Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to the thoughtful comments by my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue. He began his comments by talking about Graham James, saying that he was very much the exception, not the rule, to the intent of the bill we are debating today.
I am from Hamilton and I would suggest that for the people in my community, for those right across the Niagara peninsula and even for those nationwide, a better example would perhaps be Karla Homolka. I do not believe anybody in my community would think it reasonable that a pardon be given to her.
I appreciate and share the member's concerns about the very real distinction we need to make between the extreme cases and the vast majority of other incidents that are being covered in the same legislation. I would suggest that the Conservatives have thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
That is one of the reasons we in the NDP tabled a motion in the House last week suggesting that parts of this bill be severed, in particular the kinds of crimes that would shock the conscience of Canadians or bring the administration of justice into disrepute. However, those are quite different from a whole host of other instances where, for example, somebody made a youthful error.
I know for a fact that none of us in the House would condone drinking and driving. Nonetheless, if someone were convicted at the age of 18 or 19, should the criminal record stay with the individual and make it impossible for him or her to pursue a career, such as a teaching or one of the many other careers that require criminal record checks by the time the person graduates from university? I am not sure that would pass the nod test for very many members in the House, nor, frankly, for constituents in my home town of Hamilton.
Would the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue comment on whether he would support severing the crimes that I mentioned that would shock the conscience of Canadians or bring the administration of justice into disrepute, and if we would then be able to deal with some of the other issues, in the way he suggested in his speech, through a thorough examination in committee and perhaps a complete rewriting of the bill?