Mr. Speaker, the compelling nature of the tackling violent crime act is illustrated more clearly by the fact that every party in this House is pretending to support it today. This party has always supported the contents of the tackling violent crime act. The Liberals have always opposed it, as have the Bloc and the NDP.
However, they know that their constituents profoundly support the principles contained inside that bill and, as such, have twisted themselves into knots today to pretend that they, too, support the Conservative tackling crime agenda. However, let us review their records before we give them a free ride.
In opposition, our party continually fought to raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 to protect teenagers from adult sexual predators. The Liberals consistently, over 13 years, blocked those changes while in government. The NDP were of no help, I will mention by the way, during that time either.
On the issue of mandatory minimum penalties, the Liberals opposed those in government, opposed them even in opposition, but are pretending to support them now in order to try to pacify the immense public sympathy that exists for the provision. On dangerous offender status, the Liberals and the rest of the opposition have opposed our initiatives.
The bill, as well, addresses issues such as impaired driving and reverse onus on bail.
I am going to go through the elements of this bill one by one, but I am going to begin by making a very clear procedural point.
The Liberals claim that they were willing to fast track all of this legislation long ago. Even if they were telling the truth, and they are not, why is it that the Liberal Senate will not pass the legislation today?
Once again, if they were willing to fast track the legislation months ago, surely, they would be willing to adopt the legislation today, but they are not.
Let us examine, piece by piece, what it is that the Liberals have been obstructing for so many months. Let us start with mandatory minimum penalties for firearms offences.
To begin with, this legislation was introduced as its own bill in May 2006, almost two years ago. Now, the Liberals claim that they were just about to get around to passing that bill through the Senate when the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament some months ago. However, if they were really interested in passing that legislation, why did they not do it months before, given that it had been introduced almost two years earlier? The reason is they do not support our toughened measures to crack down on gun criminals.
On the issue of age of protection, this member sitting right next to me, the member for Wild Rose, pleaded with the then Liberal government to increase the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. The Liberal government consistently blocked all of those efforts because the Liberal Party believed that 14 was old enough.
On the issue of dangerous offenders, Liberals stood in the House of Commons and said that our tough new measures to designate three-time violent or sexual criminals as dangerous offenders and then put them away indefinitely would violate the constitutional rights of the criminal. That is what Liberals argued. That is what many Liberals continue to argue. Now, they claim that they supported the bill. They cannot have it both ways.
Let me return to mandatory jail time for gun criminals. I would just turn the House's attention to the fact that while the Liberals claim that they support that legislation now, the vast majority of them, in fact, almost all of them, voted against mandatory jail for gun criminals. The Liberals consistently opposed Bill C-10, the then mandatory jail time bill. So, now they claim that they are in favour of it in order to mask the soft on crime position that they have historically taken. That is intellectually dishonest.
Mandatory jail time provisions that are now in the tackling violent crime act would guarantee that a gun criminal would have five years in jail for his first offence and seven years for the second offence. The bill would take the most violent and dangerous gun criminals off the street and ensure that they cannot wreak havoc on our communities any longer.
I would remind the House that the bill in its previous form sat before Parliament for almost two years before prorogation. It had been blocked in the Senate for months upon months when finally the Prime Minister did the responsible thing and bundled it in with other legislation that is also tough on crime and forced it through the chamber.
On the issue of the age of sexual consent, Liberals now claim that they are in favour of raising the age of sexual consent after 13 years of opposing that change.
However, there was a little problem in the Senate. Senator Carstairs apparently did not get the memo. She thought that Liberals were still being honest about their view on the age of sexual consent. She thought that she could tell people what she really thought and her real belief on the issue of the age of sexual consent. She did not hear from the Liberal leader that she was meant to perform a spectacular reversal and hide her real thoughts. She said this on Mike Duffy Live just recently: “The other issue is the whole age of consent issue. I am concerned that this may prevent young women and young men from reporting sexually transmitted diseases. I am concerned that it might put a chill on family life education programs. I am concerned that young prostitutes will be driven underground by this legislation”.
To begin with, prostitution, the last time I checked, is already illegal, so it is already driven underground. Second, I have no idea what Liberal Senator Carstairs means when she suggests that somehow raising the age of sexual consent to prevent adult pedophiles from targeting young kids will cause greater transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. I have no idea what she could possibly mean by that.
However, she removed the veil. She admitted that she opposes the Conservative effort to raise the age of sexual consent. She revealed where Liberals have always stood. The Liberals believe that the age of sexual consent should be 14. We believe it should be 16. That is why our government has been forced to make this a confidence issue.
