Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, it is quite rare that we hear in this place any member of Parliament or an entire political party admitting that they have made a mistake in having supported one policy and have now seen, based on empirical evidence, that the policy has failed.

I would like to ask the hon. member for Charlottetown what kind of evidence it was that finally persuaded—I should not say “finally”—the Liberal Party that mandatory minimum sentences do not work. It is clear that they do not. We are passing many bills that include them in this place. The courts have found them not to be charter compliant. Why are we still passing them?

Specifically to the Liberal Party, what made them change their minds?

Sean Casey: Mr. Speaker, we believe in evidence-based decision-making and not in decision-based evidence-making, as we see all too often. Therein lies the answer.

What has changed? The overwhelming weight of evidence indicates that mandatory minimums are not an effective tool in reducing the incidence of crime. Indeed, the very fact that we are standing here in this debate and talking about the increase in the incidence of child sexual offences against these stronger penalties is absolutely proof of that. The weight of evidence over the years, as more mandatory minimums have been introduced, has simply become undeniable and overwhelming.