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