Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-54 today. I know my hon. colleague, the member for Niagara Falls, the Minister of Justice, and I lived through a horrific period of time a number of years ago, with Paul Bernardo and the luring of who were then ostensibly children. He and I have intimate knowledge of that, living in the area at that time and knowing the consequences of the actions of that couple.
The minister knows that I was more than pleased to work with the Minister of Public Safety to ensure that one of the perpetrators, Karla Homolka, did not receive a pardon, when she came to the end of her sentence. I was extremely pleased to work with the government. I thank the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice for their work with me to ensure it did not happen. It was immensely important, not just for the people who live in Niagara where those heinous crimes were committed, but for all Canadians across this land who believed that justice would not be served if it happened.
When we talk about child luring for the purposes of sexual exploitation, all of us in the House agree it has to be one of the most repulsive and heinous acts committed against the most vulnerable and cherished in our society, our little ones. As the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour said earlier, whether we have little ones or not, we must protect them. As my mother always says to me, I am always her little one. I am not sure how that happens with my size and age, but I guess I am always her son. I have a son who is six foot five, but he is still my little guy and he always will be.
There is no greater thing in this world that we can do than protect those little ones. No matter how old they get, they are always our little ones and we want to protect them. That should be, by extension, not just for family but out across the broader community, across this province, across the country and around the world. They are the folks we cherish most. They are put in situations where they are vulnerable and we cannot allow folks, who have the wherewithal, to make decisions to go ahead and try to lure those little ones.
The New Democrats actually brought forward a bill on child luring through the act of using communications as various methods. In fact, I congratulate my good friend and colleague Dawn Black who has now moved on to British Columbia's legislature. She initially put two bills before the House to deal with this very subject.
I want to congratulate the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam who has taken them on himself to ensure that the work started by Dawn continues to go forward. That is how we feel in this party about the importance of it and how we ensure we protect our little ones.
Also, I give a great deal of thanks for our member for Windsor—Tecumseh who is our critic for justice. He gives yeoman work when it comes to debating the bills and ensuring they are crafted in such a way when they get to committee, with amendments and good questions, and calling good witnesses. It was in second reading that my friend from Windsor—Tecumseh said that part of the failings of the initial part of the bill was around the sense of what was “telecommunications”. He highlighted the point that the definition was too narrow when it came to telecommunications.
As many of us know, the art form of telecommunications moves at a horrendous speed, which makes it very difficult for us to keep up. Modern telecommunications could be yesterday's telecommunications within less than a year or even months in some cases. He has pushed for that, and I am sure he would want let the minister know that the committee has broadened the sense of what “telecommunications” is and what “communications for child luring” is. He has made it more accessible and not a narrow definition but a broad one. Therefore, we will not have folks escaping the very net we are casting to catch those who would lure our children for sexual exploitation.
All of us believe they need to be punished. I do not believe anyone would say they should not be. We need to find ways to not only to reduce what happens to our young people, but to find ways to stop it.
What do we want to see happen? I believe the bill accomplishes a fair amount, but it unfortunately leaves parts out. My friend for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour articulated issues around poverty and the things that we ought to do that might be helpful at the preventative level so we would not see young people get lured and then engaged after the fact.
Part of the aspect that is missing is this sense of how we treat those offenders. As I read through the committee transcript, there were some eminently qualified witnesses, psychiatrists and psychologists, who talked about the types of offenders who committed and perpetrated these crimes. They are not exactly as we think they might be. The witnesses explained that they fell into three different categories. It is not for me to try to explain it because they are the experts. They quantified the numbers included in there. For one category of offenders, there was great hope that with certain forms of treatment, there was the possibility that they would not reoffend, and the treatment would be successful.
Therefore, the sense is not that they should not be apprehended and punished. They should be. However, we do not want to just simply end it with that and allow them back out to reoffend. If they do reoffend, it is not simply a question of saying that because they have reoffended, we will put them back in jail to punish them again. The person who has really suffered the greatest is that child. Accordingly, if we can catch the perpetrators and find ways to get them into treatment, and experts have told us there are ways to do this in the vast majority of cases, hopefully when they get out, they will not reoffend. That would set us on a path to reducing child luring, child exploitation and child molestation. However, to send them back out to reoffend does not make any sense.
I hope the minister and the government will look at this and decide that perhaps they ought to spend a few dollars to do that.
Let me be abundantly clear that all New Democrats feel revulsion when it comes to child luring and child exploitation. All of us want to put an end to it to ensure our children are protected.
Therefore, for all of the above reasons, we will support the bill as it goes forward. We have heard that from my other colleagues in the House. Let us put an end to the exploitation of the most vulnerable citizens in our communities, our families and across our country. It is our obligation to do so and we take that obligation seriously.
I am thankful for the opportunity to speak today on behalf of this. I hope, once and for all, some day in the not too distant future, we will not have to talk about a subject like this again because we have put ourselves on the road to ensure it will not happen to our most vulnerable.