Following Shelly Glover’s latest appearance on the national broadcaster, I asked her office to explain the Conservative’s suggestion that Liberal Mark Holland had voted against strengthening the sex offender registry. I then forwarded that explanation to Mr. Holland for his response, which he has now provided.
Here, then, those missives.
First, the explanation from Ms. Glover’s office.
Thank you very much for your email regarding Mrs. Glover’s appearance on CBC’s Power and Politics. I hope to be able to clarify Mrs. Glover’s comments regarding the Sex Offender Registry.
During her appearance on Power and Politics on April 5th, Mrs. Glover said the following regarding justice bills and the Sex Offender Information Registry: “When it comes to moving forward on justice bills we’ve been very consistent. I wish Mr. Holland would actually vote with us – the Sex Offender Registry was in committee, he voted against the strengthening of it… We’ve got to be clear that we make sure that we are consistent not only when the cameras are on, but when we are sitting in committee, you have to vote for victims rights not for the rights of the accused.”
The matter she was referring to is an amendment to Bill C-34 (An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and Other Acts) that was brought forward in committee by MP Don Davies. Bill C-34 was a package of amendments aimed at strengthening the Sex Offender Information Registry Act (SOIRA). Under SOIRA, when an individual was convicted of a sex offence, their details (including name, address, employer, etc) could be entered into a national information registry, but only if the registration was requested by the Crown and approved by the judge in the case. Because of these unnecessary loopholes, many individuals convicted of sex offenders were being left off the registry because of simple oversight by Crown prosecutors. Our government took steps to strengthen the registry by making the inclusion of an offender’s information in the registry automatic for certain offences outlined in the bill.
Mr. Davies introduced an amendment to Clause 5 of Bill C-34 that would have allowed judges the discretion to leave certain offenders off the registry. This amendment would have severely weakened the proposed changes by the government, which follows in line with what Mrs. Glover said on Power and Politics. 5 of the 6 opposition members on the committee voted in favour of this amendment to weaken the bill, including Mr. Holland and Mr. Davies. The text of the amendment can be found here and the debate on the amendment (including Mr. Holland’s support of it) can be found here.
We were very pleased that the amendment was defeated, as it would have allowed judges to leave offenders off the registry, in spite of the fact that they had committed some of the most shocking and heinous crimes that can be imagined. As Mrs. Glover stated, we wish that opposition members would be more consistent and stop focusing on the rights of the offenders and start focusing on the rights of the victims of these deplorable crimes. Law enforcement officers need this registry to be complete and accurate in order to prevent future sexual offences, and we are very disappointed that Mr. Holland chooses to pretend that he did not vote to gut part of this bill.
I hope this clears up any confusion that you may have had about Mrs. Glover’s comments. I also hope that this clarification is made to the article previously written.
If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact our office again.
And now, the response from Mr. Holland.
This is very dishonest. I have been pushing for changes to strengthen the registry. I voted for the legislation at every stage, including committee.
I supported a motion that would allow judicial discretion in the event that placing someone on the registry would result in a gross miscarriage of justice. This amendment would avoid shifting discretion onto police for more minor offences where placement on the registry would be inappropriate. Police and experts testified that as the federal list of offences is much greater, the registry would be made weaker if people were added who didn’t belong. I voted for the amendment to make the registry stronger – not weaker – in accordance with witness testimony. When the amendment lost, I voted FOR the main bill unammended. I certainly never voted against anything.
Ms Glover’s statement leads viewers to think that I did not support the sex offender registry in general (in fact, that is what I thought her point was until I reviewed this e-mail). It seems her intent was to mislead and it was, in this regard, dishonest and disingenuous. Had she been honest, she would have said that I had voted to allow judicial discretion in extraordinary cases. To state that I am against making the sex offender registry stronger demonstrated how deep in the gutter they’ll go when playing politics with crime.
Mark Holland, M.P.
Official Opposition Critic, Public Safety and National Security