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.


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3:25 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a certain irony in the hon. member's question, because in certain arguments the hon. member wishes to argue that our indexes and registry systems do not work, that they are too expensive and that they do not catch any criminals anyway, but for this kind of registry, it is not expensive, it is protection and it is a good initiative in criminal law. I must admit that it does strike me as a somewhat ironic argument from the opposite side.

Having said that, the administration of justice is a joint responsibility between the provinces and territories and the federal government. Frankly, if there is no consensus among the attorneys general and the police forces with respect to this issue, then I would respectfully submit that we are wasting our time.

I understand the police to be supportive of this initiative. At least the Canadian Police Association is supportive. I assume the chiefs are supportive. I assume that many of the municipalities are supportive. I assume that a number of the attorneys general are supportive. If all those people are prepared to be co-operative in this initiative then I cannot see why the Government of Canada would not be similarly co-operative.

I reiterate the point that if there is that high level of co-operation among all the participants in the system, then I cannot see why we would not update and upgrade the CPIC system to do what the hon. members have in mind.

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3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, again I cannot understand where the hon. member is coming from. He says that it is ironic that the Canadian Alliance questions a registration system that imposes upon law-abiding citizens the need to register their firearms, but we do not impose the need for convicted pedophiles and sexual predators to register when they move into a community. Can he not see the difference?

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3:30 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be a mixing of apples and oranges in the hon. member's mind. Where there is an efficacy that can be established in the creation of the index, then I do not know why we would oppose it.

To stay with the debate, the issue is: Would this be a useful police initiative? Would it be a useful initiative on the part of the Government of Canada? Obviously, from our side, we think the motion is supportable. We are into the how's rather than the principle.

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3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and a pleasure for me to stand and speak in support of establishing a national sex offender registry. I do so today in memory of Christopher Stephenson, an 11 year old Toronto boy who was abducted, raped and murdered by a repeat sex offender.

Joseph Fredericks had a long history of assaulting children. He spent most of his life in psychiatric institutions. He was on mandatory supervision when Christopher was killed. I fully recognize that in this particular case a registry may not have prevented this sadistic killer from committing such a horrific act. However, as many have argued here today, it may have prevented him from killing the young boy. It may have allowed police officers to find and incarcerate Fredericks before Christopher's death.

As noted in many of the speeches already presented by my colleagues, we are proposing to establish a registry that would contain the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders. Every offender would be required to register in person at his or her local police station at least once a year. During that time they would be required to provide any updated information that the police force may ask for in order to combat sex offences.

As already mentioned today, a number of provincial jurisdictions have established this registry already. In the case of Ontario, Christopher's law, or Bill C-31, received royal assent in April 2000. It established a registry that aims to ensure the safety and security of all persons in that province by providing the information and investigative tools required to prevent and solve crimes of a sexual nature.

Before proceeding further, I would like to caution members on the other side of the House, particularly those who were here in or prior to 1993, to carefully consider their position on the motion today.

I issue such a warning because I have a copy of an April 1993 document titled “A Liberal Perspective on Crime and Justice Issues”. Contained within that document are a number of recommendations put forward by the then official opposition, one being to “combat Canada's growing violent crime problem.”

I commend the Liberal Party that while it was in opposition it recognized and realized there was a growing violent crime problem. That problem is still here today.

One of the recommendations that was put forward appears on page 7 of the Liberal document: “to support the establishment of a national registry of convicted child abusers”. The rationale for the recommendation was:

Sex offenders represent almost 20 per cent of the incarcerated population and 10 per cent of the conditionally released population. These numbers are not an accurate representation as they include only those sentenced to two years or more in prison. Actual figures are much higher.

Over the past five years there has been a 20.4 per cent increase in the rate of admission of sex offences. Evidently more and more sex offenders will be reintegrating into Canadian communities.

The Liberal's own findings went on to reveal:

Repeat sex offenders are more than twice as likely to commit further sex offences, much more likely to violate conditional release conditions and more likely than any other offenders to reoffend with a non-sexual offence. However, treatment programs for sexual offenders are sorely lacking.

When referring to the Tory government at the time the document stated:

The federal government is spending approximately $98 million a year to incarcerate sex offenders and only $2 million a year on treatment programs to rehabilitate them.

It went on to state:

It is the norm, when it should be the exception, that convicted sexual offenders return to communities without any counselling or rehabilitation therapy.

I do not often agree with the Liberal Party, but I certainly agree with its findings in this instance. Most of my colleagues and I agree with the information that was given out by the Liberal Party in 1993 to support its own recommendation for a national registry of convicted child abusers.

The Liberal's information is fully supported by a number of good studies which repeatedly indicate that sex offenders have one of the highest recidivism rates of any criminal group, with an estimated 40% reoffending within five years of release.

As well, research indicates that offender treatment programs have shown limited results. Practitioners in the field of sex offender treatment never claim to cure sex offenders, but rather they claim to manage the risk of reoffending.

What has changed over the last eight years? What has changed since the Liberals produced this great document on growth and violent crime? What is it that has so adamantly changed their minds that they have not implemented the program they wished to implement in 1993? Why have they not established this registry?

Moderately more money is being spent on treatment programs. According to the CSC's most recent figures, approximately $150 million is spent to incarcerate offenders and a little over $8 million is spent on treatment. That is a slight improvement over the figures released by the Liberals when the Tories were in power.

Not all sex offenders are fully completing the courses, the necessary plans that are prescribed by the CSC officials, because treatment is not compulsory. When they are incarcerated it is not compulsory that they undergo rehabilitation programs.

I can only surmise that it must be amnesia. Perhaps the Liberal Party is growing old or perhaps it is strictly amnesia that is causing it to forget about the recommendations or promises it once so believed in, or claimed to believe in.

The Liberal government forgot the recommendation to support a registry just like it forgot the recommendation to scrap the GST, just like it forgot the recommendation to forget free trade, just like it forgot the recommendation to have an ethics counsellor who reported directly to parliament. We have a very forgetful government.

To better illustrate the need for a national registry I will read some excerpts from an article that appeared in the Montreal Gazette a number of years ago. It stated:

A pedophile named Martin Dubuc was convicted...for offences against children—again. This is the same Martin Dubuc who, as a boys' hockey coach in Laval, was convicted in 1986 for molesting team members, the same creep who, after his release from prison, did not let a lifetime ban on coaching in Quebec stop him.

