Safe Streets and Communities Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for a very good, clear and articulate description of the problems that I think all members on the opposition benches have with Bill C-10.

I would have liked to have been able to pose this to a government member but I have not had an opportunity in this round. I am baffled by the fact that virtually every criminologist and expert who has looked at the issue of minimum mandatory sentences has concluded that they do not work. In fact, a recent article in the Criminology & Public Policy begins with this sentence:

Mandatory minimums are a classic instance of criminology and public policy marching in different directions.

Every member of this House wants to end crime and every member wants to protect victims.

I would like to ask the member if he has been able to find any expert evidence that would support the government’s approach.

Guy Caron: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her question.

There is absolutely no proof of this, be it from criminologists, sociologists, academics or anyone else who is concerned with this topic. There is not a single study, Canadian or American, that demonstrates the validity of the approach this government is currently favouring. No studies demonstrate that tougher minimum sentences create a deterrent. It has been seen in the United States in particular, but also is true for Canada. We have no concrete idea of how much this approach will cost, but we know it will be a lot. And there will be absolutely no impact on reducing crime and the associated costs for victims. That is why this bill is unacceptable.

If the government had been responsible, it would have split this bill. That would have allowed the opposition to support certain positive elements in a consensus, as happened with the mega-trials bill in June. But that is impossible in this case.