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House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was national.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

Budget Implementation Act, 2001Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-49, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in parliament on December 10, 2001.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canadian International Trade Tribunal ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-429, an act to amend the Criminal Code (destruction of national flag).

Mr. Speaker, what I am asking, through this initiative to amend the criminal code after section 56, is that everyone who, without lawful cause, wilfully damages or destroys in any manner, burns, defaces, defiles, mutilates, tramples upon or otherwise desecrates the national flag would be guilty of an offence and liable on summary convictions.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present a petition, not only from citizens of the Peterborough area but from citizens of Toronto, Brampton and Bobcaygeon, a wide region around Peterborough.

The petitioners point out that Canada supports the Kyoto protocol. They point out that one way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to develop sustainable public transportation. They point out that a rail service between Peterborough and Toronto would help businesses and tourism in Peterborough and, at the same time, would help the environment.

The petition has support in more than 10 federal ridings.

The petitioners call upon parliament to authorize the renewal of VIA Rail service between Peterborough and Toronto, Ontario.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present another petition from the citizens of the Peterborough area concerning the Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes, which is one of the institutes of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

The petitioners know that this institute does fine work. It supports research in relation to diet, digestion, excretion, metabolism and things of that type. However these citizens are interested in kidney research and believe the work of this institute would be enhanced if the word kidney were included in its public title.

The petitioners call upon parliament to encourage the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explicitly include kidney research as one of the institutes in its system, to be named the institute of kidney and urinary tract diseases.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from February 4 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

February 5th, 2002 / 10:10 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I think you would find unanimous consent to adjourn all matters related to the privilege motion until tomorrow so that the business with respect to supply and the motion standing in the name of the official opposition could proceed today. We would take up the matter in relation to the privilege motion tomorrow.

PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

moved:

That, since the government has failed to give effect to the motion adopted by this House on March 13, 2001, calling for the establishment of a sex offender registry by January 30, 2002, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights be instructed to prepare and bring in a bill reflecting the spirit and intent of that motion;

That the Committee shall make its report to the House no later than June 1, 2002;

That in its report, the Committee shall recommend the principles, scope and general provisions of the said bill, and may include recommendations regarding legislative wording;

That the tabling of a report pursuant to this Order shall be an Order to bring in a bill based thereon; and

That when a Minister of the Crown, in proposing a motion for first reading of a bill, states that the bill is in response to the recommendations contained in a report pursuant to this Order, the second reading and subsequent stages of the bill shall be considered under Government Orders; or

That when a Private Member, in proposing a motion for first reading of a bill, states that the bill is in response to the recommendations contained in a report pursuant to this Order, the second reading and subsequent stages of the bill shall be considered under Private Members' Business and the bill shall be placed immediately in the order of precedence for Private Members' Business as a votable item.

Mr. Speaker, it is extremely disappointing for me to have to stand up in the House today and talk once again about a national sex offender registry. I thought the government had agreed to dispense with this last March but, alas, that was not the case.

Several serious issues came out of the national sex offender registry. First, the government made a commitment to establish a national sex offender registry, a commitment made to all Canadians and members in the House which it totally ignored.

The motion, which was introduced on March 13 last year, basically stated that by January 30, 2002, which was last week, it would have the thing built. Last week, on January 30, the government stood up and said that there was no need for it. There is a big need for it and we will show that today.

Mr. Speaker, I am splitting my time with my colleague.

I want to introduce two speeches and two issues today. One is a speech on behalf of the official opposition and the other is a speech that will likely be made by the solicitor general. I would like all folks watching and listening to the debate today to listen very closely to the solicitor general's speech. I will read the speech and I will tell the House where he got it from, which is just the old rhetoric.

The other issue that is important here, and I think it is equally important to other parties, is the idea in the House of Commons that a government looks at a motion and then stands up and votes for the motion with absolutely no intention of implementing it. We only have to look at private members' business, supply day motions, which we are talking about today, or any other issue that any other opposition party introduces here. The government says that it will do it. It then goes out and uses its press corps to get all the great press that is permitted it, only for us to see it die in committee, to be completely ignored or the House prorogued and everything dropped. That is the way this government runs.

