House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was money.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act November 16th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I would like to honour my colleague for all his tireless work on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. He has been a champion to deal with this challenge since he was elected in 1993. I honour and thank him for his service in tirelessly bringing up this issue.

He is absolutely correct, and as I mentioned before, in Nunavut, one quarter of all babies are born with FASD. On the streets of Victoria, for example, there are about 1,450 people on the street. Two-thirds of those people have what we call dual diagnosis, which means that they have a psychiatric problem and they have a substance abuse problem. These conditions often go hand in hand. One sometimes occurs first, but they can shift back and forth. The tragedy of it is that we are not dealing with this properly.

People who commit violent crimes must be in jail to protect society, there is no question about that. We support that, but what we are trying to do is prevent that from ever happening. The member is absolutely right that, for too many people, the institutions are not available. There are some people who simply cannot take care of themselves. Rather than suggesting that they just go out in the community where there are not the community services for them, enable them to have an institution where they can live in peace and security and get the care they require because they cannot live on their own and there are not the resources, frankly, to be able to provide them to live on their own. What happens is that they fall through the cracks and they wind up on the street and doing a number of things that they should not do or should not feel compelled to do.

Why not be smart about it and address the issues of psychiatric challenges and substance abuse in an intelligent, fact-based way and in a medical way? These are medical problems, not judicial problems.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act November 16th, 2010

Madam Speaker, the rationale for my intervention is really to take advantage of this opportunity to talk about how to not have people committing murders in the first place and how to not have victims of violent crime.

The intervention that I have put forward was really a plea to the government. I hope members from all parties will be able to adopt those interventions that have been, and are, useful in terms of preventing the horrible victimization that occurs in our society.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act November 16th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my friend for his very kind and gracious comments. He really serves his constituents well and will continue to advance the issues that are important not only to his constituents in Newfoundland and Labrador but also to Canadians from coast to coast.

The member is absolutely right in terms of harm reduction. It is unfortunate that the evidence-based harm reduction policies that work, such as the Insite program that Dr. Montaner and his team have run out of St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, or the NAOMI project, which is an acronym for the North American opiate medication initiative, are not embraced.

Essentially, the NAOMI project is a drug substitution program for narcotics. It has enabled people to actually get on with their lives, to stop taking drugs or to have their drug issues managed, which has led to a reduction in crime or a reduction in harm. It has led to people become productive members of society and get back with their families.

Rather than taking an ideological approach, as the Prime Minister has in the past on this, I would strongly encourage that he becomes educated about this. There is great work that has been done in Canada. Communities from coast to coast need to have access to those programs.

Rather than impeding access to those programs, I hope the Prime Minister and the government will become facilitators to those programs for the communities that would like them.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act November 16th, 2010

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on this issue that is of pressing importance to all Canadians, including those in my excellent riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

Of all the issues we deal with, one of the most frightening for members of the public, naturally, is the issue of violent crime. It strikes fear in everybody. In these days of the 24-hour news cycle, everyone is aware of what is happening within our country from coast to coast. When bad things happen, everyone is aware of them.

It is important, although difficult, for us to try to disarticulate what we see in the media from the facts and to determine with an objective eye what is going on and what can be done to protect our citizens. As elected officials, our primary responsibility is to do what we can and must do to protect our citizens from harm.

Let us take a look. What are the most dangerous cities in Canada? In order of ranking, the first is Port Coquitlam, B.C., then Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Calgary; then it goes down through Surrey, Halifax, Toronto and of course many others. These are the 2007 murder statistics.

Is the murder rate going up or down? Since 1990, with one small change a couple of years ago, the homicide rate has actually been in significant decline. Canada's violent crime rate is three times less than that of our friend south of the border, yet the incarceration rate in the United States is significantly higher than in Canada. In the U.S. about 0.7% of the population is in jail. In Canada it is roughly about 0.12%, which is a big difference.

The question is: What do we do and what should work in terms of dealing with violent crime?

