Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize that victims of crimes play a very important and crucial role in the whole process.
We had a very sad story not that long ago in Winnipeg North. When I say Winnipeg North, I am referring to the inner city, north end of Winnipeg. A very young man was at home with his grandmother. Someone broke into the home and the young man was stabbed and killed. This touched on a lot of emotions in the city of Winnipeg. It had a fairly profound impact with the amount of attention it gathered. People rallied around the family. The deceased young man was supposed to graduate this month from Technical Vocational High School.
A series of public meetings followed. The victim was of Filipino heritage. The community, particularly the Filipino community, really came out to support the mother and father, both of whom I have known for many years.
I have relayed this message to the House, because throughout the process, time after time, we meet with individuals who have followed the story. People really want answers to a series of different questions, everything from why it happened to what the circumstances were. They want to know about the perpetrator who caused the harm. It is really difficult for us to provide answers to everything they are looking for.
I think of the family members. It was difficult for me. I attended the meetings. I think of Imelda in particular, a dear family friend, and the emotions involved in that. It really heightens the importance. Sadly, a lot of crimes take place in our communities. It affects not only the victims of the crime, but family members and friends as well. They need to have some form of understanding of what has taken place and a sense of justice.
I sat on a justice committee for youth for many years. In fact, I was the chair of the Keewatin youth justice committee for a number of years. We talked a great deal about the importance of ensuring there was a consequence for young people breaking the law or for inappropriate behaviour.
One of the things I felt pretty good about was the committee looked at ways to put in place restorative justice. Restorative justice is where victims meet with offenders with the goal of a disposition to provide some sense of justice to the victim. Obviously, there is a huge difference when someone steals something, or a relatively minor offence, compared to an incident where the victim dies.
Through the years, going back to the to the days of the Keewatin justice committee, to the days in which I was the critic for justice in the province of Manitoba, I have always believed there needs to be a consequence for individuals who break our laws. However, at the same time, the victims need to be taken into consideration.
We reformed our military laws through legislation in the last couple of years. When I spoke on that, I highlighted that the fact that we were incorporating rights for victims within it. I cannot remember all the details offhand, but the principle of recognizing and appreciating the need to have victims as a part of the process is something the government, particularly the minister, have taken very seriously.
There are a couple of points I want to highlight. First, the government launched a communication and outreach strategy to provide victims with greater awareness of the services available and how they could access them, which is of great importance. We are in consultation with victims and the federal ombudsman for victims of crime, recognizing we can and should do better.
I will cite another piece of legislation we have passed. Imagine a victim of sexual assault decides to listen to the perpetrator's parole hearing for possible release. We can only imagine the state of mind of that victim having to listen to the parole hearing. Therefore, under the legislation we passed in the last year, victims can receive an audio recording of proceedings, which they can listen to on their own time.
Whether it is the enshrinement of victims rights in legislation, as we did with the military reform, or the example I just cited, the government has moved on these issues. I think we all recognize that there is always room for improvement. We can always do better. I think we all appreciate the importance of ensuring victims are recognized through this process.
I have had the opportunity to address an issue such as this. I mentioned this the earlier in a question for the member putting forward the motion. The best way to continue to move forward is to also look at ways to prevent people from being victims in the first place. As a government, we have been very successful, through a multitude of grants, budgetary measures and legislative measures, on things that will make a difference.
For example, Winnipeg North has some of the more challenging areas along Selkirk Avenue. There is a 24-hour, seven days a week, drop-in centre. As individuals become engaged and involved at that drop-in centre or they become involved with the Bear Clan, we have seen less crime.
I look forward to continuing the dialogue with respect to what the government can do to ensure victims are taken into consideration in all legislative and budgetary measures that the government presents to the House. It is important and it really does matter.
I always appreciate the opportunity to share a few thoughts on the important issues Canadians have to face.
Topic: Private Members' Business
Subtopic: Parole System