Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise here today. It is always a pleasure to represent my constituents, the people of Jonquière. I am always proud to speak in the House of Commons.
Issues that affect my region's economy are especially important to me. We talked about this a lot earlier. Unfortunately, the government is dragging its feet on many files, and this includes protecting jobs in the forestry sector. Our farmers are still fighting against diafiltered milk. We have yet to see any measures to improve access to employment insurance, for example in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, since we have a two-tier system.
Today in the House we are debating Bill C-229, which amends the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
Let me be very clear: the NDP will be opposing this bill at second reading. It reminds us once again of the many reasons why Canadians sent the previous government packing. This is a bill that seems to have been written on the back of a napkin. It in no way reflects reality.
Instead of spreading misinformation and vote-seeking propaganda, the Conservatives should tell Canadians the truth. Under the current system, the most dangerous offenders who pose a risk to public safety never get out of prison.
We believe in evidence-based policy. Any reforms made to the sentencing regime should focus on improving public safety, not on political games.
The Conservatives have been talking about this bill since 2013, but waited until just a few months before the election was called to announce its introduction at a flashy election-style event. That same day, a Conservative member sent out an email to raise funds and add to the list of Conservative Party members. The subject line of the email was “Murderers in your neighbourhood?” This is another example of the troubling use of the politics of fear by the party that was in power at the time.
The ironic thing about the Conservatives is that they are always the first to want to talk about safety in our communities, but in the last three years, the Conservatives cut RCMP expenditures by millions of dollars. Not so long ago, the commissioner of the RCMP said that they had exhausted their budget and needed more money. That is where investment is needed: in the RCMP and public safety.
I believe that Canadians expect better from politicians. Major issues demand our attention, such as setting a decent minimum wage of $15 an hour and providing better access to employment insurance by making it accessible to everyone in every region.
There is work to do on pay equity and restoring home mail delivery. More resources need to be given to public safety, including the RCMP. Bill C-51 needs to be revisited and the order in council for Bill C-452 on exploitation and trafficking in persons needs to be signed.
Instead, the Conservatives would rather continue to introduce biased bills. Public policy must first and foremost be based on facts, and the objective of such policies must be to keep the public safe, not to win political points. We need to give our public security agencies more resources. We need to take action. We need to invest in prevention in order to prevent crime and help offenders reintegrate into society.
A brilliant lawyer named Michael Spratt said, and I quote:
Throwing away the key is an admission of failure. It amounts to admitting that our prisons are warehouses, that rehabilitation is a lie, that the law that holds us together as a society is still the law of the jungle — an eye for an eye. It’s the politics of despair.
I cannot give a speech about crime without thinking of the victims. Today, my thoughts are with all the victims, particularly the victims of crime. Some of them may be watching right now. Too often we forget the impact of crime on their lives and on the lives of their families, particularly when someone is killed. The NDP has always cared about victims and that is why we think it is so important to implement truly effective policies to keep the public safe.
The Conservatives should do a bit more research before introducing bills. In the current system, the most dangerous criminals who pose a threat to public safety never get out of prison. That is why any reforms made to the sentencing regime should focus on improving public safety and increasing financial resources, rather than on unconstitutional bills.
My opposition colleagues should know that it is up to the Attorney General to ensure that the laws that are introduced by the government are constitutional. However, once again, the Conservatives are introducing a bill that will more than likely end up being challenged in the courts. Many of their bills, some of which were mentioned today in the House, have already been deemed unconstitutional by the court.
I wonder whether my Conservative colleagues respect the principle of constitutionality and the separation of powers. We live in a democracy, but I all too often have the impression that they do not really believe it.
I will come right out with the question and it is up to them to answer it. Do they believe that it is important for parliamentarians to introduce bills that are constitutional? I will give them a chance to answer this question, which I believe is a very simple but important one.
In my view, it is essential that we put forward public policies that are based on facts and comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our Constitution.