The government has combined nine separate pieces of legislation from the previous parliament into Bill C-10, some of which we would all support and some of which cries out for closer examination because of its implications for our democracy, our safety and our economy.
Unfortunately, the government is refusing to divide the bill so that the uncontested parts can pass easily while the others can be examined with the scrutiny that they deserve. The message from the government has been that if the Opposition has concerns about some portions of Bill C-10 then the Opposition must be in favour of sexual deviance, violence and terrorism. This kind of politics is deplorable.
Although the Conservatives’ majority in Parliament will allow them to fast-track and impose their ill-conceived tough-on-crime agenda on Canadians with almost no debate in the House of Commons, I firmly believe that it is still extremely important that a public debate occur. There needs to be a discussion about the high number of mentally-ill offenders who are incarcerated and about the over-representation of First Nations in our prisons. Many of my constituents are telling me that we need to talk about crime prevention, services for victims, restorative justice, addictions, fetal alcohol disorders and the financial implications for our courts, prisons, police and social services.
That is why I have invited a panel of local experts to talk about the legislation and to share with us their thoughts and concerns. There will also be an opportunity to meet with representatives of a number of local organizations that are working on justice issues in our community.
The panelists are: