expected other than poverty? From poverty flows some of these very negative aspects such as child prostitution. The government's own policies are coming home to roost. It is now trying to fight it with laws that have such holes in them they are unenforceable in some areas.

Finally, I would like to briefly touch on the section of Bill C-27 regarding harassment. We are all aware of the growing problem of domestic violence and the need for the section on criminal harassment that is outlined in the bill. We need more legislation and more preventive measures in relation to domestic violence, including providing the police with more power to investigate and prosecute people who abuse their spouses. What we do not need is a law that allows rapists to walk free after they have been convicted. What kind of a message does that send?

Bill C-27 has some good aspects but it is completely destroyed by the way the courts are using conditional sentencing granted by this justice minister who will not move to remedy that.

Bill C-17 deals with taking care of children, dealing with domestic abuse, rapes, assaults and so on, yet too many cases where violent offenders against women and children are walking free. What kind of a message is that to send to the people? It is a confusing message and an unbelievable message that this country could bungle this in the way it has.

If the justice minister thinks that Bill C-27 and his gun registration legislation are the only measures needed to combat domestic violence he is wrong. Firearms registration will not eliminate or decrease this form of violence. This fact was evident in the recent shooting death of 10 members of a Vernon, B.C. family by an estranged and distraught spouse. Not only did the police in that case not follow a 1993 government policy to investigate cases of domestic violence, including those cases where there is no co-operation by the victim, they issued a gun permit to a person who had allegations of violence and abuse launched against him.

I would like to quote an article in the Globe and Mail dated April 10, 1996 which stated: ``The mass killing of 10 people last weekend in Vernon, B.C. has revealed fatal flaws and everyday limitations to Canada's much vaunted gun control laws. The two handguns used by Mark Chalal in the killings were acquired legally because there were not enough police officers, enough public funding and enough political pressure to pursue telltale doubts that he might have been dangerous''.

That says it all about the vaunted gun control bill that somehow is going to make firearms safer simply because they are registered. Of course the government has never been able to explain to us or offer any evidence at all on how the registering of a rifle or shotgun is going to reduce the criminal use of firearms. However, we plough on spending hundreds of millions of dollars in order to do so while at the same time creating laws that allow rapists and violent offenders to walk free.

I reiterate my opening statement. We support this bill, although we have some reservation about its effectiveness in eliminating juvenile prostitution, domestic violence and female genital mutilation. I would be remiss if I did not briefly refer to what took place on Monday outside these chambers. The mother and grandmother of murdered teen Sylvain Leduc gathered supporters on the steps of Parliament Hill to protest the Liberal government's lax treatment of young offenders and to protest the justice minister's refusal to listen to the people of Canada and implement effective measures to combat youth crime.

It is no secret that for over a year I have publicly questioned the commitment of the justice minister and the Liberal dominated standing committee to effectively change the 13-year-old Young Offenders Act.

As this session of Parliament quickly comes to an end with the threat of a spring election, my earlier observations and scepticism unfortunately I think will be validated. It is indeed unfortunate that the government has failed during its three and a half year mandate to improve public safety and to do anything to make victims rights a priority.

I would like to commend my colleague from Fraser Valley West for his tremendous efforts in the area of victims rights. It was the Reform member's initiative and tenacity which forced a reluctant justice minister to have my colleague's victims bill of rights reviewed in committee. It was shocking and disgusting to hear him in question period today where he suggested that we do not really need a victims bill of rights because the guiding principles are already in the Criminal Code and other areas to guide the courts, the crown prosecutors, defence counsel and the police. It is just amazing the contradictions that we hear from the government.

We all know the minister's back is against the wall on this issue. We all know this is nothing more than a futile attempt to deflect criticism for a disastrous bungling of victim's right to be heard. He apparently embraced the bill of rights concept and yet today seems to have put a kibosh on it. It is very confusing when the justice minister moves in fits and starts.

In Bill C-41 the minister granted victims the automatic right to make victim impact statements. Victims rejoiced in this victory. However, the victims later were shocked to learn what the minister giveth the minister taketh away. In Bill C-45 the minister betrayed victims. He stole from them their hard won victory. He denied them their unconditional right to provide impact statements and in doing

so, he added to a misery they have endured since their children were so brutally ripped from their lives.

