Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on the official opposition's supply day motion calling on the Liberal government to immediately create a national sex offender registry.
Creating a national sex offender registry is a non-partisan issue because it is about the safety and protection of Canadians and our children and their futures. It is about making our streets, our neighbourhoods and our communities safer. I would expect the Liberals to not look through the lens of political stripes but rather through the lens of issues and to the importance of this issue.
Once again the Canadian Alliance must twist the arm of the government. We did that two weeks ago. We forced backbench Liberal MPs, all Liberal MPs except two, to vote against Liberal Party policy. In red book one the Liberals called for the establishment of an independent ethics counsellor. Because they have yet to fulfil that promise, the Canadian Alliance gave the Liberals that opportunity two weeks ago, but they voted against their own promise.
As the official opposition, not only do we provide effective criticism of the government but we also provide alternative solutions. As the official opposition we carry the flashlight and very often show the Liberals their darkness. Sometimes we even make them read their own red books.
I commend the hon. member for Langley—Abbotsford for spearheading the Canadian Alliance supply day motion on the creation of a national sex offender registry. He has been working on the issue for quite some time. I feel that I bring a unique perspective to the debate today.
In the last election the three-time defeated Liberal candidate advocated in Surrey Central that, if elected, he would create a national sex offender registry through a private member's bill. The Liberal candidate in Surrey Central was already told, probably before the election, that a new Liberal government would not create a national sex offender registry. That is why he resorted to a private members' bill.
The Prime Minister admitted that parents have the right to be concerned and he virtually confessed to the candidate in Surrey Central that he could not stop him from trying to create the registry through a private members' bill. The Prime Minister knew that his office and the cabinet do not listen to backbench members after an election. The MPs listen to the Prime Minister's office and the party whip.
The Prime Minister knows that private members' business is a weaker tool in the House since all private members' bills are not votable. Very rarely does a private members' bill or motion become law. A private members' bill is like a pacifier given to a baby. It keeps the baby busy and hopeful but nothing comes out of it. That is how private members' business in the House operates because they are not votable. We keep working hard but very rarely does something come out of it. That was the point the Liberal candidate from Surrey Central was trying to make.
The official opposition motion is about creating a national sex offender registry. The motion is votable. It is a litmus test for Liberal members in the House. I am proud to be here today joining my colleagues as a member of the official opposition team calling for the establishment of something that was promised by my opponent in the recent election.
The sex offender registry would be established and maintained by the solicitor general's department. The registry would contain the name, address, date of birth, list of sex offences and any other prescribed information about a person convicted of a sex offence anywhere in Canada.
Information to be included in the registry would be collected from offenders themselves and from any other source available to the minister such as Correctional Service of Canada, the National Parole Board, et cetera.
The registry would be available only to the minister and police forces for the purpose of crime prevention and law enforcement. The registry would apply to every person convicted of a sex offence or found not criminally responsible for a sex offence on account of a mental disorder. This would include anyone serving a sentence for a sex offence on the day the registry comes into force and would not apply to young offenders.
Every offender who resides in Canada would be required to register in person at his or her local police station at least once a year and provide updated information to be added to the registry. The offender would be required to register within 15 days of release from custody.
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 with a longer sentence would have to report to the police for the rest of their lives.
Any person pardoned for all of their sex offences would be relieved of the requirement to report to police and his or her record would be deleted from the registry. Any offender whose name appears in the registry may ask to see the information and correct it if necessary. Regulations may be made to limit the number of times a person may ask to see such information. A police officer would be able to obtain a warrant for the arrest of a person failing to register and report as required.
If convicted, the offender would face a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to a year in prison for the first offence. A second offence would bring a $25,000 fine and/or up to two years less a day in jail.
Such legislation is long overdue. One-fifth of all offenders in Canada are sex offenders. One-fourth of the total federal incarcerated population is sex offenders. Out of sex offenders under community supervision 14% are on day parole, 31% are on full parole and 54% are on statutory release. They are out in the community. This illustrates the gravity of the situation and the importance of passing the motion.
In the United States the registries assist police to identify suspects and solve sex offences quicker. In the United Kingdom the sex offenders act has been in place since September 1997. The province of Ontario has created a provincial registry due to government inaction at the federal level. Other provinces like British Columbia and Saskatchewan will also be establishing similar registries.
A national sex offender registry has the support of many groups, including the Ontario and Saskatchewan associations of chiefs of police, the Canadian Police Association, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. There is widespread support for such a registry. In Surrey Central, Councillor Dianne Watts has collected a large number of signatures on a petition which will be tabled in the House later.
In conclusion, it is appropriate that we are discussing the matter today. Last week the police arrested a convicted pedophile after the man allegedly breached probation in Saskatchewan and was applying for jobs at Ontario day care centres. He was caught allegedly shoplifting at a local department store.
All David Caza's applications were rejected after the day care centres did a criminal background check. We are debating today a Canadian Alliance motion to create a national sex offender registry which would disable people like David Caza from pursuing innocent victims. The government should give police this new and effective tool for crime prevention and law enforcement.