Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-10, Safe Streets and Communities Act. This bill takes nine previously introduced pieces of legislation and combines them in one comprehensive crime bill.
The proposed changes in the safe streets and communities act are part of our government's ongoing action to make Canada a safer place for law-abiding Canadian families. I have listened, with a great deal of interest, to comments from several hon. members during the debate on the legislation. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to speak of the many benefits that the changes proposed by our government will bring.
It has been five years since our government first took office. In that time, we have worked to bring forward legislation that would hold criminals accountable, put the safety of Canadian families first and deliver the kind of justice that victims of crime expect. It has now been over five years and through many consultations and conversations with people across our country, including with constituents in my riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore, it could not be clearer that Canadians are concerned about the safety of their communities. They have long been calling for our government to focus on ensuring that their communities, playgrounds, streets and homes remain safe.
They have asked us to provide our law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools and modern laws that they need to make our communities safe. We have delivered.
They have asked us to increase offender accountability and to hold offenders accountable by being made to serve sentences that reflect the seriousness of those crimes. We have delivered
Canadians have asked us to be proactive by taking preventive measures to reduce crime before it happens. Again, we have delivered.
I want to touch on just a few of the examples on which our government has delivered for Canadians in these areas.
As an example, we are proud to have increased our country's law-enforcement ability by providing $400 million toward a police officer recruitment fund. In just two years, this fund has enabled us to increase the number of police officers in Canada by more than 1,800. This goes a long way to helping us increase law-enforcement presence in communities both large and small.
We have also passed many pieces of legislation that address the concerns we have heard from victims and Canadians across the country.
For the past five years, we have been fully engaged in promoting healthy, safe communities for Canadians. We have introduced many measures to tackle crime, particularly violent crime and gun crimes. For example, our government took action to crack down on drive-by shootings as well as other shootings that demonstrate reckless disregard for the life or safety of others.
For example, our government has taken action to crack down on drive-by shootings and other intentional shootings that demonstrate a reckless disregard for the life or safety of others. We have taken action to eliminate the shameful practice of granting two-for-one credit, and sometimes three-for-one credit, for time served before sentencing. With this important change, we are now ensuring truth in sentencing.
We have also extended the time period that a person convicted of a serious personal injury offence, including manslaughter, must wait before applying for a pardon.
We have also passed legislation to strengthen the national sex offender registry and the national DNA data bank, marking another tremendous step forward for the protection of vulnerable people from sex offenders. Importantly, the legislation allows the police to use the national sex offender registry proactively to prevent crime.
We have also passed legislation to restore the faith of Canadians in the corrections and conditional release system by ensuring that offenders can no longer be released at one-sixth of their sentences. The Abolition of Early Parole Act abolished the practice of accelerated parole review, which allowed those convicted of first time non-violent white collar offences to obtain day parole after serving one-sixth of their sentences and full parole after serving only one-third.
In addition, the government has also taken action to prevent crimes before they happen. In the last year, our government funded some 160 community-based crime prevention programs through its national crime prevention strategy. These programs had an impact on the lives of nearly 10,000 at-risk youth. Crucially, we have also ensured that the youth gang prevention fund continues to help at-risk youth by including an investment of $7.5 million annually as part of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.
These are only a few of the measures we have taken to help make our streets and communities safer for law-abiding Canadian families.
However, there is more to do. That is why I am proud to be here today to talk about the safe streets and communities act.
Last May we told Canadians that if re-elected we would move quickly to introduce the past law and order legislation that would crack down on crime, gangs and terrorism. We said that we would do this within 100 sitting days of the new session of Parliament. Our government has pledged to finish what we started and move forward with this legislation to better protect Canadian families. We believe the legislation is a fair and reasonable response to ensure the safety of our communities.
Three departments are responsible for the elements found in the legislation, legislation that impacts Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Public Safety Canada is responsible for four provisions under the safe streets and communities act. The first measure amends the International Transfer of Offenders Act. We propose to include public safety as an express purpose of the act. We also propose updating the decision making criteria used by the Minister of Public Safety when making the decision to transfer Canadian offenders back to Canada to complete their sentences.
The second Public Safety Canada measure will move to enact the justice for victims of terrorism act and to amend the State Immunity Act to deter terrorism. What this means is that victims of terrorism will be able to launch a law suit in Canadian courts against the individual or organization that carried out the attack.
The third element falling within Public Safety Canada is a proposal to strengthen the legislation governing pardons. First, very important, the legislation would change the name from “pardon” to “record suspension”. We have heard from victims and victims rights groups that the word “pardon” indicates that somehow the government has forgiven the person for their crime. Forgiveness is not the government's to give. No one can forgive an offender for a crime except the victim, or the victim's family. This proposal will also change the legislation so that repeat serious offenders and those who commit sexual offences against children are no longer eligible to apply for a record suspension.
Finally, we propose to strengthen the management of offenders during their incarceration and conditional release and highlight the importance of correctional plans in the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.
There are several components within Bill C-10 that fall under the responsibility of the Department of Justice. It will increase the penalties imposed for sexual offences against minors.
As a father of young children, I welcome these changes to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society. Bill C-10 would bring forward changes that create tougher sentences for individuals found guilty of the production and possession of illicit drugs for the purposes of trafficking. It would strengthen the laws that deal with young offenders, making sure they are held accountable for their actions and that their sentences fit the crimes that they have committed. It would also bring to an end the use of conditional sentences or house arrest for violent and property crimes.
In addition, there is legislation that falls under the responsibility of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. Bill C-10 would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to protect foreign workers who could become victims of human trafficking or exploitation. This is a very real problem in my city of Toronto. Finally, we will be able to pass legislation to deal with it.
None of this legislation is a surprise. Just as Canadians have been clear in supporting our efforts to improve safety and security in our communities, so too have we been clear that this legislation would be a priority in the early days of this new Parliament.
For these reasons, I urge all hon. members of the House to work with the government to ensure the swift passage of Bill C-10.