Mr. Speaker, we in the Conservative Party support Bill C-53. I want to make a couple of comments about things that take place in the real world outside Parliament because I spend a fair bit of time on street issues.
The hon. member on the other side talked about organized crime groups having substantial assets. I along with many other people really wonder what it is going to take in Canada to get organized crime groups off the streets.
We watch every day as the Hells Angels parade around the country with their nice jackets and their bikes and that sort of thing. Now they are disguising themselves by wearing suits. We are still allowing these people to rove around the country like they are some kind of bicycle heroes, but that is not the case. Those people are selling drugs to our kids. They are involved in prostitution. They are involved in all kinds of crime, and yet we tolerate their existence. I have a hard time with that quite frankly, and it is difficult to believe that it even happens.
Bill C-53 is important, but it is also important to follow up on my colleague's comments. This should not just be about the seizure of assets, because it is after the assets are seized that one of the biggest problems begins. I am going to cover several instances that I have been involved with just to give the House some examples. I also want to mention the contradiction in our laws today with respect to things like seizing assets.
I am very much involved in the debate about harm reduction in drugs, which of course is not harm reduction but rather harm extension. Harm reduction extends the use of drugs. It does not reduce the harm at all, as we will find out too late one day. Harm reduction involves injection sites, needle exchanges, crack inhalation sites, issuance of heroin to individuals, and the legalization of marijuana. Lately it also involves roving injection teams in Vancouver, if anybody has ever heard of anything so absurd.
Roving injection teams involve addicts who rove the streets and back alleys with needles to inject incapacitated addicts because they are too incapacitated to inject themselves. Not too long ago that was called attempted murder. When individuals walk into an injection site with illegal drugs in their hands, one has to wonder why there is some kind of free bubble zone to allow that when we are supposedly saying those kind of drugs are illegal to possess. The government has to get out of its schizophrenic mode where basically it is saying that drugs are against the law, but it is okay to break the law.
That is my preamble to my examples of this bill, which is really talking about seizure of assets, and it is a good thing.
Not too long ago there was a drug bust. It not only included drugs, but about eight or ten feet away in the rafters there was about $400,000 all wrapped up in plastic which the police took out of the building. This case went to court and the judge, in his infinite wisdom, gave all the money back to the dealers because they said they did not know it was there, that it was just something that must have been up in the rafters. Poor dears. He virtually gave the drug dealers $400,000 because in that courtroom with that defence lawyer, they did the wrong thing. They went after the defence of that drug money.
Although we have laws in this country, the problem is that lawyers on the defence side and the judges making the decisions are making the wrong decisions applicable to laws like this. It is not just the law that has seizure of assets that is important, it is the application of the law within the courtroom. I do not know what it is going to take for us in our society to go to the defence lawyers and say that we all have a problem, that for goodness' sake they know where the $400,000 has come from. It cannot be given back to the dealers. They would just use it to buy and sell again.
I cannot say how many times I have been involved in situations where money has been seized, put in trust because it cannot be given back to the dealers, when in fact the lawyers can get their hands on it. They go in on behalf of the dealers, charge a fee of the amount that is in the trust account, get all the money out of the trust account, give part of it back to the dealers and keep a good chunk of change for themselves. Those lawyers out there know who I am talking about. That is trafficking. It is wrong. It is stupid. It is not just a matter of setting a law to seize assets, it is the application of the law after it is made. These laws are not made to be broken or challenged. They are not made to have application under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They are made to prevent illegal use of money.
How do these guys get around it? I have mentioned before that recently a young man was kidnapped in my community. He was thrown into a van and pistol whipped. This sounds like something out of Terminator II in the United States. He was in the van which was involved in a high-speed chase with the police. The bad guys drove through a stoplight and killed a woman who was entering the intersection on a green light. They rolled the van and took off from the scene of the accident. It was a hit and run. Four of them were caught. All four were charged. They had guns, money and drugs in the car.
I was in the courtroom. They dropped all charges against three of them who said they did not know the other guy, that they did not know there was money in the van or to whom the drugs and gun belonged. It is the application of the laws. I do not know what it is in the House. We develop good laws and they are broken all the time.
There was hardly enough room around the front of the bench for lawyers because there were so many of them. Quite frankly it was a laughing stock of a zoo. Ultimately the driver of the vehicle was charged with dangerous driving. There were no gun charges. Everything was dropped.
The guy who was kidnapped, who was a witness, was asked what he did. He said, “I deliver”. “What do you deliver?” “Drugs”. He was asked if he liked that and he said no because his supervisor put him on the midnight shift from dial-a-dope.
These stories sound bizarre, but they are in fact true. What I am saying in the House of Commons is that while we have a bill we support, we have to approach those in the legal industry and tell them to apply this the right way and not to abuse where our intentions are going.