Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his defence of a position that most people in the House can actually support because it is based on fact.
My colleague raised the issue of Mr. Gingrich in the United States and the fact that all of us are in favour of reducing crime. However, in terms of cost benefit, one of the most effective and science-based approaches to reducing the number of criminals, reducing the number of victims and reducing crime is through early learning programs.
In Ypsilanti, Michigan, there is more than a 35-year experience with the head start program that showed that for youth crime there was a 60% reduction in youth crime, massive declines in welfare rates and improved access and outcomes in school. All of those work dramatically and effectively to reduce crime and the cost is merely a fraction of what it takes to incarcerate somebody, which can be anywhere upward of $120,000 a year for somebody in a maximum security prison.
The government literally annihilated a plan that we had put forward, which was signed with the provinces, for an early learning head start program. Will the hon. member comment on the effectiveness of early learning programs from the prenatal stage to age five, which, I might add, would also address one of the major problems that we have in jail, which is the issue of fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects?
Would my colleague inform the government that it would be well advised, for the safety of the public and for the wise use of the public purse, to support a national early learning head start program?