This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Canadian Alliance Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association which represented Canada at the meeting of the defence and security committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly held in Washington, D.C., and Colorado Springs from January 30 to February 6, 2001.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

March 13th, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Message From The SenateRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills, to which the concurrence of this House is desired.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

moved:

That the government establish a national sex offender registry by January 1, 2002.

Mr. Speaker, I advise the Chair that we in the Canadian Alliance will be splitting our speaking times today. This could be a good day for the House of Commons or it could be a very sad day. We will be voting tonight to determine whether members of parliament, not just the government, want to see a national sex offender registry installed in Canada.

Today I think it is important that we on all sides do away with the partisan politics that exists so often in the House of Commons and think about what is best for the children and women in our country. The motion today reflects the need for Canada, not the government nor the opposition, to have a national sex offender registry. We are asking the majority government to implement it by January 2002. That is a long time for the House of Commons to put in a bill that is absolutely necessary. I have seen bills go through the House in a matter of days.

My colleagues and I in the Canadian Alliance have pro forma legislation already developed and ready to go should the government need it and want to work with it. We are prepared to go right through committee with this to start it moving.

I want to first talk about what is a sex offender registry. I will give some of the common criteria used in the United Kingdom, the United States and Ontario. We would expect to see a national sex offender registry established and maintained by the Department of the Solicitor General, which basically means that it would be the solicitor general's responsibility, and the involvement of the parole and prison system, as well as the RCMP.

It would contain the names, addresses, dates of birth, list of sex offences and any other prescribed information about a person convicted of a sex offence anywhere in Canada.

The need for a national sex offender registry is important. We have heard from many victims. One in particular, who we heard from this morning, is Jim Stephenson, the father of a child who was murdered by a sex offender. Victims are saying that it is no good just to have a sex offender registry in just one province because people move from that province to another province where there is no criteria at all, no registry in existence.

Information that would be included in a registry would be collected from the offenders themselves and from any other source available to the minister, that is, their CPIC system, correctional services, parole board, et cetera.

The need to have offenders themselves report is important because it then puts the onus on the individual to show up and admit the sex offence and to produce the criteria. Once the offender has registered there is then a hesitancy inborn that the offender had better not reoffend. If an offender does register, then police have good reason to worry about it and then make a check.

The registry would be available only to the minister and police forces for the purposes of crime prevention and law enforcement. This takes away any argument that it would be public information and that the privacy act would be offended, and so on and so forth.

The registry could apply to every person convicted of or found not criminally responsible for a sex offence due to a mental disorder or who is serving a sentence for a sex offence on the day the act comes into force. That is important. After the bill receives royal assent everybody convicted goes on the registry and all those currently in prison go on the registry.

Today there are about 6,000 inmates and people on parole in the country who have been convicted of sex offences. That is a lot of people considering that there are 15,000 people who are incarcerated. There is over a 30% recidivism rate for sex offenders. A registry would help police curtail that recidivism.

Another criteria could be that every offender who resides in Canada is required to register in person at his or her local police station.

Another criteria could be that persons convicted of a sex offence that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years or less would have to report to police for 10 years. Persons convicted of a sex offence that a carries longer sentence would have to report for the rest of their lives.

A police officer may obtain a warrant to arrest a person who fails to register and report as required. A person convicted of a first time offence could face a fine of up to $25,000 or up to a year in prison. A person convicted for a second offence could face a fine of up to 25,000 and up to two years in jail.

Where do I get these criteria from? That is pretty well the criteria that Ontario uses for its sex offender registry. David Tsubouchi, the Ontario solicitor general, has basically said this about Ontario's sex offender registry:

Since it is now clear that the federal government will not accept its responsibility in this matter, Ontario will do what is right and act to protect its citizens.

I will not stand here today, and I hope none of us do, and slight the government for not implementing a sex offender registry. That is not what this is about today. This is about talking to our colleagues on the other side who have a majority in the House and who will determine tonight whether or not this bill comes into effect and the work begins on it. This is about us trying to convince all colleagues from all parties that a national sex offender registry is necessary for the protection of women and children.

I hope we do not get into fault finding or rhetorical statements from the other side. or from any side. Many people are watching the debate today and I think they will judge us on our decorum on the issue and the logic that we use for putting such a system in place.

I will quote some members of the British Columbia legislature and the current premier of B.C., Ujjal Dosanjh.

Here is one quote by B.C. Attorney General Graeme Bowbrick:

A national registry would help ensure consistency across provinces and give police a co-ordinated enforcement tool.