What happened? We had to piggy back an amendment to Bill C-45 on to Bill C-17 that passed last week in order to rectify the mistake. It was just another bungled job by the Department of Justice, led by the justice minister. That amendment had to be brought in with the unanimous consent of the House in order to reinstate what the victims had fought so hard and achieved in Bill C-41, which was their automatic right without the consent of the judge to make an impact statement at hearings.

Let us look at some of the areas under the jurisdiction of the justice minister, such as section 745 of the Criminal Code. That section allows first degree murderers, after 15 years, to apply for early parole. Not only that, they are allowed to take their victims through the horror and the terror and the pain one more time after 15 years.

Do the families of victims not deserve a degree of peace? When will they be able to put the horror behind them? It has not died away after 15 years and after 15 years it is harrowed up again. Not only that, if the applicant is unsuccessful he can apply again, and again and again, depending on what the jury or the judge has to say. They do not have another period of 15 years. They could be looking at the same kind of situation, having to appear and make an impact statement to keep the murderers of their children from walking the streets, in two years, three years, four years or five years. On and on it will go. Surely these victims have a right to a degree of peace of mind. That is being denied them by the justice minister and his department. It is not right and it is not fair.

The emphasis by Liberal governments over the last three decades has been not on the victims and the protection of society, but on the offenders. The whole idea and philosophy is an attempt to rehabilitate the offenders.

There is something to consider about these conditional releases that are now occurring. What is a fair and just penalty for the rapist who is walking free in B.C.? Even if there was a guarantee that he would never offend again, what is a fair and just penalty for the horrible act which that single mother had to endure for an hour and a half? I ask the justice minister and I ask the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister: What is a fair and just penalty? Is it to walk free? That is what is happening.

We pass laws in this place which tell the courts what to do, and yet the justice minister will not amend the bill to tell the courts that they must not use conditional sentencing for those kinds of horrible, heinous crimes.

We have been pounding away at the justice minister, making his life miserable over the last week because we are supposed to stand on guard for the interests of the people of Canada. If we do not, who will stand on guard for the victims? The justice minister? Ask the victims of the violent offenders who are now walking free because of his law.

We are only asking him to make an amendment which would exempt violent offenders not only from conditional sentencing, but also from the alternative measures contained in Bill C-41. Under alternative measures, violent offenders may never see the inside of a courtroom. They will do community service if they admit their offence. A Liberal backbencher said during this debate that under alternative measures he could see where a rapist might never see the inside of a courtroom. That does not make sense. That is not the purpose for conditional sentencing or alternative measures.

There are justifiable circumstances for conditional sentencing and there is a role for alternative measures in our justice system, but not when it comes to allowing violent offenders to walk free, such as Mr. Ursel in B.C. That is not what it was meant for.

We have expressed our concerns and our fears. In fact we moved an amendment to Bill C-41 in committee which asked that alternative measures be restricted to non-violent offences. That amendment was killed by the Liberals on the committee.

We do not yet know the consequences of alternative measures, but we surely know the consequences of conditional sentencing. Why do we not change that?

Why will the government not simply say the courts are using the law for a purpose that it did not intend? As the justice minister said last week and again today, people convicted of rape should go to jail. However his law is allowing the courts to set these people free. Why does he not simply change it? Why can we not come together in this place and act in the best interests of society? Why do we not consider the plight of these victims? Why do we not consider that single mom whose life has been ruined while she wrestles with the terrible trauma she went through and her assailant walks free?

How did the judge come down on the side of the offender and not on the side of the victim and the safety of society? He did it with the tools granted him by the House through the justice minister and the government. It is called conditional sentencing. It was contained in Bill C-41, about which we expressed very grave concerns, and nothing was done about it. Now our worst fears have become the victims nightmares.

We are asking the government to change. Why will it not change? How many more victims must be subjected to conditional sentencing while their assailants walk free and they cower in the homes afraid to leave? How many more times must this happen?

Shall we ask the justice minister formally and informally to make this simple change?

We will support Bill C-27, as we have supported bills passed through the House which we thought were in the best interests of society. We have many reservations about certain aspects of the bill, but it goes in the right direction and we will support it.

