Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the esteemed member for Pontiac.
For a first speech on a bill this fall, there are some subjects that are particularly sensitive and affect us as individuals, regardless of political affiliation. We often work in a collegial manner, but just now, a few hours or barely a few minutes ago, I heard some unfortunate comments. That primarily shows that we are dealing with sensitive subjects and that it is easy to misinterpret such comments. I have friends in every party and we are able to discuss and accept our differences and our opinions. That is how things should always be in the House.
First of all, I am going to look at some technical aspects and also talk about some associated aspects and social implications of the bill. Unlike some of my colleagues, I am not qualified to speak to speak in detail about the legal aspects of the bill, and I would not be so presumptuous as to give the kind of speeches that they do. However, I would like to primarily address the social aspects and the repercussions of such issues as delinquency, especially assaults against minors. I will also talk about the technical aspect.
The bill before us will amend the Criminal Code in order to increase mandatory minimum penalties and maximum penalties for certain sexual offences against children. It will increase maximum penalties for violations of prohibition orders, probation orders and peace bonds. It will clarify and codify the rules regarding the imposition of consecutive and concurrent sentences. It will require courts to impose, in certain cases, consecutive sentences on offenders who commit sexual offences against children. It will ensure that a court that imposes a sentence must take into consideration evidence that the offence in question was committed while the offender was subject to a conditional sentence order or released on parole.
The bill will also amend the Canada Evidence Act to ensure that spouses of the accused are competent and compellable witnesses for the prosecution in child pornography cases. I would like to point out that it is difficult to get family members to testify in some areas. The necessary consent is rarely given. I am therefore wondering how a mechanism can be put in place to implement that amendment.
The bill will also amend the Sex Offender Information Registration Act to increase offenders' responsibilities when they travel abroad. The bill enacts the high risk child sex offender database act, which would create a publicly accessible database. This database would contain information, previously made available to the public by police departments or any other public authority, on individuals who were convicted of sex crimes involving children and who pose a high risk of committing sex crimes.
In the past, we have heard stories of neighbours banding together to serve their own brand of justice. That is rather disturbing, but it is sometimes the result of a lack of resources or a lack of solutions to certain problems. We will see how this will be enforced.
Of course, this bill will make consequential amendments to other acts. We see this all the time from the Conservatives—all we see are quasi-omnibus bills.
As I was saying, the short title of this bill, the tougher penalties for child predators act, does nothing to simplify such a sensitive topic and especially not the process this bill is going through.
Recently, the Conservatives have been enacting bills and implementing various provisions, but not allocating any resources. As a result, the provinces and territories are left to cope with the collateral damage and the financial consequences. The Conservatives introduce measures but they are not supported by budgets. That is despicable. As I said, measures like these have significant social repercussions if there is no budget for the reintegration of offenders and especially for victims. I am no expert, but I would say that some offenders can be rehabilitated, while others cannot. However, as I said, I am no expert on the subject.
This bill would implement nine important measures. It would require offenders who are convicted of sexual offences and who receive separate sentences to serve them consecutively, and it would require offenders who are convicted of child pornography offences and sexual offences to serve their sentences consecutively.
The government is also increasing minimum and maximum prison sentences for certain sexual offences involving children. We have often heard about people writing in blogs or on social media that so-and-so was convicted of assault, that the sentence was not long enough or that it was unfair. Then the offender is back on the street, in the same neighbourhood. I hope that the provisions in this bill will ensure that these unfortunate situations are not repeated. There is a ripple effect when a bill is implemented. There are consequences that impact society and the communities.
The bill would also ensure that committing an offence while subject to a conditional sentence order, or while on parole, on statutory release or on an unescorted temporary absence is also considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.
The government also says that it is important to render a spouse compellable. I said earlier that it is often quite difficult to do that, whether in cases of child pornography or other offences that the spouse, children, parents or friends witnessed. It all depends on the context and their particular lives.
The Conservative government has been destroying our social fabric for years now. We were talking about food banks recently. Some regions are left to fend for themselves. When the social fabric is destroyed and we leave people to their own devices, without hope, all sorts of things can happen in our society. Serious things can happen and people do not know how to react.
Let us look at the principle of sentencing in section 718 of Part XXIII of the Criminal Code. The objectives are to denounce unlawful conduct, deter the offender from committing offences, separate offenders from society where necessary by increasing sentences, but most of all—and I want to emphasize this point—assist in rehabilitating offenders. We talked about this before. Some members have made speeches on this. We have to assist in reintegrating offenders. When we make tougher laws in a country like ours, or in any other industrialized, modern country—earlier, members cited examples from elsewhere in the world—it is important to think about the consequences. We must focus not on the type but rather on the root of the problem. What is the root of the problem? It is isolation, drugs, alcohol, child pornography—which has become quite easy to access with today's social media—and family breakdowns, because the deterioration of the social fabric means that both parents have to work. Sometimes they have to take on two jobs. The children are left at home where they can access whatever they want on the Internet.