Right Hon. Brian Mulroney (Prime Minister):
Madam Speaker, if it were as simple as my hon. friend suggests then of course it would have been done.
We were informed by the president of Brazil and by the minister of justice of Brazil that the suggestions of any degree of automatic reaction were misleading and unhelpful both to the case and inconsistent with judicial traditions in Brazil.
I raised the matter myself with the former president of Brazil. We engaged the minister of justice in Brazil on this very actively. We have been pursuing this case vigorously and very enthusiastically. We share the deep sympathy my friend expresses for Ms. Lamont and Mr. Spencer.
We thought the decision was very unfortunate as we thought the sentence was inappropriate. Brazil has its own judicial traditions, as do we. One of them is that it is resistant to intrusion and invasion from the political sector as it ought to be.
That being said I have thought for some time that perhaps the best way to deal with this was to secure expeditious passage of the transfer of offenders act in Brazil which would allow us to seek the transfer of Ms. Lamont and Mr. Spencer from Brazil to Canada, thereby subjecting them to review by the National Parole Board of Canada and conditions in Canadian jails as opposed to those that prevail elsewhere.
This piece of legislation passed congress. I am informed that it is before the senate. We are pressing with every degree of energy to have this legislation passed before the Brazilian senate because we plan to invoke it as quickly as possible.
We believe that perhaps the most expeditious way, not the only one, of securing justice and at least some fairness for these two Canadians is to bring about their return to Canada very expeditiously so they will be subject to Canadian laws in Canada, reviewed by Canadian officials and I am sure liberation at a much earlier date.
Topic: ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS