Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise and speak to this bill. From the outset, I recognize the noble intention of the sponsor of this bill, the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. We can see a sincere desire to increase the accountability of those who have been found guilty of a crime against society. However, I feel that the bill applies to very rare and specific cases, but that does not mean that it is not commendable. It simply means that its impact on the prison population will be rather limited.
That being said, it will certainly bring some tangible assistance to an offender's family, for example. I look forward to studying the two proposed amendments. At first glance, those amendments seem very similar, but, according to the hon. member who just spoke, there are some rather significant differences. So I am going to examine the two amendments to try to draw the appropriate conclusions. We are all rowing in the same direction and we want the same thing. We just have to find the most effective way to reach our common goal.
Will the bill increase the accountability of offenders who have successfully taken legal action against the federal Crown for a crime they were a victim of and who have received an amount of money as compensation? Perhaps. There are always some small miracles in life, including in the prison system, I am sure. That is one of the two objectives of the bill. The bill seeks to help those who are victims of crime, both the victim of the act committed, and the person, for example, whose parent committed the crime, was sent to jail, and was thereby unable to provide for their spouse or children.
Generally speaking, making a human being accountable has to do with developing a sense of respect for other human beings. This starts with planting a seed that helps us recognize our responsibility for the well-being of another human being, often the well-being of a loved one. It is more of a journey than a one-time thing. It is a journey, a path that leads to having an open mind and a sense of duty; it can even lead to feeling satisfaction from helping another person.
As I said, that does not mean that an inmate required to give the amount received in compensation to one of his family members could not, all of a sudden, develop a sense of responsibility. This sense of responsibility is generally developed through programs given in Canadian penitentiaries. These programs are recognized worldwide. For decades, Canada has developed very effective inmate programs. These programs have been successful, according to experts not just in Canada but around the world, experts who have seen fit to adapt the programs in their own countries.
It is mainly through these programs that an inmate will develop a sense of responsibility. So we need to continue to focus on these programs, such as the CORCAN program, which everyone is familiar with. CORCAN is a business that reports to Correctional Services Canada and is run within the prisons themselves. This business builds cabinets and all kinds of very marketable things, which gives the inmates a sense of well-being and responsibility. So we need not to forget about these programs.
The purpose of the bill is obviously very noble, and it is a step in the right direction, but we need to continue to focus on rehabilitation through programs that are well-funded by the federal government.
A number of objections to the bill have been raised. For example, what happens if an offender wins his case against the Crown? He gets his money, the money goes to his family, and at some point in the future, it turns out the person was not guilty and was incarcerated for a crime he never committed. What happens then? Yes, the money would have been given to his family. That does not mean he wants the money back. Anyway, he would probably take the government to court and would probably get back the money that had been taken away after he was compensated the first time around. Practically speaking, I do not think that this is a problem even though the bill does not address this possibility.
However, it is possible that the bill could be struck down because it encroaches on provincial jurisdiction. We know that all matters relating to property, such as firearms management, fall under provincial jurisdiction. So there could be legal action at that level. Also, as we heard from one of the witnesses who appeared before the committee when we studied the bill, someone could try to have the legislation struck down because it involves expropriating the property of a Canadian citizen, even if that is done for a good cause. We will see whether the threat of that kind of lawsuit materializes.
That being said, the government must make absolutely sure that, when it creates a bill, that bill can stand up to attempts to strike it down based on the Constitution or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If not, we will see what we saw yesterday when, for the third time, a judge struck down a government crime bill because it was not drafted properly to begin with. In the long run, that could result in injustice.