Mr. Speaker, we heard quite a bit about this bill today in committee of the whole. I would like to point to something that was not discussed. Underlying the whole question of the new authorities and powers granted in the bill is the fact that the government and the justice system have failed to deal adequately with the trafficking of drugs. They have failed to deal with it to the point where it is now so lucrative that the biker gangs are warring over who will control it.
What has happened over the last 30 years? Our laws have become too soft. The tools have been taken away from our law enforcement agencies to the point where drug trafficking is so absolutely lucrative that gangs are killing one another over the turf. That is what the turf war is all about, the right to control drug trafficking.
What does that say? That is something that has not been discussed. It is a sure indication of the failure of the justice system to protect our families and our children, to protect every Canadian citizen from that kind of influence.
If we go into any public school in this country, particularly high schools, we can see evidence of what the justice system has failed to do, which is to protect our children against those people who would kill in order to make a profit from drugs. They are turning our society into bedlam.
There is drug trafficking in my little city of Camrose. The children in the high schools are becoming addicted because the government and those before it have eroded the criminal justice system. Laws have been changed. The tools have been denied to law enforcement agencies to the point where we are not fighting what we should be fighting, we are fighting the fact that two groups of criminals are fighting over who is going to control the $20 billion drug industry in Canada.
It is a shame. It is a disgrace. That has not been touched on in this debate. It is something people across the country know about. They are talking about it. They are sending petitions to their members of Parliament about it. They are writing to us about the general climate which allows crime to flourish.
When this bill was introduced we knew it could not be passed with the election looming. We knew it could not be brought before
committee and have witnesses come forward on both sides of the issue so that we could understand if there are flaws and weaknesses in the bill. Those weaknesses are on both sides: weaknesses concerning the police and weaknesses in that it might encroach on the rights of innocent people. We knew that we would not have the time to do that, so we had to agree in order to give the police some degree of enhancement of their operations against criminals. We had to rush the bill through.
I talked to some of the police chiefs and others in criminal justice enforcement. They told me that they need this bill, not because it contains such powerful tools for them, but because for the first time we are introducing into the criminal justice system laws dealing with organized crime.
I asked them if this legislation would enable them to solve the offences which are occurring, the bombings and the murders, they were not sure it would. When I asked that question at least one of them quickly changed the subject and pointed to some of the positive aspects of the bill with which I agree.
The extension of wiretapping could have been done two, three, four or five years ago. It should have been done 10 years ago. Then there could have been investigations into drug trafficking and organized crime. It would have given the police the tools they needed to prevent the spread of drug trafficking.
The peace bond is a good idea. That could have been brought in years ago as well. It could have been brought in to deal with organized crime for the very purpose for which it is being brought in now. It was not brought in. Why? I do not know.
The access to income tax records could have been brought in years ago for the specific area of organized crime.
Then we have offence related property. In other words, we are enhancing the powers of the police and the state to seize the avails of crime, but that will only come after an accused has been convicted of a criminal organization offence. Let us look at the possibility of anyone ever being convicted under this new offence that will allow the police and the state to seize the avails of crime. How easy is it going to be?
First, someone has to be convicted of an indictable offence carrying at least a maximum five year penalty. Then the crown has to establish that the individual was part of a crime organization. Four others will have to be brought into the picture to show that they were associating and one of their primary objectives was to commit this kind of crime and that there had been a series of crimes committed by one or more of the group.
Mr. Speaker, you understand the law. You are a lawyer. You understand exactly what I am talking about when I say to Canadians: Do not hold your breath expecting reams of convictions under this new offence. It is not going to happen.
I hope my prediction is wrong. It reminds me a little of Bill C-27 where we passed this wonderful law that is going to discourage pedophiles from going to other countries to have sex with young children. How is the child sex tourism bill going to be enforced?
We had legal minds appear before the committee on Bill C-27 and they told us that it is a wonderful looking bill and that part of it sounds good and might make people feel safer and more assured that the state is doing something about what is happening in other countries by the pedophiles from Canada, but how is it to be enforced?
When I look at the enforceability of this new section, I have grave concerns. Those concerns were not alleviated as a result of my discussion with the police chiefs to whom I spoke. They pointed to other aspects of the bill and the fact that for the first time legislation was being introduced into the Criminal Code dealing with organized crime and they hoped in the years to come it would be expanded on.
The fact of the matter is former governments were supposed to stand on guard for this country. Every Wednesday we sing our national anthem. We promise in that anthem that we stand on guard for thee, Canada and for the citizens who live in this country.
But have they stood on guard? No, they have not. As I said earlier, drug trafficking is so widespread and the police so unable to deal with it, now we are hoping for laws that will be able to deal with the consequences of our laxness in this area. Murders are being committed, innocent people are dying, the criminals are killing one another off in order to gain control over an illicit traffic that should never have developed to the extent that it has. It has and we are facing that now.
I listened to the debates, as short as they were, on this bill. No one, neither the justice minister nor anyone on the government side nor from the Bloc side addressed the underlying cause of the situation that has brought about Bill C-95. Why not?
Have we embraced it? Have we given up? Is the next step to legalize hard drugs? Is that the next step? We see some people advocating the decriminalization of soft drugs. Is that what we are coming to? We have taken powers away from the police over the years, lightened the offences. Why? People say too many people are incarcerated. The jails are full.
