Mr. Speaker, that is a thoughtful question, as is usually the case, from the member from Edmonton—Strathcona. It gets to the nub of the matter.
I think Canadians want parliamentarians to focus on the programs being delivered in prisons. This is not because we feel bad for them or because we feel a sense of compassion, although that may be the case for many people. It is because we have a vested interest in making sure that people who come out of prison do not reoffend.
A full 96% of those individuals will return to society. It is not a question of if; it is a question of when. Think of that person in federal prison coming out and taking a bus in our communities, or walking near our schools, or shopping in our shopping centres, or walking down our alleys. We have a vested interest in how that person behaves.
I think that the question asked by the seniors in the hon. member's fair city is a thoughtful one. We need to ensure that those people have the kind of assistance they need in prison, so that when they come out they do not reoffend. That is what I would like all members of this House to focus on. This is how we can best ensure that the people in our federal institutions come out less likely to offend.
Taking away inmates' money may be justified. I understand the argument that the taxpayer is already paying for their stay and their food, and that is a compelling argument. On that basis, our party will support this bill. However, let us not be overpowered by a gut reaction to Clifford Olson and make legislation on the fly, as this government has done. We need a thoughtful, mature, and effective approach to prison policy in this country, and we have not seen that from this government.
Our prisons are full of mentally ill people. They are full of people with addictions and alcoholism. They are full of people with FASD, brain damage, and cognitive malfunctioning of all types. It is an absolute fact that these people are not getting anywhere near the kind of support or programming that they need, not only to improve their lives, but to keep Canadians safe.
Cheap politics such as we see practised by this government, politics that prey on people's fear, is not the way to improve safety in our streets.