Mr. Speaker, it is an honour in the House to speak to Bill C-479, an Act to bring fairness for the victims of violent offenders. I am dedicated and passionate about seeing this bill through because the changes it would bring about for victims and their families are overdue. Today marks one step closer in the legislative process in seeing these changes become a reality.
First, I would like to thank the hon. member for Scarborough Centre, who is also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, for her strong support the last time we debated Bill C-479 in the House. In her role, she has been a strong advocate for victims in her community and across the country, and I congratulate her on her work.
The parliamentary secretary, the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice were busy this past summer, hearing from victims across the country. We look forward to hearing more from them in the months ahead on the federal government's support for victims.
I am proud that Bill C-479 complements our government's work to support victims and their families from coast to coast to coast.
I would also like to thank and acknowledge the hon. members for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Winnipeg North, Alfred-Pellan and Abitibi—Témiscamingue for the support they offered in the House to bring this bill to committee. I appreciate their kind words on my intent in bringing forward this bill. While they have raised some points that will be further debated in committee, I have no doubt that their hearts are in the right place.
All of us on both sides of the House should desire to do everything we can to bring about fairness for victims and their families and act on some of the recommendations of the victims ombudsman. Contrary to the member for Malpeque's comments, this bill is not about the Criminal Code, but the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and victims' rights. This is all about that.
I offer special thanks to the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Sue O'Sullivan, for meeting with me and my staff and for all of her advice and support in the development of this bill. Many of the provisions of Bill C-479 stem from the recommendations made by Ms. O'Sullivan and her office. I appreciate and respect the work that she and her team do on a daily basis to advocate for victims. It is tough, emotional and unrelenting work and they do it effectively, professionally and compassionately.
I have also heard from victims. To me, that is the ultimate litmus test of this bill. When they tell me that it will make a difference and that we are on the right track, I know that this makes sense.
Please allow me to conclude this debate at second reading where I began. That is by reiterating my intent in bringing forward this bill. As I have said at each stage of the process, it was an eye opening and heart-wrenching experience at a hearing of the National Parole Board of Canada in the summer of 2010 that led me to introduce this bill. Invited to observe as a guest of my constituents, I witnessed first hand how the system revictimized the people who had already suffered enough for a lifetime. Since that time, I have witnessed many more meetings, all just as gut-wrenching and painful.
Constable Michael Sweet's story and his family's reasonable request to have more information has profoundly affected me as well. Their point is well taken that their father and husband's life was taken from them publicly. The offenders were tried publicly, with all of the evidence being introduced publicly. Victims, their families and all Canadians should have some public assurance that those convicted of violent offences are doing what they can to be rehabilitated and become contributing citizens.
If an act to bring fairness for the victims of violent offenders eases the revictimization of just one family, it will be worth it, but I am convinced that it would do much more.
Merry Christmas. Joyeux Noël.
The hon. member for Alfred-Pellan will have seven minutes left to conclude her remarks the next time the bill is before the House.
However, since it is 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)
The electoral district of Alfred-Pellan (Quebec) has a population of 104,765 with 81,766 registered voters and 220 polling divisions.
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