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Results: 1 - 15 of 175
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 18:33 [p.29426]
Mr. Speaker, I am very alarmed that here we go again with the Liberal government, through an omnibus bill, Bill C-75, watering down criminal penalties for serious crimes. What really irks me terribly is that impaired driving causes bodily harm.
Statistics in Canada today state that impaired driving offences are going up. Impaired driving is a leading cause of death in Canada, whether from consuming alcohol or drugs, and here is that government trying to include a softening of the sentences for it through Bill C-75.
I wonder if the government could answer this. What is it really trying to do here? Statistics are going up and penalties are going to be reduced. How is that going to help make Canada safer for people driving on the roads?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 22:41 [p.29451]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my partner from Battle River—Crowfoot in speaking to Bill C-83. I have stood in the House a number of times to speak to it, and I was on the committee that studied Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.
This has been a bad bill right from the beginning. The Liberals did not listen to very many people. They wrote the bill, brought it before committee and forced it upon it, as they are doing today, forcing us in the second-to-last day Parliament is sitting to speak to the amendments that have been brought in by the Senate. The Liberals do not like the amendments, but they want to push this through.
From the beginning, when we started studying Bill C-83 at committee, a number of witnesses came forward. The John Howard Society said it was bad. The Elizabeth Fry Society said it was bad. We had a 19-year prisoner who admitted to being a pretty bad guy, and he said parts of the bill were bad. He was the type of person who needed to be put into a segregation unit to protect the guards and other prisoners, and even himself. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association said it was a bad bill. The Native Women's Association said it was a bad bill. There were a number of organizations.
Now we have it brought before us, as I said, on the second-to-last day before the House rises for the summer.
My friend from Battle River—Crowfoot just mentioned the corrections union and that his union was not spoken to. Very much like the institution in his riding at Drumheller, which is medium-security, I have a medium-security facility in the town of Grande Cache, in the great riding of Yellowhead. It is probably one of the most beautiful jail settings in North America. It is on top of a mountain overlooking the Rocky Mountains. There are a large number of aboriginal prisoners there.
I know some of the guards there very well; some of them went to school with my daughter years ago. They are very concerned that they were not consulted properly and that Bill C-83, if enacted the way it is, will make it dangerous for the guards. That is totally unacceptable.
The change would make prisoners more dangerous for the guards, as they will have to deal with the worst of the worst and the most volatile being out and about from their cells for four hours a day.
I totally agree that things need to change and we need to be civil and human in how we treat prisoners. Many years ago, I had the privilege to be on what the RCMP called provost duty. I escorted prisoners throughout British Columbia and western Canada back and forth from remand centres and detachments to prisons, etc. I came to know many of these individuals on a personal basis and many times I travelled 200 or 300 miles with three prisoners by myself.
One could be a real dick and those guys would hate it by the time they got to the destination, or one could be a decent individual, have a conversation with them, treat them decently, with respect and dignity, and have a 200- or 300-mile drive with three prisoners.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 22:46 [p.29452]
Mr. Speaker, it is my last speech, and I do apologize. It was just the terminology that slipped out.
Years ago we learned that we had to give respect to the prisoners. They had to be treated properly. That is no different today. I realize that Bill C-83 is trying to do that in a number of areas. As our colleagues in the Senate have said, there are some things that need to be corrected. I hate to say it, but the Liberals are not listening again.
My primary purpose in getting up today is to say that the women and men who work in our institutions do a great job for our country. They are a fantastic group of people. In many cases, maybe even more than police officers who are out on the street or our military who might be defending some country somewhere, these guys are right on the front lines.
A lot of our prisoners are everyday common people. We do not need to worry too much about them. They are civil. We can have great conversations with them. We can joke around with them. However, we do have some real bad apples there. Some have mental health problems. Some are just downright mean. Some can be rehabilitated. Some, and I am going back to 50 years of experience, cannot be rehabilitated or do not want to be rehabilitated, and that is where the problem comes with segregation.
I know that the Supreme Court has ruled that we need to change our policies. We need to give prisoners more rights, but that will come at a cost to the country. I guess we will have to accept that, because that is what it has ruled.
