Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting bill that we have before us. It is something the Conservative Party is fairly good at. They have someone working in the Prime Minister's Office whose job is quite simple: come up with creative names for bills to make the Conservatives look good in the eyes of the public. Whether it is reflected in the bill or the substance of the legislation is somewhat irrelevant; the PMO staffer's primary goal is to get that communication piece out.
So what has the PMO said today on Bill C-12?
Well, the message it wants to get out to Canadians is “drug-free prisons”. This is what it wants to achieve. Some on that side might actually applaud, but one questions if it is possible to achieve what the government is trying to give the impression to Canadians that it is going to achieve. I do not believe it is possible.
I believe that if one were to canvass individuals who have the expertise, which obviously is lacking on the government benches, one would find out that in fact it is not achievable. However, do not let that confuse the member who came up with the idea in the Prime Minister's Office, because that conflicts with the message the Conservatives are hoping to give Canadians, albeit somewhat false.
That said, interestingly, there was an observation made in the 2011-2012 annual report from the Correctional Investigator with respect to the prevalence of drugs within our prisons, and I quote:
A “zero-tolerance” stance to drugs in prison, while perhaps serving an effective deterrent posted at the entry point of a penitentiary, simply does not accord with the facts of crime and addiction in Canada or elsewhere in the world.
This is not coming from a member of the Liberal caucus, but from stakeholders out there in the real world, and that is part of the problem. We need to get more of the staff inside the PMO to get out into the real world to get a better understanding of reality.
I had the opportunity to tour many of Canada's penitentiaries and retention centres, and I believe there is plenty of room for improvement. Let there be no doubt that there is a lot of room for improvement. I for one will not object to moving forward, but I think we have to take the issue of addiction—