Madam Speaker, I want to begin by telling you what the Reform Party stands for in case members opposite do not understand.
The Reform Party supports a judicial system which places the punishment of crime and the protection of law-abiding citizens and their property ahead of all other objectives. Reform also promotes greater emphasis on assisting victims of crime.
When we look at this bill we find it is much like many that we see in this House. It has a good concept and a number of very good points which we could support very easily. However, then there is a whole bunch of mush and that mush is what the problem is, particularly when we are talking about our judicial system. There are so many things left out and so many fudge words that are left to the interpretation of the bureaucracy and the courts. That is what the problem is and what the people on the street are saying about the justice system.
When we look at this we find that same sort of problem. We want to ensure that we do not create new victims. We want to be sure there is protection for the victims and that we uphold the rights of the accused. Obviously that is what a justice system is supposed to do.
However, the confidence in the justice system is just not there. I really want to point this out as much as anything. As members know, I am not the justice critic and am not involved in the justice committee, but in my riding over this past couple of weeks I had an example which I think brings closer to home than anything else what people are saying about the justice system and their total frustration with it.
To do this I want to set the stage so that members will understand what I and the people of my community went through and the frustration they have in the justice system. This could happen in anybody's constituency in any part of Canada, but this is a factual example of what happened to me.
A pedophile was to be released into our community. Initially we were not to know who it was, where he was going to be staying, what part of the community he would be in. However, because of some circumstances that I will explain, the decision was made that his picture would be released and his name would be given.
This individual had offended nine times previously. This individual was a pedophile, as I mentioned, and had served his full time on his ninth conviction. He had entered a rehabilitation program but was removed from that rehabilitation program because he was considered by the other participants and by the instructors to be too violent to stay in that program.
He had served his time and now the ruling of a number of people was there for all to see. The prison officials said that he would likely reoffend. The psychiatrist who examined him said that he will reoffend, that there will be a tenth victim. The parole board said he would reoffend. His ex-wife said he would reoffend.
The RCMP stood in front of a packed gymnasium of parents and said that this man will reoffend, that each time his offences get more violent, that young parents out there, the two or three hundred of them, we will see a tenth victim.
I have never been so proud of a group of people in my life, thinking of the emotion they were going through. Their children were potentially the next victims.
They showed compassion for this individual. They did not talk about vigilante tactics. They did not talk about running him out of town. They said what is society, what is government doing for people like this?
The answer of course was he has served his time. Yes, we know he will reoffend and yes, we had to release him. I do not know that I could have been as calm and reasoning as the parents in that hall that afternoon at five o'clock. A lot of them came right from work to this school gymnasium, some of them with their little kids and
said "what can we do?" The RCMP said this person will reoffend and that they must streetproof their children.
A lot of us in this place have children. This person attacks three to six-year-olds. He likes three to six-year old female children. They say that they will streetproof a three-year old.
This child's whole future is in front of them. If they tell this young child the truth and tell them never to talk to strangers, emphasizing the danger, they could affect this young child's personality for the rest of their life.
Young children three years old do not remember everything they are told by their parents. What is the answer? Many people stood up and asked the RCMP whether they could do something? The answer was no, they were there to carry out the law.
Can Mr. Politician do something? He makes the laws. Can he protect our children from a nine time offender being released into our community? Can he talk to the justice minister?
By the end of today I expect about 175 letters written by parents in the community of Oriole Park in the city of Red Deer, just one little place. Those 175 parents are sending a message. They want something to happen. They cannot accept that we cannot do anything. They will not accept that from us any longer.
We finally had his picture circulated. That is not done very often but it was done. The police have offered to train parents in child proofing and go to all of the schools. However, I do not think I will ever forget the genuine fear in those parents' eyes. I trust that the justice minister and the justice committee will think about that fear. The victims are not necessarily just the person who has been attacked. I consider that the people of the community are now victims of our justice system.
The justice system needs to be reformed. It needs to be changed. It needs to be representative of what people want.
I have a letter which probably sums up almost everything that we are talking talk about today. The letter is written by a young teenager who lives in the community. The only thing I have changed in this letter is the exact address and so on because I believe I should protect her exact name and address. However, she has given me permission to use it because it tells us exactly what people think of the justice system and these sexual predators.
It states: "It is 5.30 in the morning. I haven't had much sleep. How about you? How do you expect me to sleep at night when a potentially dangerous creep lives in our area? That is right, Kevin Valley lives in our area.
"The creepiest part is he got out of jail two days earlier than he was supposed to. Where is he now? Nobody knows for sure except for him and his mother.
"What really blows my mind is the police and his therapist know he is a very dangerous man. He is an unstable man. They know he will reoffend and they say he will probably kill somebody. If he is that dangerous, why is he being let back into the community, especially into the neighbourhood where he lives, three blocks away from an elementary school?