He simply changed locales, becoming a coach and eventually president of the Minor Hockey Association of Southwest Montreal. But that neglect by the recreation establishment is an old scandal. The new scandal involves the schools. It came to light last week when Dubuc pleaded guilty to using the telephone to threaten several boys aged 10 to 13 and to incite them to touch themselves sexually. Somehow, he had slithered his way into elementary schools as a substitute teacher. And this was not a slip-up by just one organization. In recent years, three different school boards in the Montreal area had hired Dubuc.

The Gazette went on to say:

This case illustrates the chilling way in which predators with long criminal records can worm their way into positions of trust and authority to harm children.

The author of the article went on to say that this was not a slip-up by simply one organization. It was a slip up by many organizations. One of those organizations was the Liberal organization across the way. One of them was the Liberal government because it failed to establish the national registry that it had once recommended.

In closing, I call upon members sitting opposite to honour their past promises. It is better to be late than never. Sexual criminal offences are all about control and power. For the sake of our children, let us take control away from the offender and give it back to our police forces, back to those who would fight crime. For the sake of our children, let us protect society and let us begin now with a national sex offender program and registry.

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3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my colleague. He is certainly right.

Unfortunately the well known rat pack and the well known fighters for crime back in the good old days when the Liberals were in opposition have totally gone by the wayside in terms of the information they were trying to bring forward in this place to tighten the laws that protect our children.

Now they seem to have a short memory about what they intended to do. They have forgotten the vigorousness they put into proposing their solutions to the government of the day, the Conservatives, about what they would do. Now they have totally backed down. That is not a surprise. After being here seven years I see that going on all the time.

I am really concerned that we have a major issue here where a number of offenders are getting very short sentences. Our justice system is not doing a service to a lot of people when it comes to sentencing. These offenders are in for a short time so we know they will come out. They will come out in huge numbers because, as my colleague said, about 20% to 25% of those incarcerated are sex offenders. It could even be higher than that.

Does the member not agree that the justice system treats offences lightly and that the justice system believes in plea bargaining, such as with Karla Homolka who will be released one day soon because of plea bargaining? It has been stated numerous times that she will kill and offend again. These kinds of indicators are one of the greatest reasons we should have this registry in place? The government should be sitting here in droves to fight for the children of the country instead of the piddly few we see here.

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3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member beside me for such a good question. It boils down to this: Do we want to fight crime or do we want to deal with the effects of crime? Do we want to put in place what the police forces are asking for? They are asking for a registry that would not only be a record of the case or of the conviction of an offender but a record that would allow them to know where the offenders were so they could prevent it from happening again.

We want more than record keeping. We want a tool put in place to help us fight crime. As we learned in question period today, people on the most wanted list are in Canada. They have been here for two years. The government does not seem anxious about this until these individuals are forced to leave. Then two years later it will deal with the crime and say that at least the individuals did not commit anymore.

The Liberal document that I received this morning deals with the need to fight pornography at the root and not allow it to go the next step. The document states that there should be a registry available to groups who would hire people who work with children. It goes on to talk about pornography and making it illegal to possess it.

In the past we have sat passively by watching the courts rule on decisions. The government has had no will to fight crime but there has been a will to rehabilitate and reintegrate. One of my greatest concerns is that we are now compromising on that. That is exactly what this member said.

We are now saying that not only are we not going to fight crime by giving police officers the ability to know where these individuals are, but we are going to lower the amount of time they are incarcerated. We are not going to make it compulsory for these individuals go through education programs while incarcerated. This is an injustice to our society and to our children. It is time we stand up for the sake of our children and our grandchildren.

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3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, the Saturday headline in the Globe and Mail said it all “Pedophile back in jail for the fourth time”.

Finally after four convictions one sex offender has been required by the courts to tell police where he lives after he has been released from jail. A sex offender registry for one pedophile. What about the thousands of sex offenders who are on the loose and the police do not know where they live?

Last week the Calgary Sun headline screamed “Attack Stuns Community; Cops Launch Manhunt for Pedophile”. The newspaper reported that the assault took place Sunday night when a male armed with a knife rang the doorbell and forced his way into the house after the 14 year old babysitter answered the door. The pedophile locked the babysitter in the bathroom and then proceeded to sexually assault two sisters, aged 6 and 7.

Outraged Calgary parent Carrie Kohan said “What happened Sunday was the last straw”. She organized a rally last Friday to demand tougher first time penalties for child abuse and a national registry.

Fortunately the police were able to arrest the sex offender in this case within a few days. How much faster would they have apprehended this sicko if they had a registry of sex offenders residing in the city of Calgary? Would a sex offender registry have prevented this attack? We will never know.

It is terrible that the government has lost touch with the priorities of the people when it comes to fighting crime. Instead of implementing a national sex offender registry for convicted criminals back in 1995, the government implemented a national firearms registry for law-abiding citizens.

The Liberals by their actions demonstrated quite clearly that protecting women and children was not one of their priorities. They talk the talk but they do not walk the walk. This speech will expose the government's complete lack of political judgment when it comes to understanding people's priorities. The Liberals give the impression they are compassionate but the opposite is true when we examine what they did.

Until today, the government opposed a sex offender registry that could help police prevent crime and protect the public. Instead it supported spending $600 million on a useless gun registry. The police asked for a DNA databank for all criminals which would operate just like the national fingerprint system. However, the government refused opting instead for a system that protected criminals more than it did victims.

While the government refused to give police real tools to use to investigate sexual crimes and violent offences, the government chose to blow hundreds of millions of dollars on a gun registry with a 90% error rate. Now in an admission of defeat, the government is laying off staff, tripling production of registration applications and halting all attempts to accurately verify and identify firearms. This is another broken Liberal promise.

Members may remember in 1995 when parliament was promised that the gun registry would help police trace firearms. Police cannot trace something the registration system does not accurately identify.

Why did the government refuse to implement a national sex offender registry? We will find the answer in a government document entitled, “Report to Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers on Information Systems on Sex Offenders Against Children and Other Vulnerable Groups”. It was prepared by a federal-provincial-territorial working group on high risk offenders in October 1998.

The minister's working group reached a number of conclusions and arguments but not proceeding with the sex offender registry. I will spend the next few minutes outlining these reasons and arguments and commenting on each one.

First, the minister's working group said that a separate sex offender registry would duplicate a part of what has already available through CPIC. The same argument is true of the gun registry but that did not stop the government. Obviously the government thinks law-abiding gun owners are more dangerous than convicted sex offenders.

Second, the minister's working group said that a separate sex offender registry would be expensive and difficult to administer. The government has spent $600 million on a gun registry and employs about 2,000 government workers. Would a sex offender registry for convicted criminals really have been more expensive and difficult to administer than the gun registry it uses to track law-abiding citizens?

