Lillian Eva Dyck:
Would the honourable senator take another question?
As you might imagine, my questions relate to the Aboriginal
population. As the honourable senator probably knows, up to
80 per cent of Saskatchewan's prison population is
Aboriginal. As Senator Cowan pointed out in his summary, as
in the report, the percentage of Aboriginals incarcerated is
about 20 per cent all across Canada.
I have listened to
various comments about child molesters. Of course, we all
want to punish child molesters; we do not anyone to suffer
at the hands of a child molester.
Of the list of
witnesses who appeared before the committee, were, let us
say, 20 per cent from the Aboriginal population? Did the
committee hear from people like the Aboriginal Healing
Foundation, or from Aboriginal judges or elders who would
have related their perspective on whether punishment would
It is ironic that this
bill coincides with the ongoing Indian residential school
settlement claims. We all know that many Aboriginal children
were molested while they were in residential schools; we
also know that a high proportion of Aboriginal people who
are within the criminal justice system are re-enacting what
happened to them.
My guess would be that
punishment, in this case, does not work. Although it is good
to get tough on crime, we must also be serious about
In the witnesses that
appeared before the committee, was there a perspective that
would represent the Aboriginal culture, that would indicate
whether they were in favour of this bill or whether they
thought there were flaws with it?
I wish to thank the honourable senator for that question,
which is very important one. I do not have the list of
witnesses in front of me; hence, I shall have to rely on my
recollection. Perhaps my colleagues will help me if I miss
We had a senior officer
from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who was an
Aboriginal and who had spent a large part of his career
dealing with these issues. We heard from the Aboriginal
Legal Services of Toronto. I know that Senator Merchant was
particularly diligent in questioning a number of witnesses —
not just those two witnesses — because of her experiences in
Saskatchewan as well.
I think all of us
agree, even in the discussion we have had this afternoon,
that whether this bill is good or bad, it is only one part.
If it is good, as the government would contend, it will not
solve the problem that the honourable senator and I are
discussing right now. There are many more things; perhaps
there are some circumstances that are peculiar to the
Aboriginal population, which do not affect the rest of the
population, that need to be addressed. This government and
other governments are struggling with that issue.
No one would pretend,
whether or not they agree with this bill — and I think
Senator Stratton made this point when he asked me a question
a few minutes ago — that, in and of itself, this bill will
solve the problem. There are a variety of other issues to