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Results: 1 - 15 of 22371
View Denis Blanchette Profile
View Denis Blanchette Profile
2015-06-19 10:18 [p.15335]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for his speech.
Something about the government's attitude toward this subject really bothers me. They are acting as though mechanisms to ensure public safety were not already in place. Specifically, I would like to talk about the Parole Board of Canada. Its mandate gives it the power to refuse parole when public safety is at risk, and victims have opportunities to have their say.
My question for my colleague across the way is therefore a simple one. What tools would his bill create that the Parole Board of Canada does not already have? I do not see what this bill adds.
View Laurin Liu Profile
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-06-19 10:23 [p.15336]
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to say that I will be splitting my time with the member for Trois-Rivières.
Today I rise in the House to speak to Bill C-53, which we will oppose. First though, since this is probably my last speech in the House for this 41st Parliament, I would like to thank all of the staff who have supported us over the past four years: House of Commons staff and the people working in my riding office and my parliamentary office, the interpreters, who do amazing work, the pages, and the people who work for my caucus.
A special thanks goes to my constituents in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles for placing their trust in me over the past four years. It was a tremendous privilege and an honour for me to meet them and talk to them about their concerns. I hope that they will support me again during the next Parliament.
Today we are talking about Bill C-53, a justice bill that was introduced by the government in power. This bill represents yet another step backward. I will digress for a moment to talk about this government's record on justice over the past few years.
First, let us talk about the issue of the missing and murdered aboriginal women. The current government is refusing to conduct an inquiry into this phenomenon, even though aboriginal groups across the country have been calling for such an inquiry. We know that an inquiry is necessary to put a stop to this terrible phenomenon in Canada. The NDP has already committed to conducting a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. That is a priority for us, and it is one of the first things that we are going to do if we take office.
The Conservative government also introduced Bill C-51, which undermines our fundamental freedoms and violates our right to privacy. I received a number of letters on this subject from my constituents, who spoke out against the approach the government took with Bill C-51.
The NDP took a stand based on conviction and principles. Of the three main parties in the House, we are the only one that opposed this bill, which seriously infringes on the freedom of Canadians.
We can say that the Conservatives have fallen short when it comes to street gangs, whether it be in Montreal or Surrey, British Columbia. I talked with my colleagues from British Columbia about how a big a problem street gangs are. This is a serious and urgent problem that the government continues to ignore.
Bill C-53 is broadly based on misinformation and electioneering. What is more, we know that the Conservatives used this bill to stir up fear in order to raise more funds for their party. Right after this bill was introduced, the Conservative member for Scarborough Centre sent a fundraising email on behalf of the Conservative Party. The subject line was “Murderers in your neighbourhood”. That is obviously a campaign to spread fear and then capitalize on that fear to generate more support for the Conservative Party. That is the desperate act of a tired and ineffective government that is jeopardizing Canadians' safety.
The Conservatives should tell Canadians the truth. In the current system, the most dangerous criminals who pose a threat to public safety never get out of prison.
That is the current reality. We in the NDP want to protect victims and create an approach that puts victims first. We also believe in evidence-based policy. Any reforms made to the sentencing regime should focus on improving public safety, not playing political games. That is what the Conservatives are doing right now.
Decisions regarding people being released from custody must be based on an assessment of the risk each individual poses to the community and to public safety. The Conservatives introduced this bill, which, in fact, gives the minister control over these decisions. The Conservatives want to politicize the release process. We believe that this is a step backward for Canada.
The Attorney General has a duty to ensure that all of the bills put forward by the government are constitutional. As we know, since the Conservative Party has been in power, it has introduced a number of bills that could be considered unconstitutional. Once again, Bill C-53 will probably wind up being challenged in the courts. In other words, the Conservatives have introduced yet another problematic bill that is really much more about playing politics, instead of working to find solutions to the real problems.
