Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on the bill before the House, Bill C-214. This bill is, in fact, a carbon copy of Bill C-396, introduced by the member for Calgary Northeast during the first session of this Parliament.
I speak as a member of this House and, of course, also as a parent. My children are 18, 16 and 12. I am therefore very much aware of the realities that are out there and of parents' fears for their children.
I have also taken inspiration from the former member for Berthier—Montcalm, Michel Bellehumeur, and his highly responsible attitude toward the Criminal Code, as well as from our present critic, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier.
Obviously, I cannot sanction the position taken by the Canadian Alliance, which is always based on the same logic that toughening up the Criminal Code is the solution. I see this as a simplistic approach that does not address the real issues.
This ideology in favour of extremely harsh criminal justice legislation is, in their minds, the key to controlling criminals in this country. We know that this is not the solution.
We have seen that with the Young Offenders Act. The pressure in favour of toughening up this legislation, coming from the United States and the Canadian west, and espoused by the Canadian Alliance, influenced the government to such an extent that it ended up paralyzing the enforcement of the young offender legislation in Quebec, which was far more practical, realistic and successful at reintegrating young offenders into society.
The bill we are looking at today is a bit along the same lines. The thought is that adding to the length of sentences is automatically going to solve our problem.
I was listening to my colleague opposite a minute ago, and it appears as though judges and the general public may need educating to learn more about the current situation. If judges enforce the Criminal Code properly as it now stands, people would see that significant penalties can be sufficient, especially if they are combined with efforts to systematically create a situation whereby there would be fewer of this type of criminal, particularly if we can succeed in returning them to society if possible. There are cases where it is not possible, but there are measures that can be taken in such cases.
We will not solve anything by sending people to the Canadian correctional system for life. When these criminals are put in Canada's penitentiary system, they wind up dealing with a quite specific dynamic, in sexual terms, that does not necessarily help them. This means that young people would not necessarily be better protected by this type of bill.
In fact, our approach focuses more on rehabilitation and strict supervision to limit the problem. Of course we must not give pedophiles the impression they can perpetrate their crimes without punishment. We must enforce the current provisions in the Criminal Code. There also needs to be sufficient pressure from society and everyone must know the consequences of such acts.
Bill C-214 would amend sections 261, 262, and 273 of the Criminal Code. Under these provisions, anyone having committed an offence would be designated a dangerous child sexual predator.
I must comment on the rather awkward translation of the English expression, “dangerous child sexual predators”, but this debate today is not about that.
The purpose of the bill may well be commendable, and at first glance, this type of solution may seem necessary. However, I believe we must be more responsible as Parliamentarians and realize that this is not the real solution to this problem.
It is as if a bill was being created for a specific case and, each time something horrible happens, the Criminal Code was being amended in an attempt to find a solution for all situations. I think that, in this regard, it is important to consider the big picture, to study things in depth, and to consider the Criminal Code as a whole; this is presently not the case.
The Bloc Quebecois is, therefore, opposing this bill for the simple reason that the approach recommended by the Canadian Alliance is, in our eyes, simply not the right one.
In considering, in a broader context, the problem for which a solution is being sought, passing the bill would mean imprisoning for life any person who has committed sexual harassment in one form or another.
There are different levels of seriousness. I am speaking as a father. Of course, there are things that, in my mind, do not merit life in prison, and certain others that could. People should be able to make the distinction and to understand the situation correctly.
I do not believe that the problem will be resolved by applying harsher sentences. In fact, some sexual offenders are sick. These people have issues they need to work on and a longer sentence will not result in any change in behaviour.
It is a bit like a confirmed alcoholic who has been given every possible chance of a cure. But some of them continue to drive, even if they do not have a driver's licence, even if they have already been convicted; they continue because they are in a situation, in a state of mind where they no longer obey, in any way, the law.
In the case at hand, the same type of situation could exist, and the stated sentence will not necessarily make people think twice.
I believe that the intention of this bill is commendable, but the solution is not the right one.
For example, an unwanted touch, a stolen kiss, if repeated twice with the same person, will automatically be considered sexual harassment. There are things in there that can be resolved much better through education, by working with people properly.
In this House, the hon. members each have a right to their opinion. There are some people who live in society and think there should be maximum punishment all the time to resolve the situation. I want to remind the members of this House that in Quebec, for instance, there is a higher rate of rehabilitation of young offenders and there is less recidivism than anywhere else, especially in provinces where there is an attempt to enforce the Young Offenders Act strictly.
Here there is a different practice and I think people, especially members from these provinces, need to be informed about it. They would perhaps do well to look at the situation in Quebec. This might help them to adjust their thinking and ultimately achieve much better results, rather than coming up with simplistic solutions such as those proposed in this bill.
Quite frankly, this bill seems heavy-handed and not relevant. Rather than attempt to resolve all the problems by amending the Criminal Code section by section, the Canadian Alliance members should try to find a way to overhaul it, and all the members of this House should work with the Minister of Justice to that end.
The Bloc Quebecois is therefore against this bill, which offers unrealistic solutions and ultimately will not allow for adequate corrections to be made in 5, 10, or 15 years.