- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament October 2000, as Reform MP for Nanaimo—Alberni (B.C.)
Won his last election, in 1997, with 49.86% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Criminal Code September 26th, 2000
Madam Speaker, I asked this question earlier of another member.
The difficulty we as legislators have is in trying to find the balance. Under this legislation we could have one side, for example puppy mills which I think most Canadians would say is certainly not on, however we go to the other extreme which is a mousetrap. How do we as legislators find that balance in this legislation so that we protect one side but do push the legislation too far in the other direction? How does the member see us striking that balance?
Criminal Code September 26th, 2000
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for his views, because it is extremely difficult to find a line, on what we are going to have to do as legislators, between someone who is obviously cruel with a puppy mill or something, which most Canadians would clearly say is over the line, and the other side. On the other side, it may be a mousetrap, rat poison or an agricultural issue like the branding of cattle, which is a standard practice in the industry.
How does the member see us finding that legislative balance so that we end up with legislation that is firm and shows the legal system where we stand? If we leave it loose and open we know we are going to end up having the judiciary set the rules instead of Parliament. Perhaps the member could give us his views.
Criminal Code September 26th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, my colleague has had representation from people in his riding. I suspect most members in the House have heard the same representations as well as different concerns about different aspects.
My colleague made an excellent point. This matter has to be dealt with in committee. We need to hear from the agricultural groups. Different representations need to be made.
What happened in the past? Let us look at the Inuit. Let us look at what we have done to their livelihood by the change in the fur industry. It changed a whole way of life. If we act in a knee-jerk fashion in terms of this legislation, if we act without knowing the full impact of the legislation, we can change the lives of our agriculture people.
I agree with my colleague that we have to get the experts and all worker groups together. If a common practice for farmers sounds nice to people living in Toronto or Vancouver, we may want to have a second look at it since people in the cities tend not to understand what goes on in rural areas. A knee-jerk reaction may end up doing great harm to the hunting, farming, trapping and fishing.
I cannot stress more that the bill has to go to committee to be well analyzed. Experts will appear before the committee to describe the ramifications of the different parts of the bill.
Criminal Code September 26th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-17, an act to amend the criminal code regarding cruelty to animals, disarming a peace officer and other amendments, and technical amendments to the Firearms Act.
We have heard a number of people in various parties talk about this omnibus bill. We have had this before. The government will introduce a bill with some good points, some points that require discussion, and some points that we do not agree with. Then people have difficulty understanding what is the issue since there is such a grab bag of different subjects.
In this bill disarming a police officer is lumped in with cruelty to animals. It would be far easier if we could get a very straightforward bill dealing with one issue. We could then discuss it, deal with it and get it through the House. When it is such an omnibus bill containing a grab bag of different issues it is extremely difficult because there are some good and bad points and it is either yea or nay.
We agree with the Firearms Act refinements. We agree with the disarming of police officers issue. They are good points. The government should be commended for putting them in the bill. These are issues that people have been crying for for years to be dealt with. Police officers particularly have been wanting the legislation in place. I agree with it. However, by lumping cruelty to animals into the bill the waters get muddy because there are no clear definitions.
We hope we can get the bill into committee where we can discuss it. Most of us agree that cruelty to animals is simply not on. We have read the stories of the puppy mills. We have heard of 50 or 100 cats being in one house. Obviously we disagree with that. I have seen horses and cows in some barns where they are slowly growing up to the roof because the manure gets two and three feet high and people do not clean the barns. We clearly do not want to put up with that.
The difficulty occurs when it gets into ordinary agriculture practices like branding, dehorning and hunting. The definitions in the bill have to be laid out specifically for hunters and fishermen. What about aquaculture? The legislation is so loose that we need to step forward in committee to bring forth some clear and solid definitions. We need some tight legislation that lays it all out. Let me take trapping, for example. Leghold traps were banned. We have humane trapping. Perhaps that is in the bill; perhaps it is not. We need to have that cleared up.
When people abuse animals is it the start of a chain of events? Do they start by kicking a dog? Five years later are they kicking a person? Fifteen years later are they kicking their wives? Psychologists say this progression exists. We need to look at it. If cruelty to animals is the beginning of a long chain of events, it has to be stopped.
