Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, I would like to reply briefly to the comments made earlier by Kevin who said that we were introducing an important bill at the last minute. He used the expression “window dressing”. I would like to remind my colleague that the committee was very busy drafting a report on a very important issue, that of the process used to appoint judges to the Supreme Court of Canada. The committee could have taken much more time. In fact, that is what we were urged to do. We nevertheless did this work as quickly as possible in order to be able to move on to something else.
Also, it might be preferable to have two committees, one for justice and another for security matters. The number of topics on the agenda justifies the existence of two committees, but there is only one. We have to do a great deal in a short period of time. We can't very well stop working two weeks before the date on which we expect the session to end just in case it looks bad if we have things to do at the last minute. We have to work up until the end.
That being said, I would like to ask our witnesses to comment this matter of the paramountcy of the protection of society, the principle which was discussed by the subcommittee.
We could decide to take all possible means to make it as difficult and as long as possible for offenders to obtain parole. In that way, we protect society. Nevertheless, this seems like a very narrow perspective to me. It seems to me that it would be more appropriate to take it as a given that some repression is necessary—for instance, offenders must be confined to penitentiaries—but that it is also necessary to prepare them for rehabilitation into society. Indeed, adequate rehabilitation is also a way of protecting society.
There are certain inherent risks to rehabilitation procedures, and they must be assessed very carefully. It can happen that mistakes are made, but generally speaking, things go well and society is better protected than when we are too rigorous. Even if we wait for the offender to have served his entire sentence before releasing him, he is released without being prepared to reintegrate society. In that case, there is a problem.
How do you view this principle of the paramountcy of the protection of society? Do we respect it? Will this bill further it? What interpretation of the protection of society is set out in the bill?