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House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was research.

Topics

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year Steve Sullivan, the federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, spoke about the need for the government to fund children's advocacy centres in major cities across the country. These centres would provide counselling, support and referral to other resources for child victims of crime, particularly victims of sexual abuse. The victims ombudsman asked for $5 million to fund the centres but the government refused.

The government has billions for fake lakes at the G8 and billions more to lock up more Canadians with longer sentences, which by the way, the victims' ombudsman testified “does very little for the victims of crime because sentencing does not address the real needs of victims”. The government has billions of dollars for these things but refuses $5 million to set up a child advocacy centre for victims of sex offences.

Does the member for Churchill think $5 million is too much to ask for with respect to victims of sexual abuse?

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is an important question. Many of us in the NDP feel that it is critical to bring forward the well-researched and well-founded proposal of the ombudsman for centres and the need to apply $5 million. That money is a drop in the bucket compared to the $1 billion being spent on security and the millions of dollars being spent on fake lakes, fake canoes, and fake decks.

It is truly an investment in making our communities safer, in prevention, and most importantly, in supporting victims, which is something we hear time and time again, almost like a broken record, from the government. Yet when we look at the plans it is rejecting or the course of action it is taking, we do not see the support as it should be, with an emphasis on prevention and the opinions of experts in the field.

I would note that as one of the youngest members in the House, I find it disheartening to hear my generation's lack of hope when it comes to our political system. This is the kind of investment the government is refusing to make, let us be honest, in the next generation. That kind of cynicism from young people across our country is perhaps well founded when we hear of the rejection of positive plans that would support young people.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, one key aspect of this legislation is mandatory DNA sampling from those convicted of a designated sexual offence. Currently, sampling must be applied for by the prosecutor and granted by the judge.

Is the current legislation not a little backward? Should it not be the criminal who applies to be exempt under special circumstances instead of it being the prosecutors and judges who ask for this ruling?

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, this bill has a number of positive measures to close loopholes around the need for more and accurate information. While we find that some of these measures are positive, we also feel that it is important to bring the bill back to committee to discuss some of the inadequacies and failures, quite frankly, as I pointed out earlier, in terms of prevention.

One of the points that came up about Bill C-34, which I am sure will be raised again in committee, if it goes there, as we hope, is the need to still have prosecutorial and judicial discretion applied and available. Let us not override the work of the judicial branch of our country. Let us recognize that it does critical work in ensuring that justice is fair and that everybody is judged fairly on these grounds.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-2 was originally Bill C-34 before prorogation. It is one of the law and justice bills the government is famous for introducing. It is just one of the bills that fell by the wayside because of prorogation.

For reasons known only to the government, it brought the bill back through the Senate. If prorogation had not occurred, would this bill be law by now? Why would the government bring it back through the Senate instead of the democratic way, which is to bring it through the House of Commons?

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, many of us see the irony of these bills. The government was committed to passing them and to ensuring a quick process, because apparently these were a priority. Maybe they were not such a priority, and neither was democracy. That is why the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament again.

Here we are. It is a bit of déjà vu, in some sense, the difference being that the bill has come from the Senate. It looks as though there are some changes. What we hope to see and engage in is an accurate and full discussion in committee. Witnesses can be brought in, including stakeholders in the work to fight sexual offences, people who use registries across this country, and people who are quite frankly interested in making this registry the best and most appropriate it can be, with particular pieces on rehabilitation and prevention.

The NDP, and we hope the opposition parties, sees the value in making sure that every piece of legislation is paid attention to properly and makes a real difference. The difference here is to support victims, to support Canadians, and to truly set deterrents and cut down on sexual offences in our country.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated the speech by the member for Churchill. Like my colleague from Sudbury, I too would like to make a more general observation.

It seems to me that we have a government that is constantly talking about it being a government that is tough on crime. For a government that is tough on crime, it sure talks the talk, but it does not walk the talk.