However, the primary thing is that I want my friends and my constituents who work at Grande Cache Institution to be safe. I want the average prisoner who is there, who maybe was picked up for impaired driving or maybe something minor, who is not really a bad person, to be very safe in our institutions. That is my primary concern.
My colleagues across have been given a number of recommendations from the Senate that I think need to be addressed and cannot be ignored. I did not pick up on all of them, and I am not going to deal with all of them. However there is one I thought I would spend a little time talking about.
The Senate said that the authority should be left with the institutions as to the movement of a prisoner to a provincial institution. That is only rational, good, common sense. I am not knocking professional health people. They do a great job for us, but we have some great con artists in our jails who could sweet talk the Speaker into letting them sit up there while the Speaker took their place. That is how good they are. I know that the Speaker would never be conned. However, that is where my fear comes in. The institution staff know these people. They are dealing with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They know how slick the prisoners can be.
A medical professional coming in, maybe for an hour or two or maybe three hours a week, could be baffled. That is why I think it was a very wise decision that came back from the Senate. It was a common-sense correction, yet it is being ignored.
I appreciate being given the time to stand up here to defend the institutional guards at Grande Cache and others across the country. They are doing a great job for us.
Get rid of the needles. I am not going any further with that. It is the biggest mistake we ever made.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 22:53 [p.29453]
Mr. Speaker, I hate to rush anything unless it is correct. The Senate has studied this bill, as has the committee, and we have heard from many witnesses. If we just bring it forward because we are threatened by the possibility that the courts might take action, we should have thought of that right off the bat and got at it a little more quickly than we did. We are here on the last day.
Again, the issue goes back to the safety of the people. Yes, I agree with a psychiatric review when a person comes in, but if we bring these measures forward, is that going to make it very difficult to correct them afterward, and is it going to put a guard's safety in jeopardy in the next month or two before we come back to help correct it in the fall?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 22:55 [p.29453]
Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. None of the witnesses really agreed with this bill. We were given this bill as written by the senior management of Canada's institutional system, but with no consultation with the unions or stakeholders. The committee was to get it through as fast as possible and get it passed. The Senate saw the mistakes. We could see the mistakes. The witnesses could see the mistakes.
We are going to make a bigger mistake if we go and vote for it with the errors or with the Senate submissions being omitted.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-06 15:39 [p.28710]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak once more to Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.
As I said last week, this is a terrible bill. It reminds me of the NAFTA bill. However, sometimes a bill is better than no bill.
As I have said many times in the House, I was never in favour of the legalization of marijuana, Bill C-45, which was another typically ill-conceived bill brought in by the Liberal government.
I will support the Bill C-93 because there is a common-sense element to it.
Although I did not support legalization, I am not naive enough to say that it was not right to look at the whole cannabis strategy in Canada. Let us face it, we are not the only ones. Many other countries have legalized or decriminalized marijuana. We only have to look at our closest and best trading partners, the good old U.S.A.
The use of marijuana has been legalized and decriminalized in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, Mariana Islands and Guam. Many of these jurisdictions are looking at or have commenced programs to get rid of the old cannabis-related charges for simple possession. There are several different programs being looked at. Some are similar to this bill, Bill C-93. Some are similar to what the NDP has been pushing, which is expungement.
We have heard from many of my colleagues in the House about the injustices that have taken place with respect to Canadians who have records for simple possession of marijuana. Stories have been told about people being turned back at the U.S. border. However, in my research, I have found the same things are happening in the United States. I will provide two cases. We have heard this before with respect to our people, just not south of the border. I will not to give their names to protect their identity.
A 70-year-old retired carpenter in the United States, who once ran for the Senate, was convicted back in 1968 for simple possession. His conviction caused him to be refused entry into Canada and he is unable to purchase a firearm in the United States.
Another gentleman, a professional lighting technician, worked for Willy Nelson for a time. Because of a misdemeanour drug charge as a youth, he was unable to accompany the band on tour to Canada.
