Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I am having to speak to a bill that has a lot of problems, but it has one small part, the remnants of the former Liberal Bill C-70, that we want to keep. To do that I am going to have to vote for a bill that has so many problems. However, we want to get it to committee, as I think the majority of speakers have said, so we can make the corrections.
Provisions in this particular bill regarding conditional sentences are covered under section 742.1 of the Criminal Code. In fact, they were paraphrased by the justice minister on May 29 in his speech. In both place it says that the court is satisfied that serving the sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community.
Therefore, if individuals cannot get a conditional sentence when they would be endangering the community, then why do we need to reduce conditional sentences at all? It does not make any sense at all. In fact, they could get even more and better treatment and directions than they could in jail, because as part of conditional sentencing, they might have to pay back the victim, be ordered to perform community service, or attend various treatment programs that may not be available in jail.
There were a few, and let me ensure members that there were very few, unfortunate situations, compared to the many successes of conditional sentences. The Liberals tabled Bill C-70 which would have dealt with those. Unfortunately, it did not pass because of the election, so I am glad that those parts are back in this bill, but that bill basically would have removed, except for presumption of cases, conditional sentences for serious personal injury offences, terrorism offences, which is so cogent today, criminal organization offences and denunciation.
This is particularly important to me in the north because, as the critic representing the whole north, I have had women from Yukon and Nunavut who do not want to see these types of sexual assault and personal injury offences treated in such a way that the victim is victimized again or in any danger. That is why we had promoted this bill and that is why I am going to have to vote for a bill that has a lot of problems, to get the protection in those particular cases for women. Hopefully, we can take the many other problems out of the bill, or it just will not be acceptable to vote for it at further readings.
There is a problem because it will take 92 offences, many of which are not in the last bit violent, away from the very successful solution of being treated by conditional sentences. In fact, as the justice department has said, it would lead to the incarceration, using present statistics, of about 5,400 of the 15,000 people who previously had conditional sentences. To give an example, as the Minister of Justice said, there would have been 466 people sent to jail in B.C., over 1,000 in Quebec and over 603 in Saskatchewan, once again many for non-violent crimes. This is a huge change to the justice system that has had advances in sentencing and reducing crime in this country. In Saskatchewan, that would put 61% of the people in jail who otherwise would have had more logical treatment.
There is a famous saying that for every complex problem there is a simple solution, and it is wrong. That is basically a summary of this bill. By taking this catch-all phrase and catching the few instances that were a problem, we are creating many more problems and dangers for society. We are actually endangering Canadian citizens in a number of ways which I will outline at the end of my speech.
I would like to give some examples of offences that are not violent and where people would not be in danger if a person were to be given better treatment. There is perjury; refusing to deliver property; providing contradictory evidence with the intent to mislead; stopping mail with intent; fabricating evidence; obtaining things based on forged documents; possessing counterfeit money; possessing a noxious substance with intent to cause bodily harm; unauthorized possession of a firearm; certain types of intercourse and incest; abduction; contravening a custody order, and everyone has heard of a parent who has taken his or her child at an inappropriate time in a custody battle; being unlawfully in a dwelling house, and who has not gone into someone's house when they were not home, people they thought were friends, and not been there unlawfully; disguised with intent; theft of mail; forgery; and uttering forged documents.
In some situations it could be criminal to actually send someone to jail and it could make a seasoned criminal out of them when the success of conditional sentencing and other treatments would make more sense.
It is obviously prejudicial to aboriginal people because a higher percentage of the aboriginal population is incarcerated than the regular population. It is particularly cogent in Nunavut where the jails are so far from the home.
The Conservatives think family values are important and to be separated for a minor offence so far from one's family can create far more problems for the person and make that person ultimately far more dangerous to society than had the person had the option of a conditional sentence for these non-violent types of situations.
The bill reflects a lack of understanding of the whole concept of sentencing in Canada, the sentencing that has been so modernized and is now reducing crime rates. The judges, who are experts and trained in this field, listen to all the evidence, understand the person's situation, knows whether theses are repeat offences and the person's age and can then determine from a whole array of solutions the best treatment for the person and therefore make that person the safest in society and not endanger citizens. By totally eliminating the options for those 92 offences is a backward step in the criminal justice system.
It costs $95,000 to keep a young offender in jail for a year for a non-violent crime. For that money we could have taken that young person swimming twice a week for 30 weeks, skating once a week for 50 weeks, to play in a basketball league for 26 weeks, to play badminton for 30 weeks, golfing 20 times at a nine hole golf course, to participate in fencing or karate, to take an art course for 30 weeks, to act in a theatre production, to teach them computer skills, to take a boating course, to acquire leadership skills, to take a first aid course, to participate in a drop-in and buy the young person all the equipment for these activities and still return $93,000 to the Government of Canada that would not have been spent on simple incarceration that makes it less likely the person will be a positive addition to society.
I want to give the 10 reasons as to why the bill is endangering Canadian citizens and why it will be more dangerous for them if it were to pass. First, many of the crimes can also proceed by summary conviction and the judges will do that rather than give an inappropriate jail term.
Second, a suspended sentence with probation is another option. Once again, offenders will not receive a conditional sentence. It will just be a suspended sentence and it will be more dangerous on the streets.
Third, the judges will not convict. In fact, the bill may be cruel punishment and not be constitutional on a simple crime.
Fourth, there would be more conditional discharges which would make it more dangerous for Canadians.
Fifth, they would serve time where both quality and quantity of the treatment may not be nearly as effective.
Those are the first five of the reasons that the bill would make Canada more dangerous. I will do the other five if someone asks me the question.