Hon. André Harvey
The interests of Quebec start with the interests of our regions. That is what we are dealing with at present, and I am pleased that we are.
My congratulations to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also responsible for public security and emergency preparedness, and today has introduced an important bill on something that is rather fundamental to our country. I am referring to Bill C-19, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code. This bill provides a framework for federal correctional services and the conditional release system, a system, incidentally, which is recognized in a large number of countries.
This legislation is based on knowledge gleaned from research and on respect for the rule of law and human dignity. It recognizes that the best way to protect the public is to properly prepare offenders for their return to society as law-abiding citizens, and to closely monitor those offenders who pose a risk to the safety of our communities.
A parliamentary subcommittee conducted the mandatory review of this legislation in early 1999. The conclusions of this review are contained in a document entitled, “Towards a just, peaceful and safe society: The Corrections and Conditional Release Act five years later”. The subcommittee concluded that the legislation was of fundamental importance but that there is room for improvement, as with all legislation.
In short, the government, through the Deputy Prime Minister, was realistic. She has always been extremely rational in everything she handles in the House. Her approach is measured and very objective. As a result, the government can stay its course on important bills.
Bill C-19 includes provisions to act on 46 of the 53 recommendations made by the subcommittee and approved by the government. The introduction of this bill is proof of the government's desire to take the necessary steps to enhance public safety.
It is not true that our government will allow itself to be distracted by public reports that have yet to be fully verified. We will continue our program and stay the course. Members should remember what happened regarding HRDC: at first, it was $1 billion, and it ended up being $65,000.
I am eagerly awaiting the results of the procedures we now have in place to deal with the only issue that interests our political opponents and the Bloc Quebecois, namely the sponsorship issue. This issue has created a lot of fallout in all their ridings. They are taking advantage of it to make dramatic speeches, even before the House standing committee has studied the question, before the public inquiry has reported, and before the RCMP has finished its investigation.
I am very eager to see the final results on these questions. That is why, despite the diversion—particularly in Quebec, where it was created by our BQ opponents— we have a duty to stay focused on essential matters, including the environment, as we have this week, and on the question of measures respecting Bill C-19 which the minister has introduced today.
The major modifications and provisions are intended to tighten up the accelerated parole review process, which provides for parole based on an assumption of non-violent offenders serving a first federal sentence, as well as statutory release and enshrines the right of victims to present a statement at National Parole Board hearings.
The CCRA is the legal framework for the federal correctional system. Its purpose is to protect the public by providing a balance between control of, and assistance to, offenders, in order to help them reintegrate successfully in society as law-abiding citizens.
This bill addresses a number of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, as my hon. colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister, has said. It is an important step toward meeting the Government of Canada's commitment to continually improve the laws governing our correctional system.
I am very pleased to have been able to speak on this measure that will be constructive for all citizens of our country. I am very happy to be a part, along with our government, of maintaining our agenda in important sectors for the future of our country and of each of our regions. There is the whole social economy sector, as outlined in the Speech from the Throne. We have not heard much about that from our hon. friends in the Bloc Quebecois, because they lose interest when we are talking about constructive measures.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend prebudget consultations with my colleague, the Minister of State for Finance. Many people from the beautiful Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean area were there to talk about the budget and the social economy. Is there a more important sector in our community than that which affects the social economy? We still have not received a single question from our friends from the Bloc on this. Hundreds of thousands of people work voluntarily on initiatives that are extremely important for our fellow citizens and have even managed to gain financial success in what is considered a fragile sector.
We talked about factors such as research, social economy and partnerships with Canadian municipalities. All the municipalities in my region and in Quebec are very happy about our government's openness toward more direct funding for our municipalities. They have multiple roles to fill in order to make our fellow citizens even happier.
It is a great pleasure to take part in this debate, in support of the Deputy Prime Minister, who is launching a major offensive in a sector that is far from insignificant. I am very pleased.
I would hope for the cooperation of our opponents in this House to stay the course on implementing our initiatives, which are there to help make our fellow citizens even happier and make Canada one of the best countries in the world.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Corrections and Conditional Release Act