First, I would argue that it is much, much more important to be smart on crime. If we are smart on crime, we do not just talk about law and order issues, we also talk about crime prevention. We talk about support for the victims of crime, and we talk about adequately resourcing those who are engaged in law enforcement on a day-to-day basis to make sure that they are well resourced and safe.

My sense here is that we have yet another opportunity to talk about being tough on crime and on improving our justice system. However, if the government were serious about it, maybe it would have done the same thing with respect to the budget bill. It would have introduced one omnibus bill and we could have dealt with all of the changes. Instead, we get them in dribs and drabs. Then we prorogue the House and we start all over again. To anybody watching, it seems as if all we are talking about are crime bills, when in reality, we have not accomplished very much.

To the best of my knowledge, the only bill that has made any progress in the House in this entire session is Bill C-23, which passed second reading this afternoon.

I wonder if the member has her own observations. Perhaps I missed one other crime bill that may have passed this session. I do not think so.

I wonder if the member would like to comment.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the very important question posed by my colleague from Hamilton Mountain. I certainly could not agree with her more. This constant dealing with the Conservative crime agenda, which as we know has great inadequacies and real gaps in actually dealing with crime, is quite unfortunate.

People in my riding are concerned about the jobs they are losing. They are concerned about climate change. They are concerned about how they will afford their education. They are concerned about the lack of housing and the third-world conditions in their communities. They do talk about crime, but they talk about the need to support communities all across the board.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is really a pleasure for me to rise to speak to the merits of Bill S-2, Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act.

This legislation proposes to enhance the current provisions respecting the registration of information related to sex offenders. As hon. members will know, and we have heard some debate here this afternoon, this is an extremely important bill. It is a bill that deserves our utmost attention, as it deals with ensuring the safety of our children and other vulnerable Canadians from sexual predators.

As hon. members know, public safety is an objective shared by all parliamentarians, both here and in the other place, where this bill originated. Moreover, Bill S-2 carries on initiatives undertaken by all premiers and all territorial leaders, in concert with the federal government, calling for a national sex offender registration system.

Let me give the House a little bit of history. As early as 1997, the principle features of a registry were thoroughly discussed by all of the ministers responsible for criminal justice in their own provinces, the federal government, and all territorial jurisdictions. Their endorsement led to the Sex Offender Information Registration Act of 2004. Indeed, Bill S-2 reflects and continues a national consensus that responds to a concern shared by all Canadians.

Since forming government in 2006, we have taken a series of actions to better protect Canadians from sexual abusers, and we will continue to do so. I would like to reiterate that the legislative foundations for this bill we are considering here today stand out as a wonderful example of what can be accomplished when federal, provincial, and territorial interests are accommodated through consultation and co-operation. I should also mention that this bill has the support of law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim advocacy groups.

Bill S-2 has been reported by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, and was previously examined, as Bill C-34, by the parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, of which I am a member, in the last session of this Parliament.

This legislation reflects input from a number of sectors, including corrections, law enforcement, child protection agencies, and victims groups. The Senate committee provided a forum for a thorough discussion of a range of views and positions regarding the efficacy of a national sex offender registry.

I would submit that this is a strong indication that the government's proposals were a fitting response to urgent suggestions that the sex offender database be more inclusive.

These multi-sectoral consultations I referred to led to the significant amendments that have been before the legislative drafters for some years. Discussions have covered the viability of the registry and have monitored the implementation of the act.

Perhaps the most pressing question in this debate has been about arriving at a balance between limiting or increasing the scope of the registry. The question becomes this: What parameters should govern the number of offences, and which offenders ought to be included in a registry?

The following questions also need to be resolved and have been resolved by these amendments: How long should a registration order remain in force? Who should determine whether an offender should be registered? In other words, once a list is begun, where should it end?

These questions were pivotal to the establishment of the national sex offender registry. Experience gained by criminal justice practitioners can now be applied to better balance public safety and human rights in this legislation.

