In my relatively brief time as a Member of Parliament I have observed that when there is a lack of information that void is filled very quickly with misinformation.
Case in point is Bill C-10, otherwise known as the omnibus crime bill.
Some would have you believe that the intent of this bill is solely about incarcerating anyone and everyone convicted of committing a crime, regardless of the severity, and essentially throwing away the key.
I believe it is important to talk about the types of serious crime that are actually being targeted in Bill C-10.
Child pornography. If you choose to manufacture or distribute pornographic material involving children you can expect a minimum six month jail sentence instead of the current 90 day maximum.
Engage in sexual assault against a child and you will go to jail and no longer be eligible for house arrest.
“Date rape” drugs will now be recognized for the real danger they can present to innocent victims.
These types of crimes are not restricted to larger urban areas, families and innocent victims have been subject to these types of serious crimes here in our riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla.
I have met with victims and attended events that focus on victimization and the cruel impacts of sexual assault.
Those who have suffered these types of traumas are understandably looking for changes and greater protection to the public from sexual predators.
Bill C-10 also addresses other subjects that many citizens have requested action on.
For example Bill C-10 will ensure that those who commit manslaughter or aggravated assault will no longer be able to return to the community under house arrest.
I can pass on from a recent experience in one Okanagan residential neighborhood that when a killing has occurred and the alleged assailant is allowed to return to the community in question this situation creates fear and anxiety for all involved.
Everyday law abiding citizens should not be afraid for their own safety or the safety of a loved one nor fear being able to go for a walk or visit friends and neighbors.
Two of the most common areas of misunderstanding about Bill C-10 pertain to increased enforcement penalties for drug offences, including marijuana, and a belief by some that there are no rehabilitation aspects to Bill C-10.
With respect to increased penalties for drug trafficking, it should be noted that these increased penalties only apply under specific circumstances.
Drug trafficking that involves organized crime, threats of violence and the use of a weapon all fall into this category.
Likewise trafficking drugs in or near a school or other area where children are present will also bring about increased penalties.
As for rehabilitation, Bill C-10 allows a court to suspend a sentence while an offender undergoes a court approved drug treatment program as permitted under provincial jurisdiction.
These programs encourage offenders to deal with the addiction that often motivates criminal behaviour.
If the offender successfully completes the treatment program, the court may impose a suspended or reduced sentence.
I recognize that there are some who believe that criminals and sexual predators are better off in our communities and not in jail where they cannot reoffend.
Some citizens believe that criminals’ rights should come before those of victims.
In a free and democratic country as great as Canada it is expected that citizens will have different views on many important subjects.
To be clear Bill C-10 ensures that the rights of victims will be put ahead of the rights of criminals when dealing with serious crimes.
This is a commitment and priority that my government takes seriously and one that many citizens have requested action on.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan- Coquihalla and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.