Mr. Speaker, when I am not in Parliament I practise law. I have been in court many times, more so at the beginning of my career than in recent years. I can tell members that I have never seen one instance where someone received the maximum sentence. Now members may ask whether I have seen a lot of criminals being sentenced and the answer would be yes. I saw a lot of pleas, trials and all kinds of sentencing but I never saw anyone receive the maximum sentence. The courts use these as guidelines.
I think it is important and it is legitimate for parliamentarians, the lawmakers in this country, to say what they think about the seriousness of some of these crimes. It is open to us to put in those minimum sentences because we deliver a message and we deliver that message on behalf of Canadian society. Canadian society wants us to indicate to the courts that we consider some behaviour so notorious and wrong that we are prepared to incarcerate that individual. In the long run, I am sure it is good for those individuals because they need that time. Once they commit a serious crime and abuse the freedoms they have been given, they should be given an extended time out, so to speak, to ensure they become aware of the seriousness of their crime and resolve never to do it again, and, at the same time, we are protecting society.
We received a notice in Niagara about a sex offender who was being released. We were told that the individual had been released I think approximately a couple of years after his sentence. He has a long record. What is this individual doing out? Why is he out on the street after only a two year sentence? If a person has a long record of sexually abusing individuals I have no problem with that person being incarcerated at length. However I think it really goes to the philosophy of the Liberal Party.
We heard one of the members of the Liberal Party say that Canadians had problems with defining minimums. Canadians do not have any problems with defining minimums. The members of the Liberal Party have problems with defining minimums. Members of the Conservative Party have long advocated them because we are committed to protecting innocent, law-abiding Canadians. We are committed to the victims in this country and we are committed to law-abiding citizens. That is the gulf that exists between ourselves and the Liberal Party and that is something in which Canadians can expect change in the next federal election.