Mr. Speaker, I rise on Bill C-75, which is officially called an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts. Once again, we have before us another omnibus bill.
Just two weeks ago, I spoke on the budget implementation act, part 2, which was an omnibus bill as well, which of course followed the BIA 1, which was also an omnibus bill. Those bills had sections inside of sections making legislative changes.
When the Liberals were in opposition they railed against omnibus bills, so much so that they actually put it into their campaign pledge. If we go to Liberal.ca, it is still there. This is what it says about omnibus bill. It starts, of course, by attacking Stephen Harper, and what Liberal talking point would be complete without blaming Prime Minister Harper? It says, “Stephen Harper has...used omnibus bills to prevent...properly reviewing and debating...proposals. We will...bring an end to this undemocratic practice.”
When we say that, of course, we put our hand over our heart. However, despite their pledge, here we have another omnibus bill. Perhaps that pledge meant they would prevent others from bringing omnibus bills, but not the Liberals.
If we go to the famous Liberal mandate tracker, what does it say on this promise? Under the “unfair and open government” part, it says they will end the use of omnibus bills. Funnily enough, we have an omnibus bill here, the budget implementation act, part 2, and part 1 is on omnibus bills.
Despite that, under the Liberal mandate tracker under “End the improper use of omnibus bills...” it says it is completed and fully met. Of course, this is the same mandate tracker that is judging balancing the budget by 2019-20. It says it is under way with challenges. The government has stated, its own finance department has stated, we will not see it balanced until 2045. However, somehow it was promised for 2019, and by 2045, it is under way with challenges. It makes me think that if the Liberals were the head of the Titanic, after hitting the iceberg and while it is going down, the Cunard Line reaches out to the captain and asks, “How are you making out on your trip?” and the response is, “Well, we are under way with challenges”.
Moving on to Bill C-75, I agree with a few items in this omnibus bill. With over 300 pages of changes, one has to be able to find a few good things. Bill C-75 would repeal unconstitutional provisions in the Criminal Code. That is fair and good. It would increase the maximum prison term for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence. It would provide that abuse from a partner is an aggravating factor on sentencing. We agree with that and fully support it. It would provide more onerous interim release provisions. Again, we can get behind that. It makes some efforts to reduce delays in the judicial system by restricting the availability of a preliminary hearing, increasing use of technology to facilitate remote attendance, and providing for judicial referral hearings to deal with administration of justice offences involving failure to comply with release conditions or failure to appear.
That being said, I have many grave concerns with the bill, mostly around how it waters down penalties for crimes. The Liberals are claiming they want to push through Bill C-75 using time allocation in order to speed up the court process, and also because of the Jordan ruling. The big problem is, the Liberals are not able to get their act together and appoint judges. It is one thing to make small steps in this way, but until they get their act together and appoint judges, we are going to continue with justice delays and people being released under the Jordan ruling. There have been hundreds of cases tossed due to delays because the government has been unable to do its job and appoint judges.
There are about 2,000 more applications before the courts to dismiss cases because of delays. We had a gang hit man in Calgary accused of three murders, and suspected by the Calgary police of committing 20 murders. He was released from his trial for the three murders he was charged with, because of delays, because we do not have enough judges. We had a man accused of murder, charged in Edmonton, released because of delays, because the government cannot get its act together and appoint judges. We had a killer in Quebec released because of delays. Possibly the worst was a monster in Nova Scotia who took a baseball bat and broke the ankles and shins of his baby. This man was released because the government is too incompetent to do its job and appoint justices. This is an issue that they have to get hold of and they are failing Canadians.
I am pleased that the Liberals did listen to the Conservatives and other opposition members at committee and backed away from having lighter sentences for some crimes, such as terrorism-related offences and advocating genocide. It makes one wonder why it takes us, in committee, to force the government to back away from lightening a sentence for advocating genocide.
Just two weeks ago in the House, we heard the Prime Minister, the opposition leader, the NDP leader, the Green Party leader and members of other parties stand up and make wonderful speeches, apologizing for the disgrace of Canada's not accepting the MS St. Louis and the genocide that happened. The same week, we had a concurrence report from committee about the genocide against Yazidi women, a report that, to the credit of my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill, dragged the government, kicking and screaming, into the light of recognizing that this had indeed been genocide. Despite everything ISIS has done in slaughtering these people, member after government member stood up to say that the UN had not decided it was genocide and that we could not call it that.
At least the government has recognized this and is not watering down the sentences for advocating genocide. However, I have to ask, why does it take the opposition to demand the government make this change?
As I mentioned, I have serious concerns about the watering down of serious crimes in this bill and reduced sentences for many serious crimes, including sometimes just a monetary fine. I want to go through a few of them.
One is prison breach.
Then there is municipal corruption, the influencing of municipal officials. Members will recall a couple of ex-Liberal cabinet ministers who went on to pursue careers in municipal politics who were charged with fraud. Maybe they were just doing a favour for their compatriots.
There is also influencing or negotiating appointments or dealing in offices. Actually, we now have the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade being looked at for the clam scam. Perhaps they are trying to do him a favour.
Then there is obstructing or violence to or arrest of officiating clergyman. This one is especially egregious. The Liberals tried to suspend this under section 176. There were special protections for clergyman performing ceremonies, whether church ceremonies, funerals, or other religious ceremonies. The Liberals tried to take that protection away. The opposition fought back. They promised they would not do that, and yet here in this bill they are reducing that crime.
Let us think about it. Two weeks ago we heard of the massive anti-Semitism that results in the genocide of Jewish people. This is two years after the massacre at the mosque in Quebec and just a month after the defacing of the Talmud Torah School, the Jewish school in my riding, with swastikas. Now we have the government saying that it is okay, that we do not need special protection for religious figures and clergymen.
Other crimes the Liberals are watering down include keeping a common bawdy house. Now, that may be great for parliamentarians, but certainly not for Canadians.
Then there is punishment for infanticide. As I mentioned earlier, we had a gentleman, a monster in Halifax, who was released after breaking the bones of his baby. Here we have a bill that allows for a reduction in sentencing for infanticide.
Another is concealing the body of child.
A further one is driving offences causing bodily harm. Again, we just legalized marijuana. We do not have a proper way to measure the impairment. Police departments have said they are not ready, and here we have the government going out of its way to reduce possible penalties for that.
Others include material benefit—trafficking, abduction of person under age of 16, abduction of person under the age of 14.
There there is forced marriage. Just in committee yesterday, we heard that in Sudan, Somalia and the Congo something like 50% of young girls are being forced into marriage. We have the government saying that we need to do more to prevent that, and we do overseas, but why is it reducing the crime here?
Again, to wrap up, I am sure this bill has wonderful intentions, but the government should look at fulfilling its responsibility of filling judicial vacancies and focus on victims and society, not on making things easier for criminals.