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House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firefighters.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. This is one of the major components of the bill, which shows that it has been weakened and watered down. It is not what Chuck Cadman was after. We all know what he was trying to seek and that important part that has been left out.

There is something really strange about the justice minister and the ones before him. They put emphasis on certain things that never seem to have an impact on crime. The minister today constantly refers to minimum mandatory sentences as being something he favours, but his studies show it does not work. I do not understand that kind of comment. They can find all kinds of studies to show different effects of different decisions. What I would like to see is somebody in charge of the criminal justice system who not only has the fortitude but who has the heart to start doing what is right for our country. This place has been lacking the heart and the willingness to stand for victims and do what it right from that side of the House.

I virtually am sick and tired of hearing over and over again that they must ensure this passes the charter test, lest the criminal be offended. It is not about a charter test. It is about doing the right thing for the people in our country. Just for once, let us start doing the right thing.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, anytime we listen to the member for Wild Rose and his concerns about the justice system, we learn a lot.

Yesterday, representatives from the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving visited me. One of their major concerns, as the member expressed, is the lack of attention being paid to people who go on our streets under the influence, cause accidents, quite often resulting in death and there are absolutely no deterrents. Quite often the courts slap them on the wrists. Police chiefs have talked about the work that they do, the investigative time and effort and the paperwork to get people into court and they get a slap on the wrist.

Could the member tell us if our justice system is completely out of control? Are we turning over our cities to the criminals? If not, then something is wrong out there.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member's last statement was right on. There is something wrong out there.

The Liberal government soft peddles on crime and has a mushy attitude toward it. One guy committed 15 counts of fraud. His sentence involved teaching business ethics in college and being home by 9 o'clock at night. Those kinds of sentences reflect on the philosophy and the beliefs of the Liberal Party. Those members are in charge. The courts continue to reflect Liberal philosophy on dealing with crime.

That is not what the people of Canada desire. They want us to quit soft peddling around with criminal issues and start going after the real problem. The problem starts over on that side of the House. Those members do not have the courage to do what is right because they are afraid they might offend somebody under the Charter of Rights or whatever it might be. They have to start doing the right thing.

Training convicts in prisons to be good gang members is sick, and that goes on today. What kind of prison system is that? What kind of prison system would release convicts onto the streets, knowing they have been well trained by Hells Angels or other gangs in the penitentiaries? We allow that kind of thing to go on in our prisons. We have to stop this nonsense.

The member is absolutely right. There is something dreadfully wrong, and that is the wrong people are in charge of the country and that has to change.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey Conservative North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to debate this issue today. It certainly is timely in my case.

The distinguished member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl a minute ago referred to the crime situation as a run away rampant situation in cities. I represent an entirely rural riding in Nova Scotia. We have seen an incredible increase in vandalism, minor crimes, repeat offences, issues that make people's lives miserable. It prevents them from enjoying their own properties, and they feel insecure in their homes. I feel this.

I have been here for quite a while. I did not feel this until just within the last two years. It is coming to my riding and if it is there, it is everywhere.

However, I want to speak to Bill C-65 today and acknowledge the contribution that Chuck Cadman made on these issues. He had several issues of which he was a tireless supporter, always in the interest of other people's security and safety. He brought this concept to the House through two bills, Bill C-338 and Bill C-230. One was on misidentification of VIN numbers on vehicles a crime and the other was on street racing. At the time the Liberals opposed these bills, making all kinds of statements about them. They blew them away and said they were not appropriate.

I have a quote from the minister of justice at the time, Martin Cauchon, who in speaking to Mr. Cadman said:

Your proposed bill would result in a mandatory driving prohibition....As you are aware, the Canadian criminal justice system is premised on the notion that sentences should be individualized for each offender... Research indicates that mandatory minimum penalties do not work from the point of general deterrence and recidivism.

That is exactly what we need. The other part that has been watered down in Bill C-65, as compared to Chuck's bill, is the penalty for repeat offenders.

In a recent incident in Halifax, a young woman was killed and the driver of the car had something like 15 or 20 outstanding offences. Despite repeated offences, he still drove and he was the cause of a fatal accident. It has had a profound impact on the community. Bills like those proposed by Chuck Cadman, not like this one, would have helped prevent that.

I want to go into other issues that affect my riding in northern Nova Scotia. As I mentioned, we have seen an increase in criminal activity such as theft, vandalism, damage, cars stolen and break-ins. I want to go through three little communities in my riding that have experienced virtual crime waves for the first time in their history.

I went to a meeting in a community hall in Stewiacke, Nova Scotia about a month ago, and 80 people attended. I could not believe the stories of vandalism, theft and break-ins. I could not believe the number of people who now were scared to stay in their own homes. I also could not believe the fact that they would call the police and there was no response. Most of these people know many of the criminals and they are already on the list of offenders. However, because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, they are repeat offenders and the police have very few tools to rein in these criminals.

Stewiacke has a lack of RCMP officers now, although they used to be present. I then found out their building had been shut down because of a mould problem and nobody had done anything to resurrect the building so Stewiacke lost its RCMP presence. I raised it in the House and as a result of that, a temporary building is under construction now. Now Stewiacke will have a building and hopefully an RCMP presence to deal with these issues.

The Liberals seem to be turning the other way on all these criminal justice issues.They do not seem to be interested. It is puzzling to us why they do not care and why they allow these issues to go on and on.

Earlier this year we had an issue in Truro. It was rumoured that the northeast drug section, the most successful drug enforcement operation in the region, was to be shut down. We raised the issue in the House and I think we slowed it down and perhaps stopped the elimination of the drug enforcement section. However because the RCMP officers have been moved around it is hard to tell whether they are there or not. However senior RCMP officials have told us that they do not have the number of officers they need to provide the minimum level of law enforcement in Nova Scotia.

The other thing that came out was that when they do have a number of officers and one goes on maternity leave or sick leave, there is no allowance for the replacement of those officers. Therefore, even though they can show an allotment of officers on duty and available, they are not really there. This is another issue we raised in the House and hopefully the Solicitor General or the Attorney General will deal with this.

Another small community in my riding is Debert. We have had all kinds of vandalism there. People are afraid to go out on the streets. They are afraid for their homes and businesses because of the buildings that have been burned. They are afraid of property damage. They are afraid of threats and intimidation. The RCMP came back and reported to us that they do not have enough manpower to have the RCMP presence there to deal with these issues. They tell us that they do not have the types of vehicles they need to apprehend the criminals. They tell us that they just do not have the equipment or the people.

This is not just about street racing. It is a whole attitude on behalf of the Liberals, and I do not understand it. They are looking the other way. They do not care about these issues which are going to grow and grow, as street racing is in my riding, and then soon, hopefully, they will deal with the issues. However if they do not, we will.

Street racing is a growing issue and it is right across the country but it is not just about street racing. It is the lack of RCMP officers and the support they have. The government does not give them the support or the resources they need to hire replacement officers and new officers when they are needed. They do not have the money for the proper facilities. Stewiacke has a perfectly good building but it is empty because it cannot be maintained. People in Stewiacke are demanding that the Youth Criminal Justice Act be strengthened and that stiffer sentences for repeat offenders be applied.

This is exactly where the bill falls flat. It does not allow for stiffer sentences for repeat offenders and that is the single biggest reason why I will not be supporting the bill.

Yesterday almost all of our questions were on justice issues. It was amazing to hear the number of issues that come up around the country. We represent the whole country and everybody is experiencing these problems. We heard no answers and there was no indication that the Liberals want to deal with these issues. They are turning a blind eye to this issue and it will come back to haunt us all if we do not address it.

The RCMP needs the tools to work with. The justice system needs the tools to work with. The youth justice system needs to be strengthened. Certain crimes need mandatory sentences, as we have advocated for years. This is not just about one or two little issues. This is a whole attitude toward justice and it must be increased and strengthened.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy, NB

Mr. Speaker, I was particularly interested in my hon. colleague's comments about his rural riding. I have a similar riding in Fundy Royal, New Brunswick, that has many small towns and villages. I hear a lot of the same complaints that he raised about a fear people have in their own homes, which is absolutely unacceptable. I also hear about RCMP detachments that have, for example, six members but only one is on duty because of one circumstance or another. However if that officer should run into, for example, a domestic dispute, he or she will need the next available officer for backup, who is over an hour away, before he or she will even enter a premise to help out if someone is in need.

We did talk a lot recently about justice issues. We are dealing with this bill right now. Who is being served by the Liberal approach to the criminal justice program? To me, there seems to be a distinct lack of compassion. Where is the compassion? My hon. colleague mentioned the young woman who was killed by someone who had 15 to 20 prior offences. Where is the compassion for the victims? Where is the compassion for the families of victims and the compassion for Canadians, in particular, seniors, who fear being alone in their homes?

I am wondering if my hon. colleague can comment on who is being served by this approach to crime.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey Conservative North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member for Fundy Royal and I do have similar type ridings. They are both rural ridings that are very involved with agriculture and dairy farming.

In the towns in my riding, most people leave the keys in their cars. They do not even lock their doors, or they did not until recently, but this is now changing. People are afraid for their lives, their security and their cars. They are especially afraid for their wharves.

I was first elected in 1988 and I have been here off and on since 1988. I was defeated in 1993 and I came back in 1997. However I have never seen the workload in our office as we have now with respect to criminal justice issues.

The member mentioned that the RCMP in one of his communities has six officers but only one is available. When they closed the RCMP office in Stewiacke and did not bother to open it, the people had to call Tim Horton's to get an RCMP officer because the RCMP office was closed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey Conservative North Nova, NS

It is a true story.

The question is, who is being served by the Liberals' attitude? Criminals are being served by the Liberals' attitude while the innocent are the victims of the Liberal attitude.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley raised a very important point.

We only have to look at the overall security of the country and the lack of willingness by the government to deal with it. We only have to look at the contracts that a lot of municipalities and small towns have signed with the federal government, or directly with the RCMP, for RCMP coverage. The RCMP puts 10 or 12 officers in a detachment but if two of those officers are sick or injured and not able to report for duty, the government does not see any reason to fulfil its contract by bringing two other officers in. Actually, the municipality or town pays for 12 officers but only receives the attention of 10 or 8 officers some of the time.

Would the hon. member care to comment on that?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey Conservative North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, as luck would have it, I would care to comment on that. I have run into that exact problem, as I am sure the member and other members have. When the RCMP officers are out on maternity leave or sick leave, they are not replaced, so even though everybody thinks there are six officers, there may only be two. It is one of the biggest problems they have as far as maintaining a level of operations.

One thing the government should do right now to make it nice and simple is to change the policy. If an RCMP officer is out sick, he or she should be replaced. The level of service should be maintained.

I know that in Nova Scotia, officers are seconded. If there is a need somewhere else, an officer is pulled out of one branch and taken to another without the original community being advised. That community may not even have any protection while all the time everyone in the community thinks they do have RCMP protection.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

At the request of the deputy House leader, the vote will be deferred until the end of government orders on Monday, October 24.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, in spite of that excellent deferral until Monday, there have been discussions among all the parties and there is an agreement pursuant to Standing Order 45(7) to further defer the recorded division just requested on Bill C-65 until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 25.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.