Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to be in the House to speak to this important justice bill.
Bill C-75, sadly, is a deeply flawed, 302-page omnibus bill introduced by the government. Are there some positive aspects? Yes. However, the way it has been done, rammed through, not properly dialogued, not properly considered and ignoring the opposition members at committee, is a very serious and concerning process.
The previous speaker, when asked about the bill, said that the Conservative comments were regrettable rhetoric. It is that attitude, where the Liberals have a majority in the House, they can ram things through and get their way every time. It appears to be an arrogant attitude with the government dismissing any critique.
The Prime Minister continues to show that he does not take the safety and security of Canadians seriously. He is not listening to positive critique. He is watering down serious offences, such as impaired driving causing bodily harm, using date rape drugs and human trafficking. These are all serious crimes.
There are 136 offences included in Bill C-75, offences like participating in the activities of a terrorist group. One of two amendments, coming from the Conservative Party, were made at the justice committee. The government then permitted its members in committee to accept an amendment on that one, and that was withdrawn. Another is advocating genocide.
How did the Liberals come up with this list of 136 offences? Why did it only accept to remove two, advocating genocide and participating in a terrorist group? What about the other 134 offences?
The Liberals have taken any offence that is a serious indictable offence, with a maximum sentence of 10 years, and they have grouped them into one group, and we have Bill C-75 in front of us. It is offences like prison breach, municipal corruption, influencing municipal official, influencing or negotiating appointments or deals in offices, violence against a clergy person, keeping a common bawdy house, punishment for infanticide and concealing body of child.
There are 134 offences. Do some of them need to be updated? Yes, but it needs to be done in a constructive, proper way.
The Criminal Code of Canada did not come into play a year ago. It has come through the judicial system, through the legal system, through the legislative system for years and years. Last year, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. Over the years, we have learned from other countries what the laws should be and what is the appropriate sentencing. We have also learned about respecting the courts and giving the courts discretion.
Over the years, we have come up with appropriate sentencing. To review this is a good practice. It should be done. One of the things I am quite concerned about is that in the last Parliament we had a major focus on victims in Canada. The Victims Bill of Rights came out of that, and that was a huge accomplishment. Part of that was a system where there would be a victim surcharge, where an offender would pay into a victims fund to take care of victims. This is being repealed in Bill C-75. It will be gone, again taking away opportunities to take care of victims.
In the little time I have to speak, I would like to focus on impaired driving. Impaired driving causing bodily harm, causing death, is the number one criminal offence in Canada. It is a very serious offence. I have received tens of thousands of petitions. There is not usually a week that goes by where I am not honoured to present a petition on behalf of Families For Justice. Every member of Families For Justice has lost a loved one.
Markita Kaulius lives in my riding. She is the president of Families For Justice. She and Victor lost their beautiful daughter to a drunk driver. She was 22 years old when she was killed.
In these petitions, the petitioners are asking that the charge of impaired driving causing death be called “vehicular homicide”, and that if a person is arrested and convicted of impaired driving, there should be an automatic one-year driving prohibition. It sounds reasonable. Also, if a person is convicted of causing bodily harm while impaired, by being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, there should be a minimum mandatory sentence of two years imprisonment. If a person is convicted of causing a collision while being impaired and a person is killed, they are asking for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment.
In the last Parliament, the government introduced a bill to toughen up laws on mandatory minimum sentences, which is what Families For Justice is asking for. It did not include calling it vehicular homicide. It was dealing with the mandatory minimums, getting tough on crime.
At the end of the last Parliament, Families For Justice contacted each of the leaders. The current Prime Minister wrote a letter to Families For Justice and said that he would support getting tough on crime. Sadly, Bill C-75 would remove impaired driving causing bodily harm, failing to provide a bodily sample and blood alcohol over the limit from indictable offences and make them hybrid offences. In actuality, this would take these offences, at the choice of the prosecution, out of federal court. Because they could be summary convictions, they would be put into provincial court. The federal government would be downloading onto provincial courts.
In British Columbia, I have been regularly shocked to see cases being thrown out of court by judges because they have gone on too long. We then end up with the federal government downloading all these indictable cases onto the provincial court. The Criminal Code being enforced will exasperate provincial justice, by making serious offences like kidnapping, abducting a person under the age of 14 summary convictions. Why should people who would abduct a child, who could be charged with a serious indictable offence, with a 10-year maximum, now have a summary conviction available to them? This would be two years less a day and put into the provincial courts.
The government says one thing and does something totally different. It promised Markita Kaulius, Families For Justice and other Canadians that it was going to get tough on crime. We hear regularly that it is getting tough on impaired driving, but in fact it does nothing like that. What it says and what it does are two totally different things.
It brings to mind the proverb, “A tree is known by its fruit”. If there are apples on the branches of that tree, it is an apple tree. If there are pears on it, it is a pear tree. If it is a tree of deceit, the country groans. Canadians want justice. They want a government that spends the time to do it right when it makes legislative changes, not ram it through because it has the ability to do it.
Therefore, I hope the government will ask some good questions, some important questions. With the way it is handling Bill C-75, I have received a lot of phone calls, emails and regular input from my constituents. I am sure every one of us is getting the same kinds of phone calls with respect to Bill C-75, saying to vote against Bill C-75. Therefore, that is what I plan to do.