Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act (Bill C-54)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed that the official opposition is supporting this bill as is.

I read it carefully and studied it, and I still do not find that it achieves the right balance in its approach to the not criminally response system. There is currently no empirical evidence whatsoever that the system is not working for Canadians.

I am very supportive of the sections that give advance notice to victims. I think we could have done a better job of balancing the interests for victims’ rights. At the same time, we did not need to include, for instance, the word “brutal”. “Brutal” is now a word that would mean one or the other for the high-risk accused. If the crime committed is of a brutal category, even if it does not result in death or another serious crime, the brutality of the offence is in the act as a single reason to put someone in the high-risk accused category.

The word “brutal” has no definition in criminal law, nor does it have a definition in the field of mental health or in academic and scientific understanding. Therefore, it creates a vast uncertainty for people who might be assigned high risk accused.

I ask my friend about that weakness in the bill.

Randall Garrison: Mr. Speaker, I am bemused when she says there is no empirical evidence of a need to do something with this bill. Has she not heard the voice of victims? Has she not seen the things that have happened with victims all across the country? I believe there is, in fact, a lot of empirical evidence.

I want to say again that this bill would actually help to reduce the stigma around mental illness by separating out these very few high-risk offenders who have committed what I would say are quite brutal acts. There is no way to describe a public beheading other than as “brutal”. It would also help assure the public that we have the measures in place to take care of those situations so that we can then turn our minds to the other mental health issues in society without being worried about these extreme cases.