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.