At the time of its inception, the only sex offender registry in Canada was maintained by the Province of Ontario. Aspects of that registry were then being contested in the courts, and we now have the benefit of a number of judicial decisions.

Accordingly, our government has drafted legislation that is responsive to public safety concerns across the country, while it achieves a balance with concerns about fairness and human rights.

Although, Mr. Speaker, you need no education in the area of criminal justice, please allow me to refresh the memories of those who were present when the national registry was created and to provide background for more recent arrivals.

The initial legislation, which I referred to, the starting point for the legislative changes we are considering today, proposed a registry that was to have included only those convicted of designated offences after the legislation came into force. However, during review by Parliament, the registry was amended to include offenders previously convicted of scheduled offences who were, as of the date of coming into force, incarcerated in a provincial or federal institution, under conditional or intermittent sentence, or on probation or parole.

Also included are those offenders under a detention order or who had not been absolutely discharged subsequent to a finding of being “not criminally responsible” for that offence. This latter inclusion stems from the fact that while a disposition by a court that an offender is not criminally responsible means there has been no finding of guilt, it is still a finding that the offender committed the offence.

For reasons that are apparent, it was deemed desirable to keep this class of offenders within the registration scope of the act.

Parliamentarians heard from a number of sectors regarding registration and made appropriate amendments. The registry's effectiveness has been monitored through the implementation period. With the benefit of this experience, the government believes the time has come to ensure a more rigorous approach. The final outcome of our efforts here today ultimately focus on the central concern of all involved, the safety of Canadians from exploitation and crime. Protection from sexual predators is the raison d'être of this legislation.

Briefly, I will touch on the main features of Bill S-2. To reinforce what others have mentioned, the key provision is that registration under both the Sex Offender Information Registration Act and the DNA Identification Act would become automatic upon conviction, making it mandatory for the sentencing judge to impose an order to register and provide a DNA sample whenever a conviction for a scheduled sexual offence had been entered against the offender.

The crown prosecutor will no longer be required to bring an application for an order. This legislation would empower police officers to take action if they detected suspicious activity on the part of a registrant, even if no overt criminal activity was under way. Prevention becomes possible that previously was beyond the scope of the law.

Certainly in committee, upon examination of the former Bill C-34, we heard anecdotally and otherwise of many instances when crown prosecutors would not ask the court for an order of inclusion on the registry. Some of this was a matter of a plea bargain. Occasionally, it was a mere oversight. However, in any event, under the proposed legislation before the House, the crown will no longer be required to bring an application. Such inclusion will be automatic. I think all members will agree that change is worthy of their support.

Furthermore, police will be able to identify registered sex offenders who are travelling to other jurisdictions, both domestically and internationally. Again, a level of prevention is made possible by these amendments. In addition, corrections officials will be able to notify police forces of both the release and the re-admission of registrants.

Finally, and just as important, the registry will be enhanced by the inclusion of vehicle data to assist authorities in monitoring, investigating and, if necessary, prosecuting registrants where necessary.

To sum up for all members of the House, the development of Bill S-2 sets out a framework for continuity in a co-operative effort among federal, provincial and territorial governments. Significantly this is a national system, unlike the efforts elsewhere, where duplication and confusion may reign. We have the advantage of a single common approach that combines the efforts of various criminal justice sectors but, at the same time, respects the provincial role in the administration of the system.

The additional measures we will be passing in the House after due consideration will further simplify, unify and strengthen efforts to protect the vulnerable among us. It must be emphasized that these goals will be achieved while respecting both the needs of law enforcement and the courts and the civil liberties of all Canadians.

Bill S-2 is an undertaking to improve earlier legislative efforts that, although well-intentioned, have proven to be less than comprehensive. In this we have benefited from the experience, the expertise and the goodwill of many sectors within the Canadian criminal justice system.

I believe we can move this matter to a timely conclusion. I understand there is support among all members of the House, or the majority of the members of the House, to pass the bill at second reading and to send it to the public safety committee in which I and all its members will give it a thorough examination.