I would like to mention a few other things that may be of interest to members in the House.

In 2006, 2.45 million crimes were reported. Of those, 48% were property-related crimes and 12.6% were violent crimes. There were 594 murders in 2007, 12 fewer than the previous year. One-third of the murders in 2007 were stabbings and another one-third involved firearms. Of the murders involving firearms, handguns were used in two-thirds. Seventy-four youths were accused of murder. That is down by 11 from the previous year. The reason I mention these statistics is to put things in context to show the challenges we are currently facing.

There is a particular area that was not included in this data, particularly in terms of cities because the cities are small, and it relates to the north. In places like Nunavut, Iqaluit and Yellowknife, the rate of violent crime is at levels that would shock Canadians from coast to coast. Let us take a look at those levels.

The most violent regions in all of Canada that were not on the list are Iqaluit, Whitehorse and Yellowknife. In Yellowknife, the rate of aggravated assault is 350% higher than the average. In Iqaluit, the aggravated assault rate is 1,033% above the Canadian average. That is absolutely shocking. According to the RCMP, the rate of sexual assault is more than 1,270% above the average. Much of the north's violent crime wave involves sexual assault, and it defies easy explanation.

Let us take a look at something that is quite staggering. If we want to look at violent crime, let us look at what happened prior to that.

In Nunavut, one-quarter of all babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome. That is absolutely remarkable. The average person with fetal alcohol syndrome has an IQ of about 67 to 70. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading cause of preventable brain damage at birth. This is one of the problems that exists in this area.

Another challenge in the area is suicide. In Nunavut, young women 15 to 24 years of age are 36 times more likely than other Canadian women in the same demographic to commit suicide. That is absolutely shocking. It is a situation that occurs far away in the north and receives very little attention, but it is a tragedy.

In fact, conditions exist in some of these areas, particularly in first nation communities in parts of our country, that I can tell members from personal experience are essentially equivalent to what we find in the developing world, in a third world environment. That is what we have within our borders, in Canada today in 2010.

Within the milieu of some of those communities in northern British Columbia in which I have had the privilege of working, I remember, while making a house call to a gentleman to perform a post-operative checkup, seeing a toddler of four or five years old with untreated impetigo on his face. While the child was standing there with this weeping infection on his face, his uncle was flopped over, drunk at 10 o'clock in the morning, and his father was drunk and swearing at me, as was his mother.

What kind of hope does that child have when he witnesses this kind of abuse taking place right in front of him? The child has little hope at all.

I have been saying this for 17 years in this House. If we are going to be intelligent and responsible to the taxpayer, in terms of doing what is necessary to reduce violent crime, then, rather than standing in the House and saying we simply need to build more prisons and throw people in jail, why do we not be smart about it and try to prevent the crime in the first place so that victims do not have to live in trauma for the rest of their lives as a result of being victims of crime? People may adapt to the situation they have been subjected to, but many times they never really get over it. They adapt to it if they can. However, why do we not try to prevent these kinds of horrors and trauma for the people who are being victimized?

How do we do that? It is very interesting. This is not rocket science. A lot of the evidence has been gathered, and I would hope the government really takes a look at studies that have been done before and find out what works.

In Ypsilanti, Michigan, the Perry preschool program has done a 35-year retrospective analysis on early learning head start programs. It asked what we need to do to reduce violent crime and what we need to do to reduce crime in general. It found that if a child were subjected to a number of interventions, it would help. Number one was home visits by nurses from the prenatal stage all the way through to the first two years of life, every one to two weeks. The mother is able to engage with the home nurse, in terms of the questions she may have, as well as the father, enabling them to develop proper parenting for the child. Single mothers, particularly teen mothers, who are isolated are at risk. They need to be selected and engaged quickly. Nutrition is critically important, as well as teaching proper parenting.

The other thing that worked very clearly, which is interesting, is that if the children were subjected to two-and-a-half hours of preschool time per day five days a week, up to the age five, before they went into school, it had a profound impact upon the outcome for those children. This costs very little. What is the cost-benefit of this when they did the cost-benefit analysis? In the Perry preschool experience, it was a saving of seven dollars for every dollar invested.

