Of course they know it.
My colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, who spoke earlier today, stood and, over and over again, said that we must punish where punishment is warranted and we must protect when protection is warranted, but that we need to do it in the Canadian way, in a fair way. That is why, with the member's suggestion as the critic, and I agree, the bill must go to committee. I am confident some good ideas will come forward to make some changes.
Our caucus will not play politics with this type of legislation. We will move forward and support it but we will not stand for any slogans. For example, I remember the member for Portage—Lisgar on the gun issue. The other day we heard personal attacks on our colleagues who did not support the gun legislation.
Last night I was watching a documentary on Lee Atwater and some of the tactics that he used during the Bush senior campaign when he talked against Dukakis and about how all criminals vote for Democrats and all good Americans vote for Republicans.
The one thing that hurt me a lot in the most recent debates on the gun legislation was that criminals vote for Liberals and police officers vote for Conservatives. That is just nasty, untrue and uncalled for. When we want to move forward to protect the nation, it is unnecessary.
We sit in committee to do the good work that we know we can do and that we are paid to do and should do for the good of Canadians.
I am glad this has created a separate offence within the Criminal Code. It was long overdue and it is necessary.
What I sometime find unacceptable is the people they use to sell or to participate in car theft, for example, young delinquents, young offenders as we might describe them. I might ask the committee to look into that because criminals could be stealing these cars, chopping them, trying to sell them or export them and the middle person, as he or she is often referred to, could be a young man who may be going through some difficulty in life and all of a sudden a few quick dollars are flashed in front of him and he is told to drive the car or chop off the VIN number and so on. We know very well what the Criminal Code is in reference to young offenders, and I am concerned. I am putting this on the table so that when the bill goes to committee it could possibly look into that as well.
I am pleased that since 2006, when the last data was brought forward, it showed that auto theft was on a decline, as overall crime stats were in a decline.
I remember very well in 1991-92, when I sought the nomination and won in the election of 1993, that one of the key issues was that we needed to address the crime issue and we needed to make our streets safer. I made a commitment to my constituents, and I am pleased to say that I have upheld that promise to this very day, that we would do whatever we could. We did make changes to section 745 of the Criminal Code.
Today, when an impact statement is allowed in the Williams case, that is because Liberal governments brought it forward. When there is an opportunity for a declaration of a dangerous offender, that was a Liberal initiative that brought it forward. Long term offender was also a Liberal initiative.
Do we know everything? I would say no. Does the Conservative Party have a monopoly on crime legislation? No. We all, in our own conscience, want to do the right thing. That is why I said earlier and our critic also said that we will support the bill and send it committee where some good work will be done.
I am pleased that under our tenure, under a Liberal government between 1993 to 2006, the crime stats as a whole were coming down. However, I am sad that in areas such as Manitoba and Montreal the car theft stats are up. However, I want to assure Canadians in Manitoba and in Montreal that we want to work together to address this issue and solve it, as the member from Bloc Québécois said earlier.
The Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers is opposed to the bill as it believes it would limit judicial discretion. Quite frankly, I do not know. That puzzles me in some way. I need more clarification on what it means by that. I am not a lawyer, by education, so I will not pretend to know as much as the lawyers. However, I do know one thing. The average Canadian wants it in a very simple way. Maybe the council could explain, in a simple way, what it means by that so we can address its concerns.
The Canadian Association of Crown Counsel is also opposed to the bill. It believes it would add more work to an already overwrought system, without any mention or apparent intention to add resources to support the legislation. That was brought up earlier.
I also have that concern. Legislation is good. I will point out two things. It is good provided we enforce it and we provide the tools, but then we ask the judiciary, for example, to enforce the legislation. In order to enforce the legislation, we need the resources to do so.
Today, unfortunately, we are strapped with a $56 billion deficit, but as high a record deficit as it is, it will go higher. The economy has not yet really kicked in to try to generate jobs, wealth creation and security. If we have a healthy economy, then people are occupied or preoccupied with work as opposed to committing criminal acts, such as auto theft, for example.
Yes, the deficits are going up. Yes, it is a burden. Yes, it is a cost. However, at the end of the day, we, as a civil society, have to find that money because we are trying to keep our streets, our communities and our cities safe. How much is that worth? In my humble opinion, we really cannot put a value on that. Part of this whole process of funds is also rehabilitation. It is not just charging people who committed auto theft or burglary. It is also taking them at the early stages and working with them.
When it comes to resources that were identified by the Crown counsel, I agree with them, and I am going to ask the government to try to find the means and the ways to address the financial needs.
Various mayors and other people who have supported the bill were mentioned earlier such as the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Another burden is the insurance costs. A young man or a young woman graduating from college or university needs a car to get to work and the insurance costs are high. Why are they high? Simply because of some of these thefts, for example, that impede the system, the recovery process and whatnot.
I am thankful for the legislation and any legislation that will help keep our streets safe. Issues such as these are not a monopoly to any specific party or any specific person. I always have believed, and will continue to believe, that these issues are important to each and every one of us, no matter from what part of the country we come. If one part of the country is having some difficulties, as was mentioned earlier today, Manitoba, Quebec, or Montreal, we have an obligation to step in and do what we can.