Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Okanagan—Shuswap for bringing this bill forward. As he mentioned, this was a bill that I introduced in the first session of this Parliament and because of my appointment as parliamentary secretary, my bill had to be withdrawn, although it did make it to committee. Therefore, I would hope that members will expedite this process so we can get this to committee, where it was a year ago.
Sitting here listening especially to the Liberal member really was disappointing. At no point did he mention the victims, not once. It comes back to this whole ideology of the Liberals about hugging the thug, about trying to protect the criminals rather than protecting Canadians and those victims.
The title of the bill is “respecting families of murdered and brutalized persons act”. It is work that I started some time ago, and I am very happy that my friend from Okanagan—Shuswap has taken on this task in the House to ensure that families do not have to go through unnecessary Parole Board hearings and be re-victimized time and time again. Let us ensure we have our hearts in the right place, that they are with the families that have already lost their loved ones and now have to relive the horror of the most heinous criminals who have not only murdered their child or family member, but may have abducted and sexually assaulted them.
The bill would amend section 745 of the Criminal Code. I have to stress that Bill C-587 is about empowering our courts with the ability to increase parole ineligibility when sentencing individuals who have abducted, sexually assaulted and killed our innocent and often most vulnerable Canadians from the current 25 years up to a maximum of 40 years. It is at the discretion of the courts. They make the decisions on whether to take it up any higher.
The bill is not about creating stiffer penalties for these sadistic murderers. These depraved convicts do not qualify for parole. We have already mentioned that. The worst case criminals who are in prison, these half dozen individuals who have been alluded to, never make parole. They never ever get out of jail. However, the reality is that families still have to go, every two years, starting at year 23, to hear the tragedy of their child or loved one being abducted, kidnapped, raped, sometimes tortured, and then murdered. We want to put an end to that. The bill is about saving the families of victims from having to go through this agony of attending these unnecessary and traumatic experiences at Parole Board hearings.
Again, we have said that this is not about mandatory minimums. This is about empowering judges and juries in coming to reasonable decisions on parole ineligibility.
Let us talk about this. Is this constitutional? Does it comply with the charter? The fundamental principle of sentencing is that a sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender. The seriousness of the offence as set out in the bill would ensure that parole ineligibility, period, would only be applied in cases where the murderer's moral blame worthiness would be very high for abduction, sexual assault and murder. This would allow for judicial discretion and would ensure charter compliance because it would not be mandatory minimums.
This goes back to Bill C-48, which used the same principle, protecting Canadians by ending sentence discounts by multiple murderers act. It is important to note that the NDP supported that bill back in 2011. That, in itself, is noteworthy. If it was okay to support it in Bill C-48 back in 2011, I would hope the NDP would support that same principle when it applies to these most heinous criminals.
Jim Maloway, who was the NDP member at that time for Elmwood—Transcona said:
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to what is now is Bill C-48 [...]. I essentially support the bill, which our critic, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, has already indicated that our party supports. In fact, all opposition parties support the bill. [...]
I guess one of the good things about the bill is that it does leave discretion to the judge, which opposition members have been consistent in supporting in the past. Perhaps the government recognized that by allowing the judge discretion it made it certain that the bill would actually go somewhere in the House.
The compliance section that we are concerned about is section 12 of the Charter, and by going the route that is presented in Bill C-587, providing that judicial discretion makes it charter compliant. That is key.
As we are saying, this is about the most heinous and horrendous individuals we have in Canada. We are talking about Robert Pickton, Paul Bernardo, Russell Williams, Michael Rafferty, Terri-Lynne McClintic, Clifford Olson, Donald Armstrong, James Dobson, David Shearing and, just recently, Luka Magnotta. These individuals are repulsive in our society. They have committed the most tragic criminal acts on an individual that people could ever imagine. Yet, there is argument coming forward that they should only have to sit there for 25 years. We know that they sit there longer because they never ever make parole eligibility. They are never put back into society.
In the sentencing of David Threinen, in 1975, Justice Hughes, who was the judge at the time, stated he should “never again should he be on the streets and roadways of our country”.
If judges already see how repulsive and dangerous these offenders are, then they need to make sure that they are never released back into society.
When we look at Robert Pickton, he was convicted of multiple murder charges, 25 counts, but unfortunately they were only second degree murder charges. That means 10 years. In 10 years, he can start attending his parole board hearings. He will probably never be released, but that means that 25 families are going to be reading victim impact statements at parole board hearings every two years, in a matter of a couple of years from now. That is sickening.
One of the reasons I was thinking about this case is that a few years ago I was in my riding listening to the Tori Stafford case. She was the little girl who was abducted, raped, and murdered. It broke my heart. It involved Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic. After they stole her from school and sexually assaulted her, they killed her with a hammer. Terri-Lynne McClintic got a life sentence, in 2010. Michael Rafferty got his life sentence. Tori Stafford's family, in 25 years, should not have to start reliving that murder, that abduction, that sexual assault, every two years from there on in.
We talked about Russell Williams, who abducted, raped, and murdered Jessica Lloyd and Marie-France Comeau. We talked about Clifford Olson.
I have to thank Sharon Rosenfeldt. I got involved with her and her organization, Victims of Violence. She supported the bill right from the beginning. Her son Daryn was murdered. My friend has already talked about how Daryn was killed and how they were retraumatized.
I also have to thank Susan Ashley, who also provided me with support and ideas for the bill, and Yvonne Harvey, from the Canadian Parents of Murdered Children, for their work on this bill as well, and ensuring that Canadians are aware that this was coming forward.
Finally, I want to thank Senator Boisvenu, who founded the organization Murdered or Missing Persons' Families' Association because of his own person loss, for his support in ensuring that the bill will go forward on the Senate side.
Again, I would ask that members of this House to support the bill and get it to committee so it can be given the proper study.