Mr. Speaker, in response to the question put by the hon. member for Calgary Northeast, with reference to the recommendation last year it was the Horner committee, an all-party committee of the House, that conducted extensive research and had lengthy hearings on the whole question of crime prevention. That committee unanimously recommended, among other things, that a national strategy including a national council be created for this purpose. We are really acting upon and giving life to recommendations that emanate from an all-party committee, as well as from other sources as I mentioned in my remarks.
In terms of sentencing obviously it must be the very purpose of the criminal justice system to ensure the sentence fits the crime. That is often, however, in the eye of the beholder. There can be controversy about whether a given sentence on a particular day in answer to a specific crime is the right one.
If I may be permitted to say so at this time, I recently reread a study done by Anthony Dube, a noted criminologist, who undertook as a research project to examine public reactions to sentences meted out to specific crimes first from the newspaper story and then after acquainting members of the public with all the facts of the case that went before the judge who passed sentence.
In his research Mr. Dube made the observation that when the citizens read of the sentence in the newspaper a given percentage thought it seemed like a very light sentence for such a crime. However when the same persons were given all the facts before the judge who actually passed the sentence, the percentage of those who agreed that the sentence was appropriate increased dramatically until it became almost unanimous.
The lesson we learned is that it is often misleading and sometimes dangerous to assess the appropriateness of a sentence from a brief newspaper report or a television report. Surely the justice system we want is one in which competent judges, on the basis of all the facts in the adversarial system, assess the appropriate sentence in keeping with appropriate principles in the courtroom where the case has been tried.
I do not wish to sidestep the question put by the hon. member for Calgary Northeast. Let me deal with it squarely by saying that I have already indicated we propose to introduce legislation on the subject of sentencing. I will be happy to have his reaction to it. In the process of committee hearings on that bill I am certain he will have an opportunity to develop his point further.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Speech From The Throne