Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to speak to this bill today. I am not in favour of increases to the judiciary, for reasons similar to those addressed by my colleague. However, I want to take this opportunity to talk about some of the other problems that exist in the judiciary in our country.
Many of the reasons for the lack of support for raises to the judiciary stem from the frustration of individuals throughout Canada with the decisions made by the judiciary, which in recent years have become more appalling than anything I have ever seen. I would like to run through some of those cases as I have seen them and as I have experienced them.
A few years ago Darren Ursel violently sexually assaulted a young lady in my riding. We followed the case right through the courts. Judge Harry Boyle decided that the penalty for violently sexually assaulting this young lady was a conditional sentence, that Mr. Ursel would serve no time in jail, that it was a matter of “go home, think about this and stay away from the bars”. There was no time in jail. That judge set rape sentencing back 25 to 30 years in this country. There was basically no penalty. Our community had to fight and fight hard through appeal to get that guy two years. He got two years and ended up serving virtually no time because the time from the issuance of the conditional sentence through to the appeal was considered in his sentence. The guy walked within a couple of months.
When I hear of stupid decisions by judges like this, one could not expect me to come to the House of Commons and suggest that they deserve a raise. I will go though a couple more cases.
Judge Dennis Devitt sentenced convicted child molester William Gibson Brown to a two year conditional sentence and probation. He was convicted of two counts of sexually assaulting a minor. Devitt's reason for the sentence was that both the defence and the crown agreed that a conditional sentence of two years would suffice. Is there any reason for that?
Tomorrow we will be debating all day in the House to try to get a national sex offender registry throughout Canada. This guy sexually assaulted a minor on two counts and was given a conditional sentence. He did not serve a day in jail. Yet the government asks me to give a raise to a judge. There is not a hope in blazes that I will do that.
If that is not frustrating enough, let us talk about Dean James Bauder of Manitoba, who had his nine month prison sentence overturned by a Manitoba court. Bauder was convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl who was his children's babysitter. He sexually assaulted her for a period of time when she was 12 and then 13 years old. The judge, Justice Kerr Twaddle, justified the sentence and described the 12 year old as a willing participant. A judge sat on the bench and said that this child was a willing participant with an adult.
Then the government comes in here and wants me to stand up to give judges a raise. These are not all federal court judges, but they are judges, and the image the judiciary is getting in this country is really bad.
I have been doing a lot of work on the issue of drugs in our country, so I get reports of sentences and convictions of individuals. I have them here, as a matter of fact. They are very interesting. When one looks at them, one wonders what goes on in our courtrooms and why drugs are pushed so much by individuals and the profit is so high. I just want to tell the House about a couple of decisions that were made.
A guy was caught with $302,000 worth of drugs, which were seized. He was on welfare at the time. A judge gave him a 60 day intermittent sentence on weekends. Now there was a penalty: he had to go to jail on the weekends for the possession of $300,000 worth of drugs.
In and of itself, one might say that is all right because the guy was caught for the first time. Was it the first time? Let us look at him. I have here four pages of this guy's convictions. In Calgary, Alberta, he got probation from a judge for break and enter, and probation for a second break and enter. A few months later he got 18 months for another break and enter. He got out of there and was convicted on another break and enter. Did the judge give him more time? No. The judge suspended his sentence and gave him probation again. Two months after that he was convicted of another break and enter. He got two years and was surprised, because he had not been penalized a heck of a lot. That was escalating things, that time by a good judge.
After that he is convicted of break and enter five times. Those are either withdrawn or concurrent. When he got out of prison on parole he was on probation and what did he do? Breach of probation. What happened? Nothing. The judge probably thought it was possible to rehabilitate him at this point.
In June of the following year he was released on mandatory supervision. He lasted until August when he was recommitted. In September he was convicted of break and enter and his sentence was 18 months consecutive, which was actually no problem for this guy because they let him out very quickly and he was convicted of break and enter again. Then he was caught with stolen property and the charges were withdrawn.
He moved to Winnipeg and was charged with break and enter twice. There was a stay of proceedings and he was sentenced to mandatory supervision. A couple of months later there was a break and enter, then break and enter, theft, break and enter, theft, times five. This was a nice guy we had going there. He got a little worse. He moved to Edmonton and was committed for three months for theft.
As we can see, this fellow had a string of convictions and the judges were not doing this as a deterrent. These judges were looking at him and saying “poor boy”. They gave him a little bit here, a little bit there and nothing here, the poor boy.
We need some corrective action. Where are the judges?
He has piles of cases for stolen property, drugs, forged documents, using stolen credit cards, mischief, assault, trafficking and stolen weapons. It goes on and on. I could spend all week talking about these guys.
The problem is that these individuals are going into our courtrooms and the judges are treating the cases like misdemeanours. Yet, the judges say they are doing a pretty good job and that they want a raise. I have the greatest of difficulty, having lost confidence in many of the decisions that happen in courtrooms, standing here and say it is justified. It is not justified.
There are more cases across the country where people have lost confidence in the system than I could name. I went to my office a few minutes ago and asked the staff to pull me up a few decisions by the judiciary. A Quebec judge decided Friday to end the trial of the parents accused of letting their baby starve to death. He cited the 18 month gap between the incident and the couple's arrest, so they walked. A child was starved to death and nothing happened.
I do not know how we have come to this. I believe however that the legal industry, which was once our justice system, has now lost sight of the common sense of the common law and spends more of its time on the technicalities of the law. That is wrong. I have had victims come to my office. They have said that they were victims, that they did not matter and that when they went into the courtrooms they saw bad decisions. They said there was no help for them and that nothing could be done.
Sometimes help does come. There is a great movement in the country today to try to get the judiciary to smarten up and finally make some decent decisions. Once in a while it does but it has been a long time in coming. Before one ounce of money goes on the paycheque, I want to see some accountability and responsibility picked up by the judiciary.
I had a meeting with a victim last Thursday in my office in British Columbia. A judge in British Columbia convicted an individual of murder. He was in the car when another guy blew a lady away. He shot her in the head. He was sentenced in December, I believe, for murder. He appealed it. What did the judge do? He said “Why keep the guy in jail. We do not want to corrupt him”. So he let him out. It was one of the rare situations where a person was convicted of murder and a couple of months later, because a lawyer applied for an appeal, the court let him out pending the appeal. That judge showed a great disrespect for the crime of murder.
It is not just me saying that. All the Liberals are listening, as we can see. It is like pounding on deaf ears.