Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak, and I want to thank the hon. members for listening.
From the outset, I would like to say that the Bloc Québécois will support this bill. Of course, we will take our work seriously during committee meetings, and we will propose amendments. However, we recognize, and have for a few years now, that car theft and the cross-border trafficking of parts used to build cars are an important issue.
When discussing the issue of car theft, we must keep in mind that there are two levels to this. The first is organized crime. One in five cars stolen in Canada is linked to organized crime networks. I have been a member of this House for 16 years now. Despite the fact that I look very young, this is my sixth election campaign. I have been a member of this House for 16 years. I have always been interested in the issue of organized crime, which is now in its fourth generation. Organized criminals are operating in new ways. There is the whole issue of organized crime infiltrating into the above-ground economy. For a long time, the main products in the organized crime line up were drugs, illegal betting and gambling, and the control of certain licensed establishments. But, in the past few years, we have seen organized crime infiltrate into the above-ground economy, including, unfortunately, the construction industry. Members of the RCMP appeared before the committee to name a few of the industries where organized crime was more likely to take hold. They talked about the automobile industry, the landscaping industry and the construction industry. I am not trying to imply that the entire construction industry has fallen prey to organized crime. It is, however, one of the more vulnerable industries. Why? Because there is the possibility of overbilling. There are a lot of contracts out there, and a lot of money is changing hands. The issue of car theft is clearly tied to the issue of organized crime infiltrating into the above-ground economy.
There is also a second level, car theft. These are groups of young people who steal cars for the weekend and commit petty theft. They want to joyride and to have a good time and they cannot really be lumped in with organized crime. In either case, it is, of course, extremely distressing and causes a great deal of inconvenience for the victim. It also has an impact on the way society works.
To give an idea of the extent of this phenomenon, I can say this. In Canada in 2006—quite recently, that is—about 160,000 vehicles were stolen. According to the Groupement des assureurs automobiles, there were more than 38,000 vehicle thefts in Quebec in 2006. That is a significant number. Quebec is not the leading province for vehicle thefts. By comparison, per 100,000 inhabitants, Quebec has 507, Alberta has 725 and Manitoba has 1,376. The average across Canada is 487.
Let me repeat, 38,800 vehicles were stolen in Quebec in 2006. Quebec is not in the lead when it comes to vehicle theft. In Alberta, for example, there are 725 thefts per 100,000 inhabitants, In Manitoba, it is 1,376 per 100,000. I heard the testimony from the mayor of Winnipeg when we began hearings on Bill C-53 in the last Parliament. I know that it an extremely serious problem in Manitoba.
BillC-26 is not perfect because it contains mandatory minimum sentences. I will come back to that. Everyone recognizes that the Bloc Québécois is an extremely thorough and consistent party in the positions it takes. Each time that mandatory minimum sentences appear in a bill, we express our reservations and we try to amend the bill by working at the committee stage to have the mandatory minimum sentences removed. I will talk about that later.
But all in all, this is a good bill and the Bloc Québécois, in its legendary wisdom, will support it because, once more, we recognize that this is a major problem all across Canada.