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House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offenders.

Topics

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his observations on this. However, they are blatantly incorrect.

They are incorrect because they are like comparing apples and oranges. The member is not taking into consideration the things that are available to people for their rehabilitation, or if they took advantage of those things when they spent time in jail.

Our government is standing up for victims. It is clear and obvious that his party, and those across the way, have determined that it is more expedient perhaps, as they have been talking about, to save money here and to bring up statistics that are, as I said, not comparable.

We have studied and gone across Canada with the public safety committee looking at our system, and we have been looking at international systems. They differ.

The member's argument today is blatantly false.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, on both the process and the product that we are discussing here today, the product being this bill before us, it is incumbent upon the government to come with some evidence that this is actually the right course. That goes back to the process, which I hope is one that the government is not in love with.

I say this because the government is using closure. When the members now sitting on the government benches were in opposition, they railed against closure. I remember it clearly. When the Liberals were in power, they grew very addicted to this process, invoking closure 80 or 90 times in one session. Members who were then with the Conservatives or Alliance railed against this because it was fundamentally undemocratic to shut down debate, to say we do not need to hear witnesses.

I am sure we can recall the passionate and vibrant speeches by some members sitting here today, saying that it was not right for a government to do that. If a government believes that something it is presenting is good for the country and makes sense, and if it has some kind of statistics, some sort of evidence, to back it up, then the process that we have established in parliamentary democracies allows for that and for the government to make its case.

The fact is that on this particular bill, the government, by its own hand, has killed twice, not once but twice, thereby delaying the process.

My question to my colleague is very simple. Does the government feel comfortable with the process that it has chosen, essentially a deal with the Bloc Québécois in this instance, with no public disclosure at all, but just done over the weekend? Is it going to be a pattern for the government when pushing its agenda forward to have no evidence and to use backroom dealing?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Madam Speaker, our government looks at our legislation and knows inherently, in talking to Canadians who are the victims of this type of white collar crime, that it is the right thing to do not to allow someone convicted of defrauding people to be able to serve one-sixth of their sentence.

I personally know some people in my community who have been defrauded by others who have committed white collar crimes, people who have lost their life savings. When we talk about how much more evidence we need, I would mention the example in the speech of a person who was convicted for 12 years and yet was back out on the street within two years.

We agree that rehabilitation is required, but that is not justice for the victims.

We know inherently that this legislation is what Canadians want and what Canadians feel is the penalty to fit the crime.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, I am sure it is no surprise to hear that the Bloc Québécois will be supporting this government motion.

I am pleased to be speaking in the House today to share our reasons for supporting this motion to limit the time set aside for the consideration of Bill C-59 at various stages. As we all know, this bill would eliminate accelerated parole review or, in other words, eliminate automatic parole for a non-violent offender after one-sixth of the sentence has been served.

I must say that I am extremely proud to be a Bloc member of Parliament and to be part of a political party that puts the interests of Quebeckers above all else. We listen to what Quebeckers have to say about each and every aspect of their lives. Not only do we listen to them, but we also speak for them here in the House. Today we are speaking on behalf of Quebec's small investors, people who have been victims of white collar crime. We are also speaking for the seniors who have been tricked by these kinds of fraudsters, not all of whom are necessarily like Vincent Lacroix and Earl Jones. We are speaking for all these people so that they can be heard today in the House.

This debate has shown once again that neither Quebec nor the rest of Canada can count on the Liberals or the NDP. But before I get into why it is important to pass Bill C-59 as quickly as possible, I would like to give a little bit of history.

I find this situation very ironic, since twice, on September 14, 2009, and March 3, 2010, the Conservative government refused to support the fast-tracking of the Bloc's Bill C-434, which had the exact same purpose as Bill C-59: to abolish accelerated parole review. At the time, the Liberals and the NDP were not at all opposed to fast-tracking our bill. They supported us twice. Last Thursday, in good faith, I asked for the unanimous consent of the House to fast-track the government's bill, but the NDP and the Liberals refused. That is odd. Now, these two parties want to slow down the process and could bring about the release of a number of fraudsters, not just Earl Jones, who have destroyed entire lives in Quebec and all over Canada. Once we start the debate on Bill C-59, I will give examples from several ridings.

They say that they want to spend more time looking at the bill, but that is odd because they had no problem with passing it quickly in September 2009 and March 2010. I think that they are simply opposing the motion for the sake of opposing it. They have decided to play petty partisan politics at the expense of the victims, and that is not something I say often. All they want is to stall things. It is not a matter of democracy. Earlier we heard them say that they felt that their right to speak was being trampled on, that they were not being allowed to debate and hold committee meetings to talk endlessly about something they had strangely already agreed to in September 2009 and March 2010, without any debate and without asking any questions about the costs, as the Liberal critic was doing earlier. It is as though, in this case, all that the NDP and the Liberals want to do is to childishly annoy the government.

If they want to annoy the government, then they can go right ahead, but not at others' expense.

This is an extremely serious issue, and the attitude of these two parties is irresponsible and despicable. In his speech, the Liberal public safety critic said he was disappointed that the government did not consult the Liberals. That is so childish. They are annoyed that the government consulted the Bloc and not them. That level of childishness is not even found in the schoolyard.

Even though the Conservative MPs and their government introduced this bill and are now supporting the abolition of parole after one-sixth of a sentence, which is more than necessary for justice in Quebec and in Canada, they are responsible for the early release of economic predator Vincent Lacroix. They twice refused, once in September 2009 and once in March 2010, to support a unanimous vote to fast-track the Bloc's bill. The early release of Vincent Lacroix goes completely against the idea of public safety and damages the credibility of our justice system, where a 13-year sentence can turn into 15 months of incarceration.

