Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-20 because it is legislation in which I have been intimately involved during my complete career in politics. Today I still spend a lot of time at it.
In my opinion the country has a very serious moral and ethical crisis on its hands. There are issues which come forward in our court system today where by and large obscure judges, wherever they are, make decisions that are case precedent and are used right across the country. Those decisions tend more and more to go to the libertarian type of viewpoint. Many Canadians are very concerned where this moral and ethical viewpoint is going.
I can only cite a few of them now. There were original decisions on pornography that it would be okay to possess some but not to produce it. How on earth can some obscure judge appreciate how one could possess some pornography but not produce it? It does not even make sense for these guys to be deliberating on it and making these decisions.
The age of sexual consent is another one of these considerations. It is not in the bill but it should be. The age of sexual consent still remains at too low. I have been involved in cases, and I still am, where we have to remove very young people, 14 and 15 year olds, from crack houses. Police officers basically say that they cannot do much about it because they are probably consenting to stay with 30 and 40 year olds. These 30 and 40 year olds use them for prostitution, for their own sexual activities and to sell drugs, yet they are allowed to be in those houses.
In one particular case in which I was involved, the welfare people said to send her down and they would give her some money. That is a lot of damned good. We have to raise the age of sexual consent. That is a basic fundamental premise of our need to look after younger people today but we are not doing that.
There are other issues that I do not want to raise here because the particular exploitive issue of children is more important. However I see moral and ethical standards issues when the government does not challenge things like the definition of marriage, which comes from some obscure judge.
We have the issue of conditional sentences. I do not know why the government did not come forward and say that it would forbid conditional sentences to be used in the case of sex crimes, whether exploitive of children or others. I am not a lawyer but I get involved in these cases where individuals are given conditional sentences. They are told to say they are sorry and to go home. They do not spend a damned day in jail for the serious sex crimes they have undertaken. There is something wrong with that philosophy. The case of exploitive sex crimes against children should be prominent in the legislation, not missing.
In this legislation the government fails. The proposal to increase the maximum sentence is not the problem. The problem is that when we go into the courtrooms today for sex, drug and related crimes, which some of them are, the judges are working at too low a level.
There are only two things wrong with the justice system and it is judges and lawyers. The lawyers are looking for the lowest common denominator as a defence lawyer for their clients. Many times crown prosecutors are ill-prepared or not prepared by way of experience and the judge goes for the lowest common denominator as well. In other words, the problem with this legislation is the minimum sentence is too low, not the maximum.
These are common sense problems today. They are problems that can be overcome quite easily if it was not for this polarization of political views in the country. The government would be well advised to spend some time sitting down with the opposition members, not in polarized committees, and trying to get the understanding of the people who they represent, not just the people who the Liberals represent.
What is the answer? What we have today is a declining moral and ethical standard I believe of a government and a declining moral and ethical standard within the courtrooms. All the legislation that we produce in this place will not replace what is going on in those courtrooms and in the political backrooms of the country.
What parents are looking for is some rationale, some punishment and some rehabilitation. The rehabilitation while one is in prison is another problem again which has to be linked with this kind of legislation.
Over the break I found child pornography on computers in Kingston prison. The prison said that I did not find it. Very technically it was right. What the inmates were doing on government computers and on their own computers was taking adult pornography pictures and overlaying them with children's faces. Rather than standing up and saying that it was a serious problem, that the rehabilitation thing was not working that well and that there were sex offenders getting their jollies from this kind of thing, the prison system said that was not real child pornography and that they were just overlaying pictures.
I recently finished a serious study on pornography in prisons. I am talking about trying to relate the need for better rehabilitation in the legislation and some way to force the prison system to grow up and be more responsible.
There are numerous prisons in Canada that are not only stocking Playboy and other things in their prison libraries. The inmates also have access to any kind of subscriptions they want for pornography.
How does the government reconcile tabling legislation such as this when the sex offender who is already in the prison has full 100% access to subscriptions to pornography? How do the prisons reconcile this? This stuff here is only half-baked measures. It has to go back to the courtroom. It has to go into the prisons. It has to refer to rehabilitative programs. This is so basic, so common and so natural.
What is the answer to this? I would suggest that the government take back the legislation and go back into discussions with opposition members who obviously relate to different people in Canada than the government does. There has to be something. The government cannot simply be getting its information from everybody. Virtually everyone I talk to makes constant reference to the kinds of problems I just described: the moral and the ethical crisis in our courtrooms; the inability to rehabilitate sex offenders; and the inability to address child pornography and its definition.
I am frustrated every time I come into this place these days. The government tables legislation and gets all its PR marks from telling the media that it is doing a great job, but in effect it does not have the infrastructure, the base of the problem resolved. Until it does, the legislation will not go anywhere.