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House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was banks.

Topics

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Yes, members of the RCMP did set fire to barns. This was proven by the McDonald Commission. And what is more, they were rewarded with promotions.

It is hypocritical to delude oneself about what went on, what was done. What I have just mentioned really happened and can be verified. As to limits being imposed on the rights to organize and associate, I would point out that there are limits to freedom of expression and that hate propaganda is prohibited. No one with any sensitivity in Canada protested because people were sentenced for disseminating hate propaganda, and quite rightly so.

I am in agreement with that. Hate propaganda should not be part of the right to freedom of expression, and neither should giving constitutional rights to the Hell's Angels.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:25 p.m.

Waterloo—Wellington Ontario

Liberal

Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, when I heard the hon. member speak, I asked myself what annoys and upsets him the most. Is it that Canada is in fact the best country in the world, the Canada he wants to break up, or is it the fact that, as he said, ordinary Canadians, people across the country, should have rights? He seemed to allude that they should not and I find that most surprising coming from that party opposite. It is a party which one tends to think would have a little bit of common sense in this area.

After all, our charter and constitution are fundamental to the very grounding of the country. It is fundamental to who we are and the values we represent. To listen to that leader opposite and that party go on about how they would reduce a very complex issue down to whether or not it is a choice between Hell's Angels and the youth of the country, which is exactly what he said, is ludicrous in the extreme.

It was quite a theatrical performance, do hon. members not agree? Great sarcasm, great theatre, great mocking, mocking the justice minister and the solicitor general. It was great theatre on behalf of a so-called libertarian party.

Well, it was a little bit too thick. At the end of the day, the leader opposite and his party should hang their heads in shame for saying that the very constitution on which we base this country and the very charter by which the rights of all Canadians are guaranteed are at the whim of something as easy as a notwithstanding clause.

I want from the hon. member another example of when he would use the notwithstanding clause. I want to see another example of when he would invoke that if he were in a position to do so. I want to see precisely the rights he is prepared to strip not only from Quebecers but from Canadians as a whole. I would like him to answer that precisely and to the point.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when my colleague said that he had thought during my remarks I said to myself “This is an improvement over the past”.

When I listened to his remarks I could see that it was not particularly elevated thought. I did not say that the notwithstanding clause absolutely had to be used. I said consideration had to be given to using the notwithstanding clause, which is part of the charter.

Could the member listen to what I have to say? I listened to his insipid remarks. He should give me time to talk, perhaps it will help him think better. Mr. Speaker, I am speaking to you. It is true, it is more interesting than what this firebrand has to say.

We hear this member say “You will be depriving ordinary citizens of their rights”. The Hell's Angels and the Rock Machines are not ordinary citizens. For a former policeman to not know this, I have to say he must have been just as effective as he has been as a member of parliament, and that is not saying much. That sort of remark is unacceptable.

If anyone has been fastidious about respecting individual and collective human rights in the past, we have. We do not intend to use it for pleasure. We say “Should we use that, an existing clause”. We say that because it exists.

If this is the Liberals thinking it is like that of their leader, who does not know that the criminal code is under federal jurisdiction. However, the member will never repeat these things as the Prime Minister does, because it is clear from listening to him that he will never be a minister.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:25 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, we heard the hon. member for Waterloo—Wellington say a few things. Does it not concern the hon. member as a member of the House to hear somebody who is supposed to represent the government more or less stick up for the criminal element in our country?

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member would keep quiet, I would reply.

I do not think he is doing it intentionally or voluntarily. This requires judgment.

I think that for several people it is a dogmatic position. Yet, the notwithstanding clause is in the charter. This House voted in favour of the notwithstanding clause. It voted to have a tool that could be useful. I am not saying that it should necessarily be used, but it is in the charter.

I hope this is the only reason why some members opposite have this attitude.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the leader of the Bloc Quebecois for his speech.

My question is specifically on the legislation that would address the problem. It is good to see the Minister of Justice present. She gave a very good speech as to what the government would like to do in an ideal world.