Third, the minister's working group said that the sex offender registry raises serious privacy concerns. On February 16 this year the Privacy Commissioner of Canada wrote me a three page letter outlining the serious privacy concerns he had with the information being collected and how it is used in the gun registry. He said the RCMP's firearms interest police database of some three and a half million Canadians, which is only supposed to have the names potentially dangerous individuals, actually included the names of witnesses and victims of crime. RCMP sources tell us there is a 50% error rate in this database. Canadians will be wondering why the Liberals were more interested in protecting the privacy of convicted sex offenders than they are in protecting the privacy of witnesses and victims of crime and law-abiding gun owners.

Fourth, the minister's working group said the administration of a sex offender registry would be particularly difficult with regard to the verification of identity. This is somehow an insurmountable administrative problem when trying to create a sex offender registry. However when it comes to the gun registry, the Liberals came up with a simple solution, force every law-abiding gun owner to carry a photo ID card. Would the government please explain to victims of sexual assault why it forces law-abiding gun owners to carry a photo ID but a sex offender does not have to?

Fifth, the minister's working group said the information in a sex offender registry would be of limited value unless supported by a more comprehensive screening process. The government did not hesitate to implement a more comprehensive screening process for law-abiding firearms owners. It even asked about marital problems, common law relationships and financial difficulties. These people have not even broken a law. Could the government please explain to the victims of sexual assault why comprehensive screening of convicted sex offenders is off limits?

Sixth, the minister's working group said that the Canadian Police Information Centre, CPIC, is so effective that it really is a national registry of sex offenders. In the very next paragraph it states that CPIC does not provide “compulsory registration of current addresses of sexual offenders beyond the end of any sentence”.

Why does the government not force convicted sex offenders to tell police where they live? A law-abiding gun owner can go to jail for up to two years if he or she fails to report an address change. If the Liberals force law-abiding firearms owners in the country to report every time they move, why not convicted sex offenders? The only conclusion one can reach is that the Liberals obviously think a law-abiding firearms owner is more dangerous than a convicted sex offender.

Seventh, the minister's working group said even with compulsory registration of sex offenders compliance would be low and that it would drive sex offenders underground. Gun owners who do not comply face a criminal penalty of up to 10 years in jail. Why does the government threaten sex offenders with 10 years in jail to see if they will comply? The Liberals are already claiming an 80% compliance rate with gun owners.

Eighth, the minister's working group said that without fingerprinting identification it would never be possible to be certain of the identity of a registered sex offender. The group says verifying the identity of the sex offender is further complicated by the falsification of records, misspelled names, duplicate names and can lead to serious problems of misidentification.

This is an every day occurrence in the gun registry where totally innocent people are confused with someone who incorrectly entered the RCMP database. Firearms officers are forced to investigate totally innocent people to confirm their identity. The RCMP records are never corrected so it happens again and again. Totally innocent people are publicly humiliated and investigated over and over again. Heaven forbid the Liberals would ever put convicted sex offenders through such a process.

Meanwhile, as the Liberal government put millions of law-abiding gun owners through this bureaucratic nightmare and humiliating hell making them pay a fee for the privilege, the Liberals gave thousands and thousands of sex offenders a free hand. Unfortunately some of these hands ended up molesting our children.

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, I did not expect there would be any Liberals who would get up and ask a question. Therefore, I am pleased to do so in order to give the member an opportunity to tell us more with respect to his excellent comparison he put forward on what the law-abiding people, called gun owners, are going through regarding the registration that was implemented by the government, by the way, without the approval of all the provincial attorneys generals. However with this particular registry, it insists it must have the approval of all the provincial attorneys general.

Is there anything else that the hon. member could deliver with regard to this great comparison?

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, the member makes a good point. When the Liberals choose to find an excuse for not doing something they will find it. They will blame other people. When they have ample opportunity to do something right, they do not.

In 1995 the government had a choice. Sadly for our children and the most vulnerable in our society they made the wrong one.

When the next election rolls around I hope that the women, the children, the elderly and all Canadians who care about making our lives safer will remember the bad choice the Liberals made when they opposed the sex offender registry.

The Liberals are good at sounding compassionate without really being compassionate. I will continue to tell Canadians the truth about what the Liberals do. It is always the opposite of what they say. Registering law-abiding citizens but not criminals may be the Liberal way but it is the wrong way.

I heard today about how the Liberals agree with this motion. Will they act on it? We will see. Their past record does not speak well for them. Everyone in Canada should know it should be the other way around but try to tell them that when they are playing politics with the safety of our children.

Just today the solicitor general said that the government was not just going to spend dollars to create new registries. What did it do? In the next two years it is going to create a registry of private property, namely firearms. It is going to cost a horrific amount of money and there will be no benefit to it.

Back in 1995 the government said that if it created a gun registry and it saved one life it was going to be worth it. It has already cost one life. It was so poorly drafted that it has already cost one life in Newfoundland. We do not hear the Liberals saying anything about it. Here we have the opportunity to save lives, to protect the most vulnerable in society and they talk the talk but they do not walk the walk.

The solicitor general said that politicians do not get involved in law enforcement. The police in this country would like to have what we are calling for today. If we talk to grassroots policemen they have no use for the gun registry. It is an absolute useless tool to them. Professional criminals do not use a registry that can link them to any crime. It is as simple as that.

I would like to conclude with this.

It seems that when real criminals become more difficult to find, arrest or prosecute, the government lawmakers, the courts and the police turn to increasing their control of law abiding citizens. That seems to be what is happening in Canada.

Let us go after the real criminal.

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4 p.m.


Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this motion, which reads:

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

Obviously I am able to support that motion because there already exists such a national registry. It is called the Canadian Police Information Centre, CPIC. I want to make it perfectly clear that while I am able to support the motion, I certainly do not support some of the premises and some of the arguments we have been hearing from the official opposition in the course of today's debate.

If we would listen to the official opposition, we would believe that the government has been sitting on its hands and doing absolutely nothing as far as protection of society is concerned.

Madam Speaker, I know that as a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice you are fully aware of many of the initiatives the government has undertaken over the last few years.

I would like to mention just a few of them. There is the national screening system that was put in place in 1994 and allows an agency serving children to request a local police criminal background check through CPIC on anybody wanting to be involved with that agency. In 1999 the solicitor general announced an additional $115 million to renew and enhance CPIC.