Currently, if an offender gets parole, he will live the rest of his life under the conditions of his parole and the supervision of a CSC parole officer. Offenders who are sentenced to life never enjoy total freedom, since they have committed an offence resulting in a life sentence. Not all offenders who are given a life sentence get parole and some never will because of the high risk of recidivism they continue to present. We know that in the current system, there is legislation already in place to protect public safety and keep our neighbourhoods safe.
We know that the Conservatives are playing politics with this bill. The fact that they have been talking about this bill since 2013 further proves that point. They waited until just a few months before the election was called to introduce a real bill in the House. We know that this is an election bill. It has been criticized by eminent lawyers and experts because it is a complete botch-up.
In the past few days, we have had to discuss other bills that the Conservatives introduced in the House at the last minute. That is very undemocratic because we do not have enough time to debate these bills before the House rises at the end of the parliamentary session.
We also know that this same government invoked closure for the 100th time a few weeks ago in order to limit debate in the House. That move was strongly condemned by this side of the House, because Canadians want their MPs to do their homework, do their job and carefully study these bills. However, the Conservatives want to ram their platform down Canadians' throats without discussion and clear debate.
At present, it is the Parole Board of Canada, the PBC, an independent administrative tribunal free from political interference, that decides whether to grant or not grant parole. Taking this power away from independent experts and putting it in the hands of government is tantamount to turning back the clock 50 years. With this Conservative government we are going backwards.
The Parole Board of Canada was established in 1959, and Canadians rejected the politicization of the administration of justice a long time ago.
Canadians deserve better. They deserve a government that will take public safety seriously rather than using it for political purposes.
View Laurin Liu Profile
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-06-19 10:35 [p.15337]
Mr. Speaker, that is a good question.
When I go door to door in my riding, my constituents speak out about the cuts the Conservatives have made to the RCMP and border services, which are preventing officers from doing their jobs to protect us.
This Conservative government has done nothing but make cuts. It claims to stand up for victims, but we know that is not true. Furthermore, the comments by the member opposite do not reflect our public safety realities.
Last year, 99% of offenders released on day parole did not reoffend and 97% of offenders released on full parole did not reoffend either.
Instead of introducing a bill that could politicize the current situation, the Conservatives would be better off investing more in the public safety services that Canadians depend on.
View Laurin Liu Profile
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-06-19 10:37 [p.15337]
Mr. Speaker, I completely agree.
I would like to share the opinion of many Canadian experts who have spoken out against this Conservative bill. One such expert is Allan Manson, a law professor at Queen's University. With respect to the current situation he said, and I quote:
The most heinous cases do not get out so this is not an issue of whether the Clifford Olsens will be released.
With an election looming this fall, this is political opportunism of the crassest sort. This is surely the worst approach to public policy-making, and to criminal justice policy-making in particular.
With respect to the changes in the bill he said, and I quote:
This change will not achieve a single penological objective.
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
View Mathieu Ravignat Profile
2015-06-19 10:38 [p.15337]
Mr. Speaker, since this is one of the last times I will rise in the House, I would like to thank the people of Pontiac for placing their trust in me. I humbly hope that they will do so again in the next election.
With respect to the question I would like to ask my colleague, it seems to me that this is not the first time public safety issues have been politicized. I would still like to know where to find the facts and the statistics that this bill is based on.
Did my hon. colleague find any?
View Laurin Liu Profile
View Laurin Liu Profile
2015-06-19 10:39 [p.15337]
Mr. Speaker, there are no facts, and the Conservatives are fearmongering. They want to use this bill to win political points for their campaign over the summer. This bill is flawed and very problematic.
Not only does the current system protect Canadians from the possibility of the most dangerous criminals returning to our communities, but studies also show beyond a shadow of a doubt that extreme penalties are not deterrents.
We would sure like to know why the government introduced a bill that has no basis in fact.
View Robert Aubin Profile
View Robert Aubin Profile
2015-06-19 10:40 [p.15338]
Mr. Speaker, what a sensitive subject this is, and we are debating it in the context of a bill that was introduced at the very last minute. If there is one thing I find absolutely fascinating about my work here, which I feel very fortunate to do, thanks to the support and trust of the people of Trois-Rivières, it is the opportunity I have to learn so much about a whole range of subjects that are not necessarily in my area of expertise.