Accordingly I urge all hon. members to speed the passage of this important bill. Canadians have asked for it. Victims of crime deserve no less.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, in this session we were often told by the Conservatives that they were looking after the victims and that the opposition was only thinking of the rights of criminals. That is obviously the height of partisan propaganda. Asking for fair and balanced laws does not mean that we are somehow in favour of crime.

I would like to ask the member if he could identify one bill, introduced in this session, that will help victims. They reason that by increasing sentences they are helping the victims. However, it is of little comfort to victims to know that sentences will be harsher. Can he indicate another bill that helps victims?

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes it too easy for me to limit my response to only one bill, but I will talk about Sebastian's law, the amendments to the Young Offenders Act, which are currently before the justice committee.

As the hon. member knows from his participation at committee, young offender crime, although statistically on the decline, with respect to crimes of violence has stabilized and in fact has slightly increased over the last decade. What we have experienced in the area of youth crime is a shift from non-violent youth crime to serious youth crime.

The bill is not only named after a victim of a brutal murder, but it calls for denunciation and deterrence as prospects of sentencing. Victims' groups support it. Police support it. It is one of many bills this government has introduced and is in the process of passing that have been called for by Canadians, by victims, and certainly support victims.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems that the member and his party believe that increasing sentences—threatening people with longer sentences—is the only way to help victims.

Does my colleague believe that, with our help, he could identify other ways?

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, perhaps it will only be the member and I who will participate in this debate, so I will ask him a question. Which government established the office of the victims' ombudsman?

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member who spoke before indicated off the top that this is an old, non-partisan bill that not only received the approval of all parties in the House but was also tested in various provinces and supported by the attorneys general. I do not believe that this is true. The current bill does not establish a system; instead it improves on the system established in 2004.

If there is unanimous support for improving this system, why have they waited so long to pass the bill? If a minority government wishes to adopt bills, it should start with matters supported by the other parties. In this case, not only has it taken a long time for the government to present amendments to the Sex Offender Information Registration Act but, in addition, after it was adopted in committee, the government decided to prorogue and thus kill the bill. Now, it has waited for the end of the session to present it again to the House of Commons, after a major detour through the Senate.

This shows, once again, that when this government introduces crime bills, it does not care what effect they have on crime. All the government cares about, as the member for Ahuntsic explained very well, is scoring any election points it can. By introducing a bill several times, the government has the opportunity to make speeches to show the public that it is fighting crime. But the previous speaker made it quite clear that the government has only one idea: increasing penalties.

It is funny to hear the Conservatives talk about Sébastien's Law. Normally, when we name a bill after someone, after a victim, it is because we are providing a solution for the crime in question. I am very familiar with the case of Sébastien Lacasse, who lived in my riding. This case is a perfect example of how the current Young Offenders Act works very well, and the member knows it. Youth crime has decreased. So what needs to change?

Violent crime has increased in some parts of the country, but overall, it has gone down. If Canada were the country I dreamed of before I became a sovereignist, the majority would, from time to time, get its inspiration from what the minority was doing right in solving its problems. The fact that we are so divided is yet another example. The Conservatives do not know that the model for treating young offenders in Quebec has had spectacular results. There is approximately 50% less youth crime, not just in terms of charges against young offenders, but also in terms of overall crime. Crime is measured the same way across the country, with uniform crime reports, which are filled out whether or not charges are filed.

The Conservatives are ignoring the success in Quebec. They do not want to do the same thing as that province. Another great example of failure. There are problems in the west, and they could be looking to Quebec to help solve them.

The Conservatives would rather turn to the southern United States to see who has won elections handily. They see the Republicans in the south who are tough on crime. That is their solution instead of being smart on crime.

This time around the Conservatives have our support for this bill because it is truly smart on crime. It is only smart if the registry is used as a way to track certain criminals and provide protective measures, but not if it is used as additional punishment for those already convicted of sexual offences. When I listen to the Conservatives, I realize that is the part they are latching onto again. To them, criminals do not receive harsh enough punishment from judges. It is not enough to have harsh sentences; there needs to be something more. Sex offenders need to be registered somewhere so that the police force is aware of them, with the hope perhaps that the police will go and bother them once in a while.