"There are more children in this neighbourhood now than there were three or four years ago. This man needs to be institutionalized, not put back into the community in which I live.
"Twelve years ago when my parents bought our house who knew the neighbourhood would be one so dangerous? We can't go into our back yard for fear of a mean German Shepherd whom the owners are afraid might jump the fence. Now we've got a child molesting potential killer and all round creep living in our area.
"You have no idea how scary this is".
Remember this is a teenage girl writing this letter. "I no longer feel safe stepping outside of my home. The whole neighbourhood had to change our way of living Friday when we heard that Valley had been released from the Bowden penitentiary. We have to keep the doors locked, especially if we are home alone, keep the blinds closed at night and we can't answer the door at night if we are home alone, unless we are expecting someone.
"Even when we have to be careful, these are just some of the new house rules that have been put into effect. Others include not walking down the back alley, making sure we come home with friends if it is after dark. If we are driving home we make sure the person driving us home waits until we are safely inside.
"Does that sound like a fun way to live? Let me tell you, it is not. One man gets a second chance"-actually it is his ninth chance-"but everyone around him loses their freedom. A good deal for Valley but not such a good deal for the rest of the neighbourhood.
"Something else that is scary is being home at night by yourself. Every sound makes you that much more scared, especially if those sounds are coming from outside. The house never sounded or felt so strange as it did last night when I was home alone.
"At night when the doorbell rings, I jump. This is totally ridiculous. Boy, am I so glad Oriole Park is such a safe community to live in and to let children play knowing that there is a potentially dangerous threat lurking somewhere close by. Gee, that sure makes me feel better.
"How can our judicial system not carry this thing any further? Why do they have to wait until he reoffends or until he kills
somebody, at which time it will be too late because somebody's life may be taken to keep him locked up? This creep who could not be rehabilitated and who served his jail term is released back into the community because he paid his debt to the community.
"Well, try telling that to the parents and/or loved ones of the person who is either killed or molested by this person some time in the near future. All that because the law says he served his time and they cannot keep him locked up any longer.
"It is really soothing to the soul knowing that Valley will probably kill somebody. And we are supposed to be able to sleep at night? I do not think so. The law was thinking of only one man when they let that creep out of jail, not the population of Red Deer, especially not the people residing in Oriole Park. Maybe our well-being does not mean much to them. But why wait until he kills?
"My parents were always telling us kids-I have an older brother and a younger sister who grew up in this neighbourhood-to say no to drugs. Drugs were always the big thing in school. Now we have to worry about the creep in our area. I would much rather have someone walk up to me and offer me drugs than to see that person's face in our area.
"Hey, if this guy is potentially dangerous, does that mean he is packing a gun, or maybe a knife, maybe both? That is something to think about now, isn't it?
"This creep does not deserve to be back in our community. He does not deserve to be let back into any community. He needs to be institutionalized. Put him somewhere, lock him up and throw away the key".
I read that entire letter because I have talked to this person. As I have said, she is a young teenage girl. That letter represents a lot of what I heard. I talked to parents and they are asking: "Why is the criminal justice system not working?" Obviously it is happening in a lot of places. There are a lot of reasons why we do not trust the criminal justice system. I have just mentioned a few of them, but we could go on and on about this but I know I cannot do that.
If I had to list some things, Bill C-68 would be one. There are many people who are in favour of gun control. But the way the bill was designed, the search and seizure aspect, the orders in council, the lack of anybody saying it is going to stop crime, created a serious question about the judgment of the justice system and the minister.
I have been involved with and followed the Somalia inquiry. A judge said: "Yes, you have the right to examine all of the areas. Get this thing cleared up once and for all so that we can go on". Then we have the defence minister saying: "No. We will change the mandate. We will not get to the bottom of this torture, murder and possible cover-up. We will not do any of that. We will just change the mandate". Therefore, the government changed the law so that the inquiry does not go to its natural conclusion. The historical danger of that sort of thing happening, where governments disrespect the legal system to the point where they will actually change it when there is a ruling they do not like, is a pretty scary scenario.
The Olson and Bernardo situation, the section 745 situation, has touched people as well. Why did this legislation not get changed three years ago so that people like Olson would not have the opportunity to go before a judge?
The parole board patronage appointments that have gone on for years have brought about questions with respect to the judicial system, as well as the refusal to change in any substantial way the Young Offenders Act.
The point that I am making is that people have lost confidence in the system, and not just in the judicial system. I was at the Pearson building today and saw a report which indicated what Canadians think about Canada and what foreigners think about Canada. Of course we all know what we think about Canada. It is the greatest country in the world. We want to save it, although it needs a lot of fixing. Only 51 per cent said they were happy with government. This was a government survey. Forty-nine per cent of Canadians are not happy with government.
We have a problem which ultimately will lead to apathy. Ultimately people will give up on the system. When that happens democracy is in real trouble.