Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to once again participate in the debate surrounding the implementation of a national sex offender registry. This is an incredibly sound idea. The concept has been in public discussion for some time and is very much the purpose of the motion.
Ironically the motion has already been before the House. As has been stated, members unanimously supported it, yet here we are again with the same motion because of the disingenuous efforts of the government to support it. What took place was lip service, to use the vernacular, saying that we supported it yet we did nothing.
There is a record of occurrences on other subject matters where that has been the case. I personally brought in a motion pertaining to workplace safety. That motion stemmed from the terrible disaster at the Westray mine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia. Once again it was debated. It went through the entire process of private members' business. The motion was debated and was unanimously supported. It went to committee where we heard from witnesses and it was supported there. Nothing has happened, nothing.
Yet the government, through the solicitor general and other speakers, says it supports it because it already has happened. That simply is false. It has not happened. A separate stand-alone system is what is required. That is how members understand the motion to read.
It truly is deliberate and wilful blindness on the part of the solicitor general and other speakers on the Liberal side to stand and say they support it only because it already exists. It does not exist. That is the fact. Police officers, provincial attorneys general and other people working in the system will verify that the current CPIC system does not allow for a mandatory registry of information pertaining to sex offenders. That is what is needed. That is what is necessary and imperative to protect children in particular.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague and seatmate from Prince George--Peace River.
I personally moved a motion very similar to the motion before the House. Therefore I would be following in the Liberal tradition of hypocrisy and duplicity if I did not support the motion.
The motion before the House is one which the provinces certainly support. Provincial attorneys general have repeatedly called upon the government to enact a national sex offender registry. The Canadian Police Association, the victims' resource centre and citizens generally are looking to the government to show some leadership, to show some political will if that is what it takes, and bring this system about.
That is what happened with the firearms registry. I do not want to mix messages or continually bring this into the debate, but in the past five or six years the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to register long guns in Canada based upon voluntary participation. It is voluntary only insofar as the coming year and then it will be upon pain of criminal conviction.
The government is prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money, which it has done before. There are ample examples of where it has done this. The cancellation of the EH-101 helicopter program is another example of hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money being spent. The Pearson airport contract cancellation cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
We are talking about setting up a system for far less. That system would impact on crime. It would actually protect and prevent victims under that type of criminal activity.
The CPIC system which is in place now is very good. It has been upgraded. It was near a state of collapse a few years ago because of Liberal neglect and cutbacks in the law enforcement area.
Presently, convicted offenders may be released into a community and change their residence or their appearance; the entire population is aware that sex offenders prey upon those least able to defend themselves. They do so by deceit, by disguise and very much by subterfuge. Those types of nefarious activities are done intentionally, to go undetected.
There is no faith that a sex offender registry will ever work unless there is some necessity that the offender comply upon pain of having conditions breached and going back to court. Bringing back some accountability is what is required. That does not exist under the current system. As I stated before in questions and comments, it is relying upon court records, probation officers, police and those who work in the system to enter that data.
Coupled with all the other information that is found on the Canadian Police Information Centre, it is impossible to sort it out in such a way that communities, police and those in the law enforcement community can access it in such a way that it can be used for prevention.
We know that recidivism is extremely high with sex offenders. In the event of reoccurrence, such as a heinous act of abduction or sexual assault, valuable time is lost in trying to identify the suspect who is oftentimes not known to local police or to the community because of the issue of mobility which is so prevalent.
A national sex offender registry would provide police with an enhanced ability to protect society and carry out this absolutely critical task of enforcing a safe and orderly society. It would give police better access to information about the specific whereabouts of offenders and about all convictions of a sexual nature that have been registered with the courts.
Sadly not all offences make it into the CPIC system, and I experienced this myself as a crown attorney. When the offence has occurred in British Columbia, there may be a delay in entering the information in the system if the individual is before the courts in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland.
The full picture is not before the courts. If a person has a previous offence and has shown a previous proclivity toward sexual aggression, that necessary information may not be available. That critical missing piece of the puzzle may result in an entirely different outcome at trial or perhaps more important at the sentencing stage if a conviction is returned.
A national system would allow the police much greater access to information and a much greater ability to protect. It is simply a good idea that would work. It requires investment of resources. Again, we have seen the government invest in all sorts of much less important areas of public expenditure.
The United States has state registries which are currently up and operating. The province of Ontario, as alluded to by others, is in the process of enforcing this type of system.
That technology is now available. It should be a priority. It should be a system that we are prepared to use. We have had upgrades to CPIC that include flagging pardoned records of sex offenders. We have a system that will hopefully monitor those who are on probation and who are on conditions of parole. Yet a national sex offender registry set up in a comprehensive national computer system and made available to police is an absolute necessity if we are to improve the way in which we deliver services now and monitor those in the community who have already been convicted of a sexual offence.
It could also be tailored to replace and basically adopt the computer infrastructure for the long gun registry which has been a complete waste of money.
Ontario has offered to try to apply its system to the current federal system in hopes of encouraging the federal government to adopt this.
There are two questions; one is of process. The government has tried to simply by a wink and a nod put this issue to one side by saying it has already done it. It has not done it. It comes back to the main issue. Why would the government not be prepared to support and act on the recommendation in this motion?
I want to conclude my remarks by saying that we have an opportunity here to also restore a bit of faith, if the government were to actually support the system and act on it. We must treat these occasions with the greatest of seriousness. Bringing in a national sex offender registry would be good in and of itself.
Before turning over the floor to my very able seatmate and colleague, I would like to move an amendment to the Alliance supply day motion, seconded by my colleague from Prince George Peace River. The amendment would essentially add to the wording in the first paragraph after the word “a” the following: “separate and stand-alone” sex offender registry.
I realize under the new rules there has to be agreement for this amendment to be inserted. I would suggest, by virtue of the comments we have heard from the Alliance members today, that they would not object to the insertion of the words separate and stand-alone, categorizing this from what the government has tried to lead people to believe; that we already have a system under CPIC that qualifies as a national sex offender registry.