The same thing was done in Great Britain. There are a number of excellent studies that I would encourage the government to take a look at. There was the 1996 study called “Misspent Youth”, from Great Britain; the 1998 study “Beating Crime”; and “Calling Time on Crime”.

The government could take a look at the 1999 study done by the Montreal-based International Centre for the Prevention of Crime. In the United States, Lawrence Sherman did a meta-analysis of 600 programs. He and his team evaluated 600 programs, which had already done work in crime prevention, as to what works and what does not work.

The identification of families at risk, the early home visits, getting the kids into a preschool situation for two and one-half hours a day, enabling the parents to know what proper parenting is, dealing with substance abuse by the parents and reducing violence within the household are all absolutely crucial to changing the trajectory of a child's life.

The reason I am bringing this up in the context of this bill is that we are talking about violent crime. We are talking about homicides. We have to be able to reduce violent crime, and there are some very smart things we can do that will enable us to do that.

Simply building more jails, as seductive as it is on the surface, has been proven not to work. If it were going to work, then surely the United States would have a much safer country than ours, because they incarcerate far more people and have much tougher penalties, including the death penalty.

If that course were going to work, surely that society would be safer than ours. However, the reality is that it is not. There are many more people incarcerated, there is a much higher cost to the taxpayer and, from the public's perspective, people are not safer. They are actually less safe and subjected to more violence. It is a much more dangerous society than Canada's. Therefore, why do we not take a look at what works and implement the things that do?

There are other things we can do that work. One thing we should do, as I said before, is look at prenatal care, which is extremely important. We also need to deal with substance abuse. In the House, we occasionally spend time talking about marijuana. I do not support people using it. It is much stronger now than it ever was before. The THC content of marijuana runs around 36%.

However, if we look objectively at what does the most harm in our society, we will find that by any real measure it is actually alcohol. Alcohol causes many more problems in our society than marijuana ever does. This is all just a way of saying that, instead of being fixated on certain things that may be attractive at a certain level, we should look at ways to reduce substance abuse in general, whether it is marijuana, crystal meth, narcotics, alcohol or cigarettes. All are harmful and have an effect.

I can say from personal experience in emergency rooms that, for the number of people who have come in having done horrible things to other people, far and away alcohol was a mitigating factor. Whether it was a person who drove drunk and killed someone or a drunk person who beat up his or her partner, alcohol was a primary factor in all of that.

We need to try to tear away some of the myths of what we are talking about, deal with the facts and try to implement things that work. If we want to reduce substance abuse, which I know is a common goal for everybody in the House, why do we not take a look at reducing substance abuse with things that work?

The early learning head start programs work very well. They also reduce child abuse rates. Hawaii's healthy start program, which I would encourage the government to take a look at, would reduce child abuse rates by over 90%. That is absolutely staggering. The program identified families at risk, brought in mentors who were usually women who had children, engaged parents who could be at risk, worked together to teach proper parenting and proper nutrition for children and enabled children to live in a loving and caring environment, dramatically changing the trajectory of the children's lives.

We have the science to prove it. Dr. Julio Montaner, Dr. Evan Wood and others at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul's Hospital have done some incredible work with neurologists from other parts of the world. In fact they can prove now that one can look at a developing child's brain and see that it is developing well if the child is subjected to a loving and caring environment, free of sexual abuse and violence, and has security. Whereas if a child is subjected to those terrible things, one can see that the neural connections in a child's brain happen slowly or do not happen adequately. As a result, the child is at a much higher risk of committing a crime later in life.

I hope this is something the government will take a look at. If it is interested in reducing crime and interventions like the early learning head start programs work, what exactly does it do in terms of crime? This is what was found. Those kinds of programs reduce maternal arrests by 69%, they reduce child abuse rates by 80% in the studies that were done to age 15 and they reduce youth crime by 66%. If there were a program that saved the taxpayer anywhere between $7 and $11 per $1 invested and reduced youth crime by 66%, surely the government would work with the provinces to implement this, because all of this entails working with the provinces.

