Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to put some comments on the record concerning Bill C-64, a bill to amend the Criminal Code in regard to vehicle identification numbers.
Auto theft is a huge problem in cities all across Canada. In fact, across Canada in 2003, 170,000 vehicles were stolen.
Today I would like to talk about my home province of Manitoba. As the member of Parliament for Kildonan--St. Paul, I have to say that the crime rates and the rate of vehicle theft are extremely high. Under the guidance of the present Liberal government, we have had real problems controlling this.
In 2004 there were 13,425 vehicles stolen. After talking to community people and in schools and in speaking with people in the justice field in Manitoba, I must say that it all stems from the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which the present government put forward. When the Youth Criminal Justice Act was changed, there were no teeth in it and, over a decade, the Liberal government has not been able to keep the citizens of Canada safe.
Today when we talk about Bill C-64, we talk about it because a very honourable man, Chuck Cadman, put forward an initial proposal that had some teeth in it. Chuck Cadman knew the seriousness of the stolen vehicles issue, the danger that it put youth in, and the problems it put on the backs of families when they were unable to pay for the damage from what I call the joyriding or the stolen cars.
In Winnipeg, as I said before, it is a real problem. In 2005, on average, a vehicle is stolen in Winnipeg every hour, so when we hear the Liberal Party talking about being tough on crime, it is rather worrisome to hear the hyperbole in this House of Commons without any action being put in place.
Chuck Cadman put forth an idea in this country, the idea that people had a right to be safe. He put that forward because in his own life he had experienced a very tragic event, so he started looking at all the aspects of how we could make innocent victims safe.
With the stolen vehicle problem, people in Winnipeg and Manitoba are very fearful of having their vehicles stolen and having no recourse. For the youths and others who steal these cars, because it is not only youths who do it, there are very few or no consequences for their actions. As I said earlier, that is largely due to the Liberal government's watering down of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It has no teeth. The youths know it. It has no credibility.
Thus we see the litany of the history in over a decade since the Liberals came to power. We see the litany of a history of ineffectiveness, of keeping crime under wraps in Canada.
Chuck Cadman put forward some really good ideas. I want to put this on the record, because in order to better reflect Mr. Cadman's initial desire to create a useful tool for enforcement agencies to tackle auto theft and organized crime, the legislation should remove part of proposed section 377.1(1). This was recommended by Chuck Cadman.
As we know, members opposite in the Liberal government are touting these two bills as the Cadman bills. In actual fact they are not the Cadman bills, nor do they have the intent that Chuck Cadman had when he put these bills into play.
He said, in proposed section 377.1:
Everyone commits an offence who, wholly or partially alters, removes or obliterates a vehicle identification number on a motor vehicle without lawful excuse....
Here is what was added:
--and under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable inference that the person did so to conceal the identity of the motor vehicle.
This last part was added to Chuck Cadman's original bill and adds to the Crown's job of proving the offence. The phrase “reasonable inference” is ambiguous and could give rise to holes in the bill's successful implementation. Mr. Cadman put the onus of proof for a lawful excuse on the person indicated, which is not included in this bill, Bill C-64.
The problem with the history that the Liberal government has left with Canadians in terms of dealing with the justice system is that we now have a justice system in disrepair. We now have an environment of fear in Canadian cities and on Canadian streets about the safety of the innocent victims who are there every day.
Just a couple of weeks ago, when we voted on a bill to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16, members opposite defeated that bill. The Liberal government said no. In this country, 14 year olds now can lawfully have sex with adults. That is wrong.
Then the government used Chuck Cadman's good name and said it would be tough on crime. The only problem is that the bills that have been brought forward, like this one, Bill C-64 on vehicle identification number removal, do not reflect the spirit of what Chuck Cadman meant when he wanted to make sure that there were some teeth in the bill.
Let us look at the gun registry. Everyone knows that we want guns off the streets. We know now that there is more gun violence across Canada than ever before. This is another historic blueprint that the Liberal government has put on the backs of Canadian citizens. There is a lot of money for scandal. There is a lot of money for Liberal-friendly people, but there is no money for soldiers or police forces or for putting more police officers on the street.
When we talk about vehicle identification removal, we have to put the teeth into everything so that there are consequences for the crimes committed. When in Manitoba in the city of Winnipeg a vehicle is stolen every hour and when we have diminished police resources and a Youth Justice Act that has no teeth, we have big problems.
Also today, I would like to applaud this honourable former member of Parliament, Chuck Cadman, who did everything he could to make Canadian streets safer.
Motor vehicle theft costs Canadians an estimated $600 million a year. The impact that this crime has on families is phenomenal. Clearly in this decade it is so regrettable that the current Liberal government is unable to get a plan forward that can protect the citizens of Canada.
For my province of Manitoba, I have to say quite clearly that Canadians can take a lot of hope from the policies we have on this side of the House and from the information and the plan we on this side of the House have.