However, I know that measures will be taken. They are even in the legislation that was passed, not by the Conservatives, thank heavens, but by the Liberals. They thought about it and they stipulated in the legislation that only police forces need to know who is registered.

When this was passed the first time, we told them this would increase the burden on the DNA registry. DNA is not like fingerprints. It is much more complicated. It requires trained technicians. I believe it even requires a university science education or certainly advanced college training. Not just anyone can enter the registration and do the scientific processing correctly so that a proper analysis can be made the next time they see the same DNA. It is quite complicated. I am not talking about DNA samples because anyone can collect DNA samples.

It is too bad I do not have the information in front of me, but I think it requires at least 18 months of training to collect samples, and it takes years to develop the necessary skills to testify in court.

Someone before me already mentioned how insignificant these budget increases have been. They are just pretending. It is another example of the Conservative attitude: they claim to be doing something but the money does not follow. They introduced this bill at the end of the session; it will most likely disappear. Perhaps there will be another prorogation in the fall, or perhaps an election will be called. And finally, this bill, which would have had everyone's support, will once again die on the order paper. And if ever the Conservatives are in power again, they will have a fourth opportunity to introduce it again and give the impression that they are doing something to fight crime.

They also want to increase the number of offences. That can be done, but I told them when we discussed it that instead of increasing the scope of the registry, perhaps we should provide the resources to deal with the registry's backlog because it is enormous already.

However, I recognize that there are some good things that show, once again, that this bill is smart on crime. It will make some improvements. For example, there has been no information about the offender's vehicle in the registry. It is good that the police can track the vehicle when an offender is on the move.

The legislation also provides for sharing this type of police information across the country, which is also useful. And that was the key, by the way, to the success of operation Carcajou.

Those were measures that made a difference in the fight against crime. They are not the same as simply giving longer sentences all the time. That was another good thing about it.

One improvement has to do with removing the restriction on using it only during sexual crime investigations. The best example of when that can be critical is when a child is kidnapped.

Police officers might find it useful to be able to look up whether a person on the sex offender registry lives near where a child was kidnapped. The police could then quickly check with those people to make sure they were not involved. We were given a remarkable demonstration of the software that supports that kind of lightning-fast search in Ontario. It is good to know these things right away. In the vast majority of cases, I believe in 90% of cases, when kidnappings are not solved within 48 hours, they will never be solved.

In most of the Conservatives' bills—this one is a big exception, and that is why we will vote in favour of it—they ignore the issues that need to be dealt with. Everyone in the House agrees, and the general public is nearly unanimous that Parliament made a mistake—I was not here, so it is easier for me to talk about it—when it decided to amend the law to allow those convicted of non-violent crimes to get out on parole after serving one-sixth of their sentence.

We are totally opposed to this. I even introduced a bill on it myself. It does not need to be very complicated for the simple reason that the legal provisions allowing for release after one-sixth of the sentence has been served apply to only two sections in the Criminal Code. These sections were added at the last minute in one of those marathon sessions on omnibus bills. I do not think the government realized, in its haste, what it was doing.

We are often against minimum sentences and undue increases in sentences. When it comes to incarceration rates, Canada ranks in the middle of the list of 175 countries. That is the reality and we do not see the need for increases, except in individual cases. In the matter before us today, we would like to see more incarceration.

We think, though, that sentences must be individualized and pronounced in full knowledge of the law by an impartial person who has had an opportunity to hear both parties before making a decision and who must, we should note, also apply around 20 criteria already provided in the legislation. We think it is rather insulting to say an individual can be released after serving one-sixth of his sentence after an impartial judge has taken all these precautions and rendered a decision. When this is done, it does not reflect the work the judge did and the decision that has been made.

I would like to ask them again what they have done to help victims other than providing for heavier sentences.

