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House of Commons Hansard #21 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-10.

Topics

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the omnibus crime bill, Bill C-10, Safe Streets and Communities Act. I support the sections of the bill that aim to protect children from dangerous sexual predators.

In fact, I have introduced legislation myself, Bill C-213, that makes it an offence for an adult to communicate with a minor by any electronic means. This bill would close a loophole in the Criminal Code that allows sexual predators to communicate with children by any electronic devices such as cellular phones or even the social media. This legislation would give more tools to the courts to address the issues of child luring and abuse.

These changes to the Criminal Code are long overdue. This legislation was first introduced in 2008 by my predecessor Dawn Black. I brought forward this legislation when I was first elected and I recently reintroduced it in this session. The government has not addressed this loophole in the Criminal Code for years now. The Conservatives want to use it as window dressing for building mega prisons.

The world has changed in three and a half years, with cellphone and Internet use exploding. During these years, the government has left children unprotected. The government should have taken swift action and moved on this bill but has instead included it in a highly controversial omnibus bill which has many problems associated with it.

The people of New Westminster, Coquitlam and Port Moody want effective public safety policies from the government. Coquitlam has one of the lowest police-to-population ratios in British Columbia. The police are constantly being asked to do more with less and this crime omnibus bill will only exacerbate the problem.

If the government were serious about protecting neighbourhoods, then it would ensure that communities like Coquitlam have adequate funding for the RCMP. The federal government has yet to deliver on its 2006 commitment to fund 2,500 new RCMP officers and to sit down with municipalities to review their community policing needs.

I believe we need to focus on crime prevention. My riding has experienced gang violence, a prevalent issue in the lower mainland. We need to increase funding for youth gang prevention programs as well as the number of police officers on the street. We need to prevent kids from getting involved with gangs to begin with.

In my riding we have a very successful youth restorative justice program. One organization, Communities Embracing Restorative Action, has been working in my riding since 1999. It aims to provide a just and meaningful response to crime, rehabilitate people who commit crime and to engage the community. The organization also offers preventive programs, running an empowering youth program in local schools. The program is aimed at crime prevention to give young people tools and information before crime emerges, and to build strong and inclusive relationships at an early age. The program has grown to be successful and is an excellent alternative for working with our youth.

We also need to increase support to those suffering from drug addiction and mental health problems. This legislation would increase the overrepresentation of offenders with mental health and addiction problems in our prison system. Our prison system is already strained for resources and resource programs. Currently, only one in five inmates has access to programs for anger management and substance abuse. How will the prison system cope with an influx of inmates needing this treatment?

This is one of the key problems with this crime omnibus bill. It downloads an extra cost and burden to provincial and territorial governments. To date, there has been no analysis nor consultation related to the increased costs for enforcement and prosecution which will be downloaded onto the provinces and territories.

Paula Mallea from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives states:

The cost of the [government's] crime agenda will be colossal, and a large part of it (some say most) will be borne by the provinces, who are responsible for implementing whatever the feds pass. So provinces and territories (many of them in elections as we speak) will be expected to pay for additional courts, clerks, prisons, Crown Attorneys, judges, sheriffs, court reporters and so on.

In British Columbia, our court system is already strained. Our prisons are already overcrowded. According to the B.C. government employees' union that represents prison guards in British Columbia, says jails in the province are at 150% to 200% in overcrowded conditions. Also, understaffing and overcrowding is responsible for an increase in attacks on prison guards. The province of British Columbia closed nine prisons in 2003 and made cutbacks to the corrections system.

How are the provinces and territories to deal with an influx of prisoners who are sent to jail on mandatory minimums?

Growing even six marijuana plants would trigger an automatic six month sentence with an extra three months if it is done in a rental unit, or is deemed a public safety hazard. According to Neil Boyd, a criminologist at the Simon Fraser University, this legislation could increase the proportion of marijuana criminals in B.C. jails from less than 5% to around 30%.

Has the government taken this into account? Is this the best use of our resources? Has this been fully costed? Unfortunately, I think the answer is no.

