Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to speak once again to Bill C-26.
It now appears that the bill is being framed as sort of the victims versus the offenders by the other side. I would like to clarify our party's position on victims versus offenders.
The bill came from our party in the first place through the member for Trinity—Spadina. It was an attempt to turn an offender who was really a victim away from being an offender. How does that work? It is where someone who was a victim of a crime, attempted to arrest or stop a person who committed a crime and he became an offender, according to the police, because he had unreasonably detained someone.
This bill is all about that. It is to try to regain the balance between victims and offenders. The bill is now one of the very few in this Parliament to have had actual agreement on amendments at committee. Many bills have gone through committee that have had zero amendments approved by the other side.
That leads me to comparisons between this bill and other bills which have created victims, by the other side, and in which the amendments we have proposed have been outright rejected. I am of course referring to Bill C-31, which has elements of this bill in it all over the place. People who flee countries, where those people are victims of crime or who have their own personal well-being threatened, to come to a safe country are themselves victims. They are the victims of crime in those countries. They are the victims of persecution. They are victims in any imagined sense of the word.
However, if these people arrive here by the wrong method, they immediately become an offender, according to the government. If they are victims of human smuggling, they are imprisoned and are considered to be offenders.
We need to turn those things around. This is a situation that cannot be allowed to stand. Unfortunately the votes on Monday meant that those bills are now off to the Senate and perhaps they will become law.
We have a situation where the other side is accusing this side of being soft on offenders and hard on victims, and the exact opposite is true. The government has determined that people who are victims will be made offenders. The immigration bill is but one example.
That is an example of a bill where the parties actually did work together. The previous Parliament actually passed a bill that was praised and lauded, that struck a balance between people being victims and being offenders.
However, now we have a government that is insistent on its ideologically driven anti-immigrant agenda that will now treat potential immigrants who come here by magic, because they found a way to get here when they were unable to get here any other way, as criminals.
In addition, those individuals who did everything right, who acted in accordance with the law, who applied to come to Canada years and years ago are now going to be treated as criminals because they are having their money given back to them and are being told “Sorry, we did not get to your application 10 years ago, and we are never going to get to it. You have to apply again”. Those people are being made into victims by the government. We are treating people horrendously.
I also want to talk about how this bill has a possibility of creating a vigilante system. We will support it, but I want to be very clear that we do not support anything which takes Canada further into the sort of American mentality of “shoot first and ask questions later”. We do not agree with that kind of mentality.
I was in a high school in my riding last week. In that high school was a bunch of Grade 10 students. They were 13 to 15 years old. I asked them how many of them owned an illegal handgun or knew someone who owned one. Half the class put up its hand, and that is not unusual. When I asked them why all these handguns, their immediate answer was for self-defence, that they had to defend themselves against others in their communities who had handguns.
What is the government doing about the proliferation of handguns that I find in my riding? There was a drive-by shooting last night and someone was shot just last week in the same neighbourhood by illegal handguns that have arrived in my riding.
What is the government doing about the proliferation of weapons of destruction, of killing? It is removing border protections. It is laying off border services people. It is cutting the number of sniffer dogs that might stop these guns from coming into the country in the first place.
The Conservatives have decided it is better to have guns come in and to--