That makes sense from a humanitarian perspective, it makes sense to reach our objectives, and it makes fiscal sense. The cost-benefit analysis has been done. The evidence is in. It requires action. The government can use a convening power and its fiscal tools to work with the provinces to be able to achieve this objective.

It staggers me, quite frankly, that the government does not do this. It would look good doing this and it would be serving the public in what it is doing. This is my way of saying that these interventions work very well.

On the issue of drug policy, if the government wants to sanction people taking illegal drugs and thinks that is going to help to make our society safer, then it is delusional. All it needs to do is look south of the border to see what has happened in terms of the Americans' war on drugs approach. In fact, a number of states have actually decided very clearly that this does not work. That is what the facts tell them. The war on drugs is a failed war. It does not work. It has never worked and it will not work. In fact, rather than thinking it does work, it actually makes society less safe. It is more costly, does more harm, increases use and makes our society less safe. These are all outcomes that we do not want to have.

What does work? We can take a look at Portugal. Portugal actually liberalized its drug laws. What did it find? It found less drug use, less cost, less harm and less violence. All of that worked very well.

I would strongly encourage the government to work with the provinces and liberalize the drug laws, because the war on drugs that we are seeing is actually a war that we see on the streets. Many of the murders that we have found in my province of British Columbia have been rooted in drug wars, organized crime gangs fighting over drug territory.

If the government wants to attack organized crime, one of the most effective ways to do that is to go after the financial underpinnings. We can take them out by going after their finances. We can go after their finances by changing the drug laws. If we change the drug laws, that is the worst news for organized crime in this country. That would be a hammer on organized crime. I strongly encourage the government, which says it wants to get tough on crime, to look at drug policy as a way to get tough on crime. If we change the drug laws, we would actually be undermining significantly organized crime gangs. We will not be increasing drug use either. Nobody wants that and it is absurd to think otherwise.

Lastly, on the police, there are a number of decisions that have come down, the McNeil decision and others, that are really harming the ability of our police to do their job. These decisions put the police on trial instead of putting the accused on trial. It makes it very difficult for our police to do their job. They do a yeoman's job across our country. Whether it is the RCMP or other police forces, they do an incredible job for us and we have a huge indebtedness to the men and women who serve us every single day.

I really implore the government to take a look at the crime prevention initiatives that work. We have more than 30 years of experience. The cost-benefit analysis is there. It will reduce crime, it will reduce harm, it will reduce violent crime, and in that we would be doing our job.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act November 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, violent offences are probably most frightening to members of the public. They are scary. We read about them and they are most disturbing.

If we look at the people who commit these violent offences, many of them have been abused or have suffered in deplorable conditions when they were children. While this does not exonerate them from the actions they have taken, it certainly makes us understand where they came from and perhaps provides some insight in terms of what we could do to make our streets and the public safer.

Dr. Clyde Hertzman from the University of British Columbia is giving a talk on his amazing work on early childhood learning, the impact of subjecting a child to good parenting and a safe and secure environment with good nutrition. In those conditions, the trajectory of a child's life generally becomes quite positive. If children are subjected to violence, sexual abuse and terrible things, the trajectory changes. That is why an early learning head start program is really important. It would change the trajectory and give children the best chance of having a positive outcome.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act November 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech and tireless work in this area.

We know that in criminality in our country, particularly serious crimes, drugs play a huge role, particularly drugs connected to organized crime. Portugal has just done a very interesting experiment in which it liberalized drug laws. What it found is that there was a significant decline in drug use, criminality, cost and incarceration.

