Victims Bills of Rights Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for his first speech as we look at the victims bill of rights, Bill C-32.

I wonder if he could outline for us the extent to which the bill mirrors the recommendations that came from the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime. The Conservatives chose not to take some of the advice put forward by the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime. They obviously have taken on some of the recommendations, but not all. I wonder if he could set out for us why certain pieces of that useful advice was not included in the bill.

Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her very pertinent question, and we did, as she has alluded to, draw quite heavily on the recommendations of Sue O’Sullivan, the federal victims ombudsman.

As I mentioned in my remarks, many of the areas were seen as contentious. We would perhaps create further delays in the system and slow down the process by requiring the victims to have standing or to be able to insert themselves in a way that would cause the process to stop or to hesitate.

There are also resource implications. We have given the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime a budget. We have just recently expanded her ability to have signing authority in some areas.

This office itself, as I know the member opposite would recognize, was a creation of the current government. This office did not exist prior to our coming to government in 2006. We believe it is an enhancement, as is the role of ombudsmen at the provincial level. They will work collectively to ensure enforcement and ensure that the bill is giving meaning as well as the spirit of this legislation to enhance the role and the rights of victims. I look forward to the hon. member’s further contributions.