Therefore, I strongly believe we need to remove the records for Canadians who were charged with simple possession of marijuana. Clearing people's records can remove barriers to employment and housing.
Many groups in Canada have become victims because of the area they live in and the environment around them. Many are good people who made the wrong choice at the wrong time. That is why I support Bill C-93, although I feel the bill did not go far enough. It should have, and could have, looked at many minor Criminal Code offences, such as public mischief and wilful damage, offences we call misdemeanours in the Criminal Code. There is always room to fix things. Maybe sometime in the future Bill C-93 coanbe fixed.
I spoke about this last week. In California, Code for America has brought out a program called “Clear My Record”. It is a computerized program that allows for the expedient removal of simple criminal code records, such as the simple possession of marijuana.
From the list of states I mentioned previously, nearly every one has passed laws that allow people to clear or change their criminal records. Those states recognize the impact on the economy and on the lives of families when millions are shut out of the workforce or unable to fully reintegrate into their communities because of criminal records from their past. I was shocked to learn, in my research on Bill C-93, that one in three people had a criminal record in the United States.
I also discovered that those states that had a cumbersome, overly complicated system of removing one's record failed in their goals. Only a small fraction of the tens of millions of eligible Americans benefited from these laws, which was directly related to being over-complicated, costly and took too much time to do.
“Code for America”, a computerized system that was adopted by California, is a modern 21st century technology that is quick, efficient and benefits the recipients. “Clear my Record” is a free online tool that assists people in California to navigate the complicate process of clearing their records. People can fill out a short, easy to understand application online that typically takes 10 minutes to get connected to a legal authority.
Jazmyn Latimer and Ben Golder, who co-developed the program, realized there was a problem when they looked into how many people were taking advantage of getting their records expunged. They found that less than 8% of the people who qualified accomplished it, simply because the system was opaque, hard to understand and navigate and costly, both for the people with the records and for the government. Does this sound like Bill C-93? It very much does.
I made recommendations to Bill C-93 during committee that the Canadian Parole Board look at electronic means of modernizing the way we do business. We are still following 20th century technology, trying to do too much by hand. Why? I could not get an answer for that.
The state of California, which has implemented the electronic process, has plans to try to clear over 250,000 cannabis-related convictions by 2020. That is probably as many as we have in Canada, and if not, a lot more. I hope it succeeds.
As well, I hope our Parole Board looks at an electronic process for Canadians with all possession charges and to expand in the future to look at other minor Criminal Code offences. We owe it to Canadians to make this system simple and free so they can get rid of their records, live better lives and be less of a burden on society.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-06 15:50 [p.28711]
Madam Speaker, the Conservatives' stand was that we were trying to run an efficient government, with a balanced budget. Sometimes, governments must take hard measures, realizing that certain expenses may have to be passed down to the public. It is obvious that not many people are receiving the benefits of our parole program and pardon system.
We would be naive if we did not look at ways of modernizing it. Bill C-93 tries to do that. It should have gone further. It should have been more forceful in looking at electronic means to make it simpler, less costly and more efficient for the government.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-06 15:53 [p.28712]
Madam Speaker, I have mixed emotions. Expungement would be a quick and simple way of doing it. However, I was a police officer for 35 years. Many times when I charged an individual with possession for the purpose of trafficking, that charge got reduced. There may have been other charges. When that person went to court, the Crown and the defence lawyer would decide to plea bargain and, a lot of times, it went down to the simple possession charge. Therefore, I have a hard time with that.
We need to have a way to clarify if the is the only thing relating to the charge of simple possession. I personally have dealt with hundreds of cases over the years, where I may have made the charge simple possession but it may have been a lot more serious. If the guy was polite and co-operative, I would give him the benefit of the doubt. The chiefs of police have brought that concern forward.
I know that technically we could do it with the press of a button, but I do not know if that would be right. We need to really look in-depth at that aspect. We need some way of clarifying it. It is not as easy as a simple possession. In many cases, there are a lot of other things relating to that charge.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 11:00 [p.25601]
Mr. Speaker, we can come up with all the regulations we want as an individual country. Parts of Bill S-6 and Bill C-82 are about that. However, he talked about the importance of working with other governments from other countries.