The subject we are dealing with this morning is a good example. I am not a lawyer or a criminal law expert, but in Ottawa, thank goodness, all members are lucky enough to have access to expertise, experience and relevant information. These things allow us not only to form an opinion, but also educate people who may be watching regarding the ins and outs of a bill like the one before us now.
If I were an ordinary citizen and a government said that its bill would enhance public safety, I imagine that I would probably start listening and I would likely believe that there must be some truth in there somewhere. Based entirely on facts, however, what we have before us is a bill that is designed purely to win votes and promote an ideology that is clearly the polar opposite of the NDP's ideology. The entire population, all Quebeckers and Canadians, will have to make their decision on October 19.
The Conservative government is proposing a vision of a society based on fear. I hope I will have time later to give some clear examples that directly relate to some election fundraising campaigns, for example, which have nothing to do with the substantive issue or the NDP's vision, which proposes developing a society based on public safety.
The Conservatives just introduced Bill C-53, which—to remind those who may not have been following this debate from the beginning—will make life imprisonment without parole mandatory for the crimes of first degree murder and high treason. However, life imprisonment without eligibility for parole is widely regarded as unconstitutional.
To plug the holes in their bill, the Conservatives included a clause that gives offenders a chance for parole after 35 years in prison. Parole will not be granted on the merits of the case or after a thorough review by the Parole Board, but after an application is made to the minister, because the minister is some sort of expert on this. I do not want to make any assumptions about the next Minister of Public Safety, but the current minister does not inspire a lot of confidence in me when it comes to making these types of decisions and leaving partisanship out of it.
Instead of spreading misinformation and electoral propaganda, the Conservatives should tell Canadians the truth. Under the current system, the most dangerous offenders who pose a risk to public safety never get out of prison. This bill is partisan to say the least, if not full-blown propaganda. The government's goal here is to give the impression that it is tough on crime, when it knows that these measures will have little to no real effect on the situation.
What is the current state of the situation in this area? For the benefit of those watching us I will briefly describe our system as it pertains to people convicted of first degree murder. An offender convicted of first degree murder is not eligible for parole for 25 years. I want to emphasize that “eligible” does not mean he will get parole, but that he can apply for it. It is up to the Parole Board to grant parole or not. We will come back to the conditions.
Protecting society is the primary criterion on which the Parole Board bases its decision to grant parole. Even if the offender is granted parole, he will spend his whole life reporting to a Correctional Service Canada officer. In other words, the current system already includes mechanisms for making public safety the priority.
The Criminal Code already includes special provisions to ensure that dangerous offenders do not threaten our safety.
If they are deemed to pose a serious risk to society, these inmates can be sentenced to an indeterminate prison term. That seems to be quite clear and strict. Public safety is the goal for this side of the House.
As we are on the eve of an election campaign, the Conservatives will use any means to fundraise and score political points, and there are still people who believe in that approach. I will just mention one example. On the day this bill was announced, the member for Scarborough Centre sent her constituents an email with the very moderate subject line: “Murderers in your neighbourhood?” That is their approach. Once again, the Conservatives' cynicism is in full view, and they are resorting to propaganda and fear-mongering. Instead, the NDP is focusing on safety.
Instead of engaging in blind partisanship, the government should instead listen to the findings of experts. I would like to elaborate on the expertise I mentioned earlier. A number of studies indicate that extreme sentences are not the solution to crime. That is backed up by statistics. After the death sentence was abolished, the murder rate dropped by 50%. That is rather curious. Here is what the Correctional Investigator of Canada had to say about that:
When you take all hope away from somebody, you don't give them any incentive to follow rules or to be at all productive and to contribute in any way.
A criminal can be released on parole and reintegrate into society. As I already mentioned, our current system has several provisions that protect society from the actions of these dangerous criminals.
In this case, there is no confusion. Everyone in the House agrees that it is important to protect society.