The justice minister attacks us and criticizes us for not supporting some of his bills. We support this bill. We do not know everything about the bill that we should know but we are
supporting it. We support good, sound initiatives by this government.
We support it today and we have in the past. The justice minister has attacked us and criticized us for not supporting some of his bills such as Bill C-41.
We are going to go across the country telling the people in the forthcoming election why we did not support Bill C-41. That is because of the alternative measures that are being extended to violent offenders, the conditional sentencing that is now being used by some judges to allow rapists and violent offenders to walk free.
That is why we did not support Bill C-41 and will not support it. We have asked over and over again for the justice minister to bring in a simple amendment that would deny the courts the power, the tools, to allow violent offenders to walk free through this conditional sentencing clause. He refuses to do it.
Therefore we will not be taking this to the people in this forthcoming election, we are taking it to them now and we are showing very clearly that we are prepared to support good legislation but will not support legislation like the Bloc does that allows violent offenders to walk free. We will not support that.
A Reform government will repeal that bill and we will plug the hole that allows the courts in this land to send rapists back on the street after they destroyed the lives of their victims. When we look at this bill and we look at the whole gamut of the justice system and where we have arrived, the justice minister has become so partisan in his answers today that I saw no reason to go any further.
In the forthcoming election the people will be examining his laws. They will be examining his attitude. They will be examining his response to victims and they will vote accordingly.
This government will be weighed and it is going to be found wanting. Certainly anyone who examines the bills that have come through this House over the last 25 or 30 years knows that something has gone wrong. They do not have to examine the bills at all, they simply have to see the consequences of what has happened to our society where two gangs of thugs are fighting over the turf of the illicit drug trafficking that has occurred in this country.
Our criminal justice system has allowed that to happen. If it did not happen, we would not be asking for this kind of a bill. We should have had these tools in the hands of the police years ago. We brought in a charter of rights and freedoms that now can be used as a shield by many of these people in this illicit trafficking that is destroying the lives of our children, destroying the undergirdings of society.
Therefore we have asked the justice minister and we have asked this government to protect the rights of victims, to protect the lives of our children by bringing in reasonable, common sense laws, by giving back to the police the powers and the discretion to use those powers in a manner they think is in the best interests of society.
I do not know why we do not see a proper response or a better response by the Liberal government and this justice minister. I cannot understand that. We came to the House in 1993 with a promise from the government that it was going to work more co-operatively, it was going to change the way we did business here, more free votes and that kind of thing. We were willing to give it a chance and we have supported every measure we thought was for the benefit of society. Yet the justice minister will stand in this place and accuse us of not supporting a bill like Bill C-41 which allows rapists to walk free.
I do not understand that. It seems the only thing some of the people on the other side understand is a message in neither of the official languages; it is an X on a ballot at election time. We will see.
We will let the people judge whether they feel society is safer than it was before, whether they are better off economically than they were before and whether this government deserves another mandate. Will we see. It will be up to the people.
I heard today from the Prime Minister on television, from the justice minister, and it bothers me so much, the pretence that they do not know when the election is going to be called.
If an election were not evident or imminent we would not be rushing this bill through without having witnesses. All the people the justice minister suggested to us he has consulted we should have heard from. We should have had their opinions. The members of the House, through our committee, should have had those opinions placed on the record so we could determine whether this bill should have been amended and if so in what areas. We should have had that opportunity.
The justice minister pretends that he does not know when the election is going to be called. When they have their war rooms all rented and up and running, when they have everything on the move and he says to this House, as the Prime Minister said on TV two days ago, he does not know when the election will be called, it sounds to me like their GST promise again.
We will be asking the people of this country in the election that will be called within a week or so to weigh the legislation and weigh their own circumstances as to whether they feel safer in society, whether their economic situation has improved or deteriorated. If they feel that the government has done a good job, it deserves another mandate. If they do not then we are asking them very clearly to look at an alternative that will listen and will be guided by the will of the majority so that our Minister of Justice can go to Saskatchewan and can talk to the gun owners, the
law-abiding, hardworking taxpayers, stand in front of a crowd and not be concerned.
He can come to Dauphin, Manitoba where I was last Saturday, where 450 people turned up to learn what? More about Bill C-68. Imagine that, after two years. They are still punching holes in the air out there over what they consider to be a horrible injustice. It is a piece of legislation directed at them rather than at the criminal use of firearms.
We will support this bill. I am hoping that we are not missing anything. The justice minister heard from people on both sides of this issue. I am hoping there is nothing that has been held back from us in terms of their cares, their worries or their concerns. I am hoping that this bill will do the job we all want it to do.
It is really unfortunate that we would allow the drug trafficking situation to get so well entrenched in this country and so expansive. We feel it now in every school. We feel it in every community across this country. The absolute proof of that fact is we now have two bands of thugs fighting over the turf to control this.
I lay the responsibility clearly on the shoulders of past justice ministers, past Liberal and Tory governments that had an opportunity to do something about it but did nothing. Now the wolf is at our door and we think this bill is going to solve it. I hope it does but I am not holding my breath in the expectation that reams of convictions under this new bill will occur.