Is legislation aimed specifically at outlawing participation and membership in a criminal organization that was brought in quickly, in a comprehensive way, emphasizing deterrents and showing a strong governmental response to mere participation and the wearing of colours and the act of participation in a criminal organization indeed what the hon. member is suggesting is needed quickly and decisively to address this problem before it expands further outside the province of Quebec and throughout the country the way we have been seeing it in recent days and months?

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is exactly that. My colleague expressed exactly what we are proposing. We also mentioned that maybe we will have to use the notwithstanding clause, not necessarily but if necessary. That is the only thing that is stopping the Liberals from supporting the motion.

We should concentrate not on a dogma but on need. We have to stand to answer and give an example to the population of Canada and Quebec that we are here to represent them, to defend them and to make them secure.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini NDP Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will be using the entire time. I will pick up this debate where it began with the comments of the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. He said in his opening remarks that this was a most serious issue. It is. We are here in an emergency debate. It does not happen often in the House of Commons that the Speaker rules that there is sufficient gravity to a motion to warrant an emergency debate. We are here on a matter of sufficient gravity.

The member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough began by saying we should have a non-partisan debate because it is too important to deteriorate into the usual kind of blaming that sometimes goes on. I hope we can revive that spirit because this debate is not about gun control. The debate is not necessarily about the notwithstanding clause. The debate is about organized crime and how as a parliament we are to respond to it.

The Speaker has ruled that there is an emergency. Is there a crisis in the country? I do not know if crisis is perhaps too strong a word but there is an emergency. That emergency was brought to a head, galvanized by the recent shooting on September 3 of Quebec journalist Michel Auger. On behalf of my party and all parliamentarians I want to extend our sympathies and our concern to both him and his family. He gives real truth to the words spoken by Robert Kennedy that moral courage is a far rarer commodity in this society than strength in battle or great intelligence. The moral courage demonstrated by this journalist ought to be commended and respected.

The shooting has galvanized the debate around organized crime. I suppose it has also galvanized the debate around freedom of the press. I say in passing that it is of great importance that freedom of the press is a cornerstone to democracy. No journalist should have to fear for his or her safety if they want to delve into a story.

I remember when I was questioning the Minister of Transport three years ago about the ports police, that a young journalist who was covering that story for CBC Radio, whom I came to know, was under police protection because she was exposing at that time in 1997 some of the serious effects of gangs in the Halifax area. No journalist should have to fear that. No member of parliament should have to fear addressing those issues. No judge or no jurist should have to fear any kind of organized crime.

That brings me to the question of how we came to this point today. How is it that we are having an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the issue of organized crime? It is no mystery. As I said, in 1997 I urged the Minister of Transport at that time to reinstate the ports police. That has already been brought up time after time.

I am not happy to say that my party or I was right at that point in time because of the effects that have developed from the dismantling of the ports police. I met with the police on the docks in Halifax, people in the ports police who showed me clearly what the effects would be as a result of the dismantling of that police force.

It meant that in effect the ports in Canada, whether in Montreal, Halifax or Vancouver, became open territory for organized crime. Repeatedly I pushed the Minister of Transport on that issue. Repeatedly he came back to me and said he had every confidence that the provincial police forces and the RCMP would be able to deal with the issue of organized crime in the ports. Today, three years later, we are having an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the issue of organized crime.

We got here because of cost cutting measures put in place by a government that was adamant. It was not alone. It was prodded in many ways by others. There was a debt and deficit hysteria and come hell or high water it was here to eliminate the debt. Today we have a $30 billion surplus and unfortunately hell and high water are here.

There have been cuts to the provinces over the last six or seven years. The moneys in equalization payments have been cut to the provinces and the provinces are charged with the administration of justice, as we have learned in this debate. When a province does not have the money to pay its prosecutors, to hire prosecutors and to provide the resources to its provincial police force, we find ourselves in an emergency debate.