We ask the minister to bring in an amendment that would deny violent offenders access to conditional sentencing and remove the tools from the courts when they use them improperly. He should change the law. The support would be in our caucus and I am sure throughout the House. Who can stand in this place and say that they support Mr. Ursel walking free after what he did to that young single mom? No one.

We will support the bill regardless of our reservations about it. As the bill hits the road and we see how it is applied that we hope the justice minister, if it needs amendment, will bring it forward. We wish he would do that with Bill C-41 and he has not. I cannot for the life of me understand why.

We will be bringing to the attention of the House case after case after case where the tools granted to the courts have been used improperly and violent offenders have been allowed to walk free.

Rest assured, we ill take this message across the country in the coming election unless the justice minister has the forethought, the wisdom and common sense to bring forward a simple amendment that will deny the courts the tool they are using in an improper way.

I see my time has run out. The Reform Party caucus will support the government's measure and initiative in Bill C-27.

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Government Orders

3:45 p.m.


Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, once again I rise in the house to speak to yet another piece of criminal justice legislation from the government.

People across the country should pay a great deal of heed to the words of my hon. colleague from Crowfoot, who happens to be one of the more knowledgeable people in the country on legislative matters. They should also pay heed to what members on this side of the House have to say.

I have heard a great deal in the House about victims rights, conditional sentencing and a lot of issues that matter to people across the country. I grow increasingly concerned that the government is addressing the issues either in a very small, half hearted manner or not addressing them at all. As we get closer to the election-some say it is as early as two weeks away-I find it greatly disturbing that the government all of a sudden throws a bunch of legislation on the table, knowing full well it will not become law.

It is probably one of the worst signs of misinforming people. Government members say what they will do, table it and ask people to vote for them, but they will not get it anyway. That is probably the height of deceit, quite frankly, in Canada.

I have heard it all this week and last week as I asked and asked and asked questions of the justice minister. I heard statements regarding the victims bill of rights, that the government has done a lot for victims.

The minister has no idea of what we are talking about in victims rights. Victims rights are not an amendment to the Criminal Code. It is meant to be a guiding light for the Criminal Code.

We do not want amendments to section 745 that cover an isolated part of early release. We want something that overrides and says that victims can have the right to victim impact statements at any time, regardless of what article of the Criminal Code applies. That is what we are asking for. For them to say that they have helped victims by an amendment they made to section 742 is not what this is all about.

It is important that those listening in Ontario understand what we are saying. We need the assistance of the people in Ontario, Atlantic Canada and Quebec to make sure the government gets the very clear message that it has failed to represent the people in the 35th Parliament.

As I travel through Atlantic Canada I know the feelings of the people there. They are concerned. It is time for decisions to be made in these parts of the country. They will take one step forward and say that traditional governments have not accomplished what we want them to accomplish.

It is 1997 and we have a bigger crime problem than we have ever had. This group in government will say that is not the case, but it certainly is the case. It is 1997 and nothing has been done about the unity issue. They are still munching on their MP pensions like there is no tomorrow. This party has declined to do so. It is time to truly look beyond the status quo and take charge by putting the people in power. This is what it is all about.

I asked some questions today relative to conditional sentences. I was alarmed to hear the justice minister suggest that the situation in my riding with Darren Ursel was a less serious situation. I assure the House and all Canadians watching today that this is anything but less serious. I tabled in the House 13,000 names on a petition showing that they are concerned.

I do not want to go through those details any more. Suffice it to say a terrible sexual offence has occurred and the perpetrator of the crime did not serve one day in jail. The judge said that he was tender at times, that he was sorry for what he did and that it was his first conviction.

Folks who are watching should think how they would feel about what occurred in that court room if it was their daughter or wife. How would they feel it they complained about it to the justice minister and he said it was a less serious crime?

I have talked in the House about that situation. The justice minister said that amendments had been made to conditional sentences. The fact is that he is not making the simple amendment everybody is looking for. He should exclude serious offenders from conditional sentences. He says that it is in a court of appeal. Who cares?

Today I had in my hands three cases of sex offenders who were getting conditional sentences. I do not believe two of them are being appealed. The justice minister should not stand and try to give us hogwash that conditional sentences are okay and will be fixed up some time. They are not okay.

My hon. friend from Crowfoot says he will count on the court of appeal. The court of appeal only deals with one case. I had three in my hand today. It is getting frustrating.

