Madam Speaker, I rise today to partake in this debate, but I do so with a very heavy heart. I had the opportunity to sit in the House all day today and listen to both sides of this debate. I say both sides because, certainly, my Conservative colleagues have all shared their disgust and horror that we have had to resort not only to this debate but that we have had to bring forward this debate in order to get some action. I am shocked, as are many of my constituents and Canadians all across this country, to witness yet another failure by the Liberal government. The Liberals have failed to do what is right. They have failed Tori Stafford's family. They have failed to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. They have failed our children.
Nothing in this life is as important as the innocent, vulnerable children. As a father and soon to be grandfather, I have sat today putting myself into the position of a number of people, first, of Tori Stafford as the vicious rape and murder took place, and also of her parents. We must do absolutely everything and anything we can in our power to protect them. I repeat, the government has failed, and that is totally and frighteningly unacceptable. I strongly believe that a majority of Canadians, particularly parents and grandparents, would agree with me, and we are hearing from them. Countless numbers have emailed and called.
We brought this motion to the floor today because of the deaf ear of the Liberal government. Why do we have to call upon the government to exercise its moral, legal and political authority to ensure the decision to move Terri-Lynne McClintic is reversed and cannot happen again with others? Why does this murderer remain in a healing lodge without fences and with the presence of other innocent children, innocent children like Tori Stafford was? Why has the government not done the right thing and directed the commissioner of corrections to move this murderer back into maximum security to serve out the rest of her life sentence without eligibility for parole for 25 years? Why? That is the question that not only the opposition is asking but it is the question our constituents and Canadians are asking.
This morning I listened very closely to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and her defence of her government in allowing Correctional Service Canada officials to determine the placement or transfer of offenders. She said it was not the elected officials' job to make this determination. If the Canadian public overwhelmingly believe that an error has been made, it is the government's responsibility to stand up and be counted.
Clearly, under subsection 6(1) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the minister has the authority to direct the commissioner of corrections in all matters. This would include issuing a directive that a broad class of offenders such as those convicted of murder of a child are not eligible for transfer to a minimum security facility or to a minimum-medium security or to a healing lodge, and as we have heard, one without fences, without bars, and without what we would expect from a normal maximum security penitentiary.
Furthermore, the parliamentary secretary pointed out that it is our job to draft and approve legislation that provides clear guidelines and directives. It is our job as policymakers to propose and pass Criminal Code and Corrections and Conditional Release Act amendments to respond to the concerns and the demand of our electorate. However, in this particular case, those demands are for first-degree murderers to be placed and kept in maximum security facilities where they belong.
Under subsection 96(z.6) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the government could immediately pass regulations setting out the eligibility requirements for minimum security facilities and healing lodges. This could include prohibiting those convicted of murder involving a child. The government could do that, but unfortunately, we are having this debate here today because it will not, just as it will not vote in favour of this motion, as so many of my colleagues have implored it to do throughout this debate today. Why would the government not do that? It will not because, as previous Liberal governments have done, it has always and will always allow the scales of justice to be tipped in favour of offenders.
I will have been in the House for 18 years as of this coming November. I served in opposition as the public safety critic from November 2000 until January 2006. I repeatedly stood in the House in that capacity to oppose legislation after legislation introduced by the previous Liberal government, legislation that created conditional sentencing which resulted in rapists and other violent offenders serving time at home. That is correct for those who are watching. Violent offenders were doing their time at home.
I opposed legislation that made rehabilitation and reintegration the guiding principles of sentencing, as opposed to the protection of society. Reintegration and rehabilitation are much needed; that is unquestionable. We want to prepare those individuals as they go back into society, but our guiding principle must always be the protection of society.
I could go on to make the point that successive Liberal governments have prioritized the rights of offenders over the rights of victims.
It was the Harper government that created the office of the victims ombudsman, wrote the Victims Bill of Rights, eliminated section 745 of the Criminal Code, which gave murderers early parole eligibility and allowed for consecutive parole ineligibility for those convicted of multiple murders. It was fought the entire way by the Liberal opposition.
It was a Conservative government that restored the scales of justice in favour of victims. Unfortunately, the present Liberal government has once again tipped the scales in favour of offenders, and murderer Terri-Lynne McClintic remains in a healing lodge. That is proof enough.
How should politicians respond in a short period of time? There may be legislation that needs to be rewritten and amended, but what could politicians do? That is the question our constituents are asking us.
Yesterday, the Ontario legislature at Queen's Park found a way. Yesterday, it unanimously passed a motion calling for the transfer of this individual to be reversed. This murder, this rape, this kidnapping took place in Ontario. Provincial MLAs heard the public's outcry, and all parties in the legislature in Toronto responded together, unified, unanimously. I commend them for that.
Will the government, will the Liberal Party join with the provincial Liberals, NDP and Conservatives in condemning this decision? I very much fear that the answer will be no.