Let us see what the effect of that little issue is with the national sex offender registry.

The national sex offender registry is so important that the provinces, frustrated with the federal government, are now implementing their own. Ontario has done that. The problem with a province implementing a provincial sex offender registry is that offenders who leave the province of Ontario to go to any other province know they have to report their details. There are no national guidelines or anything like that.

What is required is a software system. Ontario has already offered to give it to the federal government. Therefore that should not be a problem. The government will say that CPIC, the Canadian Police Information Centre, will look after that, but that is not the case. I will show the House that in a few minutes.

Once we have the software, we would need legislation. It does not need to be tough legislation. It could be legislation very similar to that which Ontario has. All it would do is enable the provinces to tell offenders that they shall report any changes to their information, that is, address, change of name, change of phone number and so on, and that if they do not do that they will be fined.

Let us look at what Ontario does. The offenders' names--legal, alias, nicknames, known names, maiden--are collected along with addresses, phone numbers, photographs and conviction information.

There are built in triggers to advise police services when an offender is non-compliant and living in their jurisdiction or is compliant and in their jurisdiction. Penalties for non-compliance are, for a first offence, a fine of not more than $25,000 and imprisonment of not more than one year or both, and for subsequent offences a fine of not more $25,000 and imprisonment of a term of not more than two years less a day. Ontario says basically that if one does not comply, if one does not make the changes to the registry, then there is a penalty.

This government will not even do that. It did not even have the decency to try to put legislation into the House of Commons to comply with that. Therefore our motion today states that if the government cannot do it and agrees that we need a national sex offender registry, then it should send it all off to a committee and get the committee to do it, get someone to do it. The government should not stand here in the House of Commons, make a commitment and then completely ignore it.

I can understand completely why people are so frustrated with government. It makes commitments, gets all the bragging rights and then it completely ignores the commitments after they are made, time and time again.

Let me tell the House what the solicitor general will say. He will say that Canada's CPIC system, the police information system, is Canada's national sex offender registry. That is totally incorrect. Every province in the country is saying that is not accurate. Every police organization we have found has said it is not accurate. The Canadian police chiefs, the Canadian Police Association and every victims' rights group in the country is saying that CPIC is not a national sex offender registry. How many times do people have to say this? He will say the government is open to improvements. Perhaps it is, but what are they? It had already committed to improvements and did not do a damn thing.

The solicitor general will say that a truly national system can exist only if there is national consensus. There is national consensus. The whole nation is saying that we need a national sex offender registry. The only place where the commitment to a national consensus is not available is here in the House of Commons with the Liberal government. We should think about that when he says that.

He will say that the government has offered to accept current addresses for known sex offenders to be placed in the CPIC database. I say congratulations, that is a darn good idea. The problem is that the moment a person moves from the address that is in the CPIC system no one knows about it. That is why we need to have legislation that says an offender has to register or otherwise there would be a fine.

He will say that the government saw fit to put $115 million into the CPIC system. Yes, it did, and it has been fighting ever since. We talked to the CPIC people, these people who are trying to work up the police information system. They cannot even get consensus on what to do, not only on when to do it, and even the people in charge of CPIC admit that it is not a national sex offender registry.

I can only say that I thought integrity was everything in the House of Commons. I thought that when the House of Commons voted unanimously to put in a sex offender registry the government would at least make a try. It did not develop software. It did not implement enabling legislation. It did not live up to its commitment, much like many other commitments that this government said it would live up to. I hope those people who are watching give a real good listen to these people on the other side, because most of it is rhetoric. There will be no sex offender registry unless this government gets off its duff and does something logical and, for a change, with integrity.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague from Langley--Abbotsford for the work he has done on this file. I wonder if he has turned his mind to the possibility of utilizing existing infrastructure in the way of computers and a registry system. He has alluded to the CPIC system, a national registry with respect to criminal records and warrants. Of course any system, as the hon. member will be quick to acknowledge, is only as good as the information that is in the particular system.