Through blind partisanship—it is nothing more than that—the Conservatives have contributed to the release of Vincent Lacroix. If we leave it up to the Liberals and the NDP—I am glad we can join forces for a majority and prevent this from happening—then in December it will be the turn of Earl Jones and all those who have not been in the media but have stolen thousands and millions of dollars from people who saved their whole lives only to end up with nothing. It is not just money that vanishes, but entire lives. There are people who lose their homes and the financial cushion that allows them to survive. These are seniors who are no longer able to work and are ending up with nothing. That is unacceptable.

I would like to read to all parliamentarians, all our colleagues, a few excerpts from what the honourable Judge Richard Wagner said on October 9, 2009, about Vincent Lacroix:

The evidence shows that the acts with which Vincent Lacroix was charged and of which he pleaded guilty led to a shortfall of close to $100 million for 9,200 investors, rocked the structure of financial markets, and caused serious moral damages to the victims of this financial scandal, which was unprecedented in the annals of Canadian legal history.

It is true that Vincent Lacroix did not use physical violence in perpetrating his crimes.... While Mr. Lacroix's crimes were not accompanied by direct physical violence, however, the court is of the opinion that his crimes caused his victims and their families considerable moral violence because of the stress, insecurity, and uncertainty experienced by those who lost their life savings intended for their retirement.

The Conservatives did not assume their responsibilities in time to avoid this mess, but we must acknowledge that they are assuming their responsibilities now. The Conservatives' failure to take responsibility was so blatant that they were publicly called out on it many times by the Bloc Québécois and by Vincent Lacroix's victims.

It took some nerve on the part of the Minister of Public Safety and that Conservative senator, who fancies himself as an elected member even though he is afraid to run, to say in a press release last Wednesday that they “called on all members of Parliament to pass the Harper government’s legislation to abolish accelerated parole for white collar criminals”. I do not wish to name the senator, but everyone knows who I am talking about.

They managed to say it with a straight face. Unbelievable. I can assure you that they are good actors.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

That is why they did it in a press release. Otherwise, they would have been rolling on the floor.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

That is exactly why they did it in a press release.

The Bloc Québécois does not care whether the Bloc or the government sponsored the bill. However, this does seem to be important to my colleague, the Liberal public safety critic. That is not what is important. What is important is that we abolish the one-sixth rule, that we get rid of accelerated parole review, and that we stop undermining our current justice system and people's confidence in our ability to protect them.

The Conservatives have not yet grasped that people do not want harsh sentences, they want sentences that are served. They want sentences to be served in their entirety. Therefore, this Conservative negligence is further proof that this government is, in my view, more concerned with putting on a show than anything else.

However, I am assuming that this goodwill could perhaps shed a little more intellectual light on their view of public safety. I invite them to support other Bloc bills that are currently in the works, effective bills that will ensure public safety and victim protection.

The first Bloc Québécois bill, Bill C-343, would support the families of victims of crime. I will not repeat it, but this bill has received a great deal of support, and I invite them to support it. Another Bloc bill, Bill C-608, would amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence not to report to the authorities instances of sexual or physical abuse of children. I invite them to support this bill as well as my bill on human trafficking, which would make it possible to impose consecutive sentences on traffickers and pimps and also to seize the assets of these criminals. Let us keep the momentum going: I invite them to support our other worthwhile bills.

And now I would like to discuss the urgency of this situation. Why pass this bill quickly and therefore limit the time for debate, given that there is obstruction on all sides? They would prefer to talk about it for days, months, or even years. The question is “"Why?” The answer is: Because it is urgent. We now know—and we all know it—that this provision is absurd, that it makes no sense and that it should be eliminated. We all know it. Yes, it is true that Earl Jones will soon be eligible, but he is not the only one. There are many guys like him that the media do not talk about, who get away with it and discover that crime pays well, because they are making money. They go to prison for a few months and then they are out again.

The Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP are saying that we have plenty of time to study this bill and that the overall system needs to be looked at. That is not true. When we look at Bill C-39, which is currently before committee, we see that not witnesses have yet been heard. And so, debate on the bill at committee stage is far from complete and it still needs to be sent back to the House. I can assure you that at this pace, we can expect Earl Jones and all the others like him—in Quebec, Canada or elsewhere—to have been released.

We cannot forget that Bill C-39 includes a number of provisions. It will clearly take longer to study than Bill C-59, which has only one provision.

It would be untrue to say that splitting Bill C-39, as we did, is wrong and should never be done because it would be dreadful. That is hypocritical. In fact, last summer we split Bill C-23, much to the pleasure of the Liberals and the NDP. We kept certain provisions. Other provisions are currently being studied in committee.

I would like to remind the Liberal and NDP members that, if their current irresponsibility were copied by the majority of parliamentarians—which I hope will not be the case—it would lead to the possible early release of another economic predator, Mr. Jones.

Moreover, Judge Hélène Morin had the following to say about Earl Jones. She gave the example of the case of one of Mr. Jones' victims, Ms. JD—her real name has not been released. The story is quite tragic and shocking. Ms. JD's husband was killed by mass murderer Valery Fabrikant at Concordia University in 1992. While she was in mourning for her husband, she turned to Earl Jones for financial and management advice. She had accompanied her husband to a financial planning session in Pointe-Claire a few years previously.

To Ms. JD, Earl Jones seemed incredibly comfortable managing money, an area with which she was not very familiar. Over the years, she began to allow him to make decisions on her behalf more and more frequently.

This woman suffered unbelievable grief as a result of the actions of mass murderer Valery Fabrikant and then she found herself the victim of another predator, this time a financial one, Earl Jones. Can we put ourselves in this woman's shoes? Can we imagine how she must have felt when she found out that this man was going to get out of prison after only a few months? Do we agree that this is not right? And since it is not right, this partisan attitude is even less appropriate. Such an attitude should not prevail here. The public interest should be our priority.

