Mr. Speaker, I agree with the comment by the member for Kitchener—Conestoga. I think his point is this is a bill that he would like to ultimately see passed, even if there is a need to make some changes, and the government is open to some changes at committee. That is the reason why we want to listen to what people might have to say on this. Those are the types of encouraging words that members of the opposition like to hear for the simple reason that if the government is true to those sentiments, it means we have the opportunity to improve the legislation if it is deemed necessary.
We have some concerns with the legislation, but we are very supportive of the principle of it. We talk about individual cases. One member talked about a snow blower that disappeared out of a garage. Another member made reference to golf clubs. True to form, I have had two bicycles disappear from my garage over the years. There are many different crimes and some are less severe. Having a bicycle disappear is disappointing and disheartening. We feel violated in the sense that someone has walked into our garage in broad daylight and has taken our property.
An individual who works for me, Henry Celones, is a wonderful man. He just turned 70 and he does a lot of walking. One day early in the morning he was walking around the area of Sheppard Street and Jefferson Avenue when he was approached by two larger individuals. Now Henry is a small guy. He is no bigger than I am. These two people told him to hand over money or cigarettes and he felt quite intimidated by this. One of them started to reach toward him. It is amazing how Henry was able to respond and defend himself. Both men in their late twenties or early thirties were tall, but they were literally taken to the ground by Henry. We shared the story with a few others who said, “Good for Henry, he did the right thing by defending himself”. There are those different types of extremes where some crimes are petty, but other things could be life threatening. People respond in different ways.
We have talked about a store that is robbed, then a period of time elapses and the individual comes back. This is a person's livelihood. Should people not have the right to protect their property? The vast majority of Canadians would say absolutely, that people have the right to protect their property and livelihood. I do not think anyone would question that right.
There are issues related to what is reasonable and what is not reasonable. We have to look at situations on their individual merits and then make that determination. That is why, in good part, we have our court process.
Bill C-26 in essence complements our law enforcement agencies. It is not there to say that our police forces, whether it is RCMP or local policing units, are not doing their job. They are doing a wonderful job, in terms of protecting and making people feel safe and secure in our communities, given the resources they have.
When I was a bit younger, a number of years ago, and in university, one summer I was employed to canvass the community. I had to go door to door and ask about issues like community safety. I can remember that in older communities, people would say that they remembered when Ralph, an officer of the law, used to walk up and down the streets. He knew the individuals who were causing the problems and he was able to provide a sense of security.
Then we evolved away from the community policing that Canadians respected for many years. We started to get more individual police officers in police cars because of suburban growth and things of that nature. We have seen more of an investment in the number of officers, and in many communities today, we see that more policing is actually being supported through having more police officers and, ultimately, more community police officers
When I look at the future, I think we need to invest more into community policing, because I think that is the best way for us to enable citizens to be more involved in our communities. I would suggest that citizens do want to get involved. There are many examples of citizens' wanting to be involved. The bill today is just one of those examples.
I could talk about concerns raised in the area I represent. Out of the blue, out of goodness, a number of individuals said they wanted to form a group to walk up and down some of our streets in some of our communities. These are citizen action groups. There is nothing wrong with that. Individuals who take that kind of action should be applauded. They wear bright vests and are well identified. They are not vigilantes looking to cause issues or problems. They are just more concerned about our communities. They are watch groups. They all play a role.
What is really encouraging is to see our law enforcement officers supporting those groups. Part of that support is through providing education on what we can or cannot do. When we make a citizen's arrest, we do have to be careful. We have to size up the situation. Is it situation we really want to get directly involved in? Is there a better way? Maybe there might be a community police office nearby; maybe we would recognize a particular individual in a store, identify that person to the local police office and resolve it in that way, as opposed to making a citizen's arrest.
I can tell members the story of what happened to a lady in an office right beside my constituency office. She was robbed and stabbed in the neck by a young offender. She recognized the person who committed the crime. Instead of running out of the store and trying to administer a citizen's arrest, she stayed in the store and contacted the police. After a while the police got to the store; it took them a little while, but they got there. Because she was able to describe the person and even point out the person's house to the police, proper actions were taken. The youth was taken into custody. Hopefully we will see some justice with regard to that particular issue.
I would suggest that this person made a good decision in this instance. It was an appropriate thing to do. That is what people have to look at when they are faced with the necessity of taking action because their property is threatened. In this case it was not only property but, to a certain degree, her life as well. She was stabbed; she had to go to the hospital and have stitches. She had taken a personal assessment of the situation and had made the determination that the best way to deal with it was to contact the police.
However, sometimes that is not the way to go. Sometimes it is necessary for someone to—