People in the rest of Canada where there are no elected Reform MPs should consider what is going on here. It is very terrible. This Ursel character should have done time in jail. If that were my daughter or my wife who was treated the way this lady was treated, I do not know what I would do in this land where there is supposed to be justice. The victim is wondering where the justice system is. She tells me that she does not think the justice minister cares about her. Quite frankly I do not think he does either. If he had one hoot of care for the lady he would change the system. It is too bad we live in a country run by a Liberal government that is seriously deficient in matters of criminal justice.

All last week my colleagues and I asked questions in the House. The justice minister suggested that we were exploiting people. That came very close to slander, but let us let the man do what he thinks he should do. We were sticking up for the rights of victims. If there is any exploitation, it is the minister getting a letter from a victims rights group and waltzing into the House trying to justify his actions over the last three years and saying that group was happy to send it to him on that basis. I do not believe that to be true. We will pursue that a little more this week.

What are we to do? We have conditional sentences now. It is a heck of a mess. We have victims rights that have gone nowhere. Three weeks before the election call the government finds it in its heart to do something about victims rights, only to be able to go out during the election campaign and ask: "Guess who we are for?" That is what this other party from Jurassic Park has done.

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Government Orders

3:55 p.m.


Gordon Kirkby Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

Do you mean the Reform Party?

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3:55 p.m.


Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

The hon. Liberal suggests that is the Reform Party, but I tell this member to just wait. All he has to do is wait for another 40-some days and we will see about that.

Let us consider someone committing an offence related to child prostitution. I find it difficult to believe that a bill like C-27 would deal with pimps of people under 18. I would have thought that the government would be concerned with pimps, period. The fact is that I do not understand why it plays these kinds of games. Is not a pimp a pimp? Is it not abusing and taking advantage of women? If one is a child who becomes 18, is it all of a sudden okay to be the pimp of that person? What is wrong with these people?

One of the things that has to be done is set a minimum 10-year sentence for those living off the avails of child prostitution. What is wrong with that? It is time to start getting serious about the customers of child prostitutes. Those are the kinds of things that matter out on the streets, not the rhetoric we get in this place, not bills that are thrown before us seven or eight days before an election writ is dropped, when the whole country knows that the government is not serious about implementation. In fact, it is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians to be dropping this stuff in the House, knowing full well that it will do nothing about it.

Just how does the government think we felt last week sitting in the justice committee trying to convince a group why victims rights are so important, knowing full well the government was not going to do a darn thing about it? Talk about insulting.

Last April 29, 1996 the justice minister stood up in the House and said: "Yes, we have to deliver on this. We have to develop legislation. Let us get it right to the justice committee". He told me that he was going to do something about it in the fall agenda. What happened? Nothing. I talked to him in the fall session and he said that he was going to do something in the winter session. Did he? No.

When did he do something about victims rights? Eight or nine days before an election he decides we should look at it. The insult.

However, that does not bode well for these folks across the way. Some of those in the Vancouver area have already been criticized for doing nothing in the 35th Parliament. I do not expect to see them back.

Ontario is not void of its criminal justice problems nor is Halifax, Atlantic Canada or Saint John, New Brunswick. This is not isolated. I talked to a lady from New Brunswick just yesterday about some of the problems she has had and the fact that her rights seem to be much inferior to the rights of the criminal. She has all but given up. I told her to hold in there and we will see if we can get it changed.

I debated and debated across the country issues like victims having the right to be informed of their rights. The justice minister stands up and says he will look after it. However, if he cannot look after it he says it is a provincial issue.

I talk about individuals having the right to be able to provide unrestricted victim impact statements, for instance, at parole board hearings and judicial reviews. The justice minister stands up and says the government did something on that, he thinks.

Two weeks ago I was in a Vancouver courtroom listening to the parents of the victims of Clifford Olson begging for the right to submit victim impact statements and this clown is on a speaker from his prison cell saying: "If you give them the right to do that I'm going to cross-examine them".

How can the justice minister stand up and say "We did something for victims" and yet victims do not have the right, no matter what is the issue, to submit victim impact statements? I could go on with a litany of the problems with issues like plea bargaining. I have seen it. I have been there. I have gone through it.