I would ask my colleague, does she not think that what the government ought to be doing is putting an initiative together to change our drug laws in Canada, one that is results based, like the work that is being done at St. Paul's Hospital by Dr. Julio Montaner and others, and focus on implementing policies that would be far less expensive and would save lives? The connection between organized crime gangs and the moneys they receive from illegal drugs is a contributor to the kinds of murders that we have seen in Canada and in other countries such as Mexico.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act November 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thoroughly enjoyed my colleague's speech. It was very erudite and pointed.

I would like to ask him a fairly simple and short question. The government talks a lot about crime and a lot of its bills are on crime, but if it really wants to reduce crime, one of the most effective ways to do that is to deal with the early learning years. From the prenatal stage to the first 10 years of a child's life, what the child is subjected to can dramatically change the trajectory of that child's life. Subject a child to abuse, poor nutrition, or poor parenting and there can be a poor outcome for the child.

Instead of abandoning early learning head start programs, should the government not be working with the provinces to implement this, which has been proven to reduce youth crime by over 50%?

Business of Supply November 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister a question similar to the one I asked the leader of the NDP.

The minister mentioned some of the challenges facing the future of our assets, which are extremely important to our country. What framework would the government use to differentiate between those companies considered to be strategic assets, and thus exempt from being placed under majority ownership by a foreign group, and those companies that would be allowed to be acquired by a foreign consortium?

It is important to a tell the Canadian public which companies are considered strategic assets and which are not. It would also give direction to the private sector, letting investors know where to put their money for maximum effect.

Business of Supply November 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges we have is how to identify those industries that are considered to be essential for Canada's future growth and potential, while not creating a climate that impedes foreign direct investment, which we know is crucial to generate the funds necessary to have a competitive economy.

What criteria does the leader of the NDP think that a government could actually use to differentiate between those private sector businesses that are considered to be essential and necessary for the public good of Canada and could not be sold to outside interests and those that could have a majority ownership by foreign interests?

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act October 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime).

All of us here know of constituents who, or we ourselves, have been victims of individuals who have stolen cars. It is traumatic for the victims and their families. It is costly for insurance companies. Above all else, it is an incredible violation for those whose cars have been stolen.

We support the government bill. We want to work with the government to make sure it is an effective bill in the public interest, to ensure there is a continued decline in auto theft. What is interesting, along with most other crime in Canada, is that there has been a decline in auto theft. In 2006 there were some 430 vehicles stolen per day, which is a very large number, but the number of vehicles stolen continues to decline.

The Liberal Party will continue to support legislation that is effective and improves public safety. At one time the government had 16 bills on the order paper that were related to crime. We said that we would support 11 of the 16 bills immediately, but the government said that if we did not support all of the bills, it would not agree to 11 of its bills being supported in one block. That is unfortunate because this bill has been introduced several times in the past, due in large part to the Prime Minister's continual proroguing of Parliament. In doing that he has put the government's legislation back at square one. That is not in the interest of the public and is not a good use of taxpayers' money. It certainly makes this place work less effectively than any of us would like to see.

We certainly encourage the Prime Minister to work with us to ensure that the bills he is putting forward are good ones. We will work with him to ensure they are passed as quickly as possible. If a bill is not good legislation, we want to ensure that we can change it to make sure it works in the public interest.

This bill proposes to do three things. It makes it a crime to alter, destroy or remove a vehicle identification number. It makes it a crime to knowingly sell, give, transfer, or transport, send or deliver goods acquired criminally. It makes it a crime to possess property known to be obtained through crime for the purpose of trafficking.

In the past, my party put forth a number of bills relating to protecting children, to eradicate child pornography, to reduce violent crimes, to implementing minimum sentences for using a gun in the commission of a crime. We would certainly like to continue supporting good bills.

Auto theft is a national problem. It is particularly problematic in Montreal and Winnipeg. It has been endemic in those cities for a very long time. If the government wants to apply significant resources, it should do that in an evidence-based fashion. Rather than putting forth legislation that sounds good on the surface, we have to make sure that the legislation will make the public safer and will not waste the taxpayers' money.

