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.