Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-15, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.
Government members seem to think all they have to do is come here and list the provisions of a bill and that is their speech, but that does not speak to why the government is doing things. It does not speak to the impact the government is expecting. It does not address what the opposing views may have been and how they have been addressed or how they have been dismissed or how they have been compensated for. When committees handle bills, it is important that they bring back to the House a sense of where they have been on their important journey dealing with issues that are very important to Canadians.
However, the starting point of this bill was flawed in the first place because it was presented as a justice bill. Therefore, members should understand that we are dealing with a justice issue, not in the context of other important elements such as health issues and certain other areas. In fact, it is even narrower than that because it simply is another proxy for the government to say that it is tough on crime because it has brought in mandatory minimums. If we listen to the speeches and read the transcripts of the speeches that government members have given on this bill, they have continued to say that there is going to be a mandatory minimum and people say that is good because the offenders are not getting a penalty otherwise.
Not one of the government members included in his or her speech, and I listened carefully, that all of the offences that are referred to in this bill are subject to penalties of up to life imprisonment. Do members realize that? I do not think a lot of the people who are following the debate realize that. We are talking about very serious criminal offences. We are talking about drug offences and trafficking related to organized crime, utilization of weapons, dealing with these problems in the schools and being plagues on society. These are very serious crimes and they are subject to imprisonment up to life. I will read from the bill itself. This is the justice language, but these are indictable offences and liable to imprisonment for life. It says “for life”. It does not say “up to life”. Members have to read it. It is imprisonment for life. There is judicial discretion.
We are dealing with the most serious crimes. We are dealing with organized crime, those who are the plagues on society who use drug money to finance all other kinds of criminal offences. That is very serious. I suppose that anybody who is going to be charged with an offence related to organized crime is going to get a penalty up to life. If the government prescribes a mandatory minimum of one year, how is that important? Does it not say something? If a mandatory minimum is being put in, then some people are getting no sentence for this serious crime under the existing law. Is that true? I do not think so.