In the Bloc Québécois, we are concerned with fighting crime. It is not about the political shows that the hon. member for Ahuntsic described so well, but about really helping victims. That is why one of our colleagues, the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead, tabled a bill that would give crime victims and their relatives about the same benefits they get under the Quebec legislation.

In Quebec we give two years to people who have been affected by a crime, either as the victim or because a relative of theirs was victimized and they have to care for that person. Her bill would therefore provide the same benefits for things that fall under federal jurisdiction. The federal government also has one very full treasure chest that is still running surpluses, from which it pinches a bit occasionally and from which it took an awful lot during its first attempt to reach a zero deficit, that is to say the employment insurance fund. A measure like this would not greatly increase the employment insurance payouts.

What is the government waiting for to enact this bill, which would genuinely help victims? Compare the federal ombudsman for victims of crime, the material and psychological assistance that victims are offered, to the satisfaction they might get from seeing the person who committed the crime serving an additional few months or years in prison. I think a majority of victims would much prefer to get the help we could provide for them, as in fact is done in Quebec.

And then my colleague from Ahuntsic has done a remarkable job of advocating for bills C-46 and C-47, other measures that create an obligation for Internet service providers to report pornography on the Internet.

Everyone supports that, except perhaps Conservative campaign contributors who own Internet service companies. Everyone supports it, including the police across the country. In fact, coincidentally, a counsellor with a Quebec police force was just talking to me this morning and asking me what had become of Bills C-46 and C-47. But they are not doing it.

In this case, the Conservatives are showing us that they can sometimes propose laws that do more to combat crime. In such cases, they can count on the Bloc Québécois to support them. We may have a few comments to make in committee about things that are extreme, but I have not found a lot. We will be able to discuss it in committee. They can be assured that when we do that, it is not because we are eager to stand up for criminals; it is because we want the laws to be written properly so they will be just.

In this case, this bill is smart on crime, and so we will support it. That shows that the Conservatives can count on the Bloc Québécois when they introduce something that truly and effectively combats crime and is not just intended to show that they are tough on crime.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to this bill. I have to say at the outset that I was very impressed with the approach of my friend, the member for Edmonton—St. Albert, to the bill. If the Conservatives put him in charge of the justice agenda, we might see better results than we are seeing right now. I do not know how much better, I do not want to go too far, but from what I have seen so far, he would be a big improvement on the front bench on that side. I would change some of the management if I were at the top over there, but I am not, of course.

This bill is one which we will support going to committee at second reading. We will examine it further and look at potential amendments. There is not a lot that I personally see wrong with the bill. The statutory review of the sex offender information registry by the public safety committee was under way with a confidential draft report having been circulated to the committee members on May 29. Despite this, typical of the government, in the same vein that it proceeded with the pardon issue, it chose to table the changes to the registry on June 1 in the form of Bill C-34.

In terms of the key aspects of this legislation, one of the major provisions is the mandatory registration of those convicted of a designated sexual offence. Currently, registration must be applied for by the prosecutor and granted by the judge. If an application is made, an order shall be issued, unless the offender can show that the impact on his liberty is grossly disproportionate to the public interest in protecting society.

The second aspect to the legislation provides for mandatory DNA sampling of those convicted of a designated sexual offence. Currently, the sampling must be applied for by the prosecutor and granted by the judge.

Another aspect of the legislation is the expanding of the police's ability to access the registry for crime prevention purposes. Currently, police can only access the registry to investigate a crime that has occurred with reasonable belief that it is sexual in nature. In terms of crime prevention, this is a matter that was mentioned by several other members this afternoon. I believe this is part of the Ontario legislation. I am looking to the member for Edmonton—St. Albert for confirmation on that. I believe that the ability to look at crime prevention is in the Ontario legislation and that has provided the impetus for us to look at that as an improvement to the federal act.