Judge Morin said that Ms. JD was upset when Earl Jones made the headlines. The media described him as a financial predator but she believed that he actually cared about her and her family.

I am not making any of this up. It is normal. Those who commit a fraud of this magnitude and even those who commit smaller-scale fraud are very skilled manipulators.

Judge Morin added that, after all, Mr. Jones had counselled Ms. JD following the death of her husband. Before abandoning him, Ms. JD wanted to know the truth. As she wrote in her statement, the truth was that he had abandoned them, her and the others. He did not have any pity for his clients regardless of their age or needs. In addition to having to deal with the tragic death of her husband, she also had to deal with being a victim of the accused.

This guy was absolutely merciless. And he is just one of many. Fraudsters of that ilk, and even small-time fraudsters, show no mercy for their victims. For them, it is a way to make a fast buck. We can imagine how important it is to keep these people in prison in order to rehabilitate them and to reduce the factors that led them into crime. If they get out after a few months, how can we work with these men and women—for there are also women who do this—and rehabilitate them? It takes time.

However, when a law states that they must be transferred to a halfway house after one-sixth of their sentence is served, how can they participate in any programs on the inside? Is it safe to say that all risk factors have been reduced at that point? Have they worked on their criminogenic factors? Not everything is being considered here.

The petty politics that the Liberals and NDP are playing are only going to help people like Earl Jones and Vincent Lacroix, who are merely symbols; there are many others. The Liberals and NDP are going to allow their release, even though such criminals have not necessarily had the opportunity to take programs that target their criminogenic factors.

In my riding, in Montreal and Laval, we also had our fraudster. There have been a few, but one really stands out: Leon Kordzian. He unscrupulously cheated 25 people in Montreal and Laval out of $1 million.

He speaks several languages and is very intelligent. He defrauded a number of people of Armenian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Greek and Italian origin. He recruited them at a small, well-known, local coffee shop. He had contacts. It is even said that he might have had a contact at the bank. These people lost everything: their retirement, their homes. They are living a nightmare.

At the end of January, the leader of the Liberal Party came to my riding and was five minutes away from the coffee shop where Mr. Kordzian had operated. Did the Liberal leader meet with any of this fraudster's victims? Will he meet with them to explain that, because of his petty politics, this fraudster might get released after serving one-sixth of his sentence? Whether this happens in Ahuntsic, in Canada or in Quebec, the Liberals and the NDP will have to be accountable for this.

In closing—

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member's time has expired.

The hon. member for Mississauga South for questions and comments.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the members raises some good arguments concerning the victims of serious crimes. This is not the only kind of non-violent crime we are covering here.

I am a little concerned that there is a pattern of suggesting that parole is available within a shorter period of time; but it is not automatic. It sounds like the member is saying that it is automatic, that the person will get out after serving just a short amount of time. There is judicial discretion and there is a parole process.

Does the member have any figures on how many people would apply and get out, and whether there is any enhancement in terms of the ability to make restitution, to have restitution orders, and other factors that may in fact enhance the victim's position. The issue is not just that of a person going to jail, then our throwing away the key and that person having to stay there to be punished and then be rehabilitated.

We had a case not too long ago in Toronto where the police did not prosecute someone who defrauded a party of persons of some $8 million. The police did not lay a charge, the reason being: do you want us to go after the murderers and the rapists, or do you want us to go after this guy who defrauded people, because there is not enough money in the system to enforce the laws that we have with regard to violent criminals?

That is the problem. Rehabilitation probably is not properly funded in any event, so maybe the question is a little broader than simply, “You do the crime, you do the time”.

What about dealing with the realities of the judicial system?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question, which is quite broad. We cannot deal with crime with a single bill or a single resource. It must be comprehensive.

We are talking about a provision that we could abolish, which would mean that fraudsters—whom I call economic predators—could remain in prison and take those famous reintegration programs the member mentioned. Yes, the police are in need of resources to conduct investigations, but is that a reason to sit back and do nothing when we see a problem? Of course not.

The problem here is the issue of parole after one-sixth of a sentence is served. Will this provision not penalize other people who are not at risk of committing serious offences? The accelerated parole review process is automatic, like it or not. Why is that? I worked as a parole officer for a long time. There are very specific rules regarding parole after one-sixth of the sentence is served. On a first federal sentence for a non-violent crime, we must take into account that the offender must be released after one-sixth of the sentence is served. Sometimes, as officers, we would determine that an offender should not be released, that it made no sense, but we were forced to release him because it was the law.

What we are doing here is not preventing offenders that are less violent from getting out of prison, but we are allowing officers and the National Parole Board to make that decision. It will not longer be automatic, that is all.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened intently to the speech by the member. Frankly, I need to say right off the bat that I was disappointed in her accusing us. We come here every day and work very hard on behalf of our constituents and the people of Canada to do the business of the House and to do it in a way that respects the rules of the place rather than playing petty politics.

When I first came to Ottawa, what impressed me about Bloc members was their knowledge and understanding of the rules of this place and how they insisted that we follow them. I worked on committees with a number of Bloc members who, on occasion, would challenge us all to get back to the procedures of the House and ensure that everyone had a fair opportunity to participate, to ask questions and to make statements on their points.

I have been in politics for over 20 years and it seems to me in this instance we are leaping over those rules and bringing in what I have always considered a breach of my responsibilities by not allowing me the time that I and my colleagues need to participate in the process.

Another thing that disappoints me is that I see a shift here. Again, I always saw the Bloc as a group looking for broader and bigger ways to deal with issues of criminal justice. The Bloc considered the impact on society as a whole and how we might do things to fix the system that would limit the opportunity for people to do what some of these people have done, which, no question, was bad and wrong and they should be challenged and punished.