The Liberal government has taken a number of steps to protect our children and other targets of sex offenders. For instance, in 1997 the Liberal government passed a number of tough measures dealing with high risk offenders, including sex offenders, to strengthen the sentencing and correctional regime. These include a new long term offender designation which permits supervision of up to 10 years following release from prison. There is also a strengthening of the dangerous offender provision which requires judges to impose indeterminate sentences on all dangerous offenders. There are also new measures in judicial restraining provisions for certain individuals.

There is also the national flagging system. In the year 2000, Bill C-7 was passed, which ensures that even the records of pardoned sex offenders are available through the screening process. Colleagues have made also reference to the DNA identification act, whereby DNA profiles are preserved in a convicted offenders index.

These are all measures that have been put in place by the government to ensure the protection of society, and in particular, children and people who might be susceptible to sex offenders.

I will take the rest of my time to concentrate on what it is that we are doing here today and what the gist of the motion is. Today is a supply day, commonly known as an opposition day, when the opposition gets to choose the topic for debate and put a motion forward for consideration by the House.

Unfortunately, inasmuch as the whole issue of sex offenders is a very serious subject, we are once again seeing partisan politics coming from the opposition party. We hear those party members complain about the way things function around here and about how the government does not listen to their concerns, et cetera. When they have an opportunity to bring forward serious subjects in a serious fashion, we get tricked up opposition day motions. They employ a little device whereby, in this case, they amend the date on the motion, which prevents the government from bringing forward meaningful amendments to the motion so that we can deal with the very serious issues that this whole topic engenders.

There are a lot of things we could be discussing. There are a lot of implications in the subject matter we have here, but with the limited motion designed to entrap the government members so that they would be embarrassed by the vote, it is that trick question where a person is held culpable whether he or she says yes or no. This is the type of tactic that has been employed here. That is why I personally have no compulsion in supporting the motion on the basis that the registry already exists, because I think that is more or less in the spirit of the motion that has been presented.

It also gets us to the point that the opposition would have Canadians believe that crime is out of control in our streets and that we need these draconian measures that have been suggested from time to time in order to increase penalties and in order to protect society. That is the spirit I do not want to be seen to be contributing to and supporting through my support for this motion.

We have a perfect example of this, and that was the Sharpe decision on possession of child pornography, where the opposition, in an opposition day motion, brought a motion to invoke the notwithstanding clause to overturn the B.C. court's decision. Obviously the government was not prepared to invoke the notwithstanding clause to overturn a trial court decision or even the British Columbia Court of Appeal decision when we had recourse to the Supreme Court of Canada, so the government voted against that opposition day motion.

Lo and behold, in the most recent campaign in November 2000 it became an issue when the Alliance candidate in my riding said that the member of parliament for Simcoe North obviously supported child pornography because he voted against an opposition day motion, refusing to invoke the notwithstanding clause to overturn the Sharpe decision. By the way, the Alliance candidate was only parroting what his leader was saying on that same motion in the middle of the campaign. To that I attribute the increase in my plurality from 45% to 51%.

The constituents of Simcoe North know their member. They know that he does not condone child pornography, but that these arguments go too far. When one is dealing with extremists who take their arguments too far, this is a big help in opposing them.

The House should also know that polls were released this week showing that 54% of the Canadians questioned think that more funding is needed for crime prevention programs. What we do not need are measures such as those proposed by the opposition, which keeps calling for tougher sentences because they think that is what the public wants, even though all the experts say the opposite.

However, I think the Canadian public has passed the opposition on this issue. The Canadian public in that poll this week is way ahead of the opposition and knows full well that crime prevention and measures that lead toward rehabilitation are the best ways to protect Canadian society. The best way is not necessarily to bring in more draconian measures.

In conclusion, I just want to confirm that since the CPIC system already exists, which is in conformity with the motion, I will be able to support the motion, but I do want to make it very clear that I certainly do not support the spirit behind the motion.

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4:10 p.m.

Waterloo—Wellington Ontario


Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I think it is a known fact in the House and certainly I believe in Simcoe North and elsewhere throughout Ontario and Canada, that the hon. member who just spoke is a leading advocate when it comes to crime prevention and rehabilitation. At the end of his speech he spoke eloquently about that.

Over the last little while and certainly today again we have heard from the reformed Alliance people the knee-jerk kind of reactionary, simplistic view that they hold with respect to issues regarding law and order. It really is unbelievable.

Registries do not work, they said. They are too bureaucratic, they said. Registries are too expensive, they said. They are too expensive to justify the crimes they prevent, they said. They will not work if people are expected to voluntarily register. There it is. There the reformed Alliance people go again, saying one thing when it suits their purposes and quite another when it suits other purposes, and usually in different parts of the country. Gee whiz, is that not always the way they are?

My question to the hon. member for Simcoe North is this: would he go on to elaborate a little about the benefits of crime prevention and the good work the government has done in that area? I know that he has worked hard and has done so, rightly so.

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4:10 p.m.


Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Madam Speaker, I think the government has demonstrated through its crime prevention initiatives and in the most recent election platform where more funds were dedicated to crime prevention that this is definitely the way to protect society. We need to invest in programs. In my riding of Simcoe North there are several good examples of groups of people working with young offenders and taking a sort of sentencing circle approach, where the young offender is brought before the person who suffered the damage from the offender's acts of vandalism et cetera.

These are the types of initiatives that the crime prevention funds are there to support. Those are the kinds of initiatives that will be successful in protecting our society. We need to know that early intervention is the best method of dealing with these folks.

What we do not need are references to Karla Homolka, because that catches people's attention. I heard it referred to again today. I noticed in the TV coverage this morning that the corrections minister for Ontario was talking about Karla Homolka and using her as an example of how statutory release is not working, but Karla Homolka has been detained until her warrant expiry date.

The minister of the provincial government was referring to Karla Homolka in a statutory release situation and saying that the federal government has to fix it. The problem with the Karla Homolka case was the plea bargain that was done through the office of the attorney general of Ontario. It is a provincial issue. There is no lax federal policy that contributes to the concern that people are experiencing there. It is something that they can look to their own backyard and deal with, but no, they want to use that example because they know it catches the attention of the media and the public.

That is the type of thing we do not need. What we do need are reasonable programs of crime prevention and rehabilitation.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.


Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the motion. When it comes to the matter of protecting children and other potential victims from sexual offenders, as an educator for over 20 years I certainly support the motion and indicate that in our society there are no more precious individuals than children. Anything we can do to protect them from the scourge of sexual predators is extremely important.

