Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to the issue of the budget implementation but I want to take a different approach to the issue. I want to talk about some of the things that were missing out of the budget. One of them in particular is some money to revise the whole justice system, the court system.
I want to speak to a particular issue that needed to be addressed across this land and I guess by giving one specific example it would help a great deal.
I want to tell members about a young girl by the name of Carley Regan. She was 13 years old when she was killed on January 6. She was run down by a driver who was actually under suspended licence. He should not even have been on the road.
Carley's parents, Barry and Lori, have gone through a living hell on this issue, in and out of courts. I can recall when we first went into court and met the crown counsel I specifically asked if, down the road, he would be plea bargaining anything without the family knowing about it. He specifically said there would be no plea bargaining in the case, that it was clearcut and so on. That kind of went by the way and then the court case started.
The individual who was driving while suspended was jailed for 14 months and had his licence suspended for 10 years.
Lo and behold, now the crown counsel has said that the big charge of dangerous driving has been dropped. This was the charge for which this fellow could have done some serious time. I am certain that plea bargaining took place because the crown had actually said that there was not have enough evidence.
This was a guy who admitted in the courtroom that he was at the scene. He admitted to driving while suspended. More important, the witnesses talked about the individual being at the scene of the crime and so on .
Once again we find in this system where justice is no justice at all. We see a fellow who has killed a 13 year old child and he receives a 14 month maximum sentence. That is basically one month for every year of Carley's young life. I find that not only disturbing but such an injustice. I know Barry, Lori and the rest of the family feel the same way. This is what happens time after time in this country.
I just do not know where this will all end but it is up to the government and to all politicians to come up with legislation to stop this carnage on the roads. We need to make sure there are mandatory sentences. We need to make sure people do not just walk into a court after killing somebody and then walk out with their driver's licence suspended and a very minor time in jail.
This whole issue of plea bargaining has to be revamped. More often than not victims are never told, as they were not in this case. They were just told the day before it was all announced. They were never told about the process that was going on behind closed doors. They were never told that their child's life was basically handled in the courtroom of injustice by a mere 14 months in jail for somebody who should never have been on the road in the first place.
I want to emphasize once again the seriousness of this situation which should have been addressed in the budget implementation by way of at least studying this whole issue.
I want to talk about Christopher Tubbs for just a minute. On October 11, 1999, my constituent, Christopher Tubbs, and his mother, Maureen, were hit by a driver who was speeding and ran a red light in one of the busiest intersections in Vancouver. Chris' mom was killed and he was seriously injured. The offender ran from the scene and was caught two months later speeding in yet another stolen vehicle. He had several prior criminal convictions. The carnage goes on and on without stopping.
Chris's comments are long and I will only repeat a couple of them. He said:
How can anyone call a crime of this nature criminal negligence? That sounds like a teenager out at night pulling a prank that went wrong and someone died. What happened to my mom and me was just plain having no regard for human life. With the speeds involved, running red lights, he was out to hurt someone.
I do not know what it is going to take to get the government to take a real indepth look at the problems involved on our roads and to get the judges and lawyers in our courtrooms to understand that what victims want is a modicum of justice. They do not want deals to be made. They do not want plea bargains to be made behind closed doors where the victims and their families do not know what is going on. They want to be involved. That is why I wrote the national victims bill of rights in the first place back in 1994. We received a little attention from the government, but the real problems are still going on.
The way to do this is to get it out of the government's hands because it just does not have the propensity to enact minimum sentences. It does not have the philosophical bent to charge and convict people who run down children when they should not be on the road in the first place. It is murder. It cannot be called an accident. People who drive on the road when they do not have a driver's licence or people who drive on the road under the influence of drugs or alcohol are individuals who are deliberately taking lives. That is murder and it has to be treated as such. We cannot continue in this country just to listen to the rhetoric in the courtrooms from lawyers who time and time again think more of the criminal than they do of the victim.
My sympathies go out to the family. It does not mean much from one politician or even the whole House of Commons when one loses their daughter. It is sad that we in the House of Commons have to watch time and time again young people losing their lives and families losing their loved ones, when all we in the opposition can do with a majority government is beg it to re-look at the laws of this nation and give victims their just due in the courtrooms of the country, and try to make our roads safer.
The idea that some lawyer or some judge said that the charge of dangerous driving was being dropped because there was not enough evidence when in fact that very person had been charged and had lost his licence for 10 years and had been jailed for 14 months for the same accident that occurred, yet crown counsel had the unmitigated gall to convince the rest of us out here that there was not enough evidence, I am ashamed of the system that we call a justice system. I have always thought that people deserved better than that.
More important, we have to remember this and try to do our best. I sincerely hope that Barry and Lori and the rest of the family go on, but I also hope that they will understand that things will change eventually when we move that government out.