I have a question for the hon. member. I do not want to confuse the issue or mix messages here, but has the hon. member or anyone in his employ, in the research he has had available to him, ever looked at the possibility of using the infrastructure of the disastrous national firearms registry that exists, with the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been pumped into the system, and which will not work because people will not voluntarily register, especially Hell's Angels? Has he looked at the possibility of using that computer data system, that technology, that national registry, to apply to, at least in some way, registering sex offenders? Is it something that might be a practical use, at least, of the resources, the hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars that have been pumped into this useless registry system that was ill-fated from its very beginning? The government told people that it would cost $84 million and it is now in the range of $500 million or $600 million and counting. Is it possible to apply that infrastructure to a more practical and more realistic purpose that would allow police, parole officers and Canadians generally to have this national sex offender registry envisaged by the hon. member?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question from my colleague. That registry was supposed to be a stand alone registry and I think it is, but the big stand alone is the cost of it and the non-compliance. It is possible to use that system or a similar system to track sex offenders. Again the problem is that I do not think the government has the wherewithal, the philosophical bent, as it were, to make people register. I think people actually believe that it is some kind of infringement on their rights.

In fact we found out a couple of days ago from the Ontario government that people have to be told ahead of time that they must register. The Ontario police cannot get the assistance of the Correctional Service Canada to tell inmates on their way out of the prison that they must comply and register. The service tells Ontario police “You have to do it because we're not co-operating”. That is how bad this is. The reason is that the government does not want the rights of individuals, criminals, sex offenders, quite frankly, invaded by telling them that they must comply.

To try to answer the question, I think it could be a very similar system, if not that system. We have talked to the gun registry people. They are so confused that they cannot even handle the gun system, much less sex offenders, but the software itself and the development are free because Ontario has said “We'll give it to you”. It is a stand-alone system and it is not a big system. I think the difficulty is that the government really and truly believes that it is more of a crime to invade the privacy of a sex offender in order to make sure he reports to a system than it is to protect people from sex offenders. I cannot believe that I live in a country with a government that is so far off base on such an issue.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stood in the House almost a year ago in support of the Canadian Alliance motion requesting the establishment of a national sex offender registry. During that same period of time on the other side of the House the Liberal government unanimously stood in support of its commitment to set up a registry by January 30, 2002.

As of today, February 5, 2002, we do not have a national sex offender registry in this country. We do not have one because this Liberal government has failed again to meet another one of its commitments. It failed in this regard as it has failed to keep many of its 1993 red book promises.

The subject of today's motion is to have the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights prepare and bring in a bill establishing a registry given the fact that this government has failed to do so in spite of its promise and in spite of its commitment.

The motion we presented last March and which government members voted in favour of was the establishment of a national registry containing the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders. We proposed that every sex offender be required to register in person at his or her local police station at least once a year and provide any updated information, including a change in address.

This proposal is nothing new. Ontario already has such a registry. Christopher's law, or Bill C-31, received royal assent in April 2000, establishing a registry to:

enhance public safety by providing law enforcement agencies with a modern, reliable and effective electronic tool and support services to track sex offenders in our communities and to improve the investigation of crimes of a sexual nature.

I also stood in the House last March cautioning members on the other side, particularly those members who were in the House prior to 1993, to carefully consider their position on a national sex offender registry. I did so because I had a copy of an April 1993 Liberal document entitled “A Liberal Perspective on Crime and Justice Issues”.

Contained within this document were a number of recommendations put forward by the then official opposition, the Liberal Party, to do the following, and I quote, “to combat Canada's growing violent crime problem”. One of the Liberals' very own post-government recommendations was, and again I quote from that document, “to support the establishment of a national registry of convicted child abusers”.

