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.