Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising these points. Certainly there is a great deal that should be said about many of these things and I welcome the opportunity to expand a bit on what I previously said.
The overtime situation, or lack thereof, for the RCMP is very important and very critical for two reasons. First, it is what the RCMP relies on to get coverage. As he pointed out, they receive one hour of overtime pay, but they in essence are on call for an eight hour period. Even now that this has been taken away from them many members of the RCMP, out of a sense of duty and obligation to the people in their area whose safety they are responsible for, still put in a tremendous amount of extra time for which they are not paid.
I think it is absolutely shameful. The government wastes phenomenal amounts of money. Members of the RCMP are not very highly paid, in part because of freezes not only in their pay, but even in the increments they get in terms of rewarding them for their growing experience, expertise and commitment to the job, and they have demonstrated that commitment. The government has said “No, you cannot be compensated for that”. Now it is saying “In order to do your job, if you have a sense of obligation, you are still going to have to go out on your own time”. But the government will not pay them to stand by.
Further to that, this country right now according to Statistics Canada, has the lowest per capita law enforcement officer population that it has had in 26 years. Never since 1972 have we had such a low number of law enforcement officers per capita.
How does this Liberal government respond to this shortage, a shortage which necessitates these officers covering an eight hour availability shift for one hour's pay? And now that one hour's pay is being taken away from them and they are covering for nothing. How does the government respond to that? It closes down the training centre in Regina.
We have the lowest per capita coverage of law enforcement officers in 26 years, and this Liberal government responds to it by closing down the training centre and getting rid of the trainees. No new people are coming on. The government says it is a temporary measure. It is not a temporary measure and anybody who says it is a temporary measure is either a hypocrite or they think that everybody else in Canada are fools. The time has come to put the training expertise back together, to redevelop and update the course curriculum, to recruit, to qualify these people and to schedule.
I went through this in the air traffic control system. The government was running it at the time. In its wisdom the government decided to cut back on air traffic controllers because it thought there were too many. The government arbitrarily, without doing proper studies, shut down the training system. It got rid of the instructors and shelved the training so that there would be no more updates. What happened? The government said “Gosh, we made a mistake. We need more controllers, not fewer”. There was an incredible lag, a 10-year lag, in trying to get back up the steam to bring people in, to train them, to give them the qualifications.
And now this government is making the same asinine mistake that was made by the government of the day when it cut back on the air traffic control system.
We have a problem in this country. When the government says it is temporary, if we were to use semantics, there is a measure of truth to it. The trouble that we have today is temporary. It is not going to stay like it is. It is going to get worse because this government has no plan for real crime prevention. It has no plan for making our homes and streets safer.
This government is bringing in a bill forcing law-abiding citizens to meet new expensive regulations at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. It is cutting back on the RCMP in my province by an amount of $8.5 million, a pittance against the amount it is wasting on the useless firearm's registration.
We have to wonder. I do not think for a moment that the government has any dark and sinister reasons for doing this. I cannot help but wonder why it brings in legislation that allows the criminals to walk through loopholes while it cuts back on the police, the people who catch those same criminals. The government should be ashamed.