I listened to the hon. member and I never complained while he was speaking and I wish he would have the courtesy to listen to me.
This provision has worked well. It has not been used irresponsibly, and the record will demonstrate that. Since 1976, 175 inmates have been eligible to apply under this provision. However, up until December 1995 only 74 or 42.3 per cent of those eligible have applied. One might ask why have they not all applied. It has been suggested that if it is such a great provision why have they not all applied? It is obvious that many have not applied because they know they do not have any chance in the world of having their parole eligibility reduced from 25 years so they do not bother. That can be the only explanation. Only 75 or 42.3 per cent have applied.
Of those who have applied, 63 reviews have been completed out of the 74, and 13 of those were totally refused any reduction in their parole eligibility date, and 50 were granted either partial or whole reduction. In other words, they were given some sort of reduction, down to 15, and others were given the total reduction.
There is a suggestion insinuated in the House that once they get this reduction in parole they are released. They are not. They still have to go to the parole board, which takes another one or two years. That has been the record so far and I know of a case where the parole eligibility was reduced three years ago and that individual still has not had a hearing before the parole board.
What has happened with those 50 who had either partial or whole reduction in their parole eligibility date? Only 17 were granted full parole and 8 were granted day parole. Only 25 out of the 175 eligible since 1976 have been granted finally by the parole board either partial or full parole. The rest have either been turned down or have not had their cases heard.
Of those who were granted parole and put on the street, two were returned to prison for breaking their parole conditions and only one committed another offence, and it was not murder.
That is the record. This provision has not been a failure, has not led to massive threats to the public, has not led to repeated murders. On the whole it has worked well.
Bill C-45, now before the House, suggests the decision of the jury in these cases should be a unanimous decision rather than a decision of 8 out of 12. One must ask why when the provision has worked so well.
In any case, there are two amendments before the House, one by the hon. member for Bellechasse who suggests that it should be 9 out of 12 and another amendment by the member for Kingston and the Island who suggests that it should be 10 out of 12. I will support either one of those amendments, although my preference is to abolish section 745 altogether and have parole eligibility at 15 years for first degree murder and parole eligibility for second degree murder at 10 years. Before 1976 parole eligibility was at 10 years and there was no great abuse of the system.
In the minute or two I have left I want to reply to some of the arguments raised by the Reform Party. It suggests that when we support section 745 we are equating the life of a murdered person with 15 years. I heard several members say we are suggesting that the murdered person's life was worth only 15 years. That is nonsense. Nothing can replace the life of a murdered person, whether it is capital punishment or 30 or 100 years in prison. Nothing can replace that life. It is to misrepresent our position to suggest that by having a parole eligibility date of 10, 15 or 25 years that we are equating that number of years with the value of a person's life. That is totally false and unfair.
It has also been suggested that because we support this provision we are inflicting additional pain on the families of the victims. If there is any kind of parole or any kind of application for parole, the case will be brought up once again before the parole board or the courts. I do not think it is correct. I have sat in on some of these hearings. Some families of victims are upset by parole hearings and some are not. To suggest that it is universal is incorrect.
I would say to the hon. members in the Reform Party that their conduct in bringing up these cases over and over again, even when many people are not aware that these cases are before the courts, in the House, on television and radio, is doing much more to bring back to life the horrible events of the murder than the application before the parole board or the court and jury in the area concerned.
The suggestion by the Reform Party that getting tough and having no parole and that life means life will protect the victims and reduce the numbers of murders is again totally false. That has been done in many of the states in the U.S. They have brought back capital punishment. There are high rates of capital punishment and their murder rates are way beyond those in Canada. In other words, the tough actions being suggested do not protect the public, do not reduce crime and it would not help the victims. The murder rate in
Canada has declined for four consecutive years now with the laws we have. It is approximately 2.2 per 100,000 population. The murder rate in Florida and in the southern adjoining states where capital punishment was brought back is about 10 per 100,000, much higher. They are doing exactly what the Reform Party has suggested.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Criminal Code