We have talked many times about wording in legislation. Often the government will leave it very loose. This is extremely dangerous because we are leaving our laws open to interpretation by the courts. We have an option as parliamentarians. We can leave it loose to be interpreted by the courts, or we can tighten it up and say what we mean. In that way we as the elected people in the House would say the way it should be. We are the elected officials. We should deal with the legislation, make it concise and make it tight so there is not a lot of room for the judicial system and it knows exactly what parliament means.
That is what we need. The bill is fuzzy in terms of agriculture. What is abuse? What is cruelty? What is a regular practice? Unless it is clearly defined we will leave it up to the courts again.
This is not where we want to be. This is not where the Canadian public wants to be. They want parliament to run the country, not push it off to the judiciary.
In closing, we agree with a number of parts of the bill such as the firearms aspects, but there are a number of concerns in the cruelty to animals area we wish to discuss. We would like to get the bill into committee, call witnesses, hear from the experts, see how tight is the legislation, and deal with it at that time.
Apprenticeship National Standards Act September 21st, 2000
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and respond to the member opposite.
First I would like to back up and describe what apprenticeship really means. Actually there is some interesting history.
The apprenticeship system for training trades workers is historic. For centuries skilled trades people had an obligation to teach their craft to the young. After an apprentice had satisfactorily completed the full term of training and had demonstrated his ability, he became a journeyman. A journeyman means he could travel around from one job to another; hence the journeyman trade. This is what we are talking about here.
My background is somewhat interesting. I went to Vancouver technical school. I am disappointed that they have moved away from this but in those days, most of the school was trades. Heavy duty mechanics, auto mechanics, printing, sheet metal, carpentry were all started in grade eight. In grade eight students made a decision. They could go through a university course which was fine, but many of the students did not want to do that and they went into the trades. When they came out of grade 12, they were well on their way to being journeymen. They substantially shortened the timeframe and the young men and women were well trained and well on their way.
I am really disappointed that our education system has gone away from that. I think we are missing a fair bit of the boat by trying to push everyone into the same mould and send everyone off to university when in fact we need plumbers, we need people to build our houses, we need skilled operators of various equipment.
In my background in forestry, I spent 25 years in the woods with large logging equipment. A grapple yarder can cost over $1 million alone. An off-highway truck carries 100 tonnes of logs. One can understand the size of this equipment. We had an excellent apprentice training system in our heavy duty shop.
I am not unfamiliar with the apprenticeship programs, but that is straying from the bill a bit. We are not talking about apprenticeships because we all recognize that a good apprenticeship program is valuable. What we are talking about is certification and who is going to run the boat.
I understand why the member was having some difficulty introducing the bill. Clearly it is provincial jurisdiction. That is where we are having some difficulty with it. It is an overlap that is already covered by the provinces. It is not only trades, it is doctors and dentists. I am a professional forester. It is foresters. Provinces cover education. Provinces cover certification. Why would we need a national standards program when we already have in place provincial laws that deal with apprenticeships?
I agree that there needs to be more interaction between industry and the provinces. The red seal where people can travel from one province to another needs to be improved. I recognize that. However I and my party do not think the answer is a national standards program for apprentices.
On that basis we reject the provisions in the bill because it is clearly duplication. In effect it is almost another way of the big federal government wanting to edge in on the provinces' authorities. That is the reason we have some difficulty with the bill. It is not apprenticeship at all. That is not the issue. The issue is certification and who is going to run it. Therefore we will not be supporting the bill.
Species At Risk Act September 19th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill C-33. This is the third time the government has brought forward endangered species legislation. I was the environment critic when some of the other bills came through. The last bill was so weak that even government backbenchers could not support it. This legislation is not much better. It would appear that the government is still going to ram it through and that is wrong.
This seems to be the whole impetus of the government. Rather than talk about voluntary measures, rather than trying to get people to work together to get endangered species legislation that is going to work, it chooses another way. The government has chosen the big hand.
There are penalties in the act that are criminal code penalties. This means, for example, that a logger is in trouble if while doing his normal work of felling a tree and an endangered bird or a bug is in the area. If a farmer drives his tractor over some habitat or a rancher allows his cows into an area where there are endangered plants they too would be in trouble. The penalties are severe.
I talked to a number of people who said that if they found an endangered species on their land it would be gone. They would not allow the government to see it because it would take away their property without compensation. They cannot afford that. That is wrong.
