Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Minister, thank you for having come to testify before the committee in the past. You have come here quite regularly, since the so-called “law and order bills” seem very popular with your government. This is probably your last appearance before the committee, and so I am going to try to take advantage of the five or six minutes I have to go back to certain points.
You seem very proud of the amounts that have been allocated to you. From what I see the figures are not even at the level of the real expenditures in 2013-2014. Since everything was delayed by the government, this has allowed us to examine both the economic action plan and the 2015 main estimates. In 584 pages, I saw two minuscule allusions to justice. Sometimes I get the impression that your government is
tough on crime on paper, but not so much on resources.
We all remember that
justice delayed is justice denied.
Those who work in the justice system at all levels, be it the judges, crown attorneys or defence attorneys, all say that their work has become extremely complex because of the multitude of new laws and amendments to the Criminal Code, as well as insufficient resources. I am sure you have heard the same comments. There are still a large number of judges missing at several levels, for instance in Ontario, Quebec and elsewhere. There are still enormous problems in connection with legal aid. You tell us that your role is the following:
to ensure that the justice system is “fair, relevant, and accessible”.
And yet, one morning in January 2015, I read that 50 DUI cases had been thrown out by the court because the trials had not taken place within a reasonable time frame. There is a problem somewhere. You have to stop sticking your head in the sand and simply going before committees trying to give the impression that all issues have been solved everywhere. Regarding trials, the delays are increasingly unreasonable and the costs are growing.
We all know that your department spent a fortune challenging all sorts of things and going right up to the Supreme Court to ensure that justice-related laws were constitutional, only to be told ultimately that they were not. There are some major issues and we don't hear you piping up very loudly about them. I would like to know what you have to say about that.
I also have a specific question for you. Your expenditure budget mentions a sum of $1.9 million in connection with prostitution. I am curious to know whether you have had any reports since that bill was passed and implemented and if there have been any changes whatsoever. I am very surprised to see that no additional sums have been allocated to the ombudsman for victims, whereas this was an extremely important part of your Conservative law and order platform. This is what leads me to say that you are
tough on paper, but not so much on resources.
Services have to be provided, but there will be no additional funds.
Forgive me, but this is probably our last opportunity to see you in committee. In light of the fact that the federal government budget is over $300 billion, I think that what is allocated to justice should be at the very heart of the lives of Canadians, but this does not measure up.