Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to the amendment to Bill C-20.
Our problems with the bill are many and varied. Let us back up for a moment. If the objective of our justice system is the protection of innocent civilians, then surely the protection of children must be at the forefront of our justice system.
For 10 years people in my party and in others have asked, pushed, cajoled and coerced the government to implement solutions that will protect children from that most egregious crime: the sexual, violent abuse at the hands of a predator or a pedophile.
To understand why we are so adamant about this, let us look at pedophilia for a moment. It is an incurable problem. Pedophiles, by and large, are not cured of this. When somebody comes before our justice system to be tried and sometimes convicted for these offences, it is usually not the first time the person has sexually abused a child. In fact, studies show that when an individual comes before the court charged with the sexual abuse of a child, generally the person has abused at least 12 children before that.
Hon. members should think about that for a moment. When a person comes before a court for the very first time, the person has sexually raped and abused at least 12 children, not once but generally over a prolonged period of time. As my colleague has mentioned, that has profound implications upon the life of a child for the entire length of the child's life. It is something that they never, ever get over.
As a result, we are aghast and appalled that the government has not adopted the constructive solutions that we put forth that would have strengthened our justice system, protected children and enabled our courts to do the job they were supposed to do: protect the Canadian public.
It is also without a doubt the responsibility of the courts and our justice system to implement solutions that will help in the rehabilitation of the convicted. We make no dispute about that and, in fact. we encourage that. How can we have a society where those who have made mistakes and who have committed offences do not have the hope of retribution or of being cured of their problem?
Pedophilia is in a category very different from all others, with the exception, I would say, of individuals who commit violent sexual abuses against other individuals. Violent sexual behaviour, pedophilia, is in a class unto itself. Most of those people do not get cured. It is true that most of those people, it is sad to say, have endured sexual abuse, violent or otherwise, themselves. That is a profound tragedy and we have great sympathy for those individuals. However it does not exonerate them from committing acts of violent sexual abuse against others during their lives.
Therefore it is our responsibility here in the House to ensure that our justice system, our courts and our police have the tools to not only protect civilians, but also to ensure that to the best of our ability we can give the individuals who committed those offences as much treatment as possible to ensure that when or if they get out we can be confident that they will not reoffend again.
Herein lies the problem. The court system gives individuals a sentence. They finish their sentence and then they are released. We are fairly confident that some of those people will not reoffend but, having worked in jails, I can tell the House that a lot of those people, whether they are sexual predators or violent offenders, are being released with the full knowledge and awareness that they will commit that type of offence again. Those who work in our penal institutions, those who are part of our court system and those who are part of our police forces are aghast, appalled, saddened and often demoralized by the fact that our system does not at the end of the day, at its heart, protect our society from those individuals who commit the most violent, appalling and egregious offences against innocent civilians.
These people are predators. I will provide an example. Friends of mine, a couple, were living in Vancouver. An individual moved in beside them and befriended them. He came over with gifts and food. One day the wife of this friend of mine was at home and suddenly found their next door neighbour in their home, uninvited, with candies for their daughter, who was seven years old at the time. Subsequent to that they found out that this individual, their neighbour who they thought was perfectly fine, had a long history of violent sexual abuses against children. He was and is a predator and was an individual who was trying to sexually abuse their seven year old daughter.
When this friend of mine went to the police, the police said they could do nothing about this since the person had not committed a crime. What do we have to wait for? Do we have to wait for that individual to rape that seven year old girl so the police can say they have a crime and therefore can incarcerate that individual?
Certainly a crime has to be committed before someone is incarcerated, to be sure, but on the other hand, does that family not have a right to know that the person living next door to them is an individual with a long history of violent sexual abuses, an individual who the police know is fully expected to reoffend? Does that family not have a right to know that its next door neighbour has a very high chance of sexually abusing another child? The hands of the police were tied in that case, as they are tied in other cases around the country.
We understand and are fully cognizant of the fact that all individuals have rights, but at the end of the day the rights of a child have to trump the rights of a sexual predator. That has to happen. That is what we in our party are trying to do. We are trying to change the laws of the land to ensure that children are not going to be preyed on by pedophiles who have a long history of these actions and, by and large, as I said before, are incurable. Some can be controlled and should be allowed out after serving their sentences, but those who cannot should be kept in jail until such time as the judicial system is confident that these individuals will not reoffend.
We also know that on the international stage there are pedophile tours. These adults, working underground, get together to go on tours to Colombia and southeast Asia where they are taken to brothels and children are presented in front of them so that they can rape them. That is what is happening now. It is an underground system. The international judicial system is aghast and appalled that collectively we have been unable to prosecute these individuals who go on these tours to sexually abuse the children of people in faraway countries.
I know that the Thai government and the Malaysian government are aghast because many of these pedophiles selectively go there to sexually abuse children. This cannot be allowed to happen. Our Minister of Justice must work with other ministers of justice and international policing organizations to develop a system for the identification and prosecution of individuals who actively go after children on these international sex tours.
My colleague has mentioned the issue of child porn. I will not belabour the issue because my colleagues have spoken eloquently about it. Suffice it to say that we are not talking about some individual who accidentally pulls something off a computer. We are talking about individuals who have a long history of pulling up and using child pornography. What adults do among themselves is adults' business, but when people are actually buying child pornography, attached to that must be victims, and the victims are children who had absolutely no say whatsoever in being part and parcel of those movies or photographs that show them being sexually abused by adults.
As for solutions, we have spoken about heavier penalties and minimum sentencing for people convicted of pedophilia. Release should be conditional upon the knowledge that individuals who are pedophiles, and I would extend this to people who commit rape, are violent sexual offenders. We must be certain that those individuals and people who commit pedophilia and sexual and violent offences are not going to reoffend. That category of offences is very different from others because at the end of the day the victims of those offences are individuals who have to sustain and endure terrible penalties that they have to live with for the rest of their lives.
Dangerous offender status should be more liberally applied to those individuals who are pedophiles. As I said before, it is an incurable problem.
I know my time is up, but I hope the government listens to the constructive solutions my party has put forward. We are very willing to work with the government to implement a constructive Bill C-20 that will protect our children from predation by violent sexual offenders.