Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening to address this motion that my colleague has put forth. I feel it is a key motion. If we would take it seriously and listen to what he has to say, it could be one of the things that could turn this nation around in many respects.
I have listened carefully to what my colleagues across the way and over here have said. I hope that they will listen more closely. I think they have missed the point of what my colleague is trying to say as he has made this motion.
Many Reformers have been long interested in developing a charter of responsibilities to provide a counterbalance to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Everyone knows that we cannot enjoy our rights and freedoms unless we first of all discharge our responsibilities as citizens.
A number of countries have defined an individual's duties to their family, other citizens and their country. Some of these countries are Switzerland, Germany, Ecuador, Israel, Morocco, Japan, Pakistan, Thailand among others. If we look at what they are doing in these countries, as I will in a moment, we will see some interesting things that they have developed that we could also adopt.
This is not some idea that I have dreamed up. This is not something that I have come up with. My constituents as they have observed what is happening in Canada in our courts, in our social programs and in our families have told me: "You should stand up in the House and you should say we have too much of an emphasis on rights in this country and not on our responsibilities". That is what I am doing today. I am making this point that
we need to emphasize responsibilities, not just rights in this nation.
I want to quickly go through a list of responsibilities that I feel should be included in the charter of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. After I have done that I will give some examples.
First, every Canadian has the duty and responsibility to contribute to the defence of the nation from attack by a foreign power and/or from insurrection from within. I am sure we all would agree with that.
Second, everyone has the duty and responsibility to abide by the Constitution of Canada, to respect, comply with and uphold the laws of this country and to obey and assist the authorities to enforce those laws.
Third, everyone has the duty and responsibility to render assistance in cases of emergency or calamity or in circumstances likely to endanger the existence or well-being of all or part of the population. We have taken that for granted. We should spell that out.
Fourth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to responsibly exercise their rights and freedoms as an individual having due regard for and without restricting the rights and freedoms of others. We often forget this. I think we need to hear this being said more often.
Fifth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to vote in elections and referendums and to participate in civic affairs within the limits and conditions established by the law.
Sixth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to pay their fair share of taxes within the limits and conditions established by the law.
Seventh, everyone has the duty and responsibility to receive education and training under the conditions and in a manner provided by law in order to meet his or her personal obligations to their family, their community and society as a whole. People have an obligation to do their best, to train themselves so they can serve their fellow man in the best way possible.
Eighth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to provide the necessities of life, educate and protect his or her children until they are adults. If we were to take that one point and explore the meaning of it, it would radically change our attitude to our social programs.
Ninth, everyone has the duty and responsibility for the crimes committed by their children if it can be proven that they failed to provide proper control and supervision. We need to give parents the responsibility for the actions of their children.
Tenth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to support and protect his or her parents in case of need and to the extent of his or her means, particularly when they are old and unable to work. I will give an example of this in another country where it works very well.
Eleventh, everyone has the duty and responsibility to assist and support other members of their immediate family in case of need to the extent of his or her means.
Twelfth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to do their fair share for society and to not take advantage of others or take advantage of the state. Think of the implications that has.
Thirteenth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to meet their own needs before taking advantage of any program, grant or loan from the government.
Fourteenth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to work in accordance with his or her capacity and not make claims for welfare benefits from the state until and unless they are destitute and unable to work because of disability, age or ill health and no other means of support is available from other family members, private charities and non-governmental organizations. That point would radically change the mindset of many people in this country.
Fifteenth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to a personal code of conduct, behaviour and lifestyle that would not cause them to be a burden to their family, their community or society as a whole.
Sixteenth, everyone has the duty and responsibility to co-operate with the government with respect to law enforcement and report any illegal activities.
The seventeenth and last point-this is not an exhaustive list, but it is just an example of the things we could put in here-everyone has the duty and responsibility to conduct oneself in an honest and fair manner relative to others so as to contribute to the well-being of their family, their community, their province and society as a whole.
I said I would give some examples as well of what these points imply. If we look at the Young Offenders Act, here is one example of where we should be putting more responsibility on people for their actions. Very often our young offenders are let go with little or no call on them to compensate their victims for damage they may have caused.
For example in my constituency a couple of years ago a group of teenagers took and trashed a car, a beautiful automobile that belonged to another young person. They completely smashed it up so that it was totally worthless. The police came and took these young people before the court. The court said: "That really was not a very wise thing that you did".
It virtually let them off. It asked them to pay a $500 deductible. The rest of us have to pay for the damage they caused. Six of those youths were completely let go. They should have been held accountable. They should have been held responsible. The parents should also have been responsible for the actions of
these young people. That needs to be addressed. That is why we need to include responsibilities in the charter.
Another example is that the family needs to be the first line of defence, not the government, in providing care for members of society. I am referring to some of our social programs. Also parents should be responsible for child care. That primary responsibility should lie with them.
I would like to read something from the Swiss civil code. The Swiss have very low unemployment at around 2 per cent or 2.5 per cent. Much of it is due to the fact that they have a charter of responsibilities. I do not have time to explain all its ramifications but I will give an example of what they have.
Since 1978, Swiss law has compelled families to look after their needy before the government is asked to do so. Fathers, mothers, grandparents and others must support children. Governments sue grandparents on behalf of needy children and the elderly can sue their offspring for support. The Swiss courts collect the money.
Let me quote: "All persons are bound to contribute toward the maintenance of their ascendants and descendants in direct line as well as their brothers and sisters if without such assistance they were impoverished".
Let us think how different that is from the situation in Canada today where virtually no responsibility is placed on parents, grandparents or children for other members of their family. We need to emphasize the role families need to play in our society. We must once again generate the feeling of the importance of this basic unit in society, this basic economic unit, this basic cultural unit.
Parents should not only have the right to discipline but they should have the responsibility. The government would like to remove the right for parents to spank their children. Should we not be going in another direction and putting an emphasis on the responsibility of parents to do this kind of thing?
My colleague over there is unaware of what the government is doing. It would like the justice minister to remove the section in the Criminal Code that would allow parents to spank their children. If we did that, those parents who would choose that as a tool to discipline their children would no longer be able to do so. We are moving in the wrong direction with regard to a lot of legislation in the House.
We should be teaching our children in our schools what it means to be a good citizen of Canada. I noticed the Bloc objected very strongly to that and I can understand why. If that had happened we may not have had a group of people in the House today bent on breaking up the country. We need to emphasize that in our schools.
It has huge implications for immigration, for bringing in families and all of a sudden dumping those families on to the state. We should place more value on the family and the role it can play in society. Governments have been undermining the role of families.
In conclusion, we should make clear when people come to this great country that they have rights but they also have responsibilities. We need to send a signal to the people of Canada that government is not the primary caregiver. One of the best ways to do this is to change the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include responsibilities.