In a nutshell, it is acknowledged that our shared objective in the House as parliamentarians is to put into place every measure we can find within the jurisdiction of parliament that will effectively protect society from the threat posed by sex offenders.

Because of the importance of this issue, deserving of the utmost attention from all levels of public policy makers, it is only logical that any such registry does not and cannot exist or operate in isolation from other tools and elements in the criminal justice system. These other elements include tough penalties in the criminal code to punish sex crimes, restrictions on parole and probation, peace bonds, treatment programs and crime prevention strategies.

I would like to take a moment to examine the various tools that are already being used to respond to the threat posed by convicted sex offenders.

First and foremost, and in the spirit of prevention, effective criminal laws are key tools and parliament can be proud of its legislative record over the last five or so years in addressing the vulnerability of women and children to sexual exploitation. I would commend the legislative package that was passed in 1997, generally known as Bill C-55, which strengthened the dangerous offender rules in part XXIV of the criminal code and also created a new sentencing provision called long term offender.

Members will recall the dangerous offender system allows the sentencing judge to designate a serious offender to be in a special category based on proof that this individual poses a high risk of violent re-offending.

Studies have shown that over 90% of successful dangerous offender applications involved sex offenders. It was clear that the DO law was a useful tool for going after criminals with long patterns of serious sex crimes but that, given the limited number of dangerous offender designations each year, there were probably a lot more potential DOs out there.

Bill C-55, which was passed early in 1997, strengthened the dangerous offender system. Where it had once been possible to order a dangerous offender to be incarcerated for a certain limited period, the law now required the sentencing judge to impose an indeterminate period of incarceration. The process of risk assessment was streamlined. The amendments also shifted the initial parole review of dangerous offenders from three years into the sentence to the seventh year.

Since 1997 we have seen a doubling of a number of successful dangerous offender applications each year. This is an example of a legislative approach that is meeting the test of effectiveness.

The Bill C-55 package also created an innovative sentencing measure called long term offender. Whereas the dangerous offender sentence targets the worst kind of offenders, as reflected in the fact that we lock them up indefinitely, it was recognized that there were other sex offenders who might not quite meet the high threshold of violence and the risk of a DO but who were risky enough to require an extensive period of supervision.

As specified in the criminal code, sex offenders are clearly the focus of this sentencing category. A convicted long term offender will receive an appropriate penitentiary sentence according to the crime for which he was found guilty, but the court will add up to 10 years of intensive, parole-like supervision. The offender must complete his penitentiary sentence in its entirety before the long term supervision period kicks in. Federal correctional authorities will then add special conditions to the long term supervision order and a breach of those conditions may result in a person being brought back into custody and charges may be laid. This innovative measure has already resulted in over 60 successful long term offender applications.

It is a tragedy that any people, especially children, are subject to sexual abuse and exploitation. The government has declared that the well-being of children and youth is a top priority. In 1997 and later in 1999 parliament passed important measures to protect children from being drawn into the sex trade. The new offence of aggravated procuring was created with a minimum five year sentence to deal with those who use violence against a child and force that child into prostitution related activity. Special protections were instituted to make it easier for children to testify against pimps.

However I must highlight the fact that legislation is not the only solution to the problem of sexual abuse of children. In 1995, in conjunction with the Canadian law enforcement agencies, the solicitor general released a police manual for cases of child exploitation. It is used throughout the country for training. In 1999 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, working with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, added new guidelines for law enforcement to handle sexual exploitation cases. The guidelines cover intelligence sharing, investigations, officer training and media awareness.

Furthermore, in November of last year the government convened a meeting of federal, provincial and territorial officials to discuss integrated approaches to helping youth involved in prostitution. This turned out to be a good opportunity for workers in the justice and child welfare systems to exchange ideas on prevention, physical and emotional recovery and ways of reintegrating these young people into society. In fact police forces in Canada are steadily improving their ability to deal with sex offence cases.

As another example of progressive contributions to the law enforcement agencies, the RCMP sexual assault investigation course which teaches investigative techniques to members of the force. It is also a forum in which police and social workers communicate and co-operate in techniques to assist sex abuse victims.

In November 1999 the Department of Justice launched an initiative aimed at these citizens who all members would agree are the most vulnerable. The consultation called “Children as Victims in the Criminal Justice System” had the goal of consulting as widely as possible on four areas: deterring sexual offenders from reoffending against children; creating further child specific offences if needed; making it easier for child victims and child witnesses to testify in court; and reviewing related issues in the area of age of consent. I understand the project is closely linked to the government's national children's agenda.

It is unfortunate that abuses continue requiring us to be vigilant in protecting vulnerable groups from exploitation such as the example of pornography. Fortunately, the supreme court upheld for the most part the existing criminal code provisions outlawing the possession of child pornography. However, there is still the risk posed by distribution of pornography on the Internet. I know there are plans in the works to present a new anti-luring offence to parliament which will combat the insidious form of exploitation.

I am providing this background in order to impress upon all members the fact that protecting our children from sex exploitation is a multifaceted approach. It is the process of building on what has proven successful and then innovating with new strategies. It involves and interlinked system of laws and law enforcement, of education and prevention. The initiatives that I have highlight in the House have been tested in the crucible of the streets, the courts and the prison system.

It is evident that sex offenders would be required to register once they are released from prison or penitentiary, presumably at the expiration of their sentence, although that is not entirely clear. Perhaps they would have to register even if they were still serving their sentence on probation or parole. It is important that we know where these people are. It is important that there is a penalty if they do not register. I do not necessarily think the penalty would be financial. I think it would be re-incarceration.

I conclude by saying that parliament in 1997 passed a peace bond measure, section 810.2 of the criminal code. This recognizance applies more generally to anyone who poses a risk of committing a serious personal injury offence. It is not confined to situations where the potential victims are under the age of 14. I commend members to support this resolution.

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4:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to inform the House that I will splitting my time with the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam.

The Liberal Party justice system is not working. It is long past time that the government went back to the drawing board to revise its philosophy. Even that most liberal organization known as the John Howard Society seems to finally be accepting that all we have been doing is warehousing criminals for a period of time in our institutions, only to have them released back into society to continue their offending ways.

Maureen Collins, executive director of the Edmonton John Howard Society, stated:

For some people, jail won't teach them a lesson. It just gets them off the street long enough so they don't victimize any more people. They go away for a long period of time and never really show any signs of rehabilitation and when they get back on the streets, they re-offend. It's their choice. And it's those few who never change their ways who may be forcing the violent crime rate up.