The provinces went on to cut municipal budgets and so police forces at the municipal level felt those cuts. It is no mystery and no surprise that we find ourselves after all the slash, burn and cut in a situation where we do not have the resources to do the job. The coast guard, the ports police, and the educational and training facilities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been cut. Now the chickens have come home to roost.

It does not mean that we cannot do something about it. I do not want to dwell on the past because I said this should be a non-partisan debate. My objective here is not to cast blame as much as it is to try to work with all members of the House to find a solution to what is a serious situation in the country today.

The situation is serious. I commend the members of the Bloc Quebecois and others who have been pushing for some time to address the issue of organized crime. It is a serious matter. There are many types of organized crime. When many people think of organized crime they tend to think of the old Mafia movies. We have gone far beyond Godfather type movies. There are Asian based organized crime rings in the country that specialize in trafficking in human beings. They specialize in heroin and cocaine importation. There are east European gangs that are involved in extortion, murder, prostitution, and in drug, tobacco and weapon smuggling. They are involved in immigration fraud and counterfeiting.

There are the traditional historical types of organized crimes, the mob that we know of. There are the outlaw motorcycle gangs which have brought this debate to a head. They are the Hell's Angels. They are the Rock Machine. We read about them in Quebec but we know that they are not exclusive to Quebec, that they exist across the country.

In my province in Halifax a couple of years ago I remember when the Hell's Angels were present and the Rock Machine, their rival group, was trying to buy property in Dartmouth across the harbour. We could see what was coming. We could see where this would lead.

There are serious issues of organized crime in the country today. There are serious issues in Manitoba. I have heard from my colleagues who represent the city of Winnipeg their concerns for safety in their communities. We know that they had to build a special courthouse in that province to deal with the trial of members involved in organized crime who ultimately pleaded guilty.

There is a real problem. There is a real emergency. When journalists are shot, when people are concerned, when members of parliament are threatened, we have an emergency.

There is no benefit to fearmongering. There is no benefit in trying to play politics with that kind of an issue. In the same way as we have a real problem, we have dedicated, determined police forces in the country who despite the lack of resources have worked very hard to do their jobs. We see the results of that. Too often those results do not get the kind of press they deserve, but this summer we saw drug busts that appeared to break all records. We know that on both coasts the police did their jobs. We know that the new commissioner of the RCMP is committed and is determined to take on organized crime.

The citizens of the country who listen to this debate and who read Hansard should know that while we have a serious situation with organized crime we have a dedicated and determined police force to take on the issue.

However those police forces require resources. In the same way I have indicated that resources have been cut over the years, it is time to reinvest in those police resources. The Minister of Justice has commented that in 1997 provisions in the criminal code were brought in. She is correct. As has been said by the member of the Canadian Alliance, those sections are well worded. They should result in the criminal prosecution of members of gangs and organized crime.

Rightly some members asked the Minister of Justice why there have not been any convictions. There was some discussion about plea bargaining, judicial intervention and whatnot, which I think are side issues. The reality is that all the laws in the world will do no good if the police do not have the resources with which to bring the case to court. To do that properly without infringing upon the rights of the rest of us, which ought not to be sacrificed on the altar of hysteria, and to work within the charter of rights the police need to have the resources. The police make mistakes and perhaps infringe on the charter when they do not have the adequate resources to do the job they need to do.

The solicitor general has indicated there has been some additional funding for the RCMP but I think there needs to be more.

We can take a page from the Canadian Police Association who met in Halifax this summer and discussed this issue. I had the honour to speak to that organization. My parting remarks to the people of that organization, and this was before we had an emergency debate and before the unfortunate incidents in Quebec, was to pledge to work with them in the fight against organized crime in Canada. I asked them to work with the subcommittee on organized crime of which I am proud to be a member.

I have also had an opportunity to look at some of the suggestions they offered in the fight against organized crime. Some of them make sense and I offer them to the Minister of Justice and the solicitor general for consideration.

