Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to stand in the House today to close the debate on second reading of my private member's bill, Bill C-642.
I feel very confident that my colleagues will see the wisdom of these proposed amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
The private member's bill will amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act so as to require Correctional Service Canada to disclose certain key information regarding the statutory release of a high-profile offender. This would be accomplished by posting the required information as prescribed by the bill on the service's website, and also by providing written notice with the disclosure of the information to the victim or victims. The legislation would also provide for community consultation related to the proposed release.
I introduced the bill in order to fulfill a commitment that I made to the citizens of my community after they were exposed to a situation that many felt was a major injustice in 2013. The injustice I speak of today was the release of three high-profile offenders into a halfway house in Saint John without any prior notice whatsoever to the community. This could happen in any community throughout Canada that is home to a halfway house that houses high-profile offenders prior to their full release.
I want to say at the outset that I believe we in society have an obligation to do our part to reintegrate individuals back into society once they have paid their dues. However, it cannot be without looking after the mental and physical well-being of law-abiding citizens.
I made a commitment at the time to try to ensure this situation was not repeated in Saint John, or in any other community throughout Canada. I felt it was important for communities to have the information they needed in advance to allow the police and the citizens to be prepared, and to ensure that the victims were aware about the people who had violated them as well.
As lawmakers, we have an obligation to listen to our constituents and to act in the interests of the majority. I undertook, in 2013, to address the needs and concerns of the people in my riding. They were concerned and looking to us to provide them with the protection and information they needed to feel good about walking the streets of Saint John.
Bill C-642 would not interfere with the rights of the inmate being released. It would not change the fact that they are being released. It would not deny the protection provided by our Canadian justice and correctional system.
What it would do is to give the citizens of our country, and the victims of crime, more information and a sense that they are being treated fairly. It would make the release of certain dangerous offenders part of the public record.
It would not be the responsibility of the police in local communities to decide if certain information should be made public. This would give the public and the victims the knowledge so that certain individuals would not be able to quietly, and under the veil of secrecy, enter their community and possibly reoffend before the community even knows they are there.
I want to point out that this change would not apply to all offenders being released into our communities. It would only apply to the most dangerous, as defined by schedule I of the act, or if the commissioner determines that the offence dynamics have elicited or have the potential to elicit a community reaction in the form of significant public or media attention.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you very much for having taken the time to listen to the bill and consider it. I want to thank all members for taking the time to consider the bill. It is very important to the citizens of my community, and it certainly would make a difference going forward.