People think that when someone is charged and the court case will be for first degree murder, they end up bargaining for assault or manslaughter which carries a much lower sentence. All victims are asking for is the right to know whether or not a plea bargain is being considered before it is given to the defence. That is not too much to ask. It is not too much to ask of people, of this government, to make sure that victims are not harassed and intimidated.

I have been involved in several. One notable case was where the parents were told in a letter from the perpetrator, which he wrote from his prison cell, the last words of their son. Not only did he tell them their son's last words but he described in detail how he killed him. Do they not have the right to have this prevented? Do not victims have the right to know the status of an offender? They are not asking to keep him in any longer necessarily. They just want to know where he is, when is he getting out, what are the terms and conditions of his getting out and how long will it be before he gets out? Is that too much to ask the government?

I cannot wait for this election. Folks in Ontario and Atlantic Canada who are listening to this should understand what is at stake here. We have lost a justice system and are into a legal industry and it must change. It will not change with this government. Some day this government will fall. That time is very near. It can come out with its polls and tell all us little folks how badly we are doing and it can tell us how we must vote. It can tell us that some parties are going to come back. This country will not go backward to the future. We are going ahead with an agenda that we will implement. In this country victims rights will become a reality.

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4:05 p.m.


Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, as always my colleague for Fraser Valley West put his case for victims most eloquently. Sadly the message continues to be ignored by the Liberal government and the Liberal justice minister. Hopefully that will change at some point in the future. If not it will change when the government is changed.

I want to draw to the attention of the House what I feel is the hypocrisy of the stand of the Liberal government when I look at the infamous red book that was circulated-not widely I will admit-during the 1993 election. There were only several thousand copies available. Although it was not widely available, it is often quoted by Liberals. What they do not want quoted is some of the commitments that they clearly have not lived up to.

I refer to page 84 of the Liberal red book under the grand title "Safe home, safe streets". It states: "Dealing with the growing incidence of violent crime will be a priority for a Liberal government. Every person has a right to personal security and a Liberal government will move to protect this right".

On page 85 it states: "Several flaws in our correction system have recently been exposed by high profile cases. Under a Liberal government sex offenders who are not rehabilitated at the end of their sentences could be transferred by court order to secure mental health facilities for further detention". These were fine words immediately before and during the election campaign.

In light of the commitments that were clearly made in the red book before and during the 1993 election campaign, how does the hon. member for Fraser Valley West see how that sits with what has happened subsequently with Bill C-41, conditional sentencing and the fact that rapists are allowed to walk free without serving a day in jail.

When the Liberals refer in their document to the fact that they were going to introduce legislation because of "recently exposed high profile cases," why, when Reformers refer to high profile cases are we admonished and ridiculed every time we raise them? Canadians are crying out for justice. They are asking because of these high profile cases that the justice minister take action and bring in legislation to prevent the abuses of our now inconsequential justice system. The justice minister says that we are simply picking, choosing and using these high profile cases to make our point.

Is it not about time that somebody made a point? These abuses are going on. Even in the Liberal's red book they refer to high profile cases. That was the reasoning behind their wanting to bring forward legislation. I would suggest they have done a terrible job.

They should be thrown out of office for their lack of attention to victims and keeping sexual offenders locked up.

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4:10 p.m.


Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, that was a good question.

I can understand why my hon. colleague from Prince George-Peace River is so vociferous when it comes to talking about these issues. In small towns-the hon. member has a number in his riding-he does not escape either. He has the same problems in those small towns as I do in my city or west of us, as Vancouver does.

These are not isolated incidents that the Liberal government says we are talking about. This is not taking advantage of people. This is not rhetoric. This is not all of those things that those clowns over there say that we talk about. These are serious on the street problems.

I could stand here and give a litany of cases that the fellow over there does not even know about. He does not care anyway, so why tell him.

Crime is a serious problem in this country. My colleague is right. Of all the problems we have in this country, very little has been done to reconcile and correct crime.

I feel ashamed when I sit with victims who pour their hearts out to the government and tell it why they want to have rights and a minister says "we gave you rights". If they were given rights why are victims rights groups across the country expanding exponentially? The government has not fixed the problem.

When we bring up these cases government members say it is exploitation. That is a lot of hogwash. It is a very serious situation. It is just as bad in Halifax as it is in Vancouver, Windsor or Saskatoon.

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4:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Then they go after the law-abiding gun owners.