When rehabilitation does not work, and there is more than ample evidence that it does not, then what we are doing is releasing dangerous and violent offenders back into a society where they will commit further violent offences. Is this any way to protect our citizens? With sexual offenders, the victims are almost entirely women and children. As parliamentarians we have a duty and responsibility to attempt to provide whatever protections are necessary while being fair and still recognizing the rights of the offenders.

First, I would like to mention some of the recidivism rates of sex offenders. In 1991 the British Columbia ministry of health tracked the history of 30 child sexual offenders. That study found that each sex offender had molested an average of 70 children, for a total of 2,099, by moving around 62 communities and across five provinces. A similar study in the United States found that 453 offenders admitted to molesting more than 67,000 children in their lifetime. Those who abused girls had an average of 52 victims each, but men who molested boys had an average of 150 victims.

Psychologist Vern Quinsey found that 38% of the sex offenders treated or assessed at the regional treatment centre inside the Kingston penitentiary were rearrested for violent or sex offences after they were released. I am astounded that 38% reoffend.

We allow these individuals to return to our communities without a whole lot of supervision or control and almost 40% of them are caught reoffending. I wonder how many are not caught? We are deliberately permitting violent offenders to return to society and we do not even provide a system whereby our police become aware that these people are in their jurisdiction.

What are we doing? Is this some kind of game where we ensure that the police and the criminal have equal opportunity to do their thing? Are we afraid to put too much information into the hands of law enforcement personnel so that these criminals are given a better than even chance to commit their hideous crimes?

Perhaps the government refuses to create a sex offender registry because the police would have more information on potential suspects within their area. The government seems to want to prevent the police from becoming too successful. We recently saw how the government, through the office of the corrections commissioner, had a quota system to get 50% of sentenced individuals out into the community in order to cut down on imprisonment costs.

Sex offenders are the fastest growing segment of federal offenders. From 1990 to 1995 the number of imprisoned sex offenders grew by 50%. More than 700 federal sex offenders were being released back into our communities each year during the mid-nineties. I do not have more recent statistics, but would suppose those numbers rose under Commissioner Ole Ingstrup's regime of getting more and more criminals released in order to reduce the workload within our institutions.

Even the government seems to acknowledge the risk to our children of sex offenders being returned to the community. The government program known as the national screening system permits organizations to inquire within the Canadian Police Information Centre, or CPIC, to determine whether potential employees or volunteers working with children have a criminal history. Child sex abusers can be screened out from involvement with children. The system is only good for those sex offenders who apply to work or volunteer with these organizations.

The screening process is limited only to those offenders who decide to participate in the scheme. The system does nothing to stop those who live in the community and prey on children for their sexual gratification. That type of offender remains protected and hidden from disclosure and police supervision. A sexual offender registry would assist to keep control over those individuals.

While the government closes its ears to the complaints and concerns raised about sex offenders continuing to terrorize citizens, it is interesting to see the provinces being forced to act.

The Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police, or SACP, has unanimously supported a provincial sex offender registry. Terry Coleman, chief of police of Moose Jaw and vice-president of SACP states that it does potentially provide a measure of deterrence for offenders because it removes a degree of anonymity.

Ontario has Christopher's Law. It received royal assent back in April 2000. I understand other provinces have been looking at setting up their own sexual offender registry, including my own province of British Columbia.

However this is not the proper way to proceed. Crime statistics support the fact that sexual offenders will move from one province to another. We need a national system. Only in that way can we have a uniform process to assess all our criminals to determine whether they should be included within the sex offender registry.

We have seen time and time again that with justice issues a national setup is often necessary as it cuts the costs to the taxpayer by having one system rather than 13 different operations. With a national system we can also utilize RCMP facilities to maintain the information for everyone. For example, the only way a police officer in British Columbia can learn about a sex offender who used to live in the maritimes is by checking with a central agency or by checking with each of the maritime provinces.

For almost four years now our country has been waiting for the government to act and set up a national sex offender registry. Ontario has grown tired of waiting and has decided to go it alone. It seems to care more for our women and children than do the Liberals, especially the majority of whom come from the province of Ontario. The problem created by this situation is that Ontario may in fact be forcing its sexual offenders to move to other provinces to commit their sexual crimes. The failure of the federal government to act has created a problem in and of itself and has put citizens of other provinces at greater risk.

I recall how the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance used to belittle the Ontario government when it decided to reduce taxes to generate the economy. It took the federal government a couple of years to come to its senses and realize the intelligence behind that move. Last fall the finance minister finally decided to follow the Ontario example and promised lower taxes.

Similarly I recall the Prime Minister being encouraged to address the brain drain a couple of years ago. His answer was that there was no brain drain, that it was all fear mongering. Just this past week I note the industry minister was quite proud to announce $750 million in new money toward addressing the brain drain that has been dramatically hurting our country. It would seem that the light does indeed go on occasionally.

The government has indicated that it will support the motion. I suggest that it is attempting to scam the Canadian public. It qualifies its support by saying that we already have a registry in the form of CPIC. Thirty thousand members of the Canadian Police Association do not seem to share that few.

In the last election my colleague and neighbour from Surrey Central soundly defeated his Liberal opponent, Peter Warkentin, who proudly proclaimed to the media and anybody else who would listen that he had permission from the Prime Minister to put the issue of a national sex offender registry before parliament if he got elected. I note that he had to have the Prime Minister's permission to do his job, but that is debate for another day. The Liberal campaign co-chair confirmed the commitment and is quoted as saying that the Prime Minister responded by saying that pedophilia was a big issue and that parents had the right to be concerned about that.

I say to the Prime Minister that the issue is now before parliament. This is where the rubber hits the road. Each and every day citizens are put at risk and we will continue to have needless sex offences committed against more innocent victims.

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4:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Canadian Alliance Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Surrey North for the way he has presented his research and the amount of research that he has brought to his speech today.

Knowing his reputation and his interest, is it his opinion that convicted juvenile offenders who have been sexual predators should be included in the proposed registry?

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4:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, in my opinion, yes. I will use one example that I use every time I speak to the issue of young offenders and sexual predators.

In October 1992 in Courtenay, British Columbia, there was the case of a 15 year old offender who had been convicted of molesting three children. Indeed there were up to 22 but he plea bargained to 3. He was put on probation for a year and was supposedly receiving treatment.

He moved from Nanaimo to a Courtenay, unknown to the residents, the townhouse complex and the elementary school that he lived right next door to. One year later he murdered a little six year old girl named Dawn Shaw after sexually assaulting her in the bush. He was the next door neighbour. Her parents, Ron and Carol Shaw, obviously did not know about him and indeed the RCMP in Courtenay did not even know about him.