I would like the member to respond to those two observations.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, first, I would like to say that I did not intend to insult the hon. member. I am certain that he is very devoted to his job. But, what can I say? He is part of a political party that has made a partisan choice. I am not attacking him personally but I am attacking the entity, that is, the political party that made the partisan choice not to participate in these negotiations.

He raised the point that debate is being limited. He is somewhat annoyed because he cannot speak about this for as long as he would like. I understand but, when it comes right down to it, this issue should not be being debated today. In September 2009, they accepted this bill. In March 2010, they agreed with it. Where is the need for debate then? Why were they not horrified at the thought of not holding a debate in 2009 and 2010; then they were in favour of debate.

In fact, the debate we are having today should not even be happening. Last Thursday, when I sought unanimous consent from the House to adopt the bill, all the members should have stood up and shouted “Yea” because that would have been the next logical step. We then understood that they were trying to put off the debate and to do everything in their power to make sure that the debate was not held. So yes. I agree with what is happening today. What else can I say?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Ahuntsic on all the work she has done on this issue and pointing out not only the relevance of her work, but also her knowledge of this matter.

Today, I would like to focus on the two main reasons why the NDP and the Liberal Party are opposed to this bill. I believe it was the member for Ajax—Pickering who said it best this afternoon.

First, he said that they were not part of the debate and the negotiations—which were carried out secretly—between the Conservatives and the Bloc. We could not have been any more transparent. The Bloc leader even walked across the chamber to speak to the Conservative leader, and there was extensive media coverage. We did not talk with the Liberals and the NDP for the obvious reasons mentioned by my colleague from Ahuntsic. That is my first point.

My second point is as follows and will lead to my question. Some say that this has not been sufficiently debated. My colleague also spoke about this. We have been debating it for two years. Two years ago, the two other opposition parties said they had enough information to concur with us.

I would like my colleague to explain what she believes has changed since then and why these parties have chosen a different position today.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Ahuntsic has 50 seconds to answer her colleague's question.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Nothing has changed. This is exactly the same bill that provides for abolishing the accelerated parole review. Therefore, I expect all parties in the House to support this bill. In fact, absolutely nothing has changed. The only thing that may be different is that we did not consult the Liberals or the NDP; we consulted the Conservatives. It reminds me of the schoolyard antics of my childhood.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House to speak to this bill. I will be splitting my time with the member for Saint Boniface. I look forward to her speech.

It is not that often that I get to stand to support a colleague from the Bloc Québécois on a bill, but I am appreciative that we can do it in this case.

It is a pleasure to speak to this today and to ensure that Bill C-59 passes into law in a timely and forthright manner.

One of the reasons I feel good about speaking to the bill is this is one of those policies or issues, which 10 years ago, when I was first elected or even running in the nomination, we wanted to have changed. Indeed, it has taken a long time, but when we sense that there is a possibility of this coming into effect, it gives us reason for celebration.

Allow me to begin by emphasizing that the Government of Canada is committed to an approach to crime that places a stronger emphasis on protection of society as a guiding principle for corrections and conditional release. This approach will strengthen victims' rights. It will also increase offender accountability and help offenders to take responsibility for the acts they have perpetrated.

Under the current system, accelerated parole review provides a streamlined parole review process for non-violent offenders serving their first penitentiary sentence. Currently, non-violent offenders can access day parole at one-sixth of their sentence. Then they can receive full parole at two-thirds of their sentence.

The issue of accelerated parole review has been debated here as well as in other venues. It has been debated in the media for a very long time. We are all only too aware of the terrible consequences, both short and long term, that white collar crime, such as fraud, can and does have on the lives of Canadians. We acknowledge that Canadians want the Government of Canada to take action to ensure that white collar offenders are held accountable for their actions. Canadians also want the Government of Canada to do what is right and act in the interests of victims of the crimes. Citizens, constituents and the general public have been very clear. They want us to take action now and they want us to take action quickly, which is what the motion today is about.

We fully understand that crimes of fraud victimize a great number of people. These crimes are not only committed against large corporations, other corporations, or even governments, but individual Canadians and their families are victims as well. We are determined to put an end to such crimes and to give offenders the sentences and the prison time they deserve.

Certainly there is a human face of fraud. It is safe to say many Canadians are often shocked and angered by the harm caused by these acts. Savings have been wiped out. Lives have been ruined. For many victims, the sad and tragic truth is that they can never return to the financial position they were in before the crime was perpetrated. It is both unjust and unacceptable that today, under the current system, white collar offenders can be released after one-sixth of their sentence is served in prison for their crime.

Bill C-59 is one of the milestones that will make the kind of important changes needed to support Canadians who have become victims of crime. Helping victims of crime has always been at the heart of the government's public safety and justice agenda. Our government is committed to ensuring that their voices are heard and that their concerns are taken seriously. In fact, we have already taken concrete steps and have made genuine progress as part of our important agenda.

In June of last year, for example, this government set the stage for reforming our corrections system by introducing Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. The proposed amendments include key reforms in four main areas: first, enhance sharing of information with victims; second, enhance offender responsibility and accountability; third, strengthen the management of offenders and their reintegration; and fourth, modernize disciplinary actions.

We are determined to implement the kind of initiatives to ensure the scales of justice are balanced to include victims.

Other initiatives that we have already taken include the commitment of $52 million over four years to enhance the federal victims strategy so that government can better meet the needs of victims.

We also created the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime as an independent resource for victims to access.

The National Office for Victims at Public Safety Canada is also working to give victims a greater voice in the corrections and conditional release process. It also assists victims in getting access to the information and the services that they may need.

The Policy Centre for Victim Issues at the Department of Justice is also helping the government to better meet the needs of victims, for example, by giving them resources to attend parole hearings and to seek help if they experience crime while they are abroad.