The rationale for this recommendation, and again I will quote directly from this Liberal document, states:

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 offenders. Evidently more and more sex offenders will be reintegrating into Canadian communities.

The document goes on, however, to state that:

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

Much of the information used by the Liberals to support their 1993 recommendations for establishing a sex offender registry remains the very same today. Nothing has changed.

In fact, a review of the research and the website of the statistics branch of the Correctional Service of Canada reveals that the majority of the studies done on sex offenders and recidivism rates are outdated. The statistics in most cases are more than 10 years old.

I am confident that findings today would be similar to those findings in the late 1980s and 1990s indicating that sex offenders have one of the highest recidivism rates of any criminal group, with an estimated 40% reoffending within five years of their release.

In 1990 the ministry of the solicitor general struck a working group on the management and treatment of sex offenders, “as a result of a number of factors, including the rapid growth of the federal sex offender population”. The working group reported its findings and recommendations in March 1990. These were some of the key findings.

First, offender treatment programs have shown limited results.

Second, practitioners in the field of sex offender treatment do not claim to cure sex offenders. Rather the treatment strategy is to manage the risk of reoffending.

Third, there are not enough experts to meet the demand for sex offender treatment and the limitations of treatment are recognized.

This research, which was based on research produced by the Correctional Service of Canada, clearly demonstrates why for the sake of our children we need a registry. We need to do everything within our power as parliamentarians to protect our children from repeat sex offenders.

I will read to the House a copy of a letter that was addressed to the solicitor general, copied and sent to me. Before I read it I would like to assure the House that I obtained the permission of the author, Jim Stephenson, the father of Christopher Stephenson, the Christopher in Ontario's Christopher's law, to read the letter. He said:

Anna and I both thank you for taking the time to meet with us earlier this week. As you know, our purpose in speaking with you was to explain why CPIC is incapable of providing the enforceable protection of a specific sex offender registry and why national action is essential. I regret that we were unsuccessful in that effort and you continue to take advice from your officials that legislated compliance is neither necessary nor permissible. They are wrong Minister; and I only hope that no child dies before you decide to listen to people other than those whose preoccupation is defending the status quo.

During the meeting, D/Sgt. Muise from Ontario's Office for Victims of Crime raised the additional issue of the difficulty Ontario was experiencing in trying to arrange the seemingly simple task of linking with the Federal Offender Management System. I was encouraged to note your surprise at this and your direction to--

In the letter to the solicitor general Mr. Stephenson names the official. I will just call him the official.

Mr. Stephenson went on to say:

-- [the official] of your Ministry to resolve this problem.

Following our meeting, my wife and I, together with D/Sgt. Muise further discussed the matter of a national sex offender registry with your official. We were sufficiently shocked at his conduct and remarks, in your absence, that I felt you should be apprised of them as they reflect extremely poorly on you as the Minister. Despite your previous public statement that “governments must continue to give victims more of a voice in the criminal justice system”, our own expressed desire to be included in the determination of appropriate registry format, and your acknowledgment that we would continue to work together, [your official] informed us that our involvement with the Working Group would not be possible as our presence would be “disruptive”. He further stated that the group of officials operated, to use his words, “like an old boys' club” and people like us would not be welcome.

Please be assured that our only interest in continuing these discussions is to prevent other Canadians from having to undergo the nightmare that befell our family when federal correctional officials released and then failed to supervise the repeat child rapist that abducted and murdered our son. Mr. Minister, unlike [your official] and his “colleagues”, my wife and I belong to a club of a very different sort where membership is unwilling and comes at a price that no one should have to bear. If this is the attitude of federal officials, it is small wonder that Canada lacks commitment to a National Sex Offender Registry and that public confidence in the justice system is continually questioned.

