Mr. Speaker, as I stated at the beginning of the debate, the standing committee in its infinite wisdom decided to deem the bill as not votable.
What we are doing today is placing the issue on the political agenda. Hopefully in some not too distant future, the government would change and realize the importance of amending the criminal code to address the shortcomings of the sentencing provisions concerning auto theft.
The Minister of Justice is on record as recognizing the issue. In 1999 she stated “The public has a very strong interest in dealing with auto theft. It is a growing crime in terms of the number of people whose property is being stolen”. However, rather than deal with the criminals who are creating this strong interest and concern over property, she put some money toward educating Canadians on how not to leave their keys in the ignition. I wonder if the minister is aware of the term punched ignition switch.
It seems to be the way of the government, spend tax dollars to make it appear that something is being done. Heaven forbid that we should try to hold criminals accountable for their actions.
Earlier I deliberately avoided mentioning youth involvement in the auto theft industry. Whenever I bring up youth crime I am criticized and characterized as wanting to gang up on our youth by locking them up and throwing away the key. Those who know me know differently.
However according to police statistics, about 40% of the cars in Canada are stolen by youths between the ages of 12 and 17, and only 12% are ever caught. What does that teach impressionable youth? It teaches them that they can steal cars and get away with it. Who do organized crime recruiters seek out? I suggest that young car thieves with successful and profitable track records appear quite attractive to organized crime recruiters.
We need to address youthful criminality early. We should not and cannot wait until it is too late and they develop into more professional and experienced criminals. We are doing an injustice to those youth by allowing them to get away with the crime at an early age. We are doing an injustice to our society by permitting the initial training ground in crime to flourish and mature into more sophisticated activity.
For those who think that car theft is not really a danger to our society, I wish to relate the instance of the 13 year old driver of a stolen car who was involved in a crash that killed 16 year old Sarah Machado in Vancouver. The 13 year old driver was linked to an organized ring of juvenile thieves, many too young to drive legally. According to evidence obtained by the police the 13 year old driver was being followed by friends in two stolen Jeep Cherokees. As they were not involved in the crash, they escaped.
Let us think about that for a moment. An organized ring of offenders as young as 13 and 14 involved in stealing motor vehicles. Why? It is because it does not seem like much of a concern to the government.
If we refuse to address these crimes within Canada I ask that we think about what we are doing to foreign countries. As I have said, an increasing number of stolen vehicles are making their way into sealed shipping containers. They make their way to the docks in Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax and are shipped overseas. It has been described as our fastest growing export business. I do not think this is what the Minister for International Trade has in mind when he promotes exports. When these illegal exports reach other countries I do not think it is a legitimate businessman who takes ultimate possession of the vehicle.
We are helping corrupt those other countries by assisting their own illegal organizations and by inducing individuals to become involved in the questionable activity of buying hot motor vehicles.
Some might think I am exaggerating the problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that the ordinary thief who steals a Jeep Grand Cherokee earns a tax free $150 to $500 upon delivery. The ringleader of the organized crime enterprise pays about $2,500 for the Jeep to be packed in a container and shipped abroad. When the Jeep arrives at its destination it is sold for twice the Canadian market value, in the neighbourhood of $100,000, a nice tidy profit to the crime boss of about $97,000 for just one motor vehicle.
Surely we should have more serious punishment for multiple car thieves. We need to discourage the activity to a far greater degree than we are at present.
In my home town of Surrey it is said that there is a motor vehicle theft every 90 minutes. Last year Surrey RCMP had three officers in its stolen auto unit. They have little hope of keeping pace with the crime. As parliamentarians we must do our utmost to provide them with the tools to control this illegal and mushrooming activity. The bill would have been a step in the right direction.
The parliamentary secretary said the statistics are going down. A few years ago I was returning home from playing a recreational hockey game. When I rounded a corner with my wife on our final six blocks home I saw flashing red lights in the distance and knew there had been a serious car accident.
My daughter and her friend had left the arena about a half hour before us and this was directly on our way home. As hon. members can imagine, my heart went into my throat. Fortunately it was not my daughter or her friend. I found out from friends on the police force that it was a 34 year old lady who had been on her way home from a church meeting, travelling along 88th Avenue through a green light.
Another fellow going north on 144th Street, a young man with a serious lengthy record of multiple auto theft and well known to police, was driving past the police and giving them the finger, yelling at them and not paying any attention. He ran through a red light and T-boned the lady's car and killed her. He drove her right across the street, through a fence and into a yard and killed her instantly.
When dealing with these kinds of things let us forget about statistics. I do not care if the statistics are coming down. This was a person involved in multiple repeat auto thefts.