B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh states:

I'm calling on the federal government to open their eyes and ears and hearts to the concerns of Canadians across the country and set up a national sex and violent offender registry right across the country.

Saskatchewan is calling for the same thing. There has to be a co-ordinated effort across the country.

The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police, and on it goes, all support an integrated police information system, a sex offender registry. Virtually every law enforcement agency in the country wants this registry.

Yesterday we received a letter from the Canadian Police Association which states:

On behalf of the 30,000 front-line members of the Canadian Police Association, we are pleased to convey our support for the creation of a National Sex Offender Registry. The Canadian Police Association is firmly on record in seeking a registry to assist in the investigation and apprehension of repeat sexual offenders.

I received a call from Kevin Nierenhausen of the Sexual Abuse Victims of Canada. He was asking for the same thing, the implementation of a national sex offender registry.

I have one minute left in this opening speech to appeal to all my colleagues in the House, and to all those watching to encourage all members of parliament, all the Liberals on the other side and all opposition members of parliament, to please do away with partisan politics in the House of Commons and implement a national sex offender registry. It is so vital and important for law enforcement and critical to the protection of our women and children.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for Langley—Abbotsford for this initiative today. As he has already mentioned, hopefully we can have a good debate today without any of the flights of rhetorical work for which the House is famous. This is a bi-partisan issue and an issue that concerns everyone in the country.

Does the member think there would be enough time to actually draft the necessary legislation and get the co-operation of the provinces on an issue like this? It would give us a year but there is a lot of detailed work to be done. Would that be enough time? Would we be able to pull it together in such a way that the provinces, the victims groups and the federal departments could get all the i 's dotted and the t 's crossed?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the date of 2002 is ample time. The government and ourselves in opposition would have many areas upon which to draw. The United Kingdom has a sex offender registry. Every state in the United States has a national or a state sex offender registry. Ontario has an outstanding example of it. Other provinces already have drafts available. This is not something that we have to reinvent. In fact, the Canadian Alliance has been working on draft legislation for a year and it is ready to go. It is not meant to embarrass anybody. It is meant to help. We are prepared to give this document to the government and to work with it. It can use the document if it wishes or it can draw on Ontario, as we have, or on any other organization.

In conclusion, I remind members of a letter that I received from Jim and Anna Stephenson, whose child was murdered by a sex offender. They wrote:

In 1988 our eleven-year old son Christopher was abducted, raped repeatedly and murdered by a known pedophile. Among many recommendations contained in the verdict in the 1992 Inquest into his death was a proposal for a national sex offender registry. Since then, my wife and I have been advocates for various changes in the criminal justice system.

Claiming there are programs and legislation currently in place and that a National Registry would only duplicate what currently exists, the Federal Government has yet to move in this direction.

That is not meant as fault finding. It is meant to say where we have to go. The letter continued:

In the continued absence of any Federal initiative, Ontario recently announced that it would introduce its own Sex Offender Registry. The legislation is named “Christopher's Law” in the memory of our son. While the other provinces have not announced plans to introduce legislation of their own at this time, each has indicated that Ontario's initiative is being followed closely.

We applaud the Ontario Government for the leadership it has shown with the introduction of the Sexual Registry. At the same time, however, Canadians everywhere, and not only those who are citizens of Ontario, also deserve protection from those who present danger to repeat a sexual assault. Clearly such protection is only possible under a National Registry.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for bringing the motion forward. It is crucial in its timing and its content. It is one that we in the Progressive Conservative Party will certainly be supporting.

My question to the hon. member is quite simple. The registry that he speaks of has terrific preventive aspects to it. We know there is an existing firearms registry that was ill-conceived and has been entirely expensive. It is not based on safety and is probably doomed to failure.

The computers currently in place to register guns have no effect on safety. Does the hon. member feel that there could be any application of the firearms infrastructure that is in place? Is there any way that some of that infrastructure may be applied to a sex offender registry, which would have a much greater effect in terms of safety?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague on his work in terms of promoting a national sex offender registry. It is well acknowledged.

The resources that are tied up in the gun registry may well be used. I know an upgrade to the CPIC system is coming which may well be used. When we hear from the solicitor general on the issue hopefully he can shed some light on it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I begin by congratulating and thanking the member for Langley—Abbotsford for the excellent motion. I commend him for all the work he does on important areas like this one.

