Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Nanaimo—Cowichan (B.C.)
Won his last election, in 1993, with 39.83% of the vote.
Statements in the House
National Parole Board April 17th, 1997
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of the motion put forward by my colleague, the hon. member for Surrey North. It might be worthwhile repeating its wording:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should direct the National Parole Board that any benefit of doubt in hearings and deliberations on parole shall go to the victim, the victim's family and public safety and not to the prisoner.
While the intent of Motion No. 139 is clear to me, I would like to expand on its objective for those who might criticize it for the use of the phrase "benefit of doubt". In that phrase we cam see both the strength and the reasonableness of the motion before us.
Criminal court proceedings are structured so that persons charged with an offence go free if it can be established that there is a reasonable doubt as to their guilt. It is pretty fundamental in our justice system. It is therefore only fitting in the case of an individual who has been found guilty and imprisoned that his or her parole application be refused if there is a doubt as to their ability to be reintroduced in society. In other words the benefit of doubt factor has already been addressed in good part.
Sadly there are those who would argue and try to convince us that is the way system works now. There are examples on examples that illustrate that people who so think have their heads in the sand.
In my colleague's own riding of Surrey North there are a few horror stories of criminals who have been released only to violently reoffend again. For example, a 10-year old girl was taken from her bed, brutally assaulted and murdered by a criminal who was out on conditional release. Another individual was killed in her own home by a person who was out on parole for a string offences including car theft. The list of tragic incidents goes on and on in communities across Canada.
The figures for 1994-95 show the following. Of those on conditional release 256 reoffended and were charged with criminal offences ranging from murder to armed robbery. Since 1987-88 and in almost any given year approximately 250 conditional release criminals have been charged with serious community offences. In 1989-90 alone 39 were charged with murder and 63 with sexual assault. Surely this gives us some pause to doubt that the system is working.
An article in today's Vancouver Sun read:
A man serving time for attempted murder was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting a young female corrections volunteer while out on day parole. The woman, in her twenties, was alone in her home with Clinton Dale McNutt, 29, Monday when the alleged offence occurred, said the Abbotsford Police Constable-"We can't overstate how concerned we are about the whole parole system," he said. "Our concern is these people are out and our citizens can be put at risk".
That is what we are talking about here. Sometimes when we are pounding away on the justice system I hear members across the way saying that everything is fine and the justice minister is doing a great job. I think reality is the opposite to that. We on this side are heckled because we keep speaking out and pounding on the issue, particularly when we speak on behalf of victims.
In my riding and across the country it seems Canadians are tired of a justice system which puts the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of victims. It is as basic as that.
We get criticism from across the way. They will find out there in a couple of weeks knocking on doors. If they listen to what the people of Canada have to say they will get an earful. Ordinary people are saying it is not working. When Liberal members are on their doorsteps there will be no one to stop the constituents from saying what it is they think and feel about the government and the justice system.
I wonder if Liberal members will try to berate their constituents when they raise the topic of criminal justice during the campaign in the same way as the Prime Minister tried to tell a waitress from
Montreal that she did not read what she read and did not hear what she heard in relation to the government's promise to scrap the GST. So much for the criticism of members across the way.
What will we do? We would advocate a fundamental shift in who are seen as the real victims of crime. It begins with a change in the shortsighted National Parole Board definition of who is a victim, to one more much encompassing. Reform would expand the existing definition and define a victim as anyone who suffers as a result of an offence, physical or mental injury, economic loss, or any spouse, sibling, child or parent of the individual against whom the offence was perpetrated, or anyone who has an equivalent relationship not necessarily a blood relative. That is an important change in the definition of victim.
More important, Reform also recognizes the need to revamp the National Parole Board where the rights of victims in Canadian society are being well and truly ignored. Each of the following changes would need to be implemented by the government if Motion No. 139 is to have any meaning or significance.
First, the National Parole Board must be reformed to ensure that release conditions are enforced in favour of the victim whom I have just redefined, the victim's family and public safety, and not in favour of the offender. In fact it is not just on the parole board, our whole justice system needs this basic reform.
The parole board must be reformed and its responsibilities shifted to community merit release committees. The parole board must be reformed to ensure that sentences given to all violent offenders are served in full. The parole board must be reformed to ensure that dangerous offender status can be sought at any time during a criminal sentence and not just at the time of sentence. Finally, the parole board must be reformed to ensure that the parole is limited, earned and tightly monitored.
