Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the iconic member for Cariboo—Prince George.
This is my first time rising in debate in the 43rd Parliament, so I would like to take a couple of moments to thank the residents of Edmonton West for honouring me with re-election. I am very proud to say that, according to the Library of Parliament, last election we received the most votes ever cast in a federal or provincial election within the city of Edmonton going back to Confederation. I want to thank the constituents of Edmonton West for putting their faith in me.
One of the issues we have in Alberta right now is the alienation caused by the government and also the fact that Liberals will not recognize or give proper representation to Alberta. Even though the Liberal in my riding, and I have to congratulate Kerrie Johnston who ran a fantastic campaign, received barely 20%, she actually received more votes than any single Liberal MP from Prince Edward Island. Here we have a Liberal who received very few votes in Alberta but who would have been elected in any one of the ridings in P.E.I. I hope along those lines we will address electorate representation or the lack thereof in Alberta in the coming years.
I want to thank my family, of course, for helping me out. I would not be here without them. My oldest son, Jensen, door knocked with me and helped out in Edmonton Centre, Edmonton Strathcona and Edmonton Mill Woods as well. My younger son, Parker, door knocked with me throughout the summer and helped out Edmonton Centre and also door knocked in Edmonton Strathcona. We have heard that cats have nine lives, but politicians who do not thank their spouses only have one life, so I am going to hang onto that and thank my wife, Sasha, for her support. I could not do anything, even get dressed, without her, so I thank her for all her support and love over the years.
Victory has a thousand fathers and defeat has one orphan, so I want to thank some of the fathers who helped me out. There are too many to mention, but I want to highlight my friend, Tom, and of course, Bob and his wife, Bev, whose car I ran into during the election. Bev I called Barb for all these years by mistake. Kids from Parkland Immanuel Christian School, about 20 of them, came out and door knocked. I thank Frank and Margaret as well. These are just some of the people who helped me get here again.
We knocked on over 50,000 doors from the end of June right up to election day. We heard loud and clear from my constituents that they want us to work at getting our pipelines built, getting our energy workers back to work and making Alberta and the country strong again. I will continue to do that. Again, I thank the people of Edmonton West.
We are here to discuss the opposition motion regarding the Parole Board. First, I want to quickly go over the Gallese case and look at the history of what happened. Gallese, of course, was the gentleman who was a murderer and was allowed out to kill again by the Parole Board. In 1997, this gentleman was convicted of violence against a spouse, so this was not the first time. In 2004, he was convicted of killing his wife, first beating her with a hammer before stabbing her repeatedly. This is not a simple act of perhaps second-degree murder that could have been by accident. This man beat her with a hammer and then repeatedly stabbed her to death.
He was sentenced to 15 years with no parole. He was deemed a high risk to recommit violence against women. In 1997, he was convicted of beating a spouse, murdering a spouse and deemed a high risk to recommit. Somehow, a few years in, under the Liberal government, the risk assessment was reduced. The risk that he was going to repeat was reduced.
I have to ask why the Liberals are fighting our look into the circumstances that would allow this to happen. He was out on day parole and in September 2019 in his twice a year annual Parole Board review, the Parole Board heard that he had been visiting prostitutes in violation of his parole. The Parole Board was aware. Visiting prostitutes, according to the law, demonstrates elevated risk. He should have been thrown back in jail when the Parole Board found out.
Doing the right thing and putting him back in jail would have saved a life. Instead, the Parole Board merely said to him not to do it again. That was it. The Parole Board let him go and told him not to do it again. Two months later, he murdered Marylène Levesque, a young woman who died because of the Parole Board's incompetence.
I have to ask why the government is fighting this motion to look into the circumstances and the Parole Board's actions. We need to ensure this does not happen again. I do not blame the Liberal MPs for this happening, but the Parole Board needs a review.
What is stopping Parliament from reviewing the Parole Board process that led directly to this murder? If a man is unable to form a violence-free relationship with a woman, why in the world would it be okay for him to go out and have a relationship with a prostitute? Why do we value that lady's life less than someone else's life? Why is it okay to put the sexual needs of a violent criminal ahead of innocent women?
Fourteen of the Liberal-appointed Parole Board members have less than three years' experience. Why are the patronage appointments more important than the safety of Canadians, the safety of women, the safety of marginalized women in the sex trade?
I am sure the Liberals just want a simple, quiet, internal review to cover up their patronage errors. Perhaps they want to throw the parole officer under the bus and put all the blame on that officer. Let us be clear that the Parole Board knew about this gentleman visiting prostitutes, the elevated risk and did nothing. Liberals want to ignore the problems existing within the Parole Board system.
My riding has the largest women's prison in western Canada, the Edmonton Institution for Women. I meet with the corrections officers and parole officers very often. We deal with problems that have not been addressed, safety with drug injections inside the prison and the segregation policy.
I also hear about the problems that parole officers and program officers are struggling with the caseload. They are pressured to get offenders out of the prison and onto the streets. The program to monitor and maintain progress with offenders has been weakened. There is weakened oversight to hold prisoners accountable. There is a push to get these offenders into halfway houses. The halfway houses have their uses, but we have to remember oversight and supervision of these prisoners in halfway houses is not 24 hours a day. It is severely reduced.
No speech I make in this House would ever occur without me referring to the departmental plan. I notice in the departmental plan for public safety under correctional services, over the next four years the government is planning to cut 4% of funding to the Parole Board.
Community supervision for the parole officers, without taking into account inflation, raises and cost increases, is soon to be cut by $1 million. The workers are saying there is too much of a workload and the Liberals are still cutting it a further $1 million.
Overall, corrections services is getting a 1% cut over a five-year period from the year the Liberals took over. If we read the departmental report, it is very fitting that the head of the Parole Board mentions in a report the dignity of offenders and better serving offender groups, but she mentions victims just once.
As I go further into the departmental plan, there is another great one. The plan mentions the percentage of offenders on parole who are not convicted of an offence prior to their supervision period ending. I would think it would be 100%. The Liberals' goal is 4%, which is an increase in the amount of reoffending over the last four years.
The plan also mentions the percentage of offenders on parole who are not convicted of a violent offence during their supervision period. I would think 100% would be their goal, but it is not. The Liberals have shown a lower goal over the coming years of the number of people who are reoffending for violent crimes than past years.
It is very clear the Liberal program and the Parole Board need to be reviewed. The Parole Board needs to have an external and public review, and the review has to be transparent. An internal review the Liberals are pushing for will serve no one.
Innocent women have to be protected. Canadians have to be protected. The government should do the right thing and vote with the opposition on this motion.