Mr. Speaker, since this is my first speech in the House, I would like to begin by thanking the people of Ahuntsic for placing their trust in me and re-electing me for a third term. I would like to assure them that I will do what I have always done: I will prove worthy of that trust. I am very proud to represent them here. I would also like to thank my family members who have always supported me during my election campaigns and my many terms in office. As we all know, to be a woman in politics who has children, you need a good husband and a good mother. Finally, I would like to thank my entire team, the election committee and the volunteers, as well as the members of the Bloc Québécois, who worked so hard during the election campaign.
Before speaking about Bill C-2, I would like to tell the people of my riding and all Quebeckers, the 24% of men and women who voted for the Bloc Québécois, that my colleagues and I will make every effort to make their voices heard in this House and to protect their interests. I will also do my best to establish the ties of solidarity needed to allow our people to become what it should be, a nation that is the master of its own destiny, with all the authority necessary to take charge of its economic, social and cultural development.
Bill C-2 is essentially the former Bill C-53 from the previous Parliament. Members of the Bloc Québécois were in favour of this bill and, clearly, we still are, even more so because we understand the importance of mega-trials. Quebec is unique in that it has a large number of mega-trials. Recently, there have been more arrests on aboriginal reserves.
I would like to first like to make a clarification. The bill in question respects the Government of Quebec's jurisdiction in the area of justice. In our opinion, there is no encroachment on jurisdictions. This bill seeks to implement a number of measures to simplify mega-trials. These include streamlining the use of direct indictments; improving the protection of jurors’ identity, which is very important, since criminals involved in this type of trial very often tend to use intimidation; increasing the maximum number of jurors; and, in the case of a mistrial, providing that certain decisions made during the trial are binding on the parties in any new trial. One of the bill's key measures is the appointment of a judge who is specifically responsible for managing the mega-trial in question.
However, this bill does not address one of Justice Brunton's criticisms. On May 31, he freed 31 criminal bikers because they could not be tried in a timely manner. This is questionable. The message we are sending to criminals is to come to Quebec because there is not enough money or resources to put them on trial, so they will be freed. For example, Operation SharQC, which cost millions of dollars in police operations, resulted in 31 bikers being let go. That is absurd.
One of Justice Brunton's main criticisms is the obvious need for judges in the Superior Court. But Superior Court appointments are made by the federal government. We feel it is time to free the Quebec government and the governments of the other provinces from this quasi-colonial dependence concerning Superior Court appointments. Quebec is not master of its domain in this area and neither are the other provinces. This applies to everyone. Consequently, the federal government is directly responsible for the disastrous release of 31 bikers on May 31.
And we feel that the federalist politicians in the House are silent on this topic. Are they not somewhat uncomfortable maintaining provincial dependence in this area, given that federal appointment of judges dates from a quasi-colonial era?
If the Brunton decision is upheld on appeal, the Government of Quebec, and Quebec's justice minister in particular, should be held responsible for the judicial disaster of May 31. It is their responsibility to ensure that there are enough lawyers and resources to have trials happen within a reasonable time frame.
However, the facts clearly show that the Quebec government does not yet have all the tools needed to completely control justice within its borders. For example, Quebec's justice minister was recently in a position where he had to practically beg for the support of every single parliamentarian to have Bill C-2 passed quickly.
This demonstrates how dependent the Quebec government is in administering justice within its borders when, we feel, it should have complete responsibility in this area. I will say it again: this dependence is irrefutably demonstrated by the fact that the federal government appoints judges. Do these types of relationships need to be maintained in order for Canada to continue to exist? Will it someday be possible to free ourselves from these counterproductive relationships that belong to another era?
The majority of my colleagues in the House would like Quebec to stay in Canada. But could they imagine for a few seconds or a few minutes a Canada where there would be more respect for nations, namely the people of Quebec whom they claim to recognize as a nation within a united Canada? In fact, I would like to see that respect in all the provinces.
I invite my colleagues to think about that. Are we to continue accepting as normal the fact that the federal government appoints judges in cases where the provinces should be responsible for the management and administration of justice? This obviously includes the nation of Quebec, as we were recognized here as a nation. The provinces could appoint their own judges and make decisions about their judicial resources without having to beg Ottawa for the authority to administer their own justice system in a normal way.
Not only were the people of Quebec astounded by the release of these 31 bikers, but in the policing community, people were not very happy about having worked for nothing and having paid millions of dollars for the police operations. As a private citizen and the member for Ahuntsic, I found this to be mind-boggling. Having worked in criminology and with the police on a regular basis and knowing this type of individual, I can say that they laughed their heads off. The justice system came across as rather pathetic.
I invite my colleagues to think about that. We will support this bill, which is a step in the right direction, but the heart of the problem is that the provinces and the nation of Quebec should be able to make decisions with respect to their judges. I am not just talking about their appointment, but also about how many should be appointed. The problem in Quebec was that there were not enough judges, not enough lawyers, not enough courtrooms and not enough cases. That is a serious problem that runs quite deep. We have to take this further than just one simple bill, no matter how good it is. We are not against the bill and we plan to vote in favour of it.
In closing, public safety is not just about putting people behind bars or passing a few bills; it is also about providing the necessary resources to enforce the law. Creating laws is one thing, but enforcing them is another.