One of the key concerns with this bill is the cost. When the Conservative government came to power in 2006, the federal corrections system cost nearly $1.6 billion a year. By 2013-14, according to the department's own projections, the cost of our federal penitentiary system will have increased to $3.147 billion. In 2010-11, more than $517 million will be spent on prison construction. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the total annual cost per prison cell is about $260,000, while a new high security cell amounts to about $600,000.

Aside from the cost associated with actually building prisons, the cost to incarcerate inmates is high. The average cost for a female inmate is about $343,000 per year. For a male inmate in maximum security the cost is $223,000 while medium security is $141,000 year. Even while out on parole the average cost per inmate is $39,084 per year.

The crime rate continues to decline. The crime severity index, which measures the seriousness of crime, also dropped to its lowest point since the measure became available in 1998. So why is the government putting forward such costly legislation when crime rates continue to drop? Why is the government pursuing tough on crime policies that have failed so miserably in other jurisdictions such as the United States?

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Much of this is the result of mandatory minimums and the so-called war on drugs. It has not made the United States a safer place. In fact, most evidence indicates that it has not deterred crime and could even lead to less safe conditions in prisons and in communities.

Just as the costs are expected to be a large burden on our provinces and territories, the costs have proven to be crippling for the states. For example, Texas has recently moved away from using mandatory minimums because the costs to the state were too high.

The bill is not based on evidence. The government has failed to produce information that its legislation to impose mandatory minimums and lengthen sentences would have any deterrence on crime. The Minister of Justice the other day is quoted as saying, “We're not governing on the basis of the latest statistics”.

It has been shown time and again that the government fails to understand the importance of statistics, facts and science. To put forward such costly legislation without having statistics to back it up is inappropriate. To put forward legislation based on failed U.S. policies is shortsighted. We need to be moving forward not backward.

Mandatory minimums remove judicial discretion and this is highly problematic. In some cases, it could lead to judges giving lesser sentences then they otherwise would because they need to rely solely on legislation for sentencing.

According to the Canadian Bar Association, there are concerns with several aspects of the government's proposed omnibus crime bill, including mandatory minimum sentences, an overreliance on incarceration, constraints on judicial discretion to ensure a fair result in each case, and the bill's impact on specific already disadvantaged groups.

While the bill has some parts that I am in favour of, it is only on a case-by-case basis.

My concern is that the government has mixed good legislation in with bad and plans to ram it through all at once. It is ineffective and expensive. I cannot support the bill as it stands.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague across the floor and I hope he has the opportunity to listen again to what he said because a great deal of it did not make sense.

On the one hand, he used statistics from the Parliamentary Budget Officer on the cost of prisons but he certainly did not talk about the real numbers that Corrections Canada provided, which are totally different.

He is talking about crime rates going down and more people going to prison. I can tell members that if people do not commit a crime, they do not go to prison. I do not know where all that comes from.

The member talked about megaprisons. I would like to know where that term came from and how he associates it to this, other than in something in the opposition side where the soft on crime approach is that we should not build prisons.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think that building more prisons is something the government is focused on. We can easily make a connection with the United States policy where the Americans are building megaprisons. This is a trend toward that direction.

We should be focused more on prevention, putting our resources and focusing on prevention programs for individuals, especially young people, disadvantaged people and those who suffer from mental health problems and substance addictions. We should be addressing those issues and helping people who need that help in order to stay out of prison in the first place.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments that the member has put on the record. I especially liked the comments put on the record by the member for Mount Royal in terms of why it is that Bill C-10 is so fundamentally flawed, why it is that we need the government to take more of an aggressive approach in dealing with some of the causes of these crimes and why we are not doing enough to prevent crimes from occurring in the first place.

I am sure the member for Vancouver Centre would be aware that the Government of Manitoba has taken the position that the bill does not gone far enough. It surprised me, I must say, when it took that position.