All we have to do is look at the statistics between the two pieces of legislation to see that the Ontario legislation has a much higher number of people on the registry than the federal registry does. Police evidently have a much greater appreciation and respect for the Ontario registry than they do for the federal registry.

The federal registry has been around for a number of years. Once again, the member for Edmonton—St. Albert pointed out that in 1997 the premiers and attorneys general of the day got together with the federal government and there was a lot of early co-operation which started this process moving. We owe it to our predecessors for having the foresight to move, but it was the province of Ontario that was the first to proceed. It appears to be the template for the federal legislation.

It is important to note that once the federal legislation was in force, there was to be a review process. That is what Parliament was engaged in when the government decided to bring in its own legislation. Once again, the government is short-circuiting the process, much as it did with the pardon legislation.

Many members have spoken about the process of the Prime Minister proroguing the House and having us start over again. I believe that the member for Churchill spoke at length about the potential for having omnibus legislation, as much as we do not like it. When it comes to Criminal Code changes, our justice critic, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh has spoken several times about the need to revise the entire Criminal Code of Canada. It is long overdue and it is a huge act.

We should take an omnibus approach to the bill. This would be an argument for that approach. We would include all of the amendments to the Criminal Code in one omnibus bill and bring the Criminal Code up to date, rather than what the Conservatives are doing. They are bringing the Criminal Code amendments in one at a time in a boutique approach so that they can get a press release and a bump in the polls for each and every initiative. In fact, they should just include them in one big omnibus bill and be done with it.

The difference between that approach and the idea of using omnibus bills in terms of budget implementation is that the Conservatives use the omnibus approach and go way beyond budget implementation. They throw in the post office remailers, the sale of AECL, and on and on. We are talking about an omnibus bill that would deal with Criminal Code changes and all of these particular issues. Then we would not have this constant problem of being stuck with prorogation and election calls.

If things go well at the summits and the numbers start to improve in the next few weeks, knowing that their long-term future is not so rosy, the Conservatives may decide to cut their losses and call an election in September. We would be at it again and all of these bills would be back at square one and after the election we would have to go through this whole process again.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

We will have a majority government

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, a Conservative member said that they are going to have a majority government. I say dream on. That is never going to happen with that government. The reality is that things are getting a little bit desperate over there because they know that time is not on their side. The Conservatives are finishing their fifth year in government now. While things may look reasonably rosy relatively speaking, when one starts adding months and years to their longevity in government, there is a certain time when things are going to start to fall and they will not be able to regain.

My point is that that is the agenda they are following and it causes problems for the legislative agenda. The political agenda rules over the legislative agenda. The Conservatives could care less about the legislative agenda. They are really looking at it in terms of the day-to-day politics, how well they can do in the polls and what they can gain out of it. That is not how they should be governing in terms of the legislative agenda with respect to crime. The police forces need action now. The public deserves better from the government. It deserves an intelligent, smart on crime approach, which it is not getting from the government.

In terms of the other provisions of this bill, it also expands the registry to include those convicted of sexual offences outside Canada. That is very important given the identification of sex tourism. It probably existed for many years, but it has only come to public attention over the last decade or so. I think we could all agree that is an excellent improvement to the registry.

Another excellent improvement is the expansion of the type of information included in the registry, including necessary administrative fields that are currently absent.

Another positive aspect would be allowing the police to notify authorities in other foreign and Canadian jurisdictions when a registered sex offender will be travelling to their area.

There are also various administrative changes to improve coordination and communication between different agencies.

There was some mention in terms of information such as the identification of the type of car that was being driven and a certain expansion of information regarding the offenders that is not currently allowed in the registry. There is no point in having information in a registry that does not allow the police to get proper information. It is very important to have information such as phone numbers and car identification.

Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Elmwood--Transcona will have nine minutes when the House returns to this matter.

The House resumed from June 10 consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 6:30 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 10, 2010, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of Mr. Paillé, the hon. member for Hochelaga, relating to the business of supply.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #73

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I declare the motion lost.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The House will now proceed to the taking of deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-2.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #74