Mr. Speaker, it has been quite a while since I had the opportunity to rise in the House and speak to certain issues. I am very pleased to do it in respect for one of the finest men that I have had the opportunity to meet in Canada since I came to this place, and that is Mr. Chuck Cadman whom I met in 1993 when I was first elected.
At that time, Mr. Cadman was very active with various victim groups throughout the country. The organization was called CRY at that time in the British Columbia area. I was very pleased to see him arrive in Ottawa as a member of the House to work on justice issues because I knew where he was coming from and it was on behalf of victims of crime.
I am also very pleased to have listened to various members of my party who have risen and spoken to this issue. In particular, I think of the member for Fundy—Royal, Regina—Qu'Appelle, Palliser, Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, and Kildonan—St. Paul. I believe the member for Kildonan—St. Paul is the mother of a police officer. I want to commend every one of these members because they are speaking from the heart and strongly in favour of victims' needs and rights. That is something that has been lacking from the federal Liberal government for a long time.
I recall talking to Mr. Cadman on first arriving here about the rights of victims and how they seemed to be so blatantly ignored, while the rights of criminals were exaggerated in so many ways. At that time, I shared with him the story of a death of a five year old girl in the Calgary region who was murdered by an individual whom was later captured. He kidnapped her out of her backyard, assaulted her, cut her throat, and threw her in the garbage. It is the sickest story one could ever hear.
It had a major impact on her family members, but the one who received all the attention and had all his legal process paid for was the criminal. He received all the psychology, all the treatments by psychiatrists, and all the benefits afforded to him by the taxpayers of Canada to ensure he was treated fairly. Yet the siblings and members of the family of the five year old girl never received a penny toward any kind of assistance. That entire family received a life sentence because of this tragedy, yet the individual who committed the crime will be eligible for parole in the very near future and be back on the streets.
This did not make sense and it was not making sense to Mr. Cadman. When we talked about various issues, and I know that street racing was one of the latest ones, he was trying to put an emphasis in the hearts of the people in this place on the importance of addressing the will of the victims, the need to go all out with all strength, to put a stop to a very dangerous activity, and in order to do that, it required severe penalties and serious deterrent sentencing. What has been proposed in Bill C-65 has dishonoured Mr. Cadman's memory, by moving forward with this watered down version of what I know Mr. Cadman was fighting so hard to achieve, not only on this bill but on a number of other bills.
We sat side by side in the justice committee for a long time on many issues. I remember the conversation we had one day regarding some individuals who were sent to jail. These individuals were handcuffed, put in leg irons, taken out of court in front of their families and went directly to jail. Does anyone know what the crime was? These were farmers who had taken a bit of grain across the border without a Wheat Board permit. They were going to be made an example of. This government and its legislation sent those vicious farmers to the penitentiary.
Mr. Cadman would ask, “Good grief, what is going on?”. At the same time, this government, as we heard today in question period, was leaning toward sentencing people who abused, attacked or assaulted children to house arrest or community service. I think what Mr. Cadman wanted more than anything else was that the punishment of any kind of crime in this country should fit the crime that was committed. There should be a matchup.
To send farmers to jail at that time was mind-boggling to all of us, as to why this severe action had to be taken when we were putting other criminals who were violent and dangerous to society on the streets, under house arrest, or doing community service. Today we are still mind-boggled by this Liberal government when we constantly see in courts across the land, such as a person being convicted of 15 counts of fraud, virtually stealing $1.5 million and being sentenced to house arrest, I think he has to be home by 9 o'clock, and having to teach business ethics in certain schools across the land.
Can anyone imagine? That is a very lenient sentence. Yet those farmers who took the dab of grain across the border, which they owned and should have a right to move and sell as they see fit, went directly to jail because they did not obey the law. Can anyone tell me where any of that makes one bit of sense?
In 1994 Mr. Cadman was involved with these victims groups very strongly. I remember a very strong lady. I cannot recall whether it was 1994 or early 1995, but it was in those early years. Priscilla de Villiers was the president of this victims association. The numbers were growing by the thousands and that organization under her directorship brought over 2.5 million signatures on a petition to this place. I know you, Mr. Speaker, will remember the day that petition was brought to this place demanding that the House and the government get serious about crime in this country and do something about it.
It is now 10 years or 11 years later. Let me assure everyone that all the victims who belonged to this and other organizations across this country have worked very hard to achieve some good law and order, some good sense that would truly bring justice to this land. This government has ignored those 2.5 million signatures just as sure as the day is long and it continues to ignore the crime petitions from victims all across the country who send them to every member of the House as we table them.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why any Canadian would continue to have a group of people in charge of this government who do not recognize that victims mean a heck of a whole lot more than the criminals who perpetrate crime.
We have to start recognizing the seriousness of those crimes and the effect that they are having on our children. We have to start addressing them in the manner that Mr. Cadman wanted to do with the street racing bill. Instead the Liberals continue to water everything down, making everything so soft while the victims are growing in numbers.
Do members believe we would have victims' organizations if we were doing our job in this place? I think they would not be there. We have to start doing our job.