How will this bill protect us any better than the existing provisions of the Criminal Code? That is an interesting question. Did the government introduce this bill to do a better job of that? That is a question that the government has completely failed to answer.
According to Allan Manson, a law professor at Queen's University, there is a good chance that this bill is unconstitutional. Why? First, many studies have shown the negative effects of long-term incarceration. Prisons are becoming more dangerous for the people who work there. Second, this bill lacks a penal objective. The bill may in fact violate the very principle of fundamental justice.
If the Conservatives start breaking the backbone of our justice system, then they are doing exactly the opposite of what other democracies are doing in their legislation. It is often a good idea to compare ourselves to other countries to see whether we are heading in the right direction. However, is seems that the Conservatives are once again going against the tide.
Bill C-53 shows that public safety is not the Conservatives' primary concern. They would rather raise money through fearmongering and cobble together bills that are not based on evidence. The NDP is strongly opposed to that way of doing things. We want all criminal measures to be based on facts. We will ensure that our criminal measures seek only to enhance public safety.
We are deeply committed to the independence of justice. That is why only the appropriate authorities should decide whether an individual is eligible for parole. On the contrary, as they do in almost all of their bills, the Conservatives are once again placing more and more power in the hands of ministers, when those ministers are not necessarily qualified to exercise those powers.
I will stop there because time is flying by. That is too bad because I still had a ton of things to say. I will likely have a chance to talk more about this as I answer my colleagues' questions.
View Robert Aubin Profile
View Robert Aubin Profile
2015-06-19 10:50 [p.15339]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, and I have to tell him that he seems to have inadvertently fallen for the trap.
In the preamble to his question he mentioned that the Conservative government comes across as being really tough on crime, but they are not. They would love to have us believe that they are tough on crime and that they are stronger than all the other parties. However, it is Canada's own system that is strong, and the measures proposed in Bill C-53 contribute absolutely nothing to our existing public safety regime.
The Conservatives have launched a branding campaign and are trying to make the public believe that they are tougher on crime than the other parties, when that is not the case. The truth is that they are more partisan on crime issues than the other parties.
We will continue to protect public safety, as the existing measures already do. Bill C-53 adds nothing. Moreover, as members of Parliament from Quebec, I think we have made it quite clear that we must focus on real solutions such as prevention, support and rehabilitation measures in order to lower crime rates across the country and to ensure that our communities feel safe instead of afraid.
View Marc-André Morin Profile
View Marc-André Morin Profile
2015-06-19 10:52 [p.15339]
Mr. Speaker, this bill reminds me of pharmaceutical companies that are randomly searching for new molecules, and as soon as they make a discovery they try to match it with a disease. It is nothing but improvisation.
On the other side of the House, the Conservatives claim that hundreds of dangerous criminals will go out and murder people in their homes at night. This theory has absolutely no factual or scientific basis. Even if this theory had some kind of basis and if hundreds of criminals ended up in prison up to the age of 102, what does allowing these hypothetical hundreds of seniors to die in prison do for society? It makes no sense. It is designed solely to win votes, and that is its only merit.
View Robert Aubin Profile
View Robert Aubin Profile
2015-06-19 10:53 [p.15339]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for his analogies, which always bring smiles to our faces or at least a bit of a smirk.
To pick up on his analogy about big drug companies, the big difference is that in their search for molecules, they sometimes find them, and while research aimed at finding a drug to treat one disease can fail, it can result in a drug to treat another disease. In the case before us today, for one thing, nothing is ever found, and for another, there is not much to fix because the parole system as a whole does not permit automatic parole for dangerous criminals after 25 years. That is all there is to it. Members of an organization not bound by politics judge whether applications can be approved, and their number one criterion is always public safety. Those people are not politicians. They are experts.
Parole is a conditional release. Offenders might not be granted parole, but if they are, it comes with conditions that they must fulfill for the rest of their lives.
As I said, the number one criterion is always public safety, not creating a climate of fear for the purpose of raising money.
View John Rafferty Profile
View John Rafferty Profile
2015-06-19 11:00 [p.15341]
Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is National Aboriginal Day, and by happy coincidence I will not be in Ottawa this year but will have the privilege of joining my brothers and sisters of Fort William First Nation at Mount McKay in their celebrations.