Does the member believe that the additional responsibilities that would be given and the financial obligations from the provinces as a result of this legislation are totally unfair? Is he aware of any sort of consultation that has been taking place between the provinces and Ottawa with regard to these costs?

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe that one of the biggest issues in this omnibus crime bill is the costs. There will be tremendous costs downloaded to our provincial and territorial governments. We are already hearing concerns from the provinces and territories about the bill and with the extent of the bill.

While there are some elements that are good aspects of this bill, the overwhelming majority is not something I can support. This is the wrong direction into which we need to be putting our scant resources.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague well knows, aboriginals, women and children are overrepresented in our jails. In fact, I have some numbers here. Aboriginal women are overrepresented in maximum security prisons specifically. They make up 46% of federally sentenced women. I wonder if my colleague could speak to the fact that they lack services and rarely get proper legal representation. The government is giving few resources to combat all these things and, in fact, Correctional Services' own statistics say that there has been no significant progress in this in the past 20 years.

I wonder if my colleague could speak to how this bill would not actually targeting the problem.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question from my colleague. What is not addressed in this bill is a focus on prevention, a focus resources to those who need it most. That is where there are huge shortcomings in the bill and that is why I cannot support it.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-10, legislation that would further strengthens our government's already impressive track record of keeping our streets and communities safe.

The people of Mississauga South tell me every day, in letters, phone calls, as well as visits to my office, that they want this government to crack down on crime.

I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act.

The legislation before us today builds on this work which Canadians have given us a strong mandate to continue, the work of that impressive track record.

One very important component of our government's efforts to build safer streets and communities involves ongoing reforms to help ensure the system of corrections in this country actually works to correct offenders. I would therefore like to focus my remarks on this very important area.

I will begin with the victims of crime because, when it comes to our corrections system, they deserve to have their interests and concerns heard and know that their government is listening.

The current act clearly recognizes that victims of crime have an interest in the correctional process and yet victims and their advocates have expressed dissatisfaction with the current law. They have consistently called for improvements that would ensure a stronger voice in the process. This government has heard their concerns. We have listened and now we are acting on those concerns.

As it stands now, victims sometimes travel long distances to attend parole hearings, but if offenders withdraw their participation, the hearing could be cancelled at the last minute. This creates both a financial and emotional burden for victims.

The bill would remove the ability of offenders to cancel their parole hearings less than two weeks in advance, and victims would have the right to ask why the offender has waived that parole hearing. These measures would go a long way to preserving peace of mind for victims.

Bill C-10 would also enshrine in law a victim's right to attend and make statements at parole hearings. In addition, it would enable victims to request relevant information about an offender's time in custody, including reasons for transfer between institutions, or why they have been granted temporary absence and participation in their correctional plan.

Additionally, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act would be amended to expand the information that may be disclosed to victims by CSC and the Parole Board of Canada. This includes providing information on the reason or reasons for offender transfers with, whenever possible, advance notice of transfers to minimum security institutions; disclosing information on offender program participation and any convictions for serious disciplinary offences; and providing guardians and caregivers of dependants of victims who are deceased, ill or otherwise incapacitated with the same information that victims themselves can receive. Such changes would help to ensure that the interests of victims are front and centre.

The second major area of reform relates to the responsibility and accountability of offenders. Additionally, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act would be amended to allow for the establishment of incentive measures designed to promote offender participation in their correctional plan.

A successful transition to the community does not happen by accident or through wishful thinking. It demands that offenders play an active role in their rehabilitation. That is why the bill before the House stresses that rehabilitation is a shared responsibility between offenders and Correctional Service Canada.

Offenders would be expected to respect others, obey the rules and actively participate in fulfilling the goals of their correctional plans. To that end, each correctional plan would set out expectations for behaviour, participation in any programs and fulfilment of any court ordered financial obligations.

The third area of reform relates to the management of offenders and their re-integration into the community. In short, we need to do better so that we better protect law-abiding Canadians in all conditional release decisions. To that end, this legislation proposes to give police the power to arrest without warrant any offender who appears to be in breach of his or her release conditions.