Finally Minister, I have learned that [your official's] “club” has scheduled a one-day meeting next week in the resort community of Banff, Alberta; a choice of locales I suggest speaks volumes about their priorities. I am certain that I could arrange the use of OPP facilities in Orillia where the Ontario Sex Offender Registry is housed--

What more can I say? Where is the commitment of the government? Where are its priorities? Certainly Canada is begging and calling out for a national sex offender registry. When will the solicitor general listen?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague this, since the solicitor general is listening. A sex offender registry of any sort cannot be implemented unless legislation enabling the registry itself to operate works. That is, the government must develop legislation to mandate sex offenders to report, with penalties if they do not report.

I would like to ask my colleague about the philosophical bent of the Liberal government. Does he think that one of the reasons why the government reneged on its promise, and the solicitor general reneged on his promise with his vote in the House to implement a registry, is it sees legislation mandating sex offenders to report as an infringement on their rights?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank the member for Langley--Abbotsford for his hard work in understanding what is needed. I failed to do that in my speech. He has travelled around through prisons and has met with different victims groups. I know his passion for doing the right thing has been very evident in the formation of this.

I will give the Liberal government some credit. I believe it understands that the sex offender recidivism rate is extremely high. It acknowledged that last year. It acknowledged that we need to do something. In 1993 it had the commitment to do it. Toughening the criminal justice system was one of the platforms on which it ran and eventually won the 1993 election.

However we have seen no commitment in the House since then. We talk about recidivism rates of 40%. In the whole equation, what the government has not factored in is the victim. It is so bent on rehabilitation and reintegration, which are imperative and foundations of corrections services, that it has forgotten about the rights of the victims.

I have met with parents from my riding and have heard about their children being been lured over the Internet by pedophiles and by sex offenders. I see the heartbreak and listen to many of them weeping. The part of the equation that the government has forgotten is the victim.

Our prisons are full of sex offenders. When they are pushed through the revolving door of our corrections services and our prison system back onto the street, because we have a reintegration principle and a high rehabilitation principle, we see families torn apart by the offenses committed against their children who fall victim to individuals who are not on a workable, working sex offender registry.

As we have heard in the House many times, the member from Langley already has brought out how outdated CPIC is and how it is not working. I am sure the solicitor general will admit that police are telling him that CPIC is not working.

The facts are that reoffending is up in the country and we need to protect society. The protection of society needs to be the guiding principle in all criminal justice. Now we have a government that is bringing in other laws in the Young Offenders Act which are highly questionable on even the equality of all before law. It leaves me wondering where the government is headed.

We need a registry. We have spoken about it for a year. We had a commitment from the government, but again we have seen no action.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this motion today. I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Ottawa Centre.

My hon. colleague is right about one thing. Last March we did support an opposition motion to establish a national sex offender registry. However my hon. colleague is wrong when he says that we have not complied with that motion. In fact, the opposite is true.

Let me repeat what I said on March 13. I said that we had a proven and reliable sex offender registry through CPIC, the Canadian Police Information Centre. CPIC is the national registry of all convicted offenders, including sex offenders. In other words, we have already complied with the opposition motion. In fact, we have met the deadline of my hon. colleague long before he ever brought that motion before the House of Commons.

What I also said at that time was that the government was committed to going even further. I rise in my place today to bring hon. members up to date on our project.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Same speech you read the last time.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

As I have said many times in the House--

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I know there are some strongly held views. We have heard other members speak from one side of the House and we will hear other views from the government side at this time. I would hope that we would give each other the respect to hear each other. The Chair will turn its attention to questions and comments at the appropriate time.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, you are absolutely right. My opposition colleagues should listen to some facts.

CPIC is a solid database of police information that can be accessed by police agencies all across the country. It is highly reliable because it is based on fingerprints and not on whether an offender complies.

I said in March that the government was open to finding ways to improve CPIC as our national sex offender registry. I am pleased to inform the House that we have done this and will continue. In September I announced $2 million to develop a national sex offender database in CPIC. The database will be linked to other criminal history and police information already contained in CPIC. It will be operational by November of this year.

These enhancements will allow police across the country to perform searches in a number of different ways: by address, name, offence, tattoo or scar, and region. The improvements will give every police force in Canada around the clock instant access to information about sex offenders who are registered in the sex offender category. I am confident the changes will make a significant contribution to CPIC as our national sex offender registry.

