Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand before the House and speak to Bill C-37 which is known as the Judges Act. Among other things this bill increases the number of appeal court judges from 10 to 13. It increases the number of unified family court judges from 12 to 36. It also increases judges' salaries retroactively from April 1, 1997 to March 31, 1998 by 4.1% and by an additional 4.1% the following year. That makes it 8.2%.
I am going to take a different approach in speaking to this bill today. I want to talk about some of the judges in our country who are basically making really stupid decisions. This motivates me to say that anybody in this day and age who is picking up 8.1% should really be doing a good job at all times and should be deserved of an 8.1% raise. I do not think anyone in private industry is getting that, so there must be something extraordinary about the judges in our land.
I want to talk about some of these stupid decisions. As well, I want to talk about the Canadian judicial council which makes recommendations about judges and things that should happen in judge land. Quite frankly, Bill C-37 does not address any of that.
I am very disappointed that the government tabled Bill C-37 and did not address some of the things that some judicial councils were asking for. It is typical of our country. We give a raise but we do not ask whether it is deserved.
I want to talk about three issues in my riding. I could name more from some of these witty judges. I first want to talk about Judge Harry Boyle. I have taken Harry Boyle's name and I have plastered it across the country because Judge Harry Boyle has made a dreadful mistake in my riding.
A young lady by the name of Diane was violently raped by a fellow by the name of Darren Ursel in my riding. As Darren Ursel went through the court system he went before Harry Boyle. He said “Judge, I am sorry for what I have done. I have been tender at times. Gee whiz, you know it is only the first time I have got caught”. Judge Harry Boyle said “Son, that sounds like a pretty good reason to me”. He gave Darren Ursel a conditional sentence, not one scrapping day in jail.
Members on the other side might say “Here comes that Reformer. He picked an isolated case in trying to justify his position and that is a terrible thing”. I am going to go through a number of cases in my riding alone. I could talk here all day about hundreds of judicial decisions all across this land that are not only irresponsible but are absolutely preposterous.
I know Diane quite well. We fought together to try to get appeals. We tried to coerce the legal industry into acknowledging that this was such a terrible mistake. We profiled the issue. We profiled and profiled it again until we did get an appeal. The appeal worked. Under pressure this creep got two years in jail, minus I believe the time that he was running around in our community.
What do we say about Judge Harry Boyle? Judge Harry Boyle, do not come to me and ask for an 8.2% increase. I would have you off the bench, quite frankly.
Let us talk about Judge T. D. Devitt in Abbotsford, my hometown. There is a fellow by the name of William Gibson Brown who did a lot of time for violently raping a woman. He did about seven years out of the eleven he was supposed to serve. In this day and age I suppose that is a lot of time.
He got out into my community and was charged for molesting five young people. The lawyers got together and tried to do a little plea bargaining. They got it down to molesting a couple of children. The lawyers went before Judge T. D. Devitt and Judge Devitt said “It does not sound like you are all that bad. I am going to give you a conditional sentence”, and so he did.
The man got no time in jail. The man walked away from molesting children in my community after he violently raped a woman. The judge said that he must be an okay guy, so he got no time in jail.
Very shortly after he walked out of the courtroom on his conditional sentence, he molested a five year old in my community. I talked to the mother. She does not believe in the justice system. She does not believe in judges. Quite frankly, I believe in her judgment that she should not believe in judges. It is hard to understand a judge's decision on something like this.
Let me read some statements about William Gibson Brown. This comes from the parole board. Although Brown presented a willingness to take counselling, prior parole board records show that Brown “appears totally normal, he remains a very cynical, angry man. He cannot or will not accept that he needs help. He would not guarantee that he would not offend again. Clearly the man is deteriorating and is more dangerous now than when I saw him two years ago”. That is a man who got a conditional sentence from a judge and has now molested another child.
The 1994 National Parole Board report said that the risk to reoffend was very high and release would only put a community at risk. The board member was of the view that detention until warrant expiry was confirmed. And a five year old boy and a mother are wondering what the heck is wrong with this justice system.
For Judge Devitt in my riding who might some day come to me and ask for an 8.4% raise, I would say absolutely not. He does not even deserve to be on the bench. That is what I would say.
Let us look at Howie Slaunwhite. I talked to Howie the other day. Most of us in this country would say that if some criminal were to walk through our doors and molest our children or our wives, we would beat them or take a gun to them. Today, most of us say that we would protect our own land, our own families, our own rights and our own turf. That is what we would say. That is what Howie said.
What happened is that the perpetrator in Port Alberni molested Howie's 15-year old daughter. Howie took a bat to him and I am glad he did because the justice system does not work well. So Howie is guilty of assault. Bad guy, Howie. That is not right. I would admit that. So the man would go before a judge and in my mind the judge would say “That is wrong, we will give you a suspended sentence, perhaps”. What actually happened was that the molester, Stephen Mack, was convicted and jailed for 10 months.