The association has asked for the development and implementation of a strategic national response to organized crime providing greater priority, funding, support and co-ordination for local, provincial and federal policing jurisdictions in the battle against organized crime. I have said that we have to begin to reinvest in the police. I also asked that we work in a co-ordinated effort with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, customs and excise, national police services, the criminal intelligence service of Canada in partnership with the federal and provincial police forces.

I am glad and I commend the Minister of Justice and the solicitor general for going to Quebec tomorrow to meet with their provincial and territorial partners. I think we can listen to the Canadian Police Association and involve the other ministers, including the Minister of Transport, because the reinstatement of the ports police would go a long way.

The police association also asked for a national border protection service. Call it what you will, Mr. Speaker. Call it the ports police or a national border protection service, but the association has asked that it be established and that is something that we as a parliament should push for.

It has also asked for an examination of election financing and candidate financing criteria to provide elected representatives with clear guidelines to prevent infiltration from organized crime.

There are solutions to this problem. They need to be implemented right away. We cannot afford to spend a whole lot of time studying the issues. We know the issues and we know some of the answers. That should not prohibit further investigation. The subcommittee on organized crime can play a vital role here.

The original motion brought forward by the Bloc Quebecois asked for a law to be introduced in the House of Commons by October 6. There is no reason that any law could not be vetted through the subcommittee on organized crime that already exists. I would pledge my time and I know the other members of the committee would to try to ensure that the law as crafted would be charter proof, would be efficient and would be effective.

There are ample suggestions from the Canadian Police Association and ample suggestions from members of parliament on how to deal with this situation. We need to do that.

As I have said, the minister has pledged, and I think her words were, to re-examine the code to find if there are ways that she can with our help fight organized crime. She certainly has my pledge and the pledge of my party to work with her in that regard. I take her at her word on that.

There has been discussion of the notwithstanding clause and whether or not it ought to be invoked. The original motion brought forward by the Bloc Quebecois read “That this House request that the government prepare and bring in by October 6 a bill making it a crime to belong to a criminal organization”.

As I have indicated, people should know there is such a law already on the books which makes it a crime to belong to a criminal organization. In response to a question from the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois clarified that and said they wanted to go further and make it a crime to wear the colours to be identified with a gang.

The resolution goes on to say “if necessary, invoking the notwithstanding clause of the charter of rights and freedoms”. The leader of the Bloc went on to say that they were not necessarily calling for its invocation but only if necessary.

One of the reasons we fear and fight organized crime is to protect the liberties we have as citizens. Surely within this House, surely within the resources that the Department of Justice has, surely within the resources that the solicitor general has, surely working with the Canadian Police Association and the chiefs of police across the country, surely working with the commissioner of the RCMP we can as a democratic institution draft the necessary laws to protect our citizens without taking away the guaranteed rights of those citizens.

I feel compelled to say there are no rights for criminals in the charter of rights. There is no section in the charter of rights that says “These are the rights of men. These are the rights of women. These are the rights of victims. These are the rights of criminals”. There are guaranteed rights to all citizens. When we suspend those rights to tackle one group, we have to bear in mind that we suspend the rights to all of our citizens. That does not happen often.

It happened with the War Measures Act before we had the charter of rights and freedoms. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act suspending what were then the civil liberties of Canadians which were defined not just through the bill of rights, but through precedent and through a long constitutional history. We look back on that today and wonder if it was the right thing to do.

I urge us to act swiftly and decisively to find a way to protect this country from organized crime without doing it at the expense of the freedom we all enjoy.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for lowering the tone of hysteria in the House and congratulate him on his thoughtful speech.

To state the problem in my respectful view is relatively easy. To come up with examples of organized crime is also relatively easy and to gauge the concern of Canadians about the issue is relatively easy. But crafting a legislative response is something far more problematic.

I ask the hon. member two questions. The first question is with respect to his views on section 467 of the code, formerly Bill C-95, a bill which I might suggest was crafted in haste for which we now repent in leisure. The evidence that has come before the committee at this point is that this section which parliament passed three years ago is unworkable. It is onerous. It is not likely charterproof. The police will not use it. The crown will not use it. They are fearful of jeopardizing their investigations. Would the hon. member consider the implication of the notwithstanding clause on what is arguably a problematic law with respect to section 467?