In conclusion, the motion before the House merits every consideration. I am saddened to know that the motion is not votable. If it were I would want members to know that I would certainly be voting in favour of it and thus allowing for a fresh start on criminal justice reform for all Canadians.
Criminal Code April 15th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the Minister of Justice, who has launched a bit of a counterattack which really tries to finger Reform.
He says in the excerpt which I will read from this column: "Rather than working constructively with the government, Reform has repeatedly voted against key government initiatives designed to protect victims rights". The reason we do that is to try to get the Minister of Justice to bring forward legislation that is meaningful to Canadians as well as to criminals who we should be attacking.
I guess the perfect rebuttal to the Minister of Justice has to come from some of the victims of crime. I have in front of me a statement from Gary Rosenfeldt, the parent of one of Clifford Olson's victims.
Mr. Rosenfeldt writes:
As a parent of one of Clifford Olson's victims, I am shocked and dismayed that Justice Minister Allan Rock and the government of Canada would state that members of the Reform Party are exploiting us in giving Clifford Olson a platform".
This victim's father, who is a victim himself, goes on to say:
The exact opposite is true. John Nunziata's bill to repeal section 745 passed second reading in the House in December, 1994, despite active opposition by the Liberal cabinet. I know, I was in the House that night and I watched the proceedings. The government then stalled the bill in committee and failed to introduce its own legislation until the last moment in June of 1996, immediately before the summer recess. The bill was not able to be passed because the government did not give it a high enough priority and thus required all party consent.
That is what we are going through here over and over again with more and more legislation.
Mr. Rosenfeldt goes on to say:
It is unconscionable to suggest that a government with a 50-seat majority should have to rely on the consent of the opposition to get its legislation passed. The bill failed to pass because the Government of Canada and its justice minister failed victims' families and all Canadians in its priorities. At that time, Mr. Rock tried to blame the Bloc. Today he tries to blame the Reform Party. If Mr. Rock is looking for responsibility for the Olson hearing proceeding, he need only look in the mirror. We are confident that all Canadians will remember that Clifford Olson's platform was built and maintained by the Liberal Party of Canada.
We are going through the same thing on Bill C-55 as we went through on the legislation I just mentioned and even on legislation that is coming up. The Minister of Justice has failed to act in a timely manner.
The Canadian Police Association has taken the unusual step of taking out a full page ad in yesterday's Hill Times , the paper of April 14. In it, the Canadian Police Association is taking issue with DNA legislation that the minister is perhaps going to bring forward.
What they say in this full page ad open letter to all members of Parliament is that although they want this DNA legislation, and they want it as bad as the Reform Party wants it, they have reservations about it.
They say: "It is difficult for us as the association which has initially and vigorously promoted the need for an effective DNA data bank system to write to you now urging rejection of this bill as currently drafted".
No doubt, the Minister of Justice will counterattack the Canadian Police Association for doing this. However, the Canadian Police Association is talking, as the Reform Party is talking, saying: "For goodness sakes, you have had three years and more to wrestle with these things. Why have you not put in the amendments that we and others have suggested?"
The Canadian Police Association goes on to say: "In the press conference held last week to introduce the bill, Justice Minister Rock reflected that it is important that we get the DNA data bank correct the first time. We could not agree more. We think, all of us, especially Canadians and you as their elected representatives,
deserve better than what has been thrown together in these dying days before an election lest we suffer under it for years to come".
That association has put quite clearly what are the issues. The issues are inadequate legislation and the attitude of the Minister of Justice toward legislation that he proposes which is counter proposed by members in this House. I am afraid the minister has far too liberal a view of what we think is needed.
Let us look quickly at the four motions that this party is proposing as amendments to Bill C-55. The first motion is an attempt to strengthen the bill, to make it effective legislation. Will the government listen? That is the question. Motion No. 1 proposed by the member for Calgary North would allow the crown the right to seek dangerous offender status for persons convicted of crimes causing serious personal injury at any time during that offender's penitentiary sentence. That is the nub of it. Bill C-55 as currently proposed is inadequate. Reformers are saying we should be able to seek dangerous offender status at any time during a sentence.