Could he perhaps exemplify what he meant when he said that it was important that we work with other countries?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 15:58 [p.25644]
Mr. Speaker, as a member of the public safety committee, I was quite surprised by the number of problems we had with this bill initially. Witnesses appearing at committee regarding the bill said that they had not been consulted. Even the correctional investigator of Canada told the public safety committee that all the consultations seemed to have been done internally. To his knowledge, there had been no consultation with external stakeholders. He said, “I think that's why you end up with something that is perhaps not fully thought out.” If members were to look at all the amendments put forward, they would understand what he said.
For the Liberal Party, which purported to put consultation on a pedestal, this seems very strange. The Liberals did not consult with the unions, the victims, the prisoners or the prisoner advocates. Could the member opposite tell me exactly who they consulted?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:16 [p.25646]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech and his work with us at committee.
Could the member tell us his concerns for the safety of correctional officers and other inmates because of the removal of disciplinary segregation and the introduction of a needle exchange program in many institutions?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:33 [p.25648]
Mr. Speaker, I am here today to speak to Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.
A lot of people do not realize that on any given day in Canada we have roughly 40,000 plus prisoners in custody. They are in eight maximum-security facilities, 19 medium-security facilities, 15 minimum and 10 multidisciplinary type facilities. We have 18,000 Canadian government employees looking after these prisoners, of which 10,000 are on the front line. They are either correctional officers, parole officers or health care workers.
I want to personally thank them here today for the service they do in our correctional services from coast to coast to coast. I have a facility in my community, as does the gentleman beside me. We know the problems they go through on a day-to-day basis and the great service they give our country.
This was and is a bad bill. Even worse, this is ill-thought-out legislation. It is a lot worse than the cannabis bill. Simply, Bill C-83 was a knee-jerk reaction to two Supreme Court rulings in February of 2018, regarding the clarity on indefinite solitary confinement. Bill C-83 does not correct this; it just rewords it and disguises it in flowery words.
No longer is it called solitary confinement. It has been renamed “structural intervention unit”. It sounds nice. The heads of the institutions will be allowed to designate any area of a jail to be that. Why do we need that? Structural intervention units are needed for unmanageable prisoners and those who are dangerous to staff, inmates or themselves. Perhaps they are being held for an investigation. Perhaps it is an attempted murder within the facility and he or she has to be segregated. There is a need, and there are reasons why people are held in these types of lock-ups in these facilities.
A 19-year prisoner appeared before the public safety committee. He was pretty intimidating when he first came in there, but the man talked with a lot of sense. He was originally sentenced for 14 years, but he was so bad he got an additional five years, of which a lot was in solitary confinement. He said that they were a must, that we should not get rid of them. Many more witnesses came before the public safety committee, even the Minister of Public Safety.
Again, I am going to say this is a bad bill. Every group of witnesses or individuals who appeared said that it was a bad bill. These are not my words. It was the witnesses who said that, except for the minister and his ministerial staff who said that it was such a great bill. How many amendments were read by the Speaker today?
The Elizabeth Fry Society said it was a bad bill. It said that structural intervention units were not needed, that it failed to focus on the programs and that there was lack of oversight. It is concerned about section 81, due to the workings of indigenous governing bodies.
The John Howard Society calls it a bad bill. It wanted to know what was the difference between solitary confinement and structural intervention. It said there was no difference, that the bill changed the words, but it did little to change anything.
Those are their words, not mine.
Increasing two hours outside the prison cells to four hours does little to help the prisons. There is a lack of infrastructure, physical and human resources. The bill does not address the need.
I will go back to the 19-year prisoner. He admitted to being a bad boy. He spent a very long time in solitary confinement. He said that he needed to be there, as he was dangerous. He felt these units were needed to protect guards, prisoners and even people like himself. However, he stated that prisoners must be helped with programs, counselling, etc., and that this was not happening within the institution. What he really stressed was that there was no one looking after the prisoners once they were released. They are just dumped out into society. He said that continued help needed to be there to rehabilitate the prisoners.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association says that it is a bad bill and it cannot support it. It said the bill lacks external oversight, lacks programs that are needed to assist prisoners to reform, and lacks sufficient resources and manpower for social and educational needs, health professionals, etc.