The second question is with respect to the resolution as to bringing before the House by October 6 a law wherein membership in an organization is illegal. I would be interested in knowing his views on both section 467 and the proposed resolution.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini NDP Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond.

I think the hon. member is correct in some respects when he says that section 467.1 was passed in haste. It is not the first piece of legislation in the House and in the criminal code that we have seen passed in haste for which we repent at leisure.

The child pornography section of the code falls in the same category. It was rushed through the House of Commons and today stands before the Supreme Court of Canada subject to all kinds of acrimonious debate. Had the job been done properly the first time, we might not be going through this agonizing debate. He may well be right when he says that section 467.1 falls into the same category.

The answer to that is not necessarily to invoke the notwithstanding clause. It is to replace the section. If the section has been poorly drafted and passed in haste, the worst thing we could do is respond in haste again and make another mistake. The answer is to properly draft the section. That is the best reason that we should not make the same mistake again. Let us craft the law so that the police can work with it, give it the kind of teeth it needs, and make sure that it is workable.

Let us not panic and do it within two weeks and be back here, some us and some of us maybe not, in three years saying we have another bad piece of legislation and in the meantime organized crime in the country has increased.

I think I have answered both of the questions in terms of what we should do with that section and should we bring it back by October 6. Not necessarily unless we can put together a proper bill. That is where I think the subcommittee on organized crime can play a legitimate role in reviewing the legislation and making sure that it is adequate.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:55 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Sydney—Victoria for his speech. There was one contradiction in his speech that was glaringly obvious to me but perhaps not to anyone else in the House. He said that this debate is not about gun control but then he went on to make a big point about the fact that it was about resources.

I was cut off earlier in my comments with regard to the Ontario solicitor general calling upon the government to scrap this and put 5,900 more police on the streets instead. That is where this is relevant.

The latest information we have through access to information is the government is spending over $300 million on something that has really no measurable impact on organized crime. It does not affect the criminal element in this country in any way. Up to this point the government has only collected $17 million in user fees and it will have spent up to $300 million this year alone.

Should we not examine our laws to see if they are cost effective? If they are not cost effective should we not be putting those resources into areas where they would be very cost effective in improving justice in Canada?

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini NDP Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think we are mixing apples and oranges here and I say that in the most sincere way. I appreciate what the member is saying, that we should examine our laws to see if they are cost effective.

The platform of the New Democratic Party in 1997 was to do exactly that with Bill C-68, to have a federal audit done of the bill. That of course becomes even more important as we see how much money is being dished out in this regard.

To me that is a separate issue. We do not have to choose between gun control or the fight against organized crime. I do point out, as has been pointed out, neither the chiefs of police nor the Canadian Police Association have asked that we do that. They have asked for both.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

8:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief because a Liberal member asked a similar question to the hon. member.

I did indeed meet him in Halifax on September 1, because the NDP member spoke just before I delivered a speech before the Canadian Police Association in Halifax.

In my speech, I referred to the difficulties that police forces encounter when they use the anti-gang legislation. I think it is wrong to call it the anti-gang legislation, but this legislation has been in effect since 1997.

Could the hon. member tell me if there is a police force in Canada, in any province, that said that it is an instrument that is easy to use, that it is what they need to be effective against criminal organizations? My question is simple. When we passed this act, which has been in effect since 1997, did it meet the expectations of police forces and since we have had this tool called the anti-gang legislation, have things really changed?

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9 p.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini NDP Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, it was indicated in an earlier question that this section of the criminal code has not met its objectives. I do not think there is any debate about that. The police are not happy with it and the courts and parliamentarians have concerns about it. The answer is, no, this section of the code is not working. As I reiterated earlier, the answer is to bring in a clear, sound piece of legislation that has real teeth.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intervention. I want to commend my hon. friend for his learned, insightful and thoughtful remarks. He always contributes to the debate in that fashion. I was particularly pleased to hear him pay tribute to the need for more prosecutors and resources. I know that he was sincere in those remarks.