The next motion that we have moved to amend Bill C-55 would, on conviction for two or more violent offences causing serious personal injury, would automatically make any offender a long term offender. It is easy to see why the Minister of Justice opposes that. It is a little too strong. It is a little too hard hitting.
Motion No. 3 proposed by the Reform member for Calgary North amends certain things. We believe that this list of Criminal Code provisions does not go far enough in the legislation for the purpose of assigning long term offender status to certain criminals. This amendment would expand the list of offences used for designating criminals as long term offenders to include a wider variety of sexual offences, especially sex crimes against children. Surely we need tough legislation in those areas, but we are not getting it.
The final amendment proposed by Reform is Motion No. 4. Under the current provisions of Bill C-55 there would be a review of indeterminate sentences after seven years of custody rather than three. That is going in the right direction. We propose that it would be after 15 years. I see my time is up.
Criminal Code April 15th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-55 is an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding high risk offenders, to amend the Correctional and Conditional Release Act, the Criminal Records Act, the Prisons and Reformatories Act and the Department of the Solicitor General Act. It takes in a lot.
I ask the question: Does the Reform Party believe in tightening up our laws concerning criminal justice? The answer is absolutely.
Then the question comes from across the way: "Then why does Reform not support specific bills such as C-55 which is before us today?" The answer to that is because such bills are inadequate and the Minister of Justice will not listen adequately and make the changes that are needed.
In fact, Minister Rock has gone on a bit of a counteroffensive-
House Of Commons March 12th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, in the event of an election this may be my last statement in this House. Therefore I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, the Clerk of the House and all of the parliamentary staff.
I recognize the feelings of personal friendship that extend across political lines, et qui surmonte les lignes de langues.
It is in committee that we recognize the difference in methods but the common goal of most MPs is doing what is best for our country. As for members of my caucus they are terrific.
I thank my office staff Don, Inge, Lise and Mike, and volunteers like Gary and Marion. Hats off to the constituency association with Jim, Roy, Alex, Art the two Bettys, Bob, Don, James, John, Ken, Lavinia, Lois, Marion, Nora, Pat and Reed.
I am honoured to have served the taxpayers of Nanaimo-Cowichan and I thank the people across Canada who supported me in difficult times. My gratitude to every member of my family and old friends like Al, Charlie, Ken, Les, Sid and Wes who never wavered.
And, finally to my friend and wife Paula, I love you. Come along and grow old with me.
Supply March 10th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, it is probable that Clifford Olson will not be granted parole. However, the answer to my hon. friend from the Bloc is that just the possibility of it makes the family live in trepidation.
I am sorry the member does not care to hear my answer. Let us forget about answering if it means that little.
Supply March 10th, 1997
Madam Speaker, I would like to reiterate the motion that we are supposedly debating today proposed by my colleague from Crowfoot. It reads:
That this House recognize that the families of murder victims are subjected to reliving the pain and fear of their experience as a result of the potential release of the victims' murderers allowed under section 745 of the Criminal Code, and as a consequence, this House urge the Liberal government to formally apologize to those families for repeatedly refusing to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code.
That is what we are about today. I am disappointed that we had this misunderstanding of what the member for Mississauga South said or did not say. I would like to tell the House what I heard him say. He said: "There is no way that you can legislate away grief". I have to disagree with him. If we were to change the legislation, we could prevent the family from going through the grief that they have to go through.
I am going to cite a specific case of a constituent family of mine whose daughter was a murder victim. The family members are now victims themselves of the murderer and of the whole flawed judicial process. The family's name is Clausen. Svend and Inge Clausen live in Duncan. Their 15-year-old daughter was murdered in 1981. Because of section 745, since August 1996 the Clausens have had to be on the edge of theirs chair asking: "Will that murderer now appeal in order to get his reprieve after 15 years?" It has not happened yet but day by day this family is living through this misery of having the whole thing come to life again.
This came to my attention in part because the Clausen's sent me a copy of their letter to the current Minister of Justice. Because of that I asked if they minded if I used their name in the House, if I talked about their case. I asked if it would bring back the horror for them. They replied, "no Bob, it won't do that because we live with the horror every day, and because of section 745 we will be living it every day for the next 10 years. We don't know when this maniac who murdered our daughter will put his name forward and say that it is his right to appeal".