While in prison this molestor took out a civil case and went to another judge, Judge Lathleen Downes. Judge Downes awarded the perpetrator, while in prison, $42,000 out of Howie's pocket. Howie had to get a lawyer who of course whips out his own wallet and says it will cost him $15,000. Now Howie is up to close to $60,000 which he cannot afford.
I have to wonder in this land what is wrong with this system when the father of a molested child is treated worse than the criminal. Today he will very likely not spend 10 months, like the perpetrator, but 10 years trying to pay the bill.
If anyone asks me whether I would give Judge Kathleen Downes an 8.4% increase I would say absolutely not. I would debench her. That is what I would do.
Let me give a couple of other minor issues to what these Liberals have often said to me in this House, like Judge Peter Vanderhoof, while he described a three year old girl after sentencing her attacker to 18 months probation for sexual interference. Judge Vanderhoof called this three year old girl sexually aggressive in his defence of the criminal.
For these people on the other side, if Judge Vanderhoof asked for an 8.4% increase, the answer in Bill C-37 should be absolutely not. He should be debenched for such stupidity.
I have so many issues I do not know where to start. Here is a fellow who likes to tape me on the radio so that someday he might like to sue me. I welcome him because not being a lawyer I would love to defend my own case against this fellow. Would he ever have the spotlight on him. Port Hardy, B.C. provincial court Judge Brian Sanderson gave 57 year old Vernon Logan “an absolute discharge” even though Logan pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. The judge said: “The law banning child pornography violates the charter of rights because it is an infringement of one's freedom of thought, belief or opinion, as unfettered access to reading material is necessary to exercise those freedoms”. This is a judge who makes a decision that child pornography is okay.
I hope you are watching, Brian, because he listens to me enough. If Brian Sanderson comes to me and asks for an 8.4% increase I would say absolutely not. You, sir, are a disgrace and should be debenched.
David Snow was charged in Vancouver with kidnapping two women and trying to strangle a third. “I cannot conclude”, says the judge, “that the placing of the wire around the neck of the victim and the placing of the plastic over her head are sufficient to establish intent to kill”.
If this government has any idea of what a bill about judges should be all about, it only has to listen to this kind of stupidity. To insult the rest of us in Canada with an 8.4% raise for this fellow, the answer should be absolutely not. He should not be sitting on the bench.
These are disgraceful and I have piles of them mounting every day. It is sick. We cannot forget Howard Wetson, the judge in Manitoba. He is a federal court judge. A year ago he decided in another ridiculous ruling that federal prisoners have the right to vote under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Prisoners having the right to vote is absurd. If Howard Wetson would like a raise please, Howard, apply to me for your 8.4%. I would say, sir, you do not deserve a raise and you should not be sitting on the bench.
Let us look at what the judges of Canadian judicial organizations say. What should happen to the judicial system? They made a recommendation for open disciplinary hearings against judges to the public. Is that in Bill C-37? Absolutely not. Another recommendation is to limit the terms of chief justices in most courts to seven years. That came from the justice system itself. Is that in Bill C-37? Absolutely not.
There is something wrong with the mentality of this House today. There is a head in the sand approach. We want to disregard the obvious that the once proud justice system of Canada has deteriorated into a legal industry. Many judges are put in their position because it is who they know and who they work for. It is not necessarily for their relevance, decision making or their knowledge of the law. It is not about their integrity. It is all about this system of patronage which has become a national disgrace.
If this government really wants to do something useful why not take Bill C-37 and stick it on the desk of a bunch of lawyers and keep it there. Take it to the people and ask them what is wrong with the Canadian judicial system today. Ask them if they like the decisions of Howard Wetson. Ask them if they like Harry Boyle's decision and ask them what they would like to do with judges and how to react to a system that no longer works.
Why we do not examine lawyers before appointment to the bench, why we do not disclose their qualifications, skills and abilities to the public before they are appointed I do not know. I do not understand why we do not end political appointments. I do not know why we do not have more predictability in sentencing. Why we do not continuously test and time limited appointments I do not know. Why we do not have a national code of conduct for conflict of interest rules for judges as the Canadian Judicial Council recommended I do not know.
Bill C-37 is all about more bureaucracy and money in the pockets of judges. I would not give one scrapping cent to the judicial system until I was satisfied if worked properly.
Psychotic killer Michael Kueger was awarded $2,250 for being inconvenienced during a labour dispute at Oakridge prison. He killed someone in 1991. The judge said: “He was inconvenienced for denial of showers, therapy and swimming pool”. That is after he gave a class action suit award of $45,000 to 11 prisoners. Just ask me if that judge would get one red cent out of my pocket. I would have him debenched like the others I spoke about.