I want to turn my question to him specifically with respect to what we can do in a concrete fashion to deal with this issue in terms of a legislative initiative. I am referencing comments made by the Ontario attorney general with respect to this need for legislation that calls for a broadening of the definition of criminal organizations, the criminalization of participation and recruitment of those who engage in this type of activity, the prohibiting of the wearing of identifications and clearly designed insignia that signify membership in a gang, and the establishment of mandatory sentences for certain types of activities that are associated with criminal organizations. Those seem to be the concrete steps that have to be taken and embodied in the legislation, which we are all here discussing today, and expanding police powers to search and attend to crime scenes where there is suspected criminal organization. These seem to be the concrete steps that are being suggested by the Ontario attorney general and which are being discussed here in the Chamber.

I know the hon. member has significant criminal law experience, but I was wondering if those and others he may be aware of are the areas that we have to go into as a committee. As the justice committee, of which he is a member, and the House deliberate over this issue, are these the areas that we have to touch on if we are going to bring forward legislation that will also stand the test of time? It will not be done in haste but it will be done, to use the minister's words, in a timely fashion that will send a strong deterrent message. I know this is something which the hon. member knows.

The need now with organized crime is to send a deterrent message not just to those currently engaged but to those who might willfully engage in criminal activity. I believe that has to be encompassed in the legislation. I look forward to his response.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9 p.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini NDP Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do see the need for more prosecutors. I also see the need for more resources to legal aid, as the Canadian Bar Association has called for. I know my hon. friend agrees with me on that.

To go directly to his question, I do think that we need to look at expanding police powers. I do not often agree with the attorney general of Ontario but on some of these comments—

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9 p.m.

An hon. member

He is a Tory, isn't he?

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

September 18th, 2000 / 9 p.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini NDP Sydney—Victoria, NS

I think he is a Canadian Alliance member but I am not sure.

I seriously think that on these issues we have to look at expanding police powers.

The member will know that we have already talked about ways to allow police to sometimes contravene the law in terms of infiltrating gangs. We may have to look at that. Expanding police powers to search, but with the necessary safeguards of judicial warrants, may be a way to go. I am prepared to explore those options.

I hope the Minister of Justice, when she says she is prepared to re-examine the legislation, is being sincere with us. There is no reason to think that she is not and I expect I and my colleague will work together on this as we have on many other issues.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9:05 p.m.

Waterloo—Wellington Ontario

Liberal

Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I will begin my remarks by saying that organized crime is a very serious situation. I want to emphasize not only to the House but to all Canadians that the Government of Canada, the justice minister, the solicitor general, the Prime Minister and all members of our caucus take this, as I am sure all members of parliament do, in a very serious fashion.

I can tell the House that with my police background I have attended many conferences and was involved in many situations where this was discussed. We looked at this in a very concerted way trying to determine what exactly should be done in this area. We wanted to bring together partners from across Canada and from all levels of government: provincial, federal, territorial, municipal, regional and others, so we could operate effectively and ensure that the kind of policing, policies and laws that we put in place would work in concert to ensure that the scourge of organized crime would be diminished if not eradicated.

I take this very seriously. I, along with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, was in the Ukraine and Russia not so long ago where they have huge problems with respect to organized crime and the criminal element. It is of grave concern, especially as it relates to Canada in terms of people trying to get into our country and trying to contaminate the very fine country we have.

We need to redouble our efforts in terms of making sure that our borders in that sense are safe and secure so that our Canadians, no matter where they live in this country, are safe and secure, not only themselves but their families as well.

I will take a moment to recap some of things that have been said in the Chamber tonight. We of course heard the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough lead off with respect to this motion. He made some very interesting comments.