Most parents keep a close eye on their children, but we as parents have all experienced those moments of terror when a child slips out of sight at a shopping centre, a playground or an amusement park. It can take a few seconds for a child to go missing and it is easy to fear the worst. One of the worst fears is that a sexual predator has taken the child.

For some, like the parents of Christopher Stephenson, the moments of terror can actually last a lifetime. When 11 year old Christopher disappeared in 1988, there was no reprieve. There was no happy reunion. A repeat sex offender, Joseph Fredericks, abducted Christopher from the mall where he was shopping with his mother. Fredericks took Christopher to a field where he repeatedly raped him. At some point he took him back to his apartment. At some point he murdered him.

An inquest into Christopher's murder led to recommendations that the government should create the national sex offender registry which the member for Langley—Abbotsford is proposing. Had such a registry existed and police officers were able to go right away to check the residences of all known offenders in the vicinity of Christopher's disappearance, they may have been able to save his life. The recommendations were made back in 1992 and the federal government has not acted.

Today we urge all parties to vote in favour of our motion that the government create a national sex offender registry. Such a registry would not only help to allay the fears of every Canadian parent, but it could save the lives of children like Christopher and help protect children from sexual predators.

The Ontario government has not waited for the federal government. As already mentioned by the member for Langley—Abbotsford, the former solicitor general of Ontario, David Tsubouchi, went ahead with legislation that became known as Christopher's Law in honour of Christopher. Around the time Mr. Tsubouchi introduced the bill he said:

Since it is now clear that the federal government will not do what is right and will not accept its responsibility in this matter, Ontario will do what is right and act to protect its citizens.

The Ontario legislature unanimously passed Christopher's Law last April. We are calling for the same all party support today for the creation of a national sex offender registry modelled after Christopher's Law.

Ontario is not the only province calling for the creation of such a registry. British Columbia plans to create its own registry. Its premier, as we have heard today, has called on the federal government “to open their eyes and ears and hearts to the concerns of Canadians across the country and set up a national sex and violent offender registry right across the country”.

We know that many Liberal members of parliament also support the creation of such a registry. Peter Warkentin, the Liberal candidate in Surrey Central, advocated for a registry during the last election.

To day we are asking the Prime Minister and his Liberal caucus to give more than a blessing to an idea, to put partisan concerns aside and to vote in favour of creating a national sex offender registry.

It is not a new idea on the other side of the House. When federal and provincial justice ministers met in Regina in October 1998, we understand the Minister of Justice told Alberta justice minister Jon Havelock that the federal government promised to amend the present system to allow it.

We have also heard some of the arguments some Liberals have raised against creating such a registry, arguments like the Canadian Police Information Centre already does the job and that the registry would duplicate what CPIC already does. We can ask any police officer who uses CPIC if the system does what a national sexual offender registry would do. CPIC does not tell police where all sex offenders in any given area are living.

We need to have legislation to mandate the collection of data necessary for police officers to do their job in this special area of crime prevention. We need to have legal requirements for sex offenders to provide that information and sanctions when they fail to do so.

There are an estimated 4,500 sex offenders either in prison or under some form of community supervision. Most researchers say that pedophilia is incurable and the risk of reoffending can remain for the rest of that person's life. Rapists also show a high degree of recidivism for violent crime. It is time for the Canadian government to show its concern for the victims of sexual predators. It is time for the House to do something concrete to prevent sexual offenders from drifting from place to place under a cloak of anonymity, putting vulnerable children and citizens at risk.

Christopher Stephenson's father, Jim Stephenson, wrote to the member for Langley—Abbotsford last Friday in support of the motion before the House today. He said he was encouraged that the Canadian Alliance was raising the need for a national sex offender registry for debate and a vote. He wrote:

Canadians everywhere, and not only those who are citizens of Ontario, also deserve protection from those who present danger to repeat a sexual assault. Clearly such protection is only possible under a national registry.

We hope that members of all parties will remember Christopher Stephenson today. We hope they will consider the lives of other children that may have been saved as Christopher's might have been. We hope they will consider the abuse and violation of innocent victims that may be prevented by the creation of a national registry. It is time that we set aside partisan politics and work together.

Every day we sit in the House as elected people and look across the aisles into the eyes of one another. We plot, plan and strategize, which is something politics and parliamentary behaviour is all about. Tonight when we vote, and as we look across the aisles, can we picture the eyes of Christopher or the eyes of our own children? I will be picturing the eyes of my grandchildren.

It is time to set aside partisan differences. It is time to work together for our children. Let us do this together.

