Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to rise in this House to speak on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North, in this case to Bill C-12, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the so-called drug-free prisons act.
The member before me was saying that the title was almost laughable. In fact, I was laughing when she pointed that out, because there is nothing in this bill that would take any concrete steps to prevent drugs entering prisons or to help those in prison to get off drugs.
There is only one small aspect to the bill, and it is a small bill of three or four pages. It is not detailed. The only thing this bill would really change is that it would add a provision to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that would make it clear to the Parole Board that it would use a positive result from a urine test or a refusal to take a urine test for drugs in making its decision on parole eligibility. That is all it would do. Basically, it would give legal authority to the Parole Board to use drug tests or urine tests of prisoners to determine eligibility for parole. Here is the kicker. The practice is already in place. The Parole Board already does this. The only thing the bill would do is give it the legal authority, so nothing else would change. That is why the title of this bill is laughable. It is called the drug-free prisons act.
I have yet to hear any Conservative get up in this House and explain it to this House. None of the Conservatives, or the Liberals for that matter, are getting up to explain to us how this would prevent drugs in our prisons. If the Conservatives were really concerned about preventing drugs, there would be a more concrete effort made to address the demand for drugs in prisons, rehabilitation, and those kinds of initiatives. However, there is nothing in this bill that would lead us to hope that one day we will have drug-free prisons, although it is a great aspiration to go toward drug-free prisons. The Conservatives come up with hollow titles for bills that somehow pretend that things are going to happen.
Yesterday, on the opposition day motion, we were talking about the oil spill in English Bay. The Conservatives have been throwing around the idea of a world-class response. We saw what happened in English Bay when the toxic oil was spilled, and it was not a world-class response. It took six hours to reach the spill. Is that world-class? The Conservatives frame things with fancy titles. I have to give them one thing; they are very good at coming up with fancy names for their bills.
The problem is that the legislation itself is hollow. It does not address what we need to address. If they were really concerned about addressing drugs in prisons, they would bring more concrete proposals to this House, and we would be happy. We have always supported having concrete initiatives to ensure that we have safe prisons, drug-free prisons, and prisons that have a good work environment for the people who work in those difficult situations.
I have visited a prison. I was on the public safety committee, and we were studying this very issue of drugs in prisons.
We had a number of hearings. We heard from Corrections Canada staff, experts and many stakeholders throughout Canada. I can say that the majority of those people at committee were of the opinion that we need more rehabilitation in prison to curb this menace in prisons.
I know that Conservatives do not like facts and figures, and they even have trouble with business and economics when it comes to supply and demand. I will get into that in a minute, but I want to go back to the amount of money the current government has spent trying to prevent drugs from getting into prisons and what the result has been.
In 2008, the Conservatives decided to invest, over three years, $122 million to bring in sniffer dogs and ion machines to prevent drugs from getting into prisons. The result of that three years of spending a substantial amount of money was that random urine tests done at the beginning and random tests done at the end did not show any difference. Basically, the amount of drugs in prisons before was still present afterward, even after spending $122 million on interdiction. At the same time, the programs to help these individuals get off drugs were being cut.
In terms of supply and demand, the Conservatives are trying to cut the supply, yet on the demand side, they are not helping those individuals get off the drugs. Sometimes I wonder if the Conservatives actually understand what economics is all about or if they understand the law of diminishing returns.
I had a chance to visit two medium-security prisons in Kingston, the Kent Institution in the Harrison Lake area, and the Matsqui Institution in Abbotsford. I had a chance to sit down with the prisoners, and I asked the warden to step outside. Some of the prisoners were on a committee representing other prisoners. I asked them point blank what had changed in the last three years since the government had started the interdiction program and had spent $122 million of taxpayers' money. I asked if I could get drugs in the prison. They said, yes, sure I could, and then asked what type of drug I would like. When I asked what had changed, they said the only thing that had changed was that the price of drugs had gone up to five or six times what it was before. They could still get the drugs, but the price had skyrocketed. That was the result of the effort by the Conservative government to stop drugs from entering prisons.
Then I asked if they wanted to get off drugs. I said that surely they wanted to get off this stuff and be clean when they got out. I asked what was needed for them to be off drugs. They told me that they needed rehabilitation programs to help them get off these drugs.