The government has had a number of bills that will be exceptionally costly. If one sums up the cost of the government's justice bills, they will cost the taxpayer $11 billion. We would support that if that $11 billion was well spent, but the government is putting out a wide net that will capture people who should be in jail as well as individuals who perhaps have medical problems and should not be.

With this broad net, it sounds good for the government to puff up its chest and say that it supports the protection of Canadian citizens. Everybody in the House wants to protect Canadians. We are also interested in ensuring that those people who are inveterate criminals, repeat offenders and those who have committed violent crimes do pay the price and spend time in jail. However, the government has failed to look at both sides of the equation.

When I was putting myself through school, I worked for a while as a guard in a maximum security prison. I used to work there as a physician too. What I found, and this is the fact, is that 50% to 60% of people in jail have a combination of things. They could have fetal alcohol syndrome, now known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. A good chunk of them have had brain injuries. Many of them have what we call a dual diagnosis, a combination of both psychiatric problems and drug problems.

The problem is there is not a coherent way to address this. There are ways we can prevent those problems from happening. It would make more sense to work with the provinces, which are the managers of the provincial institutions where people serve sentences of two years less a day.

In one of the jails in my riding, and this is a standard practice for provincial institutions, there is a huge lack of ability to treat people with problems such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which is the most common cause of preventable brain damage at birth, those who have substance abuse and psychiatric problems, and people who have brain injuries as a result of falls or other accidents. The jails are littered with these individuals. Would it not make more sense for the federal government to work with the provinces to ensure that people get the treatment they require?

Right now we see a revolving door syndrome within the provincial institutions. The police and the public are exceptionally frustrated because many people go on to reoffend. They become part of the revolving door syndrome. There are people in my community of Victoria whose houses have been broken into dozens of times. In Victoria proper more than 1,500 people are living on the streets. Sixty per cent of those people have dual diagnoses. They have a combination of psychiatric problems and substance abuse problems. Those problems cannot be shrugged off. They are medical problems that require medical intervention. The good thing about this is that there are programs that are effective in dealing with these problems. Let me give one example.

Dr. Evan Wood and Dr. Julio Montaner at the centre of excellence at the University of British Columbia have put forth programs such as NAOMI, the North American opiate medication initiative. This is a drug program for those who have intravenous injection drug problems, particularly with respect to narcotics. A group of people were given narcotics. Those people who had been committing crimes, stealing cars, doing break and enters and other actions to pay for their drug habits were given narcotics by a medical professional. Those people were brought into the medical system. The result was that a majority of those people moved away from engaging in criminality. They got the care they required. They were able to get skills training. They were able to get off the drugs, get back with their families and get their lives back on track.

It is a much less expensive intervention than throwing somebody in jail.

Members and viewers might be interested to know what it costs to keep one person in jail. For a federal maximum security institution, it costs $240,000 a year for a man, and for a woman, it costs $330,000 a year. In a medium security institution, it costs $140,000 a year. Most Canadians could not hope to earn that amount of money in a year, yet it is taxpayers' money which pays to keep people behind bars.

By all means, inveterate criminals and people who commit violent acts need to be behind bars; that is in the public interest. However, there has to be a way to break the cycle of criminality and there are ways to make this happen.

I mentioned NAOMI. Why is every single city in Canada that has an intravenous drug problem with some of its citizens and wants a North American opiate medication initiative not allowed to have one? Why does the federal government not work with its provincial counterparts to enable people to get the drug rehabilitation and psychiatric services they need in provincial institutions?

Only by doing this, along with the skills training, will we be able to break the cycle of criminality. People will leave the provincial institutions and one day they are going to be convicted but they will not get sentences of two years less a day. They will get sentences that are longer than that. They will end up in a federal institution which means the federal government will be paying for that with taxpayers' money.

It is completely illogical and shortsighted for the feds only to look at the punitive aspects of criminality rather than to ask: Can this be prevented? Can some of these people be treated? Can the cycle of criminality be broken? Can our streets be made safer? Can the cost to the taxpayer be reduced? Can the judicial system be more effective? The answer to all of those questions is yes. Is the federal government doing that? No.

