Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to share some comments about the bill before us today. It seems this is yet another example of what I consider to be a lack of balance in the actions of the Conservative government.
I come from the city of Surrey, which has some significant drug problems. Every day we see individual drug use and drugs trafficked by very sophisticated organized crime. Just a few months ago we had a tragic incident when two innocent bystanders were killed as a result of simply being in the vicinity of an apartment building where a gang was producing crystal meth. I do not think we would find anybody in any part of the city in which I live who would oppose actions that would impose very significant penalties on those who would produce, traffic drugs and lure children into the drug trade. Nobody would suggest that the penalty should not reflect the crime. It should, but it often it does not, and I do not believe anybody would oppose that.
The city of Surrey has been able to create some successes around grow ops. Some grow ops are quite small, although they would probably still fit the three or more definition. Some are much larger because they are part of chains. Surrey has won an award for the way in which we have taken down grow ops. We have worked not only with the RCMP, but with the fire department and the hydro company. We have made significant inroads into the numbers of grow ops that are shut down. Should those people who run a series of grow ops be in jail for what are very deterrent and I would hope long periods of time? Of course they should be.
We always have to ask the questions: What does this bill say it is? What is it? Who does it help? Who does it hurt?
The bill says that it is about minimum mandatory sentences, which it is. As one of my colleagues said earlier, we have supported minimum mandatory sentences in the House before, under different circumstances, so we are not opposed to a minimum mandatory sentence. However, I do not think it is true to suggest that the bill will make some huge difference in major drug activities, drive-by shootings and crystal meth labs. The bill would make a difference for individual, small time, non-violent offenders who may traffic on their own, not that this makes it okay.
When I look at the recommended sentences, I see one to two year mandatory prison sentences, prison sentences of perhaps a minimum of six months, one to three years, et cetera. These people are not creating the roots of drug crime in our communities. These people are not killing other people. Drugs are killing people and destroying lives. People are being shot as a result of drugs.
Who will this benefit? Neil Boyd from Simon Fraser University said that the people who would benefit from this would be the drug traffickers. The cost of drugs will go up and they will make a bigger profit. That is not the intention of the bill. However, I think it will hurt people who could benefit from a different kind of help, and I will speak in a moment about what we might be able to do about that.
I am worried quite a bit about drug courts, which are a fine thing. A lot of research has shown that as an intellectual concept they work in certain places. However, drug courts only work if people really want help and are able to access treatment after they have gone through the drug court. This is where the entire system fails.
We do not have enough treatment programs for people who are referred by drug courts. Perhaps it is only in British Columbia, which would seem unusual, but we are very short of drug facilities for youth, for adults who have been duly diagnosed, for single women or for women with children who want to take their children with them or want to know they are in a safe place while they receive treatment. The drug court concept is fine, but there are not nearly enough treatment facilities so the system will eventually block up as soon as there is no place to refer people.
These drug courts are going to be funded by provincial governments. The people going to prison, as a result of the sentences I read to the House a moment ago, are going to be sent to provincial facilities using provincial dollars. These dollars could go toward treatment.
We will be in significant difficulty until we find a way to provide resources to the provinces and not simply download on them. Bill C-26 will not make that any better. In point of fact, the bill would probably make it worse.
Others have said that we need a balance, that we need a multifaceted approach to this issue. This is about appropriate sentencing, but it is also about coordinated, well researched, well documented, well shared information about early intervention.
One member said earlier that all kinds of money had already gone into drug prevention programs and so on. However, the evaluation has been poor. We do not know what has worked. We have not evaluated them properly at all. The money is put into programs that may be are good or may not be good. However, there is no way of gathering that information, which I think is a critical federal role. It is one of the most important roles the federal government can play, which is to gather information from across the country, to ensure information is both qualitative and quantitative and then ensure the money put into drug prevention is done in a way that will be effective and efficacious, whether it is for 4 year olds, 14 year olds, 40 year olds or 80 year olds.
I will make a couple of closing comments. We talk about being able to help with organized drug gangs in the community. We cannot even prevent organized drug gangs in prison. There was a riot in Mountain Prison in British Columbia in which two people were killed. We are talking about putting more people in prison when we have a growing drug gang problem there. I am not quite sure how—