Mr. Speaker, the time when the Liberal Party could describe itself as a social democrat party is long gone. Everybody remembers the time when Prime Minister Trudeau bragged about being a social democrat and introduced in parliament many bills taking into account the concerns of those members of parliament who were sincerely interested in their constituents.
How did the Liberal Party become a right wing party almost overnight and to everybody's surprise? I submit that the change can be explained by the imminence of an election. On the eve of an election, the Liberal Party has the unfortunate habit of spending indiscriminately and of adopting specific ideas to try to please different groups, be it from the west, from Quebec or from the maritimes. That is what the Liberal Party does.
This has to be said, and people have to know and remember it. Quebec's approach young offenders is much more humane and more focused on rehabilitation. Curiously enough, the area of Canada where the repeat offence rate is the lowest is Quebec, where we take these young people, we work with them, we help them, we support them and we try to put them back on the right track. The members opposite like to say how beautiful and great Canada is, but as for young offenders, it is Quebec that gets the best results.
Why should we, as lawmakers, change what is being done in Quebec to implement a Canadian model that is more rigid? Is there an hon. member in this House who can explain to me what principle dictates that we should legislate the wrong way around? They do not care about what works, while they should. I say this not to play party politics, but to inform our viewers. We should take a look and ask ourselves some questions. Where is the situation best dealt with? Is there a place in Canada where we get better results?
It just so happens that Quebec gets better results with young offenders. There are statistics and data supporting this, and the approach is different. Would it not be smart to follow the example of the government that has the best results? Would hon. members not be commended for taking Quebec's approach? They could decide that, since the results are better, they could improve their system.
Well, no, they make it harsher. Not only do they make it harsher in the rest of Canada, to please voters in western Canada who share this view, which is really inconceivable, but they also want to influence Quebec's system. They want Quebec's system to become harsher.
Did anyone ever see a government that legislates the wrong way around more than this one? The government will go even further. In the one place that gets the best results, the government will ensure that the same rules will apply as in the rest of Canada. We do not want the lowest common denominator. We do not want it.
The government House leader made the unfortunate mistake of saying that we were wasting the money of the House of Commons with all our amendments.
Here is the government House leader's reasoning on the Bloc Quebecois amendments “All your salaries, the electricity, the fact that parliament is kept open, this is a waste of money”. However, when the 200 amendments introduced by the Minister of Justice, because she did not do her job right, are being examined, this is not a waste of people's money. Interestingly, for the Liberal government—I hope that citizens who are listening will take note—when Bloc amendments are being examined, we are wasting the government's money; when Liberal Party amendments are being examined, this is good. I am baffled.
If we listen to the government, if we follow such reasoning to its logical conclusion, let us close parliament, let us stop talking about all these things, because we are wasting money.
We will have this debate because we deeply believe that for a 14 year old who is sentenced to a minimum of about 15 years in a penitentiary, that is a very long time. We know how sentencing works for very serious crimes. An offender with a life sentence will spend 15 or 20 years in a penitentiary.
Is there a parent in Quebec or in the rest of Canada who does not understand that his child, a 14 year old, could end up in a federal penitentiary for 15 or 20 year, if convicted of a serious crime committed out of youthful aberration, out of total carelessness or because of a more serious problem? Is there anyone listening tonight who believes that when he is released at 29 or 34, the young offender sentenced when he was 14 years old will have any chance at all of becoming a normal citizen? No one thinks so.
We are being asked to scrap human beings. We are being asked to destroy their lives. Out of rage, or lord knows what mental process, they are asking us in Quebec to abolish a rehabilitation program which is, by far, giving the best results in Canada, and to replace it with a system that will put 14 year old children—it could be your son, my son or my daughter—behind bars, in a penitentiary, until they are 30.
This means a life completely thrown away, an unspeakable reprimand, an indescribable approach, which has nothing to do with patience, tolerance or the capacity a society has to support its deviant members and to turn them into responsible citizens. That is what we have done with young offenders in Quebec, and we have succeeded in 98% of the cases. We must not forget that.
This is not a political issue, it is a human issue. All the associations in Quebec that take an interest in these issues are unanimous, not because they support the Bloc Quebecois, not because they are all mean separatists, but rather because they are human. They have an open approach, believe in what we do, and want to save human beings, not destroy their lives. They are profoundly convinced that our past is a guarantee of our future, and they believe in good faith that Quebec may have a contribution to make to the rest of Canada in terms of rehabilitating offenders.
I am asking her colleagues to think about it. I am also asking our colleagues of the other parties to do so. She said it dozens of times in the House, and everybody heard it. It was in the debates of the House, in Hansard . We heard it and people who usually listen to us heard it. She repeated it on all television stations, in all the newspapers of Canada and said it many times to my colleague, the hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm, who was questioning her. She said “The bill is good. The member does not understand it. Quebec does not have to apply this bill that way. It will be able to apply its system, as it did in the past. The bill will not compel it to use the new system”.
However, the member for Berthier—Montcalm, who is a lawyer, a jurist, a serious man who has given it thought and discussed the issue with people from Quebec, disagreed. He told the minister over and over again “This is not true. This is not what we are being told. This is not what the judges are telling us. This is not what the lawyers are telling us. We cannot all be insane in Quebec. There must be someone who is right somewhere. The minister has to be wrong”.
Yet the minister kept saying “Quebec will not have to enforce this act. There is no problem. It will not change the system in place. It will only give the rest of Canada the means to satisfy its needs”.
I am asking members opposite, particularly the Liberal members from Quebec, in front of all the people watching us if what the minister has been repeating dozens of times in the House is true, why does she refuse to add a short sentence in the bill to the effect that Quebec will not have to enforce the act. She has said so in this House. Why not write it down, then?
Let me say in front of the cameras to the people in Quebec and the rest of Canada, that I have personnally offered to the government House leader to have the bill passed in less than 30 minutes if he were to agree to include in the legislation one little sentence that the minister must have repeated 10, 15 or 20 times in the House, to the effect that the system in Quebec will not be affected and Quebec can choose to ignore this legislation. If the minister were to put this in the bill, we would pass it.