However, the one thing that I take a little exception to is the fact that he said we should look to the United States for a template in terms of how to manage this problem. That really is outrageous when we think about it. The Americans have high crime rates, high murder rates and whole inner cities that have given up as result of criminal activity. People are now living in suburbs with walls around them. The Americans, I say with all due respect to the member, are hardly an example for us to emulate. In fact, they are the worst example.

I also want to point out that during the 1997 election the Progressive Conservative Party actually campaigned, and members of his party were elected as a result of campaigning, on reducing the budget by $83 million in this all important area. I think it is fair to say that it is a little disingenuous for him to get up tonight and say that we should be putting in more money when he campaigned on quite the opposite.

We were also treated to the justice critic for the Alliance getting up and talking about things like not having laws in place to keep criminals out of Canada. I want to again make reference to the Ukraine and Russia where I was not so long ago with the minister. I can tell the member that he, as are all those Alliance members, is point blank wrong. There are in fact laws in place. The minister has made it very clear that people who are undesirable coming to this country will not be admitted. Those directions and operations were given concertedly and with great and due diligence.

The members of the Alliance who keep perpetuating these myths should really take a look in the mirror and give their heads a shake and try to determine why they keep perpetuating this kind of nonsense. What they should do is read the laws. They should understand what the laws stand for and how best to implement them instead of the fearmongering that they are so good at doing. Those extremists opposite with their right wing agenda are always trying to stir up Canadians and pit people against—

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

On a point of order, the hon. member for Elk Island.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9:10 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have sat here while the member has been speaking and our debate is not assisted at all by him name calling and saying things about us which, frankly, are not true. I think that you should call him on a point of order. He should be relevant to what we are talking about today, and that is criminal gangs and how to deal with them.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

As always in a debate there are two points of view, generally speaking, one from one side of the aisle and the other from the other side of the aisle. I too was listening and in my opinion there was not a problem with relevance.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure which part of my speech the member took umbrage with. I assume it was when I called them extremist right wingers. I suppose that is where he was most upset, but if the shoe fits I suppose he can wear it and I am sure he does.

The other point I wanted to make with respect to the justice critic from the Alliance—

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

At least for the moment, we are not going to bring in through the back door that which we will not bring in through the front door. I would ask the hon. member for Waterloo—Wellington to withdraw the last comment, which had to do with shoes fitting and being worn.

Organized CrimeEmergency Debate

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

I certainly withdraw the shoe from the member's foot.

What I want to say has to do with gun control. We actually listened to the justice critic say—and my head was spinning at this point thinking he could actually believe this—that if the gun control legislation was as good as it was purported to be—and I am paraphrasing here—Mr. Auger might have been spared the danger and the five bullets. I had to think about that for a minute because that really is twisted logic. If one really comes down to the brass tacks of it all, it is twisted logic.

What I would say instead is that what we have in place with respect to gun control is something that the vast majority of Canadians support. The reason they support it is because they know it is an effective tool for the police, for CPIC and for Canadians wherever they live in the country in terms of the reduction of crime. It is a Canadian value. It defines us differently than our neighbours, for example, to the south.

Along with their NRA friends, Mr. Heston, the Michigan Militia Corps, the minutemen and those right wing nutbars that exist in the states, the Alliance members actually counsel people to break the law and not register.

If we had the reverse where people had registered their guns, if we had the Alliance members helping in this regard as opposed to hindering it and dragging their feet as they have been doing over the last number of years, we would have had in place a system that would have worked.

I reverse that and say shame on them for not bringing safety and security to something that not only the police chiefs of the nation endorse but the association of police as well. They should know and recognize that as being something fundamental to the country. They should be proud to do that as opposed to the shameful way they have conducted themselves with respect to this whole gun control issue.

We also heard the leader of the Bloc, with great sarcasm and great mockery, take on the whole business of the constitution and the charter of rights and freedoms that all Canadians enjoy. I had to absolutely wonder where he was coming from. Is that in keeping with the wishes of the people of Quebec? Is that in keeping with the wishes of the people of Canada in terms of our great charter of rights and freedoms, that great document that helps define us as a people and unite us as a nation?