For the greater good, we all recognize that. There may be an area of land for example that has endangered species on it. We all agree we should keep it. However the person who owns the land has to be fairly compensated. They cannot be expected to walk away. This legislation says that the government may compensate, not will compensate. That is absolutely wrong. That is why it has people running scared and understandably so.
This legislation also steps on provincial jurisdiction. It was interesting to note what the justice minister said during question period about how much the government consults with the provinces. The government has not consulted with the provinces. The provinces need to be right in with this. They need to have either parallel legislation or they have to be onside. Right now they are not.
One point that is weak is how a species gets on the list. What about polar bears for example? What is the criteria to get them either on an endangered or on an at risk list? We need to have a scientific body to establish this. COSEWIC is that body and it can do a fairly incredible job if it has the criteria. The situation is worse when politicians get involved.
One species that will never make it on the endangered species list as long as politicians are involved is Atlantic cod. Members know that cod stocks are down the toilet. The stocks are well down and fishing should not be allowed. What happens? An election is called. There was a cod fishery on the east coast which was just about on its knees. That is what happens when politicians get involved.
There has to be endangered species legislation that is arm's length from the politicians. It has to be on a scientific basis and not able to be manipulated by the politicians.
I was in the forest industry and spent 25 years as professional forester before going into politics. There was an issue south of the border in Washington and Oregon that dealt with the spotted owl. Hon. members may remember that. However, the issue was not the spotted owl. It was simply a vehicle for people to use to stop logging. That was the issue.
I am not sure how we get it into legislation, but we need to have legislation to protect the species, not for manipulation which is what happened for years years in Washington and Oregon. It did not have a lot to do with the spotted owl. It had a lot to do with stopping logging.
We also need habitat protection. That is not in the bill. How can we possibly say that we are going to protect a species yet we are not going to protect where it lives? That is nuts.
In summary, there are a number of holes in this bill, so many that it has to go back to the drawing board. During question period the minister said that he preferred that it go to committee. I suspect that this bill is so flawed that it needs to go back to the drawing board. The environment committee will clearly have its work cut out for it.
The bill is so flawed from the beginning that the actual direction needs to be rethought. I said earlier that impetus of the bill is whether it is through voluntary measures by getting the provincial and federal governments together with the farmers and ranchers and saying this is how we are going to do it or having the big heavy hand of criminal justice. The latter is not going to work. People are just going to plough them under.
This bill is bad. It is so bad that it needs to be redrafted and our party and my constituents do not support this legislation.
Human Resources Development June 15th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, the audit identifying the HRD fiasco found that 15% of the projects did not have an application form, a full quarter did not have a description of what the project entailed, and eight out of ten had no financial monitoring.
Was it the actual findings within the audit or was it the minister's bungling of the audit and the fallout later on that has caused her to be shuffled within the cabinet or perhaps outside the cabinet?
Justice May 19th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, when I recently asked the justice minister her reasons for denying Patrick Kelly a new trial she stated “I concluded that there was no basis to seek a retrial”.
I find this an odd decision considering that, first, the key witness who convicted Kelly has admitted she lied during the trial, and second, in a split two to one decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal, one judge concluded Kelly should have a new trial.
How can the minister conclude that there are no grounds for a new trial when either of these two points should trigger a new trial, let alone the two points taken together?
Justice May 19th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, criminals should not be allowed to profit from their crimes, especially convicted killers. Yet in Canada not only does the government allow convicted killers to profit from their crimes, it pays them at the expense of the victims and victims' families.
If a husband, wife or common law partner is convicted of murdering his or her spouse they can still claim their victims' benefits. Convicted murderers can draw Canada pension plan benefits from their victims while enjoying the comfort of their prison cell. This is unacceptable.
To right this wrong, I will be addressing this issue when I table a private member's bill in the House. My bill will amend the Canada pension plan to exclude convicted murderers from collecting benefits from their victims.
In summary, killers in Canada must not be allowed to profit from their crimes.
Justice May 5th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, recently Stephen Truscott cleared his name on a wrongful murder conviction. During that inquiry the justice minister said that she takes allegations of wrongful conviction very seriously.
Two months ago the minister denied a new trial for Patrick Kelly, despite the fact that the key witness admitted she lied on the stand and one judge from the Ontario Court of Appeal called for a new trial for Kelly.
Given that the key witness lied on the stand, why did the minister choose to deny Patrick Kelly a new trial?