I would implore the federal government to pursue getting the justice minister and other senior ministers, such as the health minister and others together with their provincial counterparts to implement these solutions. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. The solutions are there.

There is a program which the current federal government axed. The program was put forward by a Liberal government. If an initiative reduced youth crime by 50% to 60% and saved the taxpayer $7 for every $1 invested, would that not be a good thing? Would that not be something to embrace? It would be a great investment. That initiative exists.

The early learning head start program has been assessed. Peer reviewed studies have shown very clearly that in the first eight years of life early learning head start programs have a host of social benefits from reducing youth crime by 50% to 60%, to keeping kids in school longer, to better educational outcomes, to more money earned and less dependence on social programs. All of those are winners. That program could be integrated in our schools if the federal government would simply take it upon itself to work with the provincial governments to adopt this.

When we were in government from 2004-06 a member of Parliament from Toronto, one of our hockey heroes, negotiated this with the provinces. All of the provinces signed on to it. They did not sign on because it did not work, they signed on because they knew it would work. Today, four years later, there is more evidence to show that this initiative works to reduce youth crime by 50% to 60%, saving the taxpayer $7 for every $1 invested. We know it works because we can peer into the developing brain. We know how the brain does and does not work. We know what bad things do to the development of a child's brain. We know how that changes the trajectory of the child making the child more prone to leading a life of crime, to taking up substance abuse and to engaging in an array of activities that are not in the interests of society and certainly not in the interests of the individual as the child grows into adulthood.

I have been speaking about this initiative for 17 years. This is the 17th anniversary for those of us who were elected on October 25, 1993. Sometimes it feels as though I am talking into the desert breeze. This program actually works. I implore the ministers to look at this program. The evidence is compelling and exciting. It works.

Initiatives such as the North American opiate medication initiative, the head start program for children, and initiatives that reduce the incidence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder all work in the public interest and at a much lower cost for the taxpayer. That is something the government ought to be looking at.

For the interests of our police officers, I would implore the government to look at the McNeil decision that came down through the courts. That decision needs to be reversed. The decision is tying the hands of our police officers when it comes to prosecuting those who have been charged. Rather than putting the accused on trial, it actually puts police officers on trial. I would ask the government to review the McNeil decision. It is a very serious decision that is hindering the ability of the police forces across the country to do their job.

I would also ask that the federal government look at ways to ensure that our police have the resources they need.

When we were in government, we put forth a number of initiatives to enable us to have a much larger police force. We have an aging police force. There is a competition for police officers and for various jobs. Right now, police officers in my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, our RCMP, are having a difficult time policing remote areas that have had some serious crime problems. The public is not served well by this. Our police officers are not served well by this.

I would ask the government to look at some of the work we did, to work with us to ensure that we have enough police officers. We need to deal with the current deficit in police forces across our country.

There is also the matter of how our police officers are treated, particularly the RCMP. There are some significant human resources issues surrounding how the RCMP officers and their families are treated. I would implore the government to work with the RCMP to ensure that this is being addressed.

A last thing I want to mention has to do with victims' benefits. When we were in government, we worked very hard with victims' groups to ensure that they had the resources they needed for the care and treatment of victims. This is a crucial issue in the execution of justice in Canada.

I see that the government has not used the resources set aside for victims. I would strongly recommend that it take a look at this and ensure that those citizens who are victimized in our country, particularly those who have been subjected to violent offences, receive the care they need. I think everybody in this House realizes that abandoning victims would be immoral. The government ought to ensure that there are enough resources to provide victims of violent offences with the care and treatment they require.

In closing, I want to say that we support this bill. We would like to work with the government to ensure that this an effective bill. We want car thefts to continue to decline. We want the government to work with us, not only on this bill but also on its other judicial bills, to ensure that our laws are in the public interest, that the moneys are spent wisely, and that we have safer streets for all.