The Liberal strategy on crime has been quite an interesting one. It has been to privately and procedurally oppose the tough new measures without publicly admitting those intentions. In fact, on the one hand while Liberals oppose the tackling violent crime act procedurally, they storm around pretending publicly that they are in favour of it.
We will not let them get away with that any longer. The Prime Minister packaged together the tackling violent crime act and shone the spotlight on Liberal hypocrisy on crime. All of a sudden, we have them moving over there. We have struck a hornet's nest because members of the Liberal caucus are now scattered around the House of Commons trying to convince the whole world that they always supported the Conservative agenda on crime, that they never really opposed it, and that their delays never really occurred.
I hope that this backtracking in the Liberal Party will take itself all the way up to the Senate. One thing is for sure, if the Liberal Senate will not bring the tackling violent crime act back to the House of Commons unamended by the end of the month, members of the Liberal Party will have to explain their behaviour on crime to voters in an imminent election.That is the simple reality. Does everyone know what that is called? It is called accountability.
If Liberals want to be soft on crime in a free country, it is their right to take that wrong-headed position. They have the right to their wrong opinion. However, it is the right of the Canadian voter to hold them accountable for that position and accountable they will be. More importantly, I believe that the Liberal Senate will back down and pass the bill because it is the right thing to do and Canadians are forcing the Liberal Party to change on crime.
Let us review the contents of this legislation. First, there would be mandatory jail time for gun criminals. This provision in the tackling violent crime act would guarantee that offenders convicted of gun crimes would go to jail for five years the first time and seven years the second time.
It would create new offences: attempted murder, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, hostage taking and discharging a firearm with intent. All of these are new firearms offences that augment existing offences in the Criminal Code. These new offences would guarantee that criminals are held to account for their gun crimes.
This legislation has the support of the chiefs of police, police associations, and it even has the support of the Liberal Premier of Ontario. The only one who does not support it is the Liberal leader and the vast majority of his caucus who voted against it when it came before the House of Commons. The Liberal Party has never supported these measures, but we are changing that by putting the spotlight on it.
Changing the age of protection and the age of sexual consent is responding to the call of parents right across this country who want us to help them protect their kids from sexual predators. In my constituency, numerous police officers have approached me and said that this tool would help them protect local Nepean—Carleton kids against Internet child predators.
The appeals that police officers, like Ray Lamarre of Nepean, have made to me has caused me to summon all of my energy in order to achieve that change to our Criminal Code. I have been collecting petitions in my constituency. I even launched an essay writing contest for young people to participate in to explain the ideas they had to protect other kids from the scourge of Internet pedophilia.
However, the one change in our Criminal Code that experts all across this country, and by experts I refer to police officers and parents not sociology professors and defence lawyers, all of the real experts want the age of sexual consent raised from 14 to 16.
That might not accord with the values of the Liberal Party. The Liberal leader has a history of believing in strange academic theories that flow from his time as an aloof sociology professor and all of that is very interesting in some strange academic circle, but among everyday people, and we know the folks I am talking about, those who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules, raising the age of sexual consent is basic common sense.
I am very proud to support the tackling violent crime act. Given that most of this legislation has been before the House of Commons and Senate for months, and some of it has been here for years, there is no reason for any more delay. At this point, now that we have illustrated the necessity of passing the tackling violent crime act, let us get to the unfortunate political obstacle that sits in front of us.
We have a Liberal Party that secretly opposes the bill and is asking its friends in the Senate to do its dirty work. Liberals claim that they were willing to fast track all of this legislation months ago in a procedural stunt that the Speaker has indicated never would have been allowed.
However, let us assume for a moment that they were sincere about fast-tracking this legislation. If they really wanted to fast-track our tackling violent crime legislation seven or eight months ago, clearly they should have no problem fast-tracking it today. Why do they not? Why does Liberal Senator Carstairs, who is part of the radical left of the Liberal Party, stomp her feet, scream and holler that she cannot possibly do her job between now and March because it is not enough time, if her party claimed it was willing to fast-track all this legislation seven or eight months ago?
There is a logical inconsistency here and that speaks to the nature of the Liberal Party saying one thing in public and playing a different game in the dark halls of the Senate. These games they are playing will not go unnoticed by crime victims. They have not gone unnoticed by voters. Voters see that the Liberals are using the radical wing of their party through Liberal Senator Carstairs to block the tackling violent crime legislation and to oppose its measures from coming into effect.
A Liberal Senator has argued that raising the age of sexual consent would somehow cause sexually transmitted diseases to spread all across the country. That is Liberal Senator Carstairs. That woman could not be elected dog catcher, which is why she is in the Liberal Senate. She has absolutely no popular appeal among ordinary folks and yet--