Mr. Speaker, it is always a privilege to rise in the House and to speak to legislation.
I will start by making the point that I find the intent behind this bill, at least expressed by the Prime Minister, to be troubling. I will admit it is rare that I find merit in any legislation put forward by the Liberal government. However, in this case, as we get into the conversation about drugs, rather than exclusively treating simple drug possession as a criminal issue, we need to also recognize it as a health issue. There is some merit in that. That is where we are as a party, and I think that is where we are as a country, so that is the conversation we should be having. The problem is that, as usual, the Liberal government has taken a nugget of common sense and buried it so deeply into a larger piece of legislation that is so rife with contradictions and virtue signalling that, unfortunately, that semblance of a good idea gets lost.
We saw this just last week when Conservatives asked the government to break Bill C-21, which I also look forward to speaking to, into two bills. We asked that the government do this because we agreed with parts of the bill as they appeared to have merit and we thought they were a good idea. It is always a good idea to protect women and children and that is something everyone in this House can get behind. We asked, in good faith, if the government would be willing to split the bill so we could vote in favour of the good part that we agreed on and expedite the passage of that bill, while continuing to debate the ideas that we did not agree with. The government refused. It is the all-or-nothing approach that the Liberals keep taking that is behind their inability to present coherent legislation that we can all agree on.
We have a Prime Minister who is so convinced that he knows better than anyone else, better than this House and better than Canadians, that he takes these big legislative swings and misses. Because he did not bring this House along with him, he did not bring the country along with him. From what I have been reading in the news of late, it sounds like he has lost any interest in bringing his own party along with him. It is just the Prime Minister out there on his own, doing his own thing and not particularly concerned about the consequences because he knows best. He is not concerned about the consequences because, if we are honest, when has the Prime Minister ever been accountable for his actions? He would not know a consequence if it jumped up and bit him somewhere unparliamentary.
In fact, the only time the Prime Minister expresses any concern for outcomes is when his own political fate may be jeopardized. Then he cares. High inflation does not affect him. When was the last time the PM set foot in a grocery store, other than, of course, for a quick photo op? Regarding house prices, let us just say he has options. He is in Rideau Cottage while the family is at the lake. There are a mere 38 rooms between them all, but I hear they are getting by, unlike many Canadians. Regarding gas prices, he is still jetting around the globe to take pictures and lecture people about emissions, so obviously, the price of gas does not affect him. With respect to rising crime rates and gang violence, he has never had to live in downtown Winnipeg or Thompson or Thunder Bay. Let him live in a rooming house on Magnus Avenue or Regent Park and see what he says then, but he does not and he will not. He would not even visit those neighbourhoods.
It should not come as any surprise to anyone that we keep getting this out-of-touch legislation. It was the Prime Minister's father who stated that the government has no business in the bedrooms of Canadians. I find it quite ironic that the government wants to be not just in the bedroom, but in every room, every device and every thought. There is no aspect of Canadian life that the Liberals do not feel they need to control. Despite that, they are still so out of touch with the reality of everyday Canadians. It is actually very sad.
I wonder if the government spent a little less time pushing narratives and virtue signalling and a little more time actually listening to Canadians, it would not be better off. Perhaps then we could get legislation that deals with the root causes of these problems, rather than just the symptoms.
Let us take a look at this bill, because this bill is a great example of what I am talking about. It gives great insight into the Liberal mentality, at least that of the PM and his cabinet and the inconsistency of their government's reasoning. Why put this bill forward? The Prime Minister was clear when he spoke in the House last week. He said our previous Conservative government's tough-on-crime agenda was racist. The PM claims our attempts to crack down on serious crime and put victims first was really just a cover to discriminate and put Black and indigenous Canadians in jail. That assertion is as false as it is insulting as it is ridiculous.
Here is our position. If someone commits a crime in Canada and is convicted of that crime, that person should be held accountable for that crime, period. Race does not come into play. The law is colour blind. I wish the government would be intellectually honest enough to try to stop bringing race into every equation, and that it would stop with the identity politics and stop dividing Canadians.
People who are convicted by a court of law and sent to jail are not in that position because they are victims. They are in that position because they are criminals. They have victimized another person. That is not to say that they themselves were not victimized somewhere along the road. They probably were, and that needs to be part of this discussion. However, being the victim of a crime does not entitle someone to commit crimes. However, we know that hurt people hurt people, and that is the bigger conversation.
Do we need to have discussions surrounding the extenuating circumstances that might have contributed to that choice? Absolutely, we do. We need to address poverty. We need to address housing, the cost of living, education and opportunities. We need to discuss the role of the entertainment industry and media. We need to discuss the role of parents, or in too many cases, the lack of parental involvement that leads to young people being out on the streets.
There is a lot we need to talk about, but at the end of the day, those external circumstances aside, that person standing before the judge made a choice. They did not make that choice because of the colour of their skin, and to insinuate they did is the very definition of racism. The ability to make choices between right and wrong has nothing to do with skin colour.
The government can throw around all the talking points about intersectionality it wants, but it does not change the fact that somewhere in that situation somebody made a choice, and choices have consequences. I know Black Canadians, white Canadians, Asian Canadians and indigenous Canadians, many of whom have been through difficult times and circumstances, had terrible things happen to them and had their backs up against the wall, and they did not resort to crime. In fact, too often, what we are seeing happen is that in those same racialized communities that a disproportionate number of offenders come from, we also see a disproportionate number of victims.
I look at this legislation, and on the face of it I can only see one message the government is trying to send: that it has actually come to believe that racialized Canadians somehow lack the ability to choose between right and wrong. It is ridiculous and it is insulting. I am not about to speak for those racialized communities, but if it were me, I would find this legislation incredibly insulting, because rather than empower racialized Canadians and fight racism, this bill enshrines a racism of lowered expectations, one that will harm the very communities the Liberals actually genuinely want to help.
That is the first big inconsistency, and here is the second: At the same time the government is lowering penalties for serious offenders, as it has done before, it is once again targeting law-abiding Canadians. The government will not address illegal guns flooding across our border, but it will go after farmers. It will not deal with illegal border crossers flooding into Canada, but try to cross the border without completing the ArriveCAN app. People can burn down churches, and the Prime Minister says that he understands their anger, but try parking a truck in downtown Ottawa.
That is how backwards the Liberal mentality is. If someone commits a serious crime, they are a victim, but if they obey the law, they are clearly a danger to society. It is backwards. It is not progressive. It is regressive.
There is one more thing. We started by talking about drugs. I would like to end there as well.
The government touts the fact that 75% of mandatory minimum prosecutions were for drug offences. What it does not and will not tell us is that 89% of those cases were for drug trafficking. It was not for personal use or simple possession. It was for dealing. I am fine if we want to shift to diversion programs and treatment for simple possession for those who are addicted, as addiction is a medical issue, but I am not okay with diversion programs for those who peddle this poison to our kids.
All we need to do is look at downtown Winnipeg or Vancouver to see the deadly consequences of drug use. I believe that those who are instrumental in causing the chemical carnage should not have the option of house arrest, that they should go to jail, yet still there are those in the government and in this House who would say to take away penalties, legalize drugs and remove the stigma. For those who do that here, we have another inconsistency and another illogical gap, because saying that eliminating penalties and legalizing drugs will help fix drug addiction is like trying to extinguish a fire with gasoline. It would not be laughable if it were not so true.
Once again, we have an example of legislation that addresses the symptoms, but fails to address the root causes of the problem. It is a backward approach that would harm the very people it claims to want to help.
This is typical of the government's failed approach. That is why I will be voting against Bill C-5.