In my opinion young offenders who are convicted of violent sexual offences, and we are talking about convicted, not suspected, should be included in the registry.

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4:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the Canadian Alliance motion on the establishment of a national sex offender registry by January 1, 2002.

At the outset I should like to wholeheartedly thank my constituents in Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for having endowed me last November with their trust and confidence to represent their best interests in the House. I also thank the member for Langley—Abbotsford for drafting and raising the issue in the House, because it is a central concern to countless families in my constituency.

This is my maiden speech, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the debate on what is the first order of responsibility of the state. What do I mean by that?

Simply put, if the government cannot balance its budget, if it cannot agree on a standard for weights and measures, if it cannot organize its monetary framework or agree on a national anthem, the first principle and responsibility to state, above all else, is to protect law-abiding citizens from law breakers. It is to separate those who play by the rules of civilized behaviour from those who do not. This is reflected in Abraham Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs that many academics speak about.

The Canadian Alliance motion calls for an effective and meaningful national sex offender registry with teeth. It is something which despite declarations from the government side does not yet exist. We are talking about legislation which mirrors laws that currently exist in the province of Ontario and is being considered in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia. The United Kingdom has already implemented a sex offender registry and all 50 U.S. states have sex offender registries. There are national governing mechanisms in place to organize it.

Instead of taking bold steps and showing leadership, the government has taken refuge in the Canadian Police Information Centre rather than offer real protection for Canadian families and their children through a new national sex offender registry.

The very fact that provinces have moved to implement registries should compel the government to act on a national basis to avoid differing regional and jurisdictional standards and to prevent sex offenders from wandering from one province to another, avoiding accountability for their actions.

This was the exact problem that Americans faced before former president, Bill Clinton, established a national registry with uniform standards. Different states were using different registration criteria and standards as well as different notification and database logistics. This led to inter-jurisdictional disputes and confusion. Under national laws that were established many of these problems have been ironed out.

Canada has an opportunity to learn from those difficulties and establish a national registry. This is an opportunity for the government to show leadership by setting up a national registry ahead of time and avoiding the pitfalls experienced by the United States. The issue is about more than jurisdictions, amendments, committee work and legislation tightening. It is about victims and the right to live free from fear.

Abby Drover is a constituent of mine. In 1976 she was the victim of a horrendous crime. For 181 days she was sexually assaulted and brutalized by Donald Alexander Hay. From March to September of that year, Mr. Hay kept the then 12 year old Abby in a prison under his Port Moody garage for his sexual pleasure. He lured Abby to his house on the offer of a ride to school and forced her into a 36 square foot room. He handcuffed the young child and secured the handcuffs to the wall of her cell with chains that were bolted into studs anchored into the cell's concrete walls. He fondled, sexually assaulted and raped the young girl repeatedly.

During the final six weeks of her captivity all he brought her to eat was two chocolate bars. He later testified in court that the reason he did this was because he hoped she would just die. On the 181st day of her captivity police found Hay with his pants around his ankles coming up from the entrance to Abby's prison.

He was charged with kidnapping and having sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 14. He was jailed and sentenced to life, but like so many spineless laws we have in the country, Mr. Hay's life sentence allows him to apply for freedom every 24 months.

Parole reports say that Hay has low victim empathy and still needs more insight into his offence. There is every legal possibility that every 24 months Mr. Hay could be released into my constituency and my community.

Will he reoffend if he is released? We do not know. What we do know, according to U.S. department of justice statistics, is that about 50% of rapists and sexual assaulters released into society are rearrested for a new crime and more than one-third are reconvicted. In Canada research from the federal government shows that the longer one tracks a sexual offender, the higher the recidivism rate is. Data indicates that between 42% and 45% of sexual offenders will in fact reoffend.

At issue here is the potential to reoffend and the right of communities to live free from fear. Given the statistics associated with sex offenders and their recidivism rate, there seems to be an obvious responsibility on the House, on our shoulders, to prevent future crimes when and where we can. The registry is a tool to help do precisely that.

Recognizing this reality, some Canadian provinces have already shown leadership in creating sex offender registries, as has been mentioned by the member for Surrey Central and others. In Queen's Park on February 28, 2000, the standing committee on justice and social policy met to debate bill 31, also known as Christopher's Law. The most interesting aspect of the committee's meeting was the cross party support for the bill. It was a cross party consensus that a sex offender registry was needed, appropriate, and would move the province toward greater justice and greater responsibility to victims.

The all party support was not a tongue in cheek, foot dragging type of endorsement like we heard this morning from the solicitor general but a thorough commitment to a registry with teeth. All NDP, Liberal and Conservative MPPs in Queen's Park supported the bill. Not only did Dalton McGuinty's Ontario Liberals support the bill, but in committee the Liberal attorney general critic, Michael Bryant, who is an adjunct law professor from Osgoode Hall Law School, mentioned “We support this bill and this bill should have been passed a long time ago”. All three elected political parties recognized that the government should establish a sex offender registry because public safety should reach beyond partisan slugfests.

Our proposed national sex offender registry would provide our police with something that they have not yet had: a mechanism to keep track of sex offenders from coast to coast to coast. The registry would be a vital investigative tool allowing police to monitor sex offenders in our communities.

Studies from the United States show conclusively that registries have enabled law enforcement agencies to solve crimes quicker and to identify suspects sooner. Convicted sex offenders would be required to register as a condition of release from custody. Any failure to do so would be a violation of a condition of their release and result in an immediate return to custody. The information would be entered into a national sex offender database and made available only to police services.

Ontario's law provides for effective monitoring of the offenders by requiring them to register with police within 15 days of a change of address or within 15 days of coming to or leaving Ontario. The offender must provide the police with his name, address, date of birth and other information deemed necessary by the police, not bureaucrats, not politicians, not posturers, that will best suit the safety of citizens in their communities.

If an offender does not comply, Ontario's legislation mandates a first time penalty of $25,000 or a year in jail and for more than one offence, $25,000 and two years in jail. This is a common sense approach to crime prevention. It provides for safer streets and a sense of security in neighbourhoods like Port Moody for victims of sex offences like one of my constituents, Abby Drover.

In conclusion, a national sex offender registry is long overdue. Safe communities should be a national priority as is the case in the United States, our largest trading partner, and in the United Kingdom. Police deserve every reasonable tool available to protect the innocent from the evil and the depraved.

