Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to again speak to Bill C-327, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts).
This would amend the Broadcasting Act to grant the CRTC the power to make regulations respecting the broadcasting of violent scenes. I commend my colleague, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, for raising this issue.
I do not plan on supporting the legislation but it certainly concerns a serious matter and it can only benefit Canadian society that violence be examined and debated here in the House of Commons.
As the father of four children, I certainly share my colleague's concerns about the levels of violence broadcast on television to young children. My children are older now, but violence on television is certainly an issue I had to deal with while they were growing up.
However, I am not sure the legislation is now necessary. The objective of Bill C-327 is consistent with the current regulatory practice of the CRTC and self-governing standards from both public and private sector broadcasters.
The CRTC already sets out policy and rules that govern violence on television and, more important, are a mandatory condition of a licence for all broadcasters. Moreover, there is an established and enforced requirement that does not allow violent television programming to air before 9 p.m. eastern time.
Viewer advisories referencing unsuitable programming for children are communicated through voice and print before programs. This is encouraging news but we must not be complacent and must be ever vigilant to ensure that images our children are exposed to are healthy.
On the subject of violence, the government has so far done very little to counter my constituents' concerns about violence in our midst and criminal justice issues in particular. My position on criminal justice is that an effective and comprehensive approach to crime is one that deals with every aspect of fighting crime, preventing crime, catching criminals, convicting criminals through competent and quick administration, and rehabilitating criminals.
I am committed to appointing more judges, putting more police officers on the street and more prosecutors in the courts, protecting the most vulnerable, including children and seniors, and giving our youth more opportunities to succeed.
This is where the Liberal justice plan comes into play. The Liberal offer was originally made last October as an attempt to get effective criminal justice legislation passed through Parliament as quickly as possible with the goal to protect Canadian communities.
Unfortunately, the Conservative government has again rejected Liberal efforts to fast-track a number of its own justice bills. This is a bizarre and puzzling decision on the part of the government.
The Liberal opposition has tried three times in the last six months to expedite a number of government bills dealing with justice issues and the Conservatives have failed to collaborate with us. My question is simple: Why does the Conservative government not cooperate with Liberals to get its own criminal justice legislation passed? After all, I recognize the importance of effective criminal justice legislation.
As a member from the GTA, I know all too well the number of firearm offences that have occurred in my area. Thankfully, gun-related deaths have subsided and I applaud the efforts that have been made by stakeholders in the city, at all levels, in reducing the number of gun crimes.
The work is not yet done and the government could certainly help by collaborating with the opposition to pass important and effective criminal justice legislation.
While I am speaking to these issues, it is important to note that the present Liberal justice plan is in addition to the important justice initiatives that were taken while the Liberals were in power. This is something that the Conservatives do not seem to want to recognize but they should give credit where it is due.
First, Canada's first comprehensive national security policy, a strategic framework and action plan designed to ensure that the government can prepare for and respond to security threats while still maintaining Canadian values of openness, diversity and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.
Second, the creation of a national sex offender registry to protect Canadians from violent sex offenders.
Third, further protection of our children through Bill C-2 from the 38th Parliament. This bill would have strengthened prohibitions against child pornography by broadening the definition of child pornography to include audio formats as well as written material. It would have also increased the maximum penalty for child sexual offences.
Still on the subject of violence, there is another matter the government should start taking seriously. I am amazed that the government has not introduced animal cruelty legislation to the House. The only animal cruelty legislation we have seen is from Liberal parliamentarians.
I commend my Liberal colleagues for introducing private member's bills on this subject. It seems that only the opposition is concerned about this very serious issue. We have seen a whole array of justice bills introduced by the government. Why has animal cruelty not been one of them?
Different governments have attempted over the years to pass this kind of legislation but the Conservative government has not taken it seriously. The government owes an explanation to Canadians as to why it has not introduced legislation to better protect our animals, over which we have an important responsibility.
Those are the issues my constituents are concerned about and they expect to see action from the government. Instead, they see criminal justice legislation stalled and, in the case of animal cruelty, ignored by the government.
I commend my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for bringing forth legislation dealing with violence. The bill is not necessary as I am satisfied that there are already sufficient safeguards to protect our children.
The real onus lies with the government. There are a number of things that it can do to immediately make our communities safer. I have been pleased to outline some of these thing today, and they include working with the opposition to get effective criminal justice legislation passed, as well as immediately introducing an animal cruelty bill as a piece of government legislation. I look forward to continuing to follow these debates.