Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10)

Elizabeth May: Madam Speaker, the Minister of Justice and I have at least one thing in common: at one time or another we have been members of the Canadian Bar Association. That very knowledgeable body presented a brief of over 100 pages, based on substantial evidence, that the bill could put more criminals on the street than it could incarcerate. In other words, it is a complete failure from the get-go in meeting its objectives.


I plead with the hon. Minister of Justice to allow more amendments to the bill now that it has come and thus an opportunity to redress those sections that are least likely to work and most likely to hurt our society.

Hon. Rob Nicholson: I have heard it both ways, Madam Speaker. When we introduced the bill people were saying that we would be putting more people in jails and that jails would become overcrowded. Then I get criticized by their saying that less people would be convicted and more people would be out on the street. I guess the critics of the bill have it both ways.

I appreciated getting input from the Canadian Bar Association. Certainly, I like to get input from all segments of society.

We were very clear in the last election. I am grateful to the people of this country because they keep giving us a stronger mandate, and we make it very clear in every election that this is the direction in which we are going.

We are sending a message to drug traffickers. People who bring drugs into this country will not like this particular piece of legislation, as it includes mandatory jail time. While it is a balancing act that we negotiate whenever we put these bills together, we are sending very strong message to people in the business of either sexually exploiting children or trafficking in drugs. We are sending out the correct message to them and I am proud of that.