Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act (Bill C-54)

On Monday, May 27th, 2013 in Debate
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Elizabeth May : Mr. Speaker, I am afraid that I am not yet at the place where I think this legislation would actually do more good than harm. I am trying to debate that in my own mind, looking at the evidence and the expertise that comes forward.

One of the experts to whom I referred earlier, Dr. Anne Crocker, professor of psychiatry at McGill University, put the statistics this way, so we really can focus on this. She said that, of all those offenders considered not criminally responsible, in B.C., Ontario and Quebec, less than 10% of that group were responsible for violent crime. Within that group, getting down to very small numbers, less than 15% went on to reoffend.

Therefore, what happens is that we have some very high-profile, extremely upsetting cases. It is devastating when we have the kind of cases that we all have on our minds as we debate this legislation. I do not need to mention the names. However, this legislation would do nothing to prevent somebody with a mental health issue who had no previous record from committing the offence. Surely, when we have experts in mental health and in the criminal justice system who are saying that the current system is not letting us down in terms of handling NCR cases and avoiding recidivism, where we are being let down is that we are not putting in place the structures to support those people so that mental health issues can be streamed into the health system and not into the criminal justice system.

Michelle Rempel: Mr. Speaker, I am glad my colleague opposite has admitted that she is looking at this bill and trying to decide whether or not it should pass at the committee stage.

I implore her to at least get it to the committee stage for a few reasons. First of all, yes, we can talk about recidivism, absolutely. However, the point I am trying to make here today is that when we talk about percentages of reoccurrence, we have not acknowledged the fact that there are high-profile cases, and the lack of legislation we have in this area can lead to deep distress and a deep sense of non-peace in the minds of victims.

For that reason, it is very important that we at least examine the merits of this bill at the committee stage. I fundamentally feel that, as legislators, we cannot fail even one person in this regard, in this context. That is why it is so important.

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