We are also helping victims connect to the services they need through the online victim service directory, which is available on the Justice Canada website. The directory helps victims search for appropriate agencies in their area according to the type of victimization that they have experienced and the type of support that they are seeking. We hope it can help ease the burden on victims of crime who, in some cases, do not know where to turn or what services are available to them. Many in rural parts of the country question whether or not a certain resource is available to them in rural Canada.

We have also made sure that victims have a greater say in this country's parole system by introducing legislation that, among other things, would enshrine in law a victim's right to attend and to make statements at Parole Board of Canada hearings while preventing offenders in most cases from withdrawing their parole applications 14 days or less before a hearing.

Victims of white collar crime and of fraud, in particular, have been dismayed in many cases to find out that the offenders who carry out these acts can be released so soon after they have been sentenced and after they have been perhaps incarcerated.

Unless the Parole Board of Canada has reasonable grounds to believe offenders will commit a violent offence if released, it must automatically release them into the community under supervision. This means that in some cases a fraudster, for example, can be back on the streets much too early. Such an offender could be sentenced to 12 years in prison but he or she could actually be released into the community on day parole in just 2 years and receive full parole in just 4 years. This is not acceptable to many Canadians and it is not acceptable to the Government of Canada.

The status quo gives the Parole Board of Canada limited discretion in dealing with these cases. The test is whether an offender is likely to commit a violent offence. As a result, even if the Parole Board believes the offender is likely to commit another fraud, another theft or another drug offence, it is compelled to release the offender back into the community.

This offends my constituents. It offends most Canadians. It offends them because they believe there is no justice. It undermines their faith in our system. It undermines their faith in the Correctional Service of Canada. Victims want to see these sentences served.

I commend the Bloc for allowing us to proceed with this. I thank the House for the opportunity to speak to this important motion.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are still dealing with the motion. Second reading has not started yet but I thank the member for his second reading speech.

The member may want to check the transcript, but I think he referred to the persons we are talking about in this bill that, “they may reoffend and commit another violent offence”. This bill is actually about non-violent crime.

The premise of the member's representation seems to have to do with parole as an instrument of the judicial system. Does the member feel that there is a place in our justice system for parole? Could he explain to the House and all Canadians that getting out on parole does not mean that a person is free and everything is fine? There are some terms and conditions that normally apply to parolees. The member may want to clarify that as well.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to the member's first question about violent offences. He is correct. The bill does speak to non-violent offences. What I was making reference to in my speech is that the Parole Board of Canada has discretion in dealing with a number of cases but the test must be whether or not an offender is likely to commit a violent offence. Indeed, that does not even apply. However, that is the test that the Parole Board of Canada must undertake if it is going to allow earned parole.

The other question is whether or not in our justice system there is room for parole.

Our government has said very clearly over the many years here that we do believe in parole. However, we do not believe in a parole system that would automatically give a parole to criminals after one-sixth of their sentence without an interview or anything and cranking them back onto the street. Do we believe in parole? Personally, I believe in earned parole.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, “earned parole” is throwing a new legal term into the debate, which is interesting because it does not exist in the legislation before us.

By the government's own hands, this bill has been killed twice already. That is a fact and no one disputes it. No one from the Conservative government disputes the fact that twice the Prime Minister made a decision that killed this bill.

The argument in front of us now is on the urgency required to get it done. After having killed it twice and delayed it more than a year and half already, the government needs to go into backroom negotiations with the Bloc. I say “back room” because they were never public. We do not know the terms. We do not know what was traded off or what modifications were made to the bill.

The House leader stood in this place before the weekend and said that negotiations were going on with the parties, but that was not true at all. The government was not, in fact, willing to work with us. It never called, never asked for suggestions and never asked if there was room to move. The New Democrats are interested in this question of these automatic paroles.

The challenge for my colleague is that a piece of legislation, a law that will affect more than 1,400 people a year according to Statistics Canada and the justice department, is being designed to go after one person. When we did this around the Homolka release, we were able to modify what the Parliament did to directly affect Karla Homolka's potential release. I am sure my colleague remembers. However, that is not what is happening here.

We have asked the government for basic costing. It is a fair question in this time of running government debt. Could my hon. colleague give us any sense of what the government's own numbers are on the cost of the bill?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, when I was elected 10 years ago, I always had this idea that people would come into my office, sit down and talk to me about crimes that had been perpetrated against them, which would usually be violent crimes, and they would tell me about the impact it had on their life. That has happened on a number of occasions,

One of the surprises I received was the number of people talking in Tim Hortons in Chestermere, Hanna, or other places where people would sit down and say that they had taken their nest egg from selling their farm and, with interest rates so low, they invested their money in a scam. Now they are out and do not know what their future looks like.

The member is concerned because we are trying to move this through with the Bloc but, in the meantime, his party will get up and drag the puck time after time to prevent any justice bills from being dealt with and to prevent any changes from this government that have always been spelled out clear in our platforms.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to express my support for this motion, one that will help us deliver the essential reforms proposed in Bill C-59.

We must make no mistake that Canadians rightfully expect that white collar offenders will face consequences for their actions. Today I rise in the chamber to support this motion knowing, like other members, that Canadians have asked us to stand up for the rights of victims of white collar crime. Standing up for those rights means taking action and the motion before us today would do exactly that. It would help ensure the quick passage of Bill C-59.

There may have been a time when Canadians saw white collar crime as a faceless victimless act targeting corporations instead of households. However, I think we can all agree today that fraud and other crimes of this sort can ruin the lives of individuals and their families. The financial security that comes from years of responsible saving can simply vanish overnight. Lives can be instantly turned upside down.

We have a real opportunity before us to fix this problem through Bill C-59. This government has been unwavering in its commitment to better balance the rights of victims with those of offenders. This belief has been at the forefront in driving our public safety and justice agenda. We continue to take several steps to listen and respond to concerns from victims.