Finally, the bill would automatically suspend the parole or statutory release of offenders who receive a new custodial sentence.

In the final area of reform, Bill C-10 would modernize the system of discipline in federal penitentiaries. Specifically, it would create in law new penalties for breaking rules, such as disrespectful, intimidating or assaultive behaviour, including throwing bodily substances. It would also restrict visits for inmates who have been segregated for serious disciplinary offences.

As we have heard, Bill C-10 proposes several fundamental reforms to the corrections and conditional release system to help ensure that our correctional system is actually correcting offenders.

The amendments that our Conservative government is proposing would enhance offender responsibility and accountability and strengthen the management of offenders during their incarceration and conditional release. These amendments would also modernize the system of disciplinary sanctions in federal correctional facilities and give victims the opportunity to request more information about the offender who has harmed them. All in all, the amendments would reinforce and build on the work already under way to strengthen the corrections and conditional release system.

Today we know that many of the offenders arriving in Canada's correctional system also arrive with histories of violent offences. More offenders than ever have gang or organized crime affiliations, and nearly four out of five now arrive at a federal institution with a serious abuse problem. In addition, an increasing number of offenders have serious mental health issues. Such changes in the offender population require a new approach to corrections and conditional release. That is why the government is moving forward with the proposals in Bill C-10.

The reforms being proposed would better serve victims by increasing the information that may be shared with them and guaranteeing their right to be heard at parole hearings. The proposed reforms would also help ensure that offenders are more accountable for their actions and so that their rehabilitation will be more effective.

These measures would also modernize the disciplinary system for inmates.

Further controls for offenders under community supervision are also being introduced.

I urge all members of the House to give their unconditional support for the bill for the sake of offenders who must take more responsibility for a successful transition into the community. I urge all hon. members to support Bill C-10 for the sake of crime victims who deserve a greater voice in the correctional system. I urge them to support the legislation before us today for the sake of corrections officers who have a right to a safe work environment.

I urge all hon. members to support this legislation for the sake of all Canadians. The protection of society is our top priority. Canadians deserve to feel safe in their homes and in their communities. Victims deserve to be treated with respect, as do the guards in our institutions. Offenders must be prepared to take more responsibility for their conduct and pay the price if they break the rules.

Press ReleasePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Yesterday, I put out a non-partisan press release encouraging every eligible voter to vote, while emphasizing that their vote matters in the provincial election in Ontario. There was certainly no intent on my part to have an impact on the outcome of the provincial election or, for that matter, to be anything other than an appropriate use of parliamentary resources. I realize it could be interpreted otherwise.

As parliamentarians, it is our responsibility to ensure that we follow the letter and the spirit of the rules, and that is something I take very seriously in my job. To that end, I apologize for that to you, Mr. Speaker.

Press ReleasePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The House notes the parliamentary secretary's intervention.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member would like to respond to a quote from the Canadian Bar Association with respect to the legislation:

The Bill’s approach is contrary to what is known to lead to a safer society.

The CBA believes that the Bill will make already serious criminal justice system problems much worse, with huge resource implications.

Perhaps the hon. member could comment on why that is so wrong.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government fundamentally disagrees that being tough on crime will not work to deter criminals. This is a very basic step in the process. I wonder whether the member opposite truly believes that allowing offenders to take more responsibility for their incarceration and for their conditional release is a good idea.

These laws are meant to improve on what currently exists, but more importantly, we are talking about protecting victims of crime. That is what Bill C-10 really wants to do. We are protecting victims of crime by putting in place tougher sentences.

I am wondering which part of this he does not agree with. Does he not want to protect the guards in the prisons? Does he not want to make their working conditions safer? These are the kinds of things that amending the Corrections and Conditional Release Act will do. I urge him to support these changes.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, perhaps my colleague from Mississauga South would agree that if longer prison sentences in and of themselves meant safer streets, the United States would have the safest streets in the world. The Americans lock up people at a higher rate than any other country. Even they have seen the folly in their ways. Would she not concede that the United States has now confessed that it was wrong and changed its practices and is dedicating more of the money it is saving by not building more prisons to prevention and substance abuse programs and treatment and rehabilitation? The U.S. is now enjoying a reduction.