I move:

That the motion be amended by substituting the number “1” with the number “30”.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The amendment is in order.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's speech with great interest and I too have great concerns about what is going on. Parents now walk their children to and from school and a lot of parents absolutely refuse to let their children play in parks.

It has always been my understanding that the government's first and foremost responsibility is the safety and protection of its law-abiding citizens. Our children are the most vulnerable. Should that not be the government's first and foremost responsibility?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would concur with that suggestion.

We always talk about the future being our children. We need to think of their literal future. It should absolutely be the utmost and foremost in the minds of not only of opposition party members but also of government members. I want to presume that will be the case. I do not want to make a political statement to the contrary but we will see tonight. I presume that the children of this country are in their hearts.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was in the RCMP for 30 years. What the hon. member said about the Canadian Police Information Centre is accurate. It does not provide the full scope necessary for a police officer to keep track of the sexual predators who are loose in society.

I would also like to indicate that at the present time police forces are releasing information into the community about the whereabouts of an individual sex offender. However they are sometimes under civil threat of a lawsuit when they do that.

Will this registry help in the area of protecting our police forces when they do take action to monitor and follow these predators to make sure their whereabouts are known?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Selkirk—Interlake raises a valid point. I appreciate his experience in terms of policing as a good portion of his life was given to that.

Yes, this would be set up in a way that has been looked at by the legal experts to make sure that police officers have the guidelines to follow so that they do not run afoul of any possible rights or charter issues. That would be carefully done and implicated in this particular motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I commend the Leader of the Official Opposition for his remarks and his participation in this debate. My question is along the same lines as the comments with respect to CPIC.

Under the current system there is a process for red flagging individuals who have received pardons. There is obviously a system in place to try to ensure the accuracy of the information. I know the hon. member would agree that the accuracy of that information is crucial to this preventative nature that is behind a system such as this, an early warning system for police and for communities.

My question is twofold. With respect to the cost, and this is not to suggest that no cost is too great when it comes to protecting our children, I wonder if the member has any figures on the cost of this system. Second, with respect to the ability of the provinces to participate in this, does he have any thoughts along those lines?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the concern raised. Relating to the CPIC, and I am not saying this in a pejorative way, it is important to look at some of the deficiencies. We know that CPIC does not tell police where all sex offenders live. We need to have legislation to mandate the collection of the data.

In terms of the cost itself, it would not be prohibitive. I appreciate the fact that the member acknowledged that there really is no cost too great in terms of protecting our children. These costs would not be prohibitive and could be handled within the fiscal capacity of the department. I am sure the minister himself could illuminate us on that even further.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member from Waterloo—Wellington. I am pleased to rise today to speak on the opposition motion in favour of a national sex offender registry.

I am sure this proposal is motivated by a sincere concern for the safety of our children and for all Canadians. This is a concern shared by all of us and certainly by this government. Since forming government we have taken a series of actions to better protect Canadians from sexual abusers and will continue to do so.

As early as 1994 we conducted extensive consultations with individuals and organizations with special responsibility for the care and protection of children. These included children's aid societies, school boards, big brothers and big sisters organizations, Volunteer Canada, police, victims and many other groups across the country. What they told us was that sex offender registries, like those in the United States, would contribute little to the safety of children. What they asked for, and what we delivered, was a made in Canada solution that targets abusers who seek positions of trust with children and other vulnerable groups.

The national screening system was launched in the summer of 1994 by the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health and the Solicitor General of Canada. It is the result of effective collaboration between police, child care agencies and the federal government.

The Canadian Police Information Centre, or CPIC, provides criminal records to local police forces who have helped these agencies conduct criminal record checks. At last count, more than 700,000 searches had been done on behalf of volunteer organizations across the country. This is an important tool that protects the most vulnerable from the most dangerous and is only one example of the measures that we have taken for the safety of Canadians.

We have created a new form of long term supervision for sex offenders after they complete their normal sentence. A national flagging system has been developed with our provincial partners so that prosecutors can identify offenders who should be considered for dangerous offender status. Peace bonds allow us to put special conditions on high risk offenders even when they are not under sentence. With these measures we have imposed tougher controls on sex offenders and we have made Canadians safe.

Sex offender registries as they exist in other countries have not prevented crime. Despite their heavy cost, they are easily defeated when offenders simply fail to register or provide false information.

In the American system only about 50% of those required actually register. In a lot of states it is less than that. In Canada we have chosen a different path. We already have a credible and comprehensive national registry. It is called CPIC. It is a national registry of all convicted offenders, including sex offenders.