One of the early initiatives of this government was the creation of the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime as an independent resource for victims. As a further signal of our commitment to better meet the needs of victims, we committed $52 million over four years to enhance the federal victims strategy. We wanted to ensure that victims were given more opportunity to be heard in the corrections and conditional release process and we wanted to help victims gain access to the information and services they might need.

The National Office for Victims at Public Safety Canada is delivering on this very important work. These efforts also extend to the Policy Centre for Victim Issues at the Department of Justice. Resources made available by the policy centre can help victims attend parole hearings or seek assistance if they experience crime while outside of the country. Not knowing where to turn for help can be an added burden on a victim, one that this government wants to help ease.

The Department of Justice Canada now offers an online victims services directory organized by type of crime experienced and support services offered locally. In addition to these steps, our legislative agenda clearly confirms our commitment to better balancing the rights of victims and law-abiding citizens with the rights of offenders.

We introduced reforms that ensure victims have the right to make statements at Parole Board of Canada hearings. At the same time, we have introduced measures in Bill C-39 so that offenders cannot withdraw their parole applications 14 days or less before a hearing date, ensuring that victims do not travel needlessly to attend a hearing that will not take place.

We passed legislation that targets identity theft and identity fraud, crimes that are growing in frequency and in damage. These reforms were asked for by victims and this government responded. Victims duped by white collar offenders are rightfully angered to learn that these offenders can be eligible for supervised release soon after they are sentenced. As it stands, these offenders will be released into the community under supervision after serving one-sixth of their sentences unless the Parole Board of Canada has reasonable grounds to believe these offenders will commit a violent offence if released. Again, this is simply unacceptable.

Let us consider this scenario, one that I, like most Canadians, would find appalling. A white collar offender, whose fraudulent acts may have victimized many, could automatically receive day parole two years into a 12-year sentence. This same individual, who may have emptied the savings of several families, could be granted full parole at four years.

The Parole Board of Canada needs to have the discretion it now lacks in dealing with these cases. The only test now is whether an offender is likely to commit a violent offence. Even when the Parole Board believes the offender is likely to commit another offence, including fraud or theft, it is able to release them if he or she does not meet that test.

Bill C-59 would eliminate the current system of accelerated parole review whereby offenders who commit non-violent crimes, such as fraud, can be released on day parole after serving one-sixth of their sentence.

Bill C-59 proposes the much-needed reforms that would treat those who commit fraud and other white collar crimes the same way as other offenders. They will be eligible for regular day parole review six months prior to full parole eligibility and full parole review after serving one-third of their sentence.

This government firmly believes that those who commit crimes must be held accountable for their actions, and we took steps accordingly. Victims asked us to, Canadians asked us to and now I ask all hon. members in this House to join with me in supporting the motion before us today. We must ensure the timely passage of Bill C-59. We have a shared responsibility to answer victims and their needs. Let us deliver on that commitment.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member about information. Right now we are debating a motion about whether we should limit the debate that we are going to have at second reading, which will not start until after we vote tonight at 8 o'clock. I assume it will start tomorrow.

One of the things she knows is that the finance committee has asked for information about the various justice bills, particularly about costing and about the impacts of those bills, so we can consider that information as part of the assessment of the legislation. Some concerns have been raised in the debate today about whether there are sufficient resources within the system to sustain a balanced approach to criminal justice where there is, yes, punishment, but also rehabilitation and reintegration.

I wonder if the member believes that the disclosure to the House and to the finance committee of the costs of this bill and other justice bills, as asked by the committee, is a matter of cabinet confidence or is in fact information that we need to do our job.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, the request that went to the finance committee is very different than the broad question he has asked me today.

The member asked if I felt that information was valuable. Absolutely. Am I prepared to direct information that might actually compromise cabinet confidence? Absolutely not. I am not prepared to do that.

However, when we are talking about victims and the cost of these kinds of crimes, there is absolutely no amount of money that will bring back to those victims their sense of dignity or the money they have lost. Victims are sentenced to a life of trying to recoup what they have lost.

The Conservative government has made it clear that we believe the costs involved in ensuring that victims are heard and are substantially provided for is very valuable. We will continue in that vein to support victims.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I sense a certain amount of discomfort within some of her colleagues, although I am not sure about her, with the way in which we have arrived at this moment.

What Canadians can understand, if they have followed the progression of the bill against white collar crime, is that New Democrats support and have expressed a willingness both publicly and privately to the government to say that if the one-sixth probation is something that we need to get at, then let us get at it.

I think the government bears at least some responsibility with what happened with some of the folks like Vincent Lacroix who is now out of jail and who should not be. He should not have had his sentence alleviated so quickly. Now we are faced with Earl Jones, who has obviously been in the news, who ripped off thousands of pensioners across the country. The New Democrats have no problem discussing terms that would keep Mr. Jones in jail for a more proper time.

The way we arrived at this point is that over the weekend the government worked with the Bloc to design a path that allowed for this closure, this super closure as we are closing on closure. Is there not a better way to run a justice system? Is there not a better way to create crime laws that involve parliamentarians doing the job we were elected to do, which is to look over bills as opposed to take it or leave it, which is where we are today?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am prefacing my answer with all due respect to the member, as I have been here for only two and a half years.

I am a police officer on a leave of absence after almost 19 years. I have listened to the cries of victims who have been defrauded. I have listened to them contemplate suicide because they cannot figure out how they will recoup the loss of their life savings.

It is about time those cries were heard, and I am proud to be part of the government that is hearing them. However, since I have been here two and a half years, and with all due respect to the member, the NDP has been the worst party at delaying every crime measure we have put forward to protect victims.

I cannot truthfully say to the member that I agree with anything he has said, because I feel it would be feigned to do so, given the history of the NDP on crime bills in the House.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Kania Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this issue today regarding Bill C-59.

I spoke about this matter earlier today when the Minister of Justice was answering questions and attempting to support the wisdom of invoking closure.