Why are we borrowing billions and billions of dollars to build more prisons when we know full well it will not make our streets any safer? Is this not just a cheap pandering to the Conservatives' voting base?

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, in fact, these measures address specific deterrents. When a criminal is in jail, the victim can no longer be victimized. That is whom we care about. We care about the victims. That is whom Canadians care about. That is why we are preventing sexual exploitation of foreign nationals. That is why we are eliminating pardons for serious criminal acts. That is why we are ensuring that young offenders are given the opportunity to properly be rehabilitated. If they have done the crime they should also serve the time as adults if necessary. We are giving the courts the options to deal with the crime without having to worry about how many spots there are in jail.

We are doing the right thing because--

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. Questions and comments. We have time for one quick question and a brief response. The hon. member for Winnipeg South.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have run in various elections going back to 2004. When I was on the campaign trail, with all the parties that are represented here in the House, I remember their referring to our crime measures in general as being needed. Whenever I was at a debate with candidates, they would talk about how we needed to get tough on criminals. Yet when they return to this place they revert to their leftist philosophy on crime, which unfortunately does not work. Canadians have spoken on it, and I am sure the member heard the same thing on the campaign trail.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do hear the same thing from my constituents in Mississauga South. They are concerned about crime. They are concerned about their children. They want safe streets and safe communities. That is what we are doing here. We are making sure that offenders serve the time and that when they are released, they are given the proper opportunities for rehabilitation.

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-10.

As hon. members know, Bill C-10 contains provisions from various bills that were introduced in the previous Parliament, but unfortunately were blocked by the opposition.

The focus of my remarks today will be on the amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The proposed changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act reflect what we as parliamentarians have been hearing from our constituents. They are concerned about the threat posed by violent young offenders as well as by youth who may commit non-violent offences but who appear to be spiralling out of control towards more and more dangerous and harmful behaviour. In talking to fellow Canadians, we have found that they can lose faith in the youth criminal justice system when sentences given to violent and repeat young offenders do not make these youth accountable for their actions.

The package of Youth Criminal Justice Act amendments also responds to issues raised during cross-country consultations, to key decisions of the courts, to concerns raised by the provinces and territories, and to the positions put forward by the many witnesses who appeared before the justice committee during its study of former Bill C-4.

The reforms reflect the widely held view that while the Youth Criminal Justice Act is working fairly well in dealing with the majority of youth who commit crimes, there are concerns about the small number of youth who commit serious repeat or violent offences.

The proposed amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act are found in part 4, clauses 167 through 204, of the comprehensive Safe Streets and Communities Act. With a few exceptions, the proposed changes are the same as the changes that were proposed in former Bill C-4, also known as Sébastien's law.

Bill C-4 was introduced in the House of Commons on March 16, 2010 and was before the House of Commons justice and human rights committee, of which I am a member, when Parliament was dissolved prior to the May 2011 election.

As I have indicated, most of the Youth Criminal Justice Act provisions in the bill now before us were included in former Bill C-4. However, after Bill C-4 was introduced in Parliament, a number of provincial attorneys general expressed concerns about the proposed amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act provisions dealing specifically with pretrial detention, deferred custody and supervision orders, and adult sentencing.

These concerns were raised directly with the Minister of Justice and were brought before the justice committee. The government has listened carefully to these and other concerns, and has responded by making the appropriate changes to the previous legislation.

As my colleague, the hon. member for Kitchener Centre, has already given the House a thoughtful and thorough description of the provisions that were found in former Bill C-4, I will specifically discuss the minor changes that are included in this version of the bill.

With respect to pretrial detention, the government recognizes that the current Youth Criminal Justice Act provisions are complex, leading to a varied application of the provisions by the courts.

Bill C-4 proposes a much more straightforward approach to pretrial detention that would have allowed courts to detain a youth awaiting trial if the youth was charged with a serious offence and the court found a substantial likelihood that, if released, the youth would either not appear in court when required to do so or would commit a serious offence while awaiting trial.

The provinces' primary concern with the approach of Bill C-4 was that pretrial detention would be available for youth charged with an offence that was not deemed to be a serious offence. They felt that this could prevent detention of a youth who, although currently charged with a non-serious offence, had a prior history of charges or offending and appeared to be spiralling out of control and thus was posing a risk to public safety.

I will be happy to—

Safe Streets and Communities ActGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. The member will have six minutes remaining for his speech when the House next considers this bill.

Georgette Toutant and Édouard BeaudoinStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a very special year for Georgette Toutant and Édouard Beaudoin. They are both celebrating their 100th birthdays and their 78th wedding anniversary as well.

This couple have lived an extraordinary life. They owned a dairy farm for 48 years, raised meat animals for 15 years and thus spent 63 years working in agriculture. They remained on their farm until they were 92 years old. They have 7 children, 14 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

A grand thanksgiving mass was held at the church in their home parish of Gentilly on July 24 to give thanks and celebrate this special birthday.

The 100-year-old husband and wife will celebrate their 78th wedding anniversary on October 25. The community of Gentilly is proud of this couple who are a unique part of the history of the community, Quebec and Canada.

Congratulations. May you enjoy many more years of happiness.

Georgette Toutant and Édouard BeaudoinStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. The hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

September 27th, 2011 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate five high school students from Swan Valley Regional Secondary School in my constituency for their first place achievement in the 2011 Canon Envirothon competition.

Team members were Nyla Burnside, Matt Forbes, Teagan Markin, Breanna Anderson and Eddie Shao. Their advisers were: Rick Wowchuk, Shawn Stankewich and Alex Verbo.

They defeated 53 teams from across North America. They are the very first Canadian team to win this prestigious award for their exceptional knowledge of the environment.

Swan River is an agricultural, forestry and tourism dependent community. The residents of Swan River Valley, as exemplified by the extraordinary achievements of their Envirothon team, have an innate and practical understanding of sustainable development and the wise use of natural resources. This understanding is common throughout rural Canada.

By winning the Envirothon award, these students have demonstrated the relationship they have with their environment. These young people will surely be the conservation leaders of tomorrow.

Community Activities in the Riding of Rosemont—La Petite-PatrieStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's Multi-Ethnic Association for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities, whose head office is in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. This is a good opportunity to commend the association's excellent work and the determination of its founder and director, Luciana Soave, herself an immigrant and mother of a child with a disability. Her organization helps all immigrants and people with disabilities by offering them services daily and fighting for their rights.

Furthermore, public, community-supported markets are being developed in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, which is already well known for the Jean-Talon market. One such example is Festi Marché, which makes fresh fruits and vegetables affordable for people on low incomes. Organized by NA Rive, a literacy centre, this market was held last weekend in a school yard. A massive picnic was also held on Shamrock Street, organized by community organizations such as SODER and by the merchants of Little Italy. For the third consecutive year, a non-profit organization coordinated a market for small-scale producers at Technopôle Angus, in the eastern part of the riding. These are just a few of the local initiatives meant to ensure healthy eating habits and food security for our constituents.

JusticeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to keep our streets and communities safe. That means locking up dangerous and repeat offenders, not releasing them early just to save a buck.

Our government is continuing with the planned expansion of our prisons within existing budgets. We will be creating 2,700 new spaces over the next several years.

Canadians have had enough of a justice system that releases convicted dangerous criminals before they are ready.

Our Conservative government has already taken strong action, including ending early parole for drug dealers and fraudsters and ending the so-called faint hope clause that allows murderers out early. There is still more to do. That is why we will move forward quickly with legislation that was shamefully opposed by the NDP and the Liberals in the last Parliament.

On this side of the House we take our responsibility to build stronger, safer communities across Canada very seriously. I call on the NDP and the Liberals to do the same.