The Native Women's Association of Canada says it is a bad bill. The association was not consulted. It says the bill does not address traditions, protocol, or cultural practices, and does not clarify indigenous communities.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers also says it is a bad bill, that it is not feasible and leaves prisoners and guards vulnerable. That is where my concern is, with prisoners and guards, especially the guards, being vulnerable.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it is a bad bill. It says it is not a meaningful reform and should be repealed. It said there was no consultation, and we have heard that many times here.
Aboriginal Legal Services says it is a bad bill, and that there is a big gap between the rhetoric and reality.
When we were gathering evidence on some of the costs related to prisoners, the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, who is also on committee with me, was told by a witness that the cost of keeping a female prisoner in a structured living condition was $533,000 a year. He was shocked. Then he was told that the cost for males in structured living conditions was between $300,000 and $600,000 a year.
When he heard that, he asked me for an aspirin. I did not have one; I just told him he would have to cope.
I am just about done. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said in the 2016-17 report that the cost of an average prisoner is $314 a day or $115,000 a year. If a prisoner is segregated, the average cost is $463,000 plus per year. That is $1,260 a day to keep a person in segregation.
Bill C-83 will cost way more than the Liberals are talking about. When the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner asked the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness what the cost would be to implement this bill, the minister replied that he had no idea. He said he had no clue, but we should trust the Liberals because they would work it out. He wanted us to just pass the bill as it was.
I have heard from a number of speakers opposite today that $400-some million is being thrown at this program to make structural modifications at our prisons and to improve the health care facilities, but I have not heard anyone from across this great room say there was any money going to hire additional staff, or to improve staff resources or staff training. Nothing. There was nothing that came from the parliamentary secretary; nothing came from anybody.
We heard the Liberals were going to fix the buildings, but I have talked to a number of the prisons around Alberta, and they have not even been asked about what needs to be done. The guards and unions have not been spoken to.
We are supposed to trust the Liberals. I think they said they are putting $448 million into this, but what about increasing staff? We know it is going to cost more to do it. We know it is going to cost more in manpower to operate these new units, especially if we are going to move them around to different spots in the prisons.
There is nothing in the Liberal plan or budget to account for that.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:43 [p.25650]
Mr. Speaker, it all boils down to consultation. Every witness other than the minister and his staff said there was no external consultation. We cannot be expected to know what it is going to cost to renovate the institution in my area unless we talk to people on the ground.
We can even look at this building. I do not know if it is the same on the other side of the House, but on this side there is a closet where I can hang my coat. On either side of that closet, there are three feet in which I cannot put anything because I cannot get to it.
Consulting and working with people on the ground makes a big difference. I still have not heard anything mentioned by anyone on the other side about any money going for labour resources or training or education, which is what they are asking for. They are begging for that.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:45 [p.25650]
Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. Is segregation going to help them? No. We need to look at this medically. We need to look at training our staff members to understand what the inmates are going through. They need to know. To put an inmate into a locked cell and let the guy walk an eight-by-eleven foot cell all day long does not help his mentality. He needs to be taken to a medical facility, or we need to have fully trained medical people on site. We do not have that at the present time.
No, it will not help them. We need to address their concerns.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:47 [p.25650]
Mr. Speaker, based on my conversations with prison guards who work in my area and in other parts of Alberta, they were not consulted. They are frustrated, because they want to have the tools to provide a great service for this country and for the prisoners they are looking after.
The guards are concerned about their own safety and about the safety of the prisoners. They are concerned about their health care, but they are not getting enough training. I talked to a young guard who said he was there two weeks and was put on the segregation unit because it was short-staffed. He said he was very uncomfortable, and I think he was right to be.
We need resources to help train these people if we are going to add a whole new set of burdens to the prison reform system.
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