Mr. Speaker, these policies dovetail together rather nicely to give Canadians the comfort of a better quality of life.
Canadians trust our right hon. Prime Minister and our government to deliver on our promises. That is evident by our presence in the government and our strength in the government. Indeed we published these promises in the red book and Canadians can literally check them off as we deliver on them.
Our job creation programs can be seen across the country in our infrastructure works which are completed and which are in progress. As promised by the Prime Minister the country is starting to feel better about itself. I might point out that nowhere is this more evident than in Windsor, Ontario where unemployment is down, welfare claims are down and crime is down.
Jobs mean prosperity and prosperity reduces the stress in our society. Sometimes as is the case today it is necessary to deliver legislation which seeks to aid Canadians to feel safer and to correct inadequacies in the system where they exist. This is the reason for Bill C-41.
Canadians need reassurance. Canadians need comfort. I would suggest that Canadians do not want this reassurance and this comfort to be at the expense of human rights. The government has consulted Canadians across the country and found out that Canadians are concerned about certain aspects of our criminal justice system. Canadians are not hysterical. Canadians are not narrow minded. Canadians believe that there are some injustices in our system. Canadians believe that aboriginal people for instance receive inappropriate sentences disproportionately.
Canadians believe that poor Canadians are sometimes treated more harshly by the courts or by the system than Canadians of financial substance. Canadians think that we should seek some alternatives to custody in certain circumstances. We also know that Canadians do not want all crimes to be treated the same way. Canadians recognize that the quick fix is not possible.
They recognize that there is a difference between crimes and they draw that distinction often based on the presence or absence of violence in a criminal act. They know that there are often compelling reasons to promote an offender's rehabilitation over his or her punishment. At the same time they want consistency in sentencing and a rationalization of the process.
This bill comes to grips with these expressions of public opinion through amendments to the Criminal Code. First and foremost, these amendments set out a general statement of principles and purpose in the sentencing process which covers rehabilitation, the segregation where necessary from society of certain offenders. It covers restitution. It covers the actual promotion in a convicted criminal of a sense of responsibility for his or her acts and it denounces unlawful conduct while deterring both the offender and others. At the same time it recognizes certain fundamental principles that Canadians have told us they are interested in upholding.
The sentence must reflect the seriousness of the offence. The sentence must reflect the degree of responsibility of the offender. The sentence must take into consideration aggravating or mitigating circumstances. The sentence must at least consider alternatives, especially for aboriginal offenders. When a crime is motivated by hate based on race, nationality, colour, religion, sex, age, disability or sexual orientation Canadians want it to be punished accordingly.
The Minister of Justice has considered all of these factors and has presented a bill which respects the wishes of Canadians and the rule of law. There is no quick fix. Our friends opposite would like us to think that there is a quick fix, a year is a year and a day is day. There are always circumstances that require flexibility. There are always circumstances that require us to take off our punishing hat and put on our rehabilitating hat.
I would suggest to our friends opposite that as they consider the fiscal bottom line they consider the difference between the cost of rehabilitating someone over the long term to our society versus keeping that person indefinitely incarcerated with no programs and no opportunity to recover.
The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce spoke eloquently this afternoon about attacking not only the results of criminal activities but also the causes of criminal activities. We hear nothing about that aspect from the benches opposite.
Members opposite make it all sound so easy. Just throw them in a cell and throw away the key. This I would suggest is the result of simplistic thought and, quite frankly, knee-jerk reactions. The funny thing is it is not even what Canadians want.
The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, I would suggest, hit the nail on the head when he said that crime is not just a justice issue, it is a health issue, a human resources development issue and it is a human rights issue.
In Canada, sadly, some groups do not enjoy the same advantages as others because of social class, colour or a variety of other reasons. Canada is a much better and freer country than many others, most others for these people, but we have to recognize that not all of our citizens have the same advantage.
Canadians have recognized this and Liberals have recognized this. That is why we do not offer these amendments in a vacuum. When we look at Bill C-41 we also have to look at the movement that we are making to rationalize the national health care policy and the extensive social safety net reform that will be introduced shortly. This social safety net reform is intended to deliver better social security in our country. The rest of the country can then follow the example of the greater Windsor area, less unemployment, lower welfare payments, fewer welfare cases and a lower crime rate.
It is not as easy as our friends opposite make it. We cannot jerk our knee and solve the problems with a simple saying or a simple quote. We have to be versatile and we have to be flexible. I would suggest to members opposite that is exactly what the hon. Minister of Justice has done here and that it is consistent with what Liberals do and it is consistent with what this government has done and will continue to do in the future.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Criminal Code