Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Fraser Valley West for his usual eloquent defence of the rights of Canadians to live in peace and without fear to walk down their streets without be affected by criminals.
It has been a great disappointment to me to see what has been going on in the House over the last three weeks, as my colleagues from Crowfoot, Fraser Valley West and Prince George-Peace River fought very hard day in and day out to bring to the House the real plight of Canadians.
It is not an illusion that Canadians from coast to coast are increasingly fearful for their safety as time passes. It is remarkable that as time passes Canadians are not feeling more secure on their streets or in their homes. They are feeling less secure because they have less confidence in the judicial system to protect them from criminals.
That is unfortunate. If there is one basic right we should have in this country it is to live without fear and in peace. Unfortunately that is not occurring.
The statistics show that youth crime is increasing dramatically. Adult criminal activity is going down. However, the statistics do not demonstrate the reality.
Police officers say that quite a large number of Canadians are not going to the police to report their claims. In my constituency office over the weekend the windows were smashed. The police said they would register the complaint but they would not come around. They do not have the time. They have other things to deal with, like paperwork. Our police officers are inundated with paperwork,
restrictions and constraints that the current judicial system has placed on their jobs. Police officers from coast to coast have their hands tied. They are equally upset by what is taking place.
The fault of the justice system does not fall at their feet. The fault of the justice system falls at the feet of members of the House. The House does not do justice to our police officers, the courts, the legal profession in order that there is prompt, fair, compassionate justice to be meted out to individuals who go afoul of the law. The government has done nothing to institute sensible measures of prevention of criminal activities.
I used to work in jails. A few years ago I dealt with a couple of 13-year old prostitutes who were in a youth jail, both of whom were going to be released to the same terrible abusive situation that they had lived in their entire lives. They told me they would go back to prostitution because they had no other choice.
It is a shame that we do have a system that would enable those children to get out of that situation and to live in an environment of peace and security, rather than going back to the same family environment which was full of abuse, violence and drugs.
I told those two young girls that if they continued on that course they would die before their 18th birthday. Within 16 months I encountered those two girls again. I saw the name of one of those girls in the obituary column, a murdered prostitute. The other girl had a stroke because she was mainlining cocaine and had become a human vegetable, irreparably damaged. What a tragedy for those vibrant young girls who could have become functional members of society and lived in peace and security rather than suffering this terrible tragedy; one dead, one irreversibly brain damaged. What a tragedy.
The system does not provide for these people. I had a 15-year old young man stand in front of me in the same jail two years ago and say: "Please, Dr. Martin, do not let me go out because if I go out into the situation I was in before, I will be forced to engage in the same criminal activity for my survival". It is profoundly tragic that we do not have a system to address this.
There has been a lot of very good work done in Canada. I brought to the attention of the justice minister constructive solutions.
Dr. James Mustard in Toronto and his superb group there put forth constructive solutions dealing with early childhood education and ways we can put forward measures to identify children and families at risk, ways we can put forth measures in schools right from kindergarten to identify these kids and help them and their families to develop environments that are free of violence so that those children have the elements of security and love they need in order to survive.
The government likes to bring forth the theory that child poverty is the cause for this. Members need not look any further than the large numbers of immigrants who have come to this country with not a penny in their pockets. They have worked at one, two or three jobs and have provided for their children and themselves basic security at home with love and an opportunity to go to school to develop skills they require.
These children did not have very much in terms of monetary attributes but they did have security. They had love and supportive parents, the most important factors in enabling children to go on to becoming functional, productive and sometimes affluent members of society.
When the statistics are compared looking at the success of immigrant children and non-immigrant children, it will be found that immigrant children do better than non-immigrant children even when the differences in economics are factored in.
It is important that the government look at that and ask why it is so. That is why our party has put forward plans to help strengthen families, to provide families with ways in which they would have more money in their pockets and more time to provide a caring, stable environment that children need as an essential part of their growing up in order for them to become functional members of society.
The government, in the way that we have looked at things over the last 20 years, has totally ignored this perhaps most important investment we can make in our society, the investment we make in our children.
Getting back to more specifics of Bill C-27, the government is dealing with a number of other issues with respect to international child prostitution. We could not agree with that more.
There are sex tours that enable individuals to go from all over the world to places like Thailand where they can engage in sexual activities with under aged children. That is illegal and it should be illegal.
Furthermore, I challenge the Minister of Justice to work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and their counterparts in other parts of the world together to develop an international scheme to address this very important issue.
They could do this through the United Nations and through all the other groups of which we are members. This would show Canada in a leadership role on how to address this very important issue.
I was looking at some of the statistics not so long ago. Very few individuals who go to these countries and engage in sexual activities with under aged children are ever brought to the attention of the justice system.
Very few of them are arrested and very little happens to them. This must stop because it is preying on those people who are most vulnerable in societies, generally speaking the very poor.
The committee on sustainable human development put forward a superb document just about two months ago on child labour. An offshoot of child labour was child prostitution. In that document was a number of very important, very productive measures that the government could take in order to address child labour and hence child prostitution.
This is not rocket science. Some solutions are there from members across the country. Members of both houses contributed to it. Senator Landon Pearson is very knowledgeable on the issue. She put forth some very important interventions.
I challenge the government to bring effective legislation to the House, as we in the Reform Party requested, to address this important international issue. It is sitting on the minister's desk. He should use it.
In 1982-83 the Liberal government of the day decided to make a change in the mindset of the justice department. It said that from then on it would not focus on the rights of innocent civilians but on the rights of criminals. That was to be the primary focus of the justice department.
Canadians do not want that. It is fundamentally wrong for Canadians to believe that the justice department will hold the rights of the criminal ahead of the rights of the innocent, ahead of the protection of innocent civilians.
Contrary to Liberal government members, we in the Reform Party feel the most important functions of the justice department is to uphold the rights of innocent civilians and to protect them. It is absolutely critical for the justice department to have teeth. It should be an overarching rule and thrust of the justice department.
That is why members such as the members for Fraser Valley West and Crowfoot have been raising horrendous examples day in and day out in the House. It is not because we want to shock anybody. It is not because we want to take advantage. The only way we can possibly get the attention of the government is to hit it with hard facts, to hit it with the most egregious examples of what takes place in society and and is being completely ignored.
If the government had been instituting ideas to strengthen the justice department perhaps people who committed rape would not be set free. A pedophile in my riding committed over 1,000 assaults on little boys. Perhaps that person would not have the right to move into the neighbourhood of one of his victims. Let us imagine what is going on in the minds of the family of victims who know full well that the person who abused their family members will be moving in next door. That cannot and should not happen. It should never happen.
People who commit these sexual acts have a problem. Balancing that fact with the right of innocent people to live in peace and without abuse, it is quite obvious it is most important for Canadians to live without the threat of being assaulting, raping them or someone trying to kill them.
There are examples from coast to coast of it happening. It is a great disappointment that in the last 3.5 years very little has been done on the issue.
We have spoken of other important matters. My colleague from Fraser Valley West introduced a victims bill of rights. The Canadian public should ask the government why it stonewalled the bill. Why has the government not allowed the bill? It only called for victims to have some rights in court. Why is there not an established set of rights in court? Why has the government wilfully chosen to stonewall the bill in committee? It had a choice to allow it to go through with input from all sides of the House but it chose not to. Why did it do this? It was for partisan reasons.
We are looking at a government that has chosen partisanship over the safety and rights of Canadians. The Canadian public must clearly ask itself very clearly if it wants a government that will put its own political future over the safety of Canadians.
The government would have a large amount of Canadian public support if it would lead by example, by demonstrating and elucidating a vision for the country, by expressing a vision for the country, by explaining it to the people and by saying that we should work together toward that end. Instead the government follows a course of opinion polls and focus groups. That is what is ruling the country. It is not leadership. It is political expediency. The government would get many more votes if it would express a firm, definitive vision of the country and lead the country in that direction rather than play games. I fail to understand why it has not done so.
In closing, if we are to break the cycle of crime, punishment and incarceration, it will not come from the justice system. It will not come from the courts. By addressing the rights of children we will break the cycle. Families sometimes beget individuals who then become adults who then beget children who unfortunately run afoul of the law.
It is true that there are criminals in every sector of society, every socio-economic group. Many children are being born into families full of abuse and neglect. If we think about it, it is impossible for them to develop the pillars of a normal psyche to enable them to become integrated members of society, individuals who have compassion, sympathy and empathy. Some of these children do
not have the pillars we take for granted. It is absolutely essential for them to learn them.
The Minister of Justice should work with his provincial counterparts in education, justice and human resources and development. Then they could develop a cohesive plan across the country for kids to learn their ABCs in school, as well as sympathy, empathy, appropriate conflict resolution and the dangers of drugs and alcohol. All these issues have to be learned.
This has been done in some areas of the United States. They bring the parents into the school system very early on so they understand the concepts of sympathy, empathy, appropriate conflict resolutions, the dangers of drugs and how to interact with their children in a supportive fashion.
This is the most important, cost effective and humane method to break the cycle of crime, punishment and incarceration. I hope the government listens and takes the suggestions of my colleagues in the Reform Party over the last 3.5 years. If it were to institute some of these measures Canada would be a safer place.