Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act (Bill C-54)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on some of the points that have been made.

It is hard when battling statistics are raised in debates and people are left to wonder what the actual state of evidence is. I am persuaded by the various briefs by the Canadian Bar Association, scientists and people who have dedicated their life’s work to this area, such as McGill University psychiatrists and others.

The rate of recidivism for people who actually have been found not criminally responsible is extremely small. Therefore, I was baffled by the statistics used earlier in the debate by the Minister of Natural Resources, and I wish I could have gotten a question to him. However, the best statistics I can find say that only 7.3% of designated NCR accused actually return to commit a violent offence within the next three years.

The experts in this area are saying that this is not where we need to fix the problem. They are not saying that there is no problem, but they are saying that where we really need to focus resources is on adequate treatment and identification of people with mental health issues to ensure that both they and society are protected.

 Bernard Trottier: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources cited a few recidivism statistics, and whether it is 27.3% of NCR accused who have had past findings of NCR, or 4%, or 7% as the member stated, what is important in this legislation is that prosecutors would have some additional tools at their disposal, and we leave it to the people with the expertise to decide where and when the appropriate time is to use those tools. Ultimately, the protection of society is paramount.

I think we can all agree that these are all terrible tragedies, whether it is 4 out of 100 people who experience recidivism or 25. We need to do everything we can as a society and as a justice system to make sure that the experts and the prosecutors who deal with these kinds of things, using the advice of mental health experts, can decide whether these kinds of tools need to be applied in each individual case.