CPIC is already the basis for the national screening system. It is a solid database of police information that can be accessed by all police agencies across the country. CPIC is already in place and does not have to be duplicated by another agency. It is highly reliable because it is based on fingerprints, not on whether or not an offender chooses to comply or not. In other words, CPIC is Canada's national sex offender registry. It does not need to be created because it already exists.

However, the government is open to improvements. We have already engaged in discussions with our partners across the country to enhance CPIC's role as Canada's sex offender registry. That collaboration is well under way and a truly national system can only exist if there is a national consensus. That is why we are working closely with provincial and territorial ministers of justice and solicitors general.

In 1998 ministers approved a report from senior officials who studied sex offender registries. Ten very useful recommendations were made. However, a new national sex offender registry was not one of them. A few provinces have expressed interest in establishing their own registry but most have made no decision and some are clearly opposed.

What we all agreed to do, when we met in Iqaluit last September, was to work together to most effectively combine our efforts to protect children. That is exactly what we are doing.

For those jurisdictions that are prepared to do so, we have offered to accept current addresses for known sex offenders to be placed on the CPIC database and to be updated as needed. One province has expressed an interest in such an agreement.

We clearly already have a sex offender registry on a national scale. It is an important public safety tool that will remain effective in the future. I was also very pleased that the government saw fit to put $115 million into the CPIC system to make sure it was updated and one of the best systems available.

We are always working to ensure we have the best possible tools to protect Canadians in their communities. We will continue to review our progress on a regular basis to make sure that we are moving forward.

In closing, the government has and will continue to do its utmost to protect Canadians. We will continue to seek effective made in Canada solutions that will work for all of us.

We have a proven and reliable sex offender registry. We have already complied with the opposition's motion. We are committed to going even further. For that reason, I have absolutely no problem in supporting the opposition motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, if that don't beat all.

I want to compliment the government for, I think, listening. However I do want to correct a couple of statements the solicitor general made. I want to give some quotes that are very important to listen to from the solicitor general's point of view.

According to the Canadian Police Association, the government has established CPIC but “it does not provide police agencies with adequate information and notification concerning the release or arrival of sex offenders into their community”. The Canadian Police Association, which has 30,000 members, has told everyone in the House that CPIC does not work.

When the Ontario officials were developing the Ontario sex offender registry they said “CPIC neither focuses solely on sex offenders nor has the updated address information needed to track them”.

I wanted to correct the solicitor general's comments. I want to thank the government for supporting this motion. I hope we are now moving forward on a non-partisan basis to develop the legislation.

The sex offender registry, which is in every state in the United States and in every location in the United Kingdom, is, contrary to what the solicitor general said, supported by millions of people. Even though bureaucrats from Canada go there and say it is not working, it actually is working. I have a lot of information here that I would like to give the solicitor general to show that it is working.

I would like to know why and how he gets the information to say that these things are not working. Furthermore, why is it that Ontario has implemented a sex offender registry? It was sick of waiting for us in the House of Commons to do it. There must be something to it. In addition to that, B.C., Saskatchewan and Alberta are now moving toward one.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, first, on his correction move, I do not understand what correction he is trying to put forward. In fact, CPIC is not specifically a sex offender registry. It is a registry of all people who commit criminal offences. What is important to know is that everybody who commits a criminal offence is on CPIC.

If an organization goes to the police and wishes to have a person evaluated as to whether the person has committed a sex offence, it can do that with CPIC. The system is there.

In the American system, as I said to my hon. colleague, in a number of states 50% or less of the people who should be on the system are on it. What is the good of that? What we have in Canada is a national system updated to be one of the most effective systems in the world, the envy of most police forces around the world. To the criminal justice system it is a very important arm.

What we must have is a national system with everybody involved. CPIC is exactly that. It is a national system.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Canadian Alliance Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general in his speech made reference to the dangerous offender status. I would like to draw his attention to an instance in my own constituency.

A teacher by the name of Robert Noyes in the community of Ashcroft offended and damaged many young students in his school for whom he was responsible. In the course of his conviction and sentencing, he was designated a dangerous offender. He has been in prison for a long time now. More and more he has been moved out of prison and into the community. I have resisted that subject since being elected. I have talked to the people responsible for him and they have said that he has had all the treatment and education they could give him and that he has done everything satisfactorily so they had to let him go. I asked if he would be offending again and the response was, probably.

