Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to support the bill introduced by my colleague from Calgary. It is a necessary bill and one whose time has come.
I remember asking my colleague a question about the bill when he first debated it not too many weeks ago. He talked about life meaning life, as my colleague from Prince George just alluded to as well. It is necessary in a criminal justice system to send a message to those who are going to commit a crime such as murder, that if they are convicted to a life sentence, then that sentence should mean life.
Too many times we have run into cases in our ridings where individuals, family members, have been victimized by somebody else's cruel action toward a family member. They have lost not only that loved one but they also have to live with the pain and feelings that go along with that. They are often victimized a second time when the offender who took their loved one's life comes up for parole. They have to relive the whole event over again.
I have been to a number of parole board hearings on behalf of families who have asked me to attend. It is just shocking some of the processes that go on there. I am not sure that many people know exactly what happens in a parole board hearing.
At a parole board hearing the perpetrator of the crime gets to speak to the parole board, to give his or her story about the crime he or she committed. A victim impact statement is allowed to be read by the family but the family has no real ability to have an impact on how the parole board is going to rule on that decision. There is no cross-examination of the offender's comments or testimony at the parole board hearing.
It is often laughable to hear about some of the things that are said. The family members will tell what actually happened in the crime that was committed against their loved one and then to hear the story of the offender, it is often very different, skewed and untrue in many instances. As a result of this kind of process, often individuals who are able to obtain parole are released into the community, often into the same community where they committed the crime and where the family happens to be.
I remember one case where an individual contacted me. His father had been killed by an offender, a family member. The person who committed this terrible, awful and horrible crime had then threatened the other family member that when he got out he was going to come after him and do the same thing to him. The offender was in the same community.
The victim of the crime had lost his father, had been terrified by the other person in the family who had committed the crime. He was being told that this person was very likely to be released into the community under early parole. The family member ended up moving from the community. He was victimized by losing his father and then lived in fear that the individual was going to get out.
The individual was released into the community even though there had been a threat uttered against the victim. The victim ended up having to move from British Columbia to another province to get away from the perpetrator of the crime.
That kind of thing highlights a real problem in our system. My colleague's bill goes a long way to ensuring that victims of crime who have faced this kind of event in their lives will not again be victimized by the early release of someone who was convicted of a life sentence. Life should mean life.
I am sure we could all draw on many examples in our ridings that would highlight the need for this bill to go forward. It is not a difficult bill to understand. It is not long. It is not overly involved. It is very clear.
Other jurisdictions are asking for this kind of bill to be put in place, for these changes to be made to the Criminal Code. My colleague referred to the premier of Manitoba, Gary Doer. He is asking for this kind of change to the Criminal Code, where life means life.
It is for that reason that I would encourage my colleagues from all parties to support this common sense amendment to the Criminal Code. It would, in effect, have the impact of meaning that a life sentence would be a life sentence. The victims of crime would not be further victimized by individuals being released into the community. We would have an enhanced and safer criminal justice system in our country. That would be worthwhile.
We should support our colleague's bill. We should make sure this is something that happens, that the bill is passed into law before we leave this place for the upcoming election.