In addition to the traditional celebrations, this year we will also reflect upon the findings and recommendations of Justice Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I would also like to personally wish Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy a happy and well-deserved retirement and thank him for his strong leadership over his many years of service in his many important roles.
With the election of a New Democratic government this October, Canadians will finally have a federal government that accepts responsibility for the immense injustices perpetrated upon our founding people by those who came later, a federal government that will make a solemn promise to ensure that these injustices are never repeated, a federal government that will finally work on a nation-to-nation basis with Canada's first peoples so that we can walk together, hand in hand, towards a better future.
Mino-giizhigad. Happy Aboriginal Day. Meegwetch.
View Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Profile
Mr. Speaker, today is World Refugee Day, and I would therefore like to salute the courage and determination of all those who have been displaced from their communities as a result of violence or danger. They face unspeakable challenges, which is why it is so important to give them a warm welcome when they arrive at our borders.
It is no secret: Canada is no longer the open, generous country it once was. The Conservatives have brought in a number of measures to discourage people from coming to our country for help and to deport them faster. In just over a decade, refugee claims to Canada have dropped from 40,000 to 10,000 a year, to say nothing of the lack of leadership shown by this government.
For instance, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who took so long to announce his targets for the number of Syrian refugees to be welcomed, still has not given his department the means to meet his own commitments. I must also point out the violence and tense political situation in Burundi, which have displaced tens of thousands of people—and yet Canada continues to deport people to that country.
Canada can and must do more for refugees.
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
View Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Profile
2015-06-19 11:09 [p.15342]
Mr. Speaker, I am Gabrielle and Maisy Odjick, women victims of violence. I am Carole Parent, who will have to make some tough choices because the Conservatives are refusing to save social housing. I am the one in six unemployed workers who do not have access to employment insurance.
Our social safety net is disintegrating. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing. Our children are the first generation to be less prosperous than the generation before them.
Bill C-51 attacks our rights and freedoms. Advocacy groups are up in arms. Environmental protection is falling victim to financial gain. The Conservatives are making decisions on paper while turning a blind eye to the actual consequences.
We need a government that reflects who we are and that supports us. I am the average Canadian. I am the proud NDP member for Hochelaga, and I am going to continue to stand up for Canadians' rights.
View Denis Blanchette Profile
View Denis Blanchette Profile
2015-06-19 11:11 [p.15343]
Mr. Speaker, as this parliamentary session winds down, let me tell you about the injustice one of my constituents is facing.
The son of a soldier, Edney Charbonneau joined our armed forces himself. After eight years of service, he became a federal government customs officer and investigator. He obtained a very high security clearance.
For his service he received commendations from Prime Minister Martin and Prime Minister Chrétien. Unfortunately, now that he has reached retirement age, Mr. Charbonneau cannot get his old age pension. Why not? He is not a recognized Canadian citizen. When his father was deployed to England during World War II, he married a British woman. Mr. Charbonneau, the child of that union, arrived in Canada at the age of two months.
Regardless of the circumstances—worthy of a novel in themselves—that led to this injustice, this man spent his entire life in Canada and paid all his taxes like a good citizen. Mr. Charbonneau deserves his old age pension, and this government should remove all the obstacles in recognition of his life's work.
View Guy Caron Profile
Mr. Speaker, these are finally the last days of the Conservative government, and Canadians are ready for a change. Our record is clear: while the Conservatives have chosen to give the wealthy billions of dollars in tax credits and spend public money on polls and partisan advertising, the NDP has presented a solid plan to help families make ends meet, which includes our national plan for affordable day care and our tax cuts to support SME job creation.
We have taken practical steps to make life more affordable such as putting an end to the tax on feminine hygiene products and successfully fighting the banks' and telecommunications companies' pay-to-pay fees. The winds of change are blowing, and on October 19 Canadians will finally be able to vote for a party that will defend their interests through good times and bad. That party is the NDP.
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