Mr. Speaker, as I begin my statement today, I will say that, as a retired member of the RCMP, I am proud to be part of a government that is putting forth legislation to assist police officers across Canada in serious investigations. More so, I am extremely proud that we are putting the rights of victims of crime before that of the people who commit the crime.
I am very pleased today to have an opportunity to speak to the safe streets and communities act and also to talk a bit about the good work our government has been doing to keep our streets and communities safer for Canada's law-abiding families.
As we know, the legislation in this comprehensive bill, which encompasses nine bills that have been brought before Parliament at various times since 2007, is not new to Canadians. In fact, this legislation has already had 79 full hours of debate in this place and has been studied in committee for 123 hours. All together, that is more than eight straight days spent considering common sense legislation.
Furthermore, in the election this past spring, we were very clear that, if elected, a strong, stable, national, majority Conservative government would bring legislation before the House in this manner. I am pleased and proud that Canadians saw fit to give us a strong mandate to carry on with our work.
I am also hopeful that members of the opposition will do the right thing and help us pass this important legislation.
As several of my hon. colleagues have pointed out, since taking office our government has not wavered from our commitment to crack down on crime and continue working to put the safety and security of Canadians at the forefront of our law and order agenda.
Hon. members will know that our government told Canadians, when it was first elected, that we would do things differently than the previous Liberal government. In fact, we have taken action on a number of fronts.
We said we that would get tough on crime. We have delivered. We said that we would ensure that people convicted of serious gun crimes would be given serious sentences. We have delivered. We said that we would take action to give law enforcement the tools it needed to do its jobs. We have delivered. In fact, we have taken steps to augment police forces and to help in efforts to improve recruitment for law enforcement agencies. For example, in 2008, we committed $400 million for the police officer recruitment fund to assist provinces and territories in hiring additional police officers.
That is a significant federal contribution to provincial and municipal policing costs over a five year period, and it supports the efforts of these jurisdictions to recruit new police officers in order to target local crimes and make communities safer.
On the legislative side, we have passed legislation targeting gang violence and organized crime by addressing issues such as gang murders, drive-by shootings and additional protection for police officers.
We have passed legislation to end the shameful practice of giving two for one or even three for one credit for criminals in pre-sentencing custody. This change will help ensure that offenders serve sentences that truly reflect the severity of their crimes.
We have also passed legislation to help reform the pardon system, and Bill C-10 contains further measures to eliminate pardons for serious crimes including those who sexually abuse the most vulnerable citizens in society, our children.
As well, we have passed legislation to strengthen the National Sex Offender Registry and the National DNA Data Bank in order to better protect our children and other vulnerable members of our society from sexual predators. This change means that police officers can now use the Sex Offender Registry as an effective tool to investigate and, hopefully, prevent crimes.
We also recently passed legislation that eliminates accelerated parole review, ensuring that drug dealers and white collar fraudsters are no longer eligible for release on day parole after one-sixth of their sentence.
We also have ended the faint hope clause so that persons convicted of first degree murder serve their entire parole eligibility period in prison.
Clearly, our government has done a lot to help ensure that criminals are fully held to account for their actions and to keep our streets and communities safe.
Over the last three years, our government has done what it said it would do to keep Canadians safe in their homes and communities. We have done that because we said that we would help the victims of those crimes. I will talk a bit about that now.
First, with a great deal of this legislation, we are recognizing the harm done to victims in this country by serious violent crime. We are delivering tangible action to help make them part of the corrections process, as well as help them to seek redress for what they have suffered.
As we know, the repercussions of crime extend far beyond the act that the victim of crime will suffer at the time. The repercussions extend for years into the future, causing financial, emotional and even psychological impacts. As well, for the victims of crime, regardless of how long one works to try to come to terms with what has happened, the act of crime and the long-lasting impact it has on the victims will, invariably, last a lifetime. With that act of crime, the victims' life, as they know it, is effectively taken from them and replaced with one of ongoing distress, the effect of which could be multiplied by the changes in conditions for their attacker. That is why the safe streets and communities act includes provisions to ensure that victims are actively included in the corrections process.
For example, the safe streets and communities act would enshrine in law a victim's participation in Parole Board of Canada hearings. That means it would be formally recognized that a victim must be included and heard in the process by which an offender is considered for conditional release into the community.
Also included in the safe streets and communities act are provisions that would ensure victims are kept better informed about what is happening with the offender in the corrections system. These provisions would specifically deal with how offenders are behaving while they are incarcerated, whether they are adhering to their correctional plan and if they are being transferred to a lower security institution. By keeping victims better informed about the behaviour, movements and potential release of offenders, we would ensure that victims are more fully engaged in the overall corrections process.
It is not as a mere formality or acknowledgement of what they have suffered. Ensuring that victims are actively involved in the corrections process is essential for both their healing and well-being. It also demonstrates to offenders the true nature of the harm they have done to society, which is a necessary part of the rehabilitation process.
Another way that safe streets and communities act is standing up for victims is the provision that would allow victims to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism and hold them accountable for their actions. The legislation would create an action where the victim could sue, in a Canadian court, an individual or a listed state that was responsible for actions of terrorism by which that individual had been directly affected. This is something in which Canada is leading the way and a new way in which criminals and terrorists could be held accountable and no longer act with impunity outside the law.
We hope that the opposition will support this legislation as we work to deliver better tools to help victims seek redress from the crimes committed against them. As well, by bringing victims more formally into the corrections process, it is our aim to protect the rights of victims and continue to take action to put the safety and security of Canadians, including victims, at the forefront of the way that corrections is handled in our great country.
I will end my speech by calling on the NDP to support this important legislation and stop its pattern of putting the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of law-abiding citizens.