The majority of people going into prison, 80% or 90%, have some form of addiction. This is well documented. However, if there are no rehabilitation services or programs to get into when they get to prison, how are they supposed to manage?
This was what the prisoners were asking for. They wanted programs available to them when they got to prison so that they could access those services and get off these drugs. There would be less demand for these drugs, and we could reduce the supply of drugs coming into prisons.
One way or another, once prisoners do their time, they will be out in society. We have a captive audience where we can provide rehabilitative services and programs that will help them get off of these drugs and reintegrate into society when they are released from prison. It becomes much easier to reintegrate if they are off of any substances they were taking before they went to prison. As I said, a high percentage of prisoners are addicted to drugs or alcohol when they get to prison. That is the record.
If we are really serious about curbing the use of drugs in prisons, we also have to look at the demand side and at helping those individuals get off drugs. However, the Conservative government has made cuts to rehabilitation services and programs that would help curb drugs in prisons.
Today is budget day. I know that this is going to be the last budget for the Conservative government, because it will not be presenting a budget next year. I can assure the House of that, because I have heard from my constituents and people from across the country that this is the Conservatives' last budget. If the Conservatives are really concerned about curbing drugs in prisons, they have a last opportunity. Let us make an impact. Talk to the Minister of Finance. Talk to the Prime Minister. Talk to cabinet colleagues. Let us make this real. Let us make that investment in this budget to ensure that we have rehabilitation programs not only in prisons but in our communities.
There have been over 20 shootings in my hometown of Surrey over the last 35 days or so. That is very disturbing to me as a father and as a representative from Surrey North. This is happening in my backyard. There is a gang war going on. There are drug deals going on. There is a turf war going on. Unfortunately, what we had feared happened just the other day. One young man was killed, and there are fears that the violence will escalate because of this tragedy on the weekend.
I urge the government to invest in the very programs that are going to make our communities safer instead of coming up with these hollow, laughable names for bills that do nothing to make our communities safe. Let us make real investments in our communities. Let us fund programs.
I have a motion in the House asking for long-term, sustainable funding for youth gang crime prevention programs. I have talked to service providers in my community that help youth and provide services to at-risk youth. What they have been telling me is that the programs that have been funded through the Canadian government have been cut by the Conservatives over the last number of years. If we are going to make investments in our youth and in safer communities, it is these kinds of programs we need to make investments in.
I have talked to the individuals who provide programs to these at-risk kids, and the results are fabulous. There has been about an 80%-85% success rate in these youths being able to graduate from high school. However, I have seen in my own community that the Conservative government has made cuts to the very programs that help our youth get on the right path and that help make our communities safer.
If the Conservatives were concerned about making our communities safer, instead of presenting hollow, laughable bills in this House, they have an opportunity, their last opportunity, because they will not get that opportunity next year, to commit to making that very investment. When they formed government in 2006, they said they were going to do things differently than the party in the corner over there, the Liberal Party, yet they have failed to do that. They are basically doing the same thing. They are shuffling chairs at a table on the Titanic. It is not helping. If they were really concerned about ensuring the safety in our communities, they would be making investments.
The bill has a very narrow scope that simply gives direction to the Parole Board to legally use the fact that a prisoner failed to provide a urine sample as a tool to deny parole. As I have said before, the Parole Board has been using this practice. There is nothing concrete in this bill, the drug-free prisons act, that would actually enhance or provide for safer working conditions, safer prisons, drug-free prisons.
There is absolutely nothing in the bill, yet the Conservatives have come up with a fancy name to have people believe that somehow, magically, out of the sky there will be drug-free prisons. Frankly speaking, this is their 10th year in government and I think they are running out of new ideas on how to provide for Canadians, whether it is safer communities, providing services, enhancing our health care, or whether it is working toward having a pharmacare program and a day care program.
The Liberals promised a day care program, a child care program, back in 1972. They did not deliver on that. The Conservatives said that they would make hundreds of thousands of spaces available, yet they have not delivered. We have an idea. We will be bringing in child care programs throughout this country once we form the government in 2015.