With that I will quote from the Clausen's letter to the Minister of Justice:
I am the mother of Lise Clausen who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered on August 2, 1981 by Paul Kocurek, a convicted sex offender free on mandatory supervision. I am writing this letter on behalf of my family.
Kocurek had borrowed a car from a friend and was cruising the quiet roads of our neighbourhood looking for prey. He came well prepared [in other words premeditated] with a starter gun and handcuffs ready in the car. He spotted Lise who was out for a quick afternoon run before dinner, found a suitable place to park, opened the hood of his car pretending to have car trouble. When she came close and asked if he needed help, she found herself staring at the gun. He pushed her into the car, handcuffed her and then drove past our driveway and up the mountain behind our property. By the time she was located the next day it was all over. Her life, her future, her dreams were all taken from her. Our lives were changed forever.
This was the third offence committed by this unbalanced, perverted individual who consequently was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years. According to our justice system the ultimate punishment for the ultimate crime. However, we soon realized that "life" does not mean life and later we found that 25 years with no parole does not apply either-due to a little known section in the Criminal Code, namely section 745".
We learned that in 1976 the Solicitor General of the day, Warren Allmand, publicly stated that: "To keep them in [jail] for 25 years in my view is a waste of resources, a waste for a person's life". At the time Allmand was fighting to get the minimum life sentence for first degree murderers set at 15 years. When he failed, he introduced a loophole dubbed the faint hope clause, namely section 745.
This clause is an insult to all victims and their families. We are talking about the worst kind of killers here. First degree murder is a planned cold-blooded killing, but section 745 is being used as a sneaky back-door route to freedom for these murderers so that they can have the opportunity to kill again. For you and your government to condone this defies common sense, and we are at a loss to understand why this government is so eager to help such killers on to our streets long before the sentence imposed on them by the judge has been served. Victims, past, present and future should be so lucky to have such advocates for their concerns.
Most citizens were led to believe that the safety of society was important to you. Did we misunderstand? If we didn't, then please explain why you are doing everything possible to help convicted killers to get out. So that they can assault and/or kill more innocent people?
We are well aware of the arguments put forth by your ministry. Points like "there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel," and "if we repeal the section we would close the door for people who are in no danger of reoffending, such as those who killed an abusive partner".
The answer to point one is straight forward-there is a light at the end of the tunnel-at 25 years. The answer to point number two is that very, very seldom will the killing of a partner result in a first degree murder charge, most likely manslaughter, for which the sentence is much less.
In Canada today we continue to see a miscarriage of justice. As a matter of fact most feel that we do not have a justice system. We have a legal system.
My time is running out so I will finish. Section 745 demeans the value of life and the balance is again swinging in favour of convicted killers.
I do not have the time to finish Ms. Clausen's letter to the Minister of Justice, but I think it speaks reams. The victims of murderers are families such as this who have to relive it, not just their daughter. Section 745 by being there as a hope which murderers such as this one and Olson and Bernardo can invoke at any time keeps them in agony from here on in. That is not justice.
Supply March 10th, 1997
Madam Speaker, I guess we are going to be a little short of time, but I would like to advise the House that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Cariboo-Chilcotin.
Somalia Inquiry March 10th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I certainly share with the minister the interest of the Canadian forces.
As a former member, I have really looked on with a lot of anguish. I have seen members of the airborne regiment, especially the junior ranks, persecuted, prosecuted and otherwise vilified. So I agree with the minister, at least let us clear the air.
But how can we clear the air if the full testimony of the likes of Kim Campbell's staff, Bob Fowler, Major Buonamici and Major Armstrong is not out? What will the minister do specifically to clear the air and get those unanswered questions answered?
Somalia Inquiry March 10th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, like the Canadian public, I found it extremely difficult to know exactly what went on Somalia and even more to know what has gone on here in Ottawa with regard to the events in Somalia.
The minister of defence made it quite clear from his first day as minister that he wanted to get the inquiry over as quickly as possible.
Why did he want it over last September and now why does he want it over? Is it for the good of the armed forces? Is it for the good of the country or is for the good of the Liberal Party?
Mr. Speaker, the third petition concerns reading and literacy. The petitioners note that the 7 per cent GST now applied to reading material is unjust. The petitioners ask Parliament to zero rate books, magazines and newspapers under the GST.
I support their petition.