The first thing I want to point out about Bill C-59 is that first reading was only on February 9. While it is true that this was part of a larger bill, it should be remembered that the larger bill was in fact killed by prorogation.

We are therefore here today with the Conservative government invoking closure in circumstances where it had killed the previous bill. It only introduced Bill C-59 on February 9 and has taken the undemocratic step today of invoking closure to limit debate.

In addition to simply being undemocratic, it is not logical. We have to examine this legislation from the perspective of what the bill would do and why at this point in time we cannot make an intelligent decision on whether or not it makes sense.

I think on behalf of all of my colleagues in the Liberal Party, I want to say that nobody has sympathy for Earl Jones or Mr. Lacroix being released early. It was a mistake what happened with Mr. Lacroix. That should never have happened.

However, it never would have happened if the Conservatives had actually turned their heads to this matter and been reasonable back in the fall of 2010 when, in the justice committee, Bill C-21 on white collar crime was being studied. There was a Liberal amendment in committee to eliminate the one-sixth accelerated parole review. That would have prevented Mr. Lacroix from being released early. However, the Bloc Québécois and the Conservatives voted to defeat the Liberal amendments.

The Liberal Party was more than aware of this problem last fall, obviously, but the Bloc and the Conservatives decided to ignore it.

Thus here we are today with the government seeking to invoke closure on Bill C-59. That closure motion was obviously successful. The government did that for Bill C-59 when it was only introduced in first reading on February 9, 2011. It made the argument that this was urgent after Mr. Lacroix was released and, obviously, after voting against the Liberal amendments in justice committee that would have solved this problem.

I therefore suggest, first, that their arguments about the urgency of this bill and the reason to invoke closure and their arguments about being concerned about this type of early release are not logical. If they had been logical, the Conservatives would have supported the Liberal amendments last fall to solve this problem.

Regarding one of the serious reasons why I believe this is premature at this time, every time we pass or change one of these federal statutes, there are consequences, whatever they might be. Some are good and some bad, depending on the legislation, obviously.

However, for this particular legislation, other than cases like those of Mr. Lacroix and Mr. Jones, which are coming, what are we trying to solve? Is it a circumstances where we are trying to eliminate this one-six provision for all offenders, because that is what this would do, including for non-violent first-time offenders?

I suggest, at least in some of those cases, that would be inappropriate, because we would be defeating any chance of these persons being properly rehabilitated and reintegrated into society when, frankly, some of them do not need to be in prison any longer.

If we are going to do this, what I would like to know is how many Canadians who are incarcerated now, and obviously we do not know what will happen in the future, would this affect and what would it cost? It is a very simple question. Do we as parliamentarians not have the right to know what these measures would cost?

A number of us, including our esteemed public safety critic, asked the Minister of Justice today what this would cost. He danced around the question, not once answering it. It was a very simple question: how much would this cost and how many people would it affect, that is, how many people would be in prison longer and what would this cost?

The estimates vary, depending on who is writing the report or providing the information, but I have heard that it costs anywhere from $77,000 to $103,000 per year, per prisoner, to keep them in jail. Whatever the number is, we need to add that up and determine how much more this would cost while also factoring in the need for more prisons. There has to be some figure for this, and as a member of Parliament, I would like to know what it is, so when people are voting they actually know what they are doing.

We need witnesses on this bill. We need to have reasonable committee hearings on this question. We will have four hours to deal with it. I want Canadians to know this. We have a piece of legislation that is designed to fix a problem the Conservatives ignored last fall when they voted down Liberal amendments in the justice committee. However, after Mr. Lacroix's release and after they refused to stop that, they are now saying this is urgent and have invoked closure and they are now are requiring the public safety committee to consider all of this, including clause-by-clause examination of the legislation, within four hours.

If it is done within four hours, that is fine. If it is not done, the bill will be reported back to the House without any amendments. If, for example, the Conservatives decided to filibuster and simply talk out the four hours tomorrow, there would be no chance whatsoever to even attempt to pass amendments. We will see what they do tomorrow, but that is something they have done frequently in the public safety committee, simply talking out the time to avoid actually having votes and trying to forward things constructively.

Thus tomorrow there will be a very limited period of time to have witnesses before the committee to examine this issue. We will be asking questions of the witnesses who do appear, including how much it will cost and the ramifications of this change in the law. However, we will not have an opportunity to call meaningful witnesses for a prolonged period of time into the future.

We will need examples of other individuals, not just those who make the press, like Mr. Jones or Mr. Lacroix, but other persons. Whom would this affect? I would like to know some of the people who are incarcerated right now who would be eligible and who would be stopped from being released on this one-sixth parole system, if this legislation were amended. We need to see what they have done, whether they have been rehabilitated or participated, whether they can make a meaningful contribution of society in the best knowledge of the parole board. I think we need to see those cases.

Another issue that will be given no consideration at this point in time is what will be the effect upon this legislation and whether it is even constitutional. Does it violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in having any retroactive effects? I do not know. That is not for me to decide, but it is something to be discussed and examined and on which witnesses should be called. I do not believe it is something that will be addressed within the four hours tomorrow, because it is all very last minute from what occurred this past Friday.

There are additional solutions that could have been considered to fix this problem with Mr. Jones and Mr. Lacroix. Look at Mr. Jones. I think he received 11 years, or something in that range. Why could we not increase the sentences for such persons who commit such heinous frauds? I have no sympathy for these individuals: they have destroyed people's lives, taken their life savings. Why does the current legislation not allow maximum sentences or tough sentences?

The government likes to say that it is tough on crime. Why is it not being tough in terms of sentences for these sorts of individuals? That is a mistake, and rather than focusing on that, the Conservatives are looking at something that only seems to be politically expedient and will not actually punish the persons who might do this in the future to a more significant extent. If the government is not willing to protect Canadians in this manner, it should fess up and actually admit to it.