What is offensive about this case is that this is a man who probably, in the minds of those who are responsible, will reoffend, and yet even though he is a dangerous offender—

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member but his time has expired. With the indulgence of the House, I will give a minute to the Solicitor General of Canada to respond.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate colleague's comments. In fact, dangerous offender status is very important. Those convicted as dangerous offenders could be under supervision for the rest of their lives. That is very important.

I do not want to talk about individual cases, but we must have and do have a proper system in place to make sure nobody gets away. What my hon. colleague referred to as dangerous offender status was put in place by this government. It is more protection for the public in general.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great honour to stand in the House to discuss the national registry for convicted sex offenders. It makes a valuable contribution to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society from the most dangerous offenders who would sexually abuse and exploit them. No one in the House or Canadians across our great country condone that kind of action.

I am sure all members of the House would agree that we want the best system possible to protect our communities from high risk offenders and to enhance public protection, especially for our children.

The primary goal of our national registry of convicted sex offenders is to prevent individuals from having the opportunity to perpetrate these horrendous crimes while remaining unidentified and undetected. To contribute to this most vital effort of prevention and protection, the government is committed to giving police better tools to help fight crime. We are fulfilling our commitments.

For this reason, the federal government can assure all Canadians that the Canadian Police Information Centre, or CPIC as the national registry for all convicted sex offenders, is the appropriate tool to achieve the goal of enhancing public safety through the timely and well directed sharing of relevant information.

As all hon. members in the House are aware, we in Canada are currently protected by a criminal justice system that actively encourages and participates in extensive information sharing. Furthermore, through co-operation and consultation with all partners and stakeholders, we are looking at ways to build on the framework now in place. Our ultimate goal is to find ways to maximize the contribution that our criminal justice system makes to public safety and security.

With the primary goal of achieving excellence in protecting the Canadian public, the government has attempted to implement more effective practices and to correct any inadequacies. This means the focus now is on maintaining and improving the lines of communication between and among the police, the courts and the correctional and conditional release authorities.

As many members are aware, the Department of the Solicitor General has been leading a federally integrated justice information initiative. The goal of that initiative is to create a trans-Canada highway of criminal justice information to improve the sharing of offender and crime related information among all partners in Canada's criminal justice system.

The system is called the Canadian public safety information network, and it is a top priority of the government. A crucial improvement will be in the ability to share information more widely and in a more timely manner among police, prosecutors, courts, corrections and parole officials. The backbone of the initiative is a funding contribution of $115 million to the RCMP to renew CPIC to which the solicitor general just referred.

However, because these tools are so critical for law enforcement agencies, it is necessary to embark upon important endeavours, such as the Canadian public safety information network, with foresight and planning. That is something that we as a government are doing. They need to be developed in close co-operation with partners in the system.

In addition to the well-directed efforts and initiatives previously mentioned, the federal government, in consultation with the voluntary and child care sectors and with police and provincial representatives, has chosen a range of other effective measures targeted to protect children from sex abusers.

First, we have put in place a national screening system based on CPIC that allows child caring organizations and individuals to access the criminal records of persons assuming positions of trust with children and other vulnerable groups.

Second, we have passed legislation to give police access to pardon records for screening purposes through Bill C-7, which was passed in the House last spring.

Third, we continue to work in partnership with Volunteer Canada to conduct training and public education about screening practices and to promote screening with voluntary and public sector agencies.

In addition to that, we have adopted strict measures for the most serious offenders, such as the dangerous and long term offender designations. In addition, we provide support for post-sentence programs, such as circles of support.

We also work closely with local police to support public notification schemes about sex offenders. We have put in place special protections to restrict the movement and conduct of sex offenders after their release.

Finally, we have created new offences to protect children and other vulnerable groups.

All of this underscores the commitment of the solicitor general and the Government of Canada to ensuring the protection, safety and security of our children, especially as related to these horrific cases.

These are tangible examples of how seriously the government takes public safety. However, our work is not done. We need to continue to make good on additional work. We have made a good start with CPIC as a national registry of convicted sex offenders. We have already complied with the hon. member's motion, which is why I, for example, have no hesitation in offering my support.

The point is, as the solicitor general outlined in his speech, we will continue to ensure we have the absolute best possible tools necessary and available to protect all Canadians, especially our young people. The values of Canada and of the government are to ensure safety and security for our children and to ensure we have in place the kind of system necessary to ensure that ours is a good and decent society. That is precisely what we on the government side want, that is what the solicitor general wants and, more to the point, that is what all Canadians want.

I repeat that I have no hesitation in supporting this motion. It is something that we are already doing and will continue to do in the best interests of all Canadians.