I urge my colleagues in the House, especially the government members, to think of innocent victims of sexual abuse, rape, torture and torment when they consider supporting the Canadian Alliance motion to establish a meaningful and effective national sex offender registry tonight.

Let us join with other provinces and nations, the real leaders of the world, in taking a solid step forward for a safer future for all Canadians in their communities. Safer families and safer children is the way to go.

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4:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, I have a quick question for the member. Today we have heard a number of government members talk about prevention and early intervention. I do not think any of us on this side of the House would disagree with that. That is obviously the way we stop these things from happening in the first place.

I just wondered if the member would agree with this. How can it not be preventative to know when convicted offenders are in a community? How can that not be considered prevention? Prevention is what this is all about. We know these people are in our communities and they are convicted pedophiles and convicted sex offenders. I am not quite sure where the government side is coming from when it does not see this as preventative.

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4:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Surrey North for the question. This is one of those difficult aspects of law, where a government gives, frankly, awkward explanations for why it is supporting a bill. Why does it not just come out and show leadership? Why does it not just come and say that this might prevent some crimes, that maybe we are right, that maybe it should have supported this a couple of years ago?

The government members say that CPIC already provides this service but it does not. If it did, victims would not be calling our offices and e-mailing and faxing us and asking us to support this motion. I would not have had Abby Drover tell me yesterday that I had her consent to tell her story because Canadians needed to know about it and because she would like to know when Mr. Hay is going to come out of prison so that she and her family can feel safe.

If constituents are calling our offices and telling us all these stories, and if police associations, victims' right groups and CAVEAT are contacting us, then clearly there is something in this motion and something in the potential for a sex offender registry that is not already on the books. However, the government does not seem to recognize this and that is not leadership.

Why does the government not just say that its legislation falls short? The RCMP recognizes that. Canadians recognize that. Abby Drover recognizes that. Organizations and academics recognize that. Everyone recognizes that. Why does the government not admit that and say that it is going to adopt this motion and make some serious reforms because the country and victims deserve it? That is leadership. Leadership is admitting insufficiencies and taking risks, and the government should be doing it.

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4:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague for bringing up the very personal story that he did, with the permission of Ms. Drover. I would like to add a bit to that story.

I was a young person in that community who was very much the same age as Abby Drover. I remember reading in my local community papers about this incident and I remember how horrified I was and how horrified the entire community was that this young girl had disappeared. We suspected that she had been murdered, that something terrible had happened. We found out that something very terrible did happen. To learn that she had been abducted by her neighbour and kept in a closed dungeon and repeatedly assaulted for months was beyond the scope of our understanding. It has taken her very many years to talk about this, which is understandable. I think that very personal story illustrates why we need to move on this issue.

I wonder if my colleague could add a bit more to that particular story and tell us how this proposed change would make a difference.

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4:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from my neighbouring riding of Dewdney—Alouette for his question. This specific story does speak volumes.

Abby Drover was abducted in March of 1976. Three months before I was born she was abducted and here we are, 24 years later, finally seeing an ounce of progress. She was abducted. Halfway through her abduction I was born. She was finally found in September of 1976. I was born in June. Here I am, 24 years later, and finally the House is moving a step closer, in the right direction.

What does it say about the injustice of our laws that it takes that long, 24 years, for the government of this country to show a bit of sanity, compassion and respect for victims of crime, and to put in a mechanism so that people and police services know who the bad guys are and where they are living, so that we can separate those who play by the rules from those who do not?

Finally, I hope that tonight when we vote the government will make the right choice and will, in a good faith effort, take this to committee and establish real laws with real teeth and real foundations so that it can show justice 24 years later, finally, to people like my constituent, Abby Drover.

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4:50 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, today in the National Post I read that the opposition MP who spoke earlier and his colleagues support this registration. At the same time, he admits that this registration will not prevent people from committing a crime.

Let us compare this registration to gun registration. Why is it that in this case registration will help to prevent crimes but gun registration will not?

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4:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, quite frankly the hon. member is totally missing the point. If a registration is good on one hand and not on the other, the hypocrisy is on the government's side. It is absolute hypocrisy. It would rather register pieces of long—

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4:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Order, please. It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Champlain, Lake Saint-Pierre.

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4:50 p.m.


Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Madam Speaker, first of all I want to apologize. I am sporting a bit of a cold, but in spite of that this is an issue that I feel very strongly about and that I want to speak about in this place.

The first thing I want to say is that it is interesting to me that the opposition does not seem to be able to take yes for an answer. I have heard member after member after member stand up in his place here today and say he will vote for this.

I will vote for it. I will put that on the record right now.

However, maybe the motivations and the reasons are important so that we in fact understand what is going on with this particular motion. Members opposite will know that I can be as partisan as anyone in this place over certain issues from time to time, but this is an issue that is unfortunately being used for what we can only call partisan political purposes.

Who cannot feel sympathy when the member speaks of Abby Drover? Who cannot feel that the 24 years of torture she has suffered reliving that horrific crime is the worst thing anyone can imagine? Who cannot feel frustration and anger when we read the inquest report on the death of Christopher Stephenson, which happened in a community just up the road from where I live? A young man, an 11 year old boy, was sexually assaulted, tortured, raped and murdered by a pedophile who was out on parole and who was subsequently incarcerated. These are the most horrific crimes imaginable.

I listened to the member for Surrey North speak. I know of his personal involvement in the loss of a loved one due to violence. While it might not have been of this nature, it was still violent and it was still a young person. I understand, I think, because I do not know if I truly can. I do not know if we can truly understand the loss of a child. We are not supposed to outlive our children. The fact of having a child die is unimaginable in itself. To have that child murdered or sexually assaulted by a perverted, sick individual, I do not know how I would live with that, I really do not.

In the inquest into the death of Christopher Stephenson, which I share with you, where the members of the jury dedicated their report to the memory of Christopher, they said they would like to express their deepest appreciation to Jim and Anna Stephenson for showing great courage in their pursuit of the truth.

It is one thing for us to bring these examples forward. We cannot hide from them. We have to talk about them. However, would somebody please tell me that a national registry that requires convicted pedophiles who have completed their sentences to register their addresses is going to save an Abby Drover or someone else from being assaulted sexually? Is this really the panacea?

We in the government have done some things. If the members would be honest when they speak, they would admit that the government has made some financial commitments to try to resolve the problem. However, no one can stand on either side of the House, including the mover of the motion, and with any amount of sincerity claim to have the solution to the problem.

I will tell the House what the one solution is. The one solution is the one that was imposed on Mr. Bernardo.