Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the questions of my colleague from Yukon.
I did find that in my notes. I found the study. Maybe somehow the government missed it. It is called “Mandatory Minimum Penalties: Their Effects on Crime, Sentencing Disparities, and Justice System Expenditures”. It was done in 2002 by the justice department. It said, “MMS”, mandatory minimum sentences, “do not appear to influence drug consumption or drug-related crime in any measurable way”. That was the basic conclusion the study reached.
To answer the question more specifically about the miscommunication, I do not think there was any miscommunication. I know a number of people in the justice department. I am sure they showed this to the justice ministers. However, again, there are blinkers being worn by the government. The Conservatives are so driven by their ideology on this issue. They sincerely believe that if we punish people more, and more severely, we can change their habits.
They are absolutely refusing--I was going to say “reluctant” but that is too soft--to open their eyes to look at anything else. If the justice officials said to them that they had done all this research, here is the result, it shows no measurable difference, and there is no use at all in us doing this, they would just ignore that. I am quite sure that this is what happened.
With regard to the other issue about the availability of treatment when a person is incarcerated, if a person is incarcerated at the provincial level, there is hardly any available treatment. What is available is so backlogged that the vast majority of people who serve two years less a day will never get through the backlog. Those people will be out of custody before treatment is available.
The situation at the federal level is not much different. The vast majority of treatment programs, especially around drugs, are fairly scarce at the federal level. They are severely backlogged in terms of availability. Again, in the vast majority of cases, people may access those treatment programs, but if they actually serve four years, they may get into it by their third year, and then they are there for such a short period of time that it really does not work.