That is not all. We have also been working closely with the provinces and territories because there can be a national solution only with a national consensus. A national solution means a system that works well in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Toronto, Ontario; or Edmundston, New Brunswick. An effective system can only exist if jurisdictions work together. That is why we are working so closely with the provinces and territories.

Since last March the Minister of Justice and I have discussed the issue of the sex offender registry with our provincial and territorial colleagues on two occasions. In addition, a team of senior federal, provincial and territorial officials has been working to establish a consensus on some of the basic questions of cost, criteria, compatibility, enforcement, training, and jurisdictional responsibilities. These are important issues.

Although my hon. colleague from Langley--Abbotsford may think he has all the answers I do not think he even has all the questions. What the issue really needs is leadership. We have shown leadership in our commitment to give the police the tools they need to do the job. We have shown leadership by putting money where our mouth is and investing in CPIC. We have shown leadership by creating a sex offender category within CPIC.

I have spoken about the issue a number of times with my provincial and territorial counterparts. I will meet with them next week in Moncton to talk about the progress we have made and the next steps we must take together. We will continue to find ways to improve but we will not blindly impose the hon. member's views on the provinces and territories. We will not impose on jurisdictions, especially smaller ones, a system they do not support or cannot afford. The government has instead taken action on a number of fronts to protect the most vulnerable in our society, especially children.

As early as 1994 we conducted extensive consultations with individuals and organizations with special responsibility for the care and protection of our children. These have included children's aid societies, school boards, Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations, Volunteer Canada, police, victims groups and many other groups across the country. They have told us sex offender registries, like those in the United States, would contribute little to the safety of children. What they asked for and what we have delivered is a made in Canada solution that targets abusers who seek positions of trust with children and other vulnerable groups.

The national screening system was launched in September 1994 by the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health and the Solicitor General of Canada. It is the result of effective collaboration amoung police, child caring agencies and the federal government. CPIC provides criminal records to local police forces who help these agencies conduct criminal record checks. At last count almost a million searches had been done on behalf of volunteer groups across the country. It is an important tool that protects the most vulnerable from the most dangerous. It is only one example of the measures we have taken for the safety of Canadians.

We have created a new form of long term supervision for sex offenders after they have completed their normal sentences. A national flagging system has been developed with provincial partners so prosecutors can identify offenders who should be considered for dangerous offender status. Police bonds allow us to put special conditions on high risk offenders even when they are not under sentence. With these measures we have imposed tougher controls on sex offenders and made Canadians safer.

We will continue to show leadership on the file. We have kept our promise to work with our provincial and territorial partners. We have kept our promise to enhance CPIC. We will continue to take whatever measures we need to make sure Canadians are safer.

However we want something that will work. We want to go forward, not backward. Imposing legislation without a national consensus would get us nowhere. That is why we cannot support my hon. colleague's motion.

The government has and will continue to do its utmost to protect Canadians. We have made exceptional progress since March and will continue to move forward toward the effective solutions we know will work for all Canadians.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, each day I am in the House I get more and more disappointed. Listening to that almost made me physically sick.

This fellow does not know what he is talking about. The minister says he is working closely with his colleagues. Quite frankly, every one of his colleagues he talks about, the provinces, school boards, police associations and victims groups, are saying this does not and will not work. The government does not have the fortitude or the stamina to stand up and make sex offenders report to the registry. That is the problem.

We put a motion forward today to say that in developing a sex offender registry we need enabling legislation. The government needs to go to sex offenders and say they must report, otherwise there will be consequences. This makes sense because it would update the registry continually. If the government is so all fired up about developing a registry it must surely agree there is a mandate for sex offenders to report.

Will the solicitor general stand and tell us, never mind the damn rhetoric, that he will need sex offenders to report continuously on their personal changes when the sex offender registry is implemented? That is what the motion is about. He should stand and tell us it is necessary.