Another point is restitution. I would like persons who have been defrauded to automatically have some type of restitution order contained in the sentence. Let me use Mr. Jones as an example.

If Mr. Jones steals millions of dollars from an investor, under part of the criminal justice legislation, judges should be directed to make a restitution order for an appropriate amount of money based on how the investor was defrauded. It should not be optional. It should be mandatory as long as there are set facts.

Under the criminal justice system, we would be convicting somebody beyond a reasonable doubt, but the civil system requires a lesser balance of proof.

In my mind, because it takes more evidence to convict somebody of fraud under the criminal system, it is logical that if an individual is convicted of that fraud, a civil judgment should accompany that conviction. The innocent person would not have to hire a lawyer, go through the process again, bear those expenses and prove the case all over again. In the criminal system it is the Crown, but it is really the same evidence. That is another thing the government could have considered.

I have talked about increasing sentences, but in terms of restitution, that could possibly put money back into the pockets of innocent victims. Maybe the government could assist with some type of tracing system to help people realize something on these judgments.

We could do other things, but the restitution issue has been absolutely forgotten. Instead, we have the politically expedient dramatics of simply attempting this one-sixth possibility without having the sophistication to distinguish the persons who should not be able to avail themselves of this possibility, like Earl Jones. However, people who have committed non-violent offences on a first-time basis would also be caught by this. It would not be fair to a lot of them, it would not logical and it would simply cost the Canadian taxpayer more money.

We have talked about other possibilities. Enforcement is another point. The RCMP integrated market enforcement team in Vancouver looks into these sorts of crimes, but its funding is minor. It is not up to speed in what it requires. Why are we not seeking funding for enforcement as opposed to simply seeking the elimination of early parole when, once again, there is no immediate urgency to this?

The government likes to speak about the possibility of Earl Jones obtaining early parole, but he will not be eligible for parole until at least 2012. We are not talking about anything that is immediate. It is certainly nothing that would invoke closure today and limit the right of members of Parliament to ask questions, have meaningful witnesses at committee and to ask about the costs involved with this.

Some of my other colleagues have mentioned turning Canada into the California of the north. It is a risk. I support some of the crime bills before Parliament and others I do not. However, the risk with all of them is we will have to build more prisons and the costing is not before Parliament yet. We do not know everything the bill will do.

I want to give the House an example of how the intellectual rationalization is not honest at times. That one example is the international transfer of prisoners act, which we discussed in the House last week in question period. The Minister of Public Safety rose in the House and said that the Liberals were not thinking about victims. The legislation would give the minister extra discretion to stop the transfer back to Canada of Canadians who have been incarcerated internationally, such as the transfer of a Canadian from an American prison to a Canadian prison, not releasing him or her back on the street but simply moving the individual from one prison to another.

The rhetoric used is we are not thinking about the victims. By trying to leave these reasonable provisions in force, we are not thinking about the victims. I think the Conservatives are referring to Canadian victims, but that is not logical because the victims in those circumstances would be international victims. If we have a Canadian person who has committed a crime abroad, the victim is there. Yet the rhetoric we hear is that we are not thinking about victims because we think it might be better to bring a prisoner from a foreign prison back to a Canadian prison so he or she can receive rehabilitation.

If we consider look at the analysis, if we do not transfer people back from foreign prisons to Canadian prisons, once they come back into Canada, which they have a right to do as Canadian citizens, they have no criminal record. There is no parole. We have no controls over them. In essence, Canadian citizens are less protected. It is better to bring them back and ensure they have rehabilitation and criminal records. Then when they are released on parole, they have ties and we can monitor them and put conditions in place.

Once again, we get the rhetoric of not protecting victims, yet the victims are abroad and it better protects Canadian citizens if they are brought back to be rehabilitated, to have criminal records and to have ties on them when they are released.

It is not logical, but we hear soft on crime. Frankly, the Conservatives are illogical on crime.

A lot of people, commentators and academics, have criticized the agenda of the government. I will give a couple of examples.

The Calgary Sun criticizes the Conservatives, and some may find that difficult to believe, but it is true. It says:

Tack on vast amounts of money to build more jails and watch the federal deficit soar and the public groan under the weight of unthinking ideology and higher taxes.

It goes on to say:

There’s a right way to reform the justice system and a wrong way to do it.

Naturally, the Conservatives did it the wrong way, going way overboard instead of using some judicious fine-tuning to fix some glaring mistakes.

It goes on to say:

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater, however, is just a reflection of terrible policy prescriptions and Conservative shortsightedness.

That is one commentator in that regard.

We have another think-tank, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which describes this as tough on taxpayers and lazy on crime. It refers to the government using charge rhetoric and misinformation to advance a crime and punishment agenda, which it argues may lead to more crime and cost taxpayers billions of dollars to house more prisoners.

It should be remembered that we have this entire law and order agenda. I want Canadians to know that approximately one-third of everything on the federal docket dales with is law and order legislation. This is what the Conservatives have done when we have the worst recession since the Great Depression.

We have hundreds of thousands of jobs disappearing and being replaced by, what I would like to call, McJobs. We have pension and health care issues. We have lost standing around the world. We have received fossil of the year awards at environmental conferences. Essentially, we have many difficulties and problems, yet the Conservatives, according to some of their own commentators, are simply using these statistics and this agenda to try to make Canadians fearful, to try to convince them that somehow the Conservatives are the ones who will protect them.

If we look at objective statistics, the use of guns in robberies declined 15% in 2009 from 20% in 1999. The violent crime rate decreased by 14%. We have the lowest rate since 1989. I could go on and on. All of the statistics show that across Canada things are getting better, not worse. Yet during these terrible economic circumstances, rather than being responsible and dealing with those issues, we are dealing with one-third of the Conservatives' agenda on criminal law and order.