Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Northumberland—Quinte West (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 28.59% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code October 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as I previously stated, I believe street racing is an activity that we are clearly focusing on in the bill. We are trying to find ways and means to make certain that through the process of our existing criminal legislation under our Criminal Code and with this bill it will be more than adequate to meet the needs of the law enforcement officers on the street.

The focus in the bill tends to deal more with the multiple offender. However, within our Criminal Code we have the ability to deal with first offenders. By indicating where this activity is seen in a negative light within our system and by showing and demonstrating that on multiple offences we even take it more seriously with more severe penalties associated with the crime, we are sending a message to our judiciary that we want this treated with the seriousness it deserves.

Clearly, street racing has proven to be a deadly affair within our various communities. None of us wish to see it pursued. There are other ways for people to test their cars such as on lawful tracks where there are opportunities to share in their high performance cars. However, we want to send the message that street racing within our communities is something we will not permit. I believe we are doing that.

It will be dealt with seriously. We hope the courts will deal with it seriously and ensure that the sentences will be proportional to the crime.

Criminal Code October 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as I have just stated, this is anything but a watered down bill. The reality is that we are trying to make certain that when the police and those law enforcement officers on the street actually catch someone street racing, in particular where there has been bodily injury or death, there will be a successful prosecution, a prosecution that will lead to a higher sentence that is proportionate to that particular crime.

I think the way in which the former member's bill was designed meant that it would not necessarily have that ultimate effect, especially looking at subsequent offences, when in fact we could not track, through the system we have currently in place, prior convictions where street racing was an aggravating factor.

I believe this bill is an appropriate bill. It does bring with it mandatory driving bans and prohibitions. I think that is what most members on the other side have been asking for: that there be mandatory positions taken. In this case, that is within the bill.

I believe that the court then would have the opportunity to assess both the conduct of the offender and any mitigating circumstances and could try to end up with a sentence that would be proportional to the crime committed. I believe that in this case there would be ways and means of implementing this, because if street racing is an aggravating factor it would be taken into consideration at that time. Clearly there would not be anyone falling through the cracks because the system did not report prior indications that street racing had been an aggravating factor in another incident.

I think this bill is an excellent bill. As I say, I think it will give the courts the opportunity to impose sentences that will meet the requirements of the particular crime that has been perpetrated. I believe the courts will take it seriously. I do believe that they will bring along penalties that meet the particular crime.

With respect to these individuals, we absolutely must make sure that they are taken off our streets. There is no doubt about it. I know all hon. members in this place are convinced that we need to take action to make certain that individuals who participate in that sort of conduct are treated with the severity of sentence they deserve. I believe that we are giving the opportunity to the courts to do that with the mandatory sentencing within this bill.

Criminal Code October 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, clearly the hon. member needs to reflect on the terms of this piece of legislation, I think, because in fact this is not watered down legislation. As I have just pointed out, it does expand the breadth of opportunity to be able to deal with those who would offend.

I think it clearly brings forward the concept that we want to have these individuals brought to justice. We want the court that deals with the matter to be able to find that there is an aggravating factor and to be able to give maximum penalties that could reach up to life, in the case of death.

I believe that the other bill clearly did make an attempt, but I think the attempt failed to reach out and ultimately succeed at the goal, because in fact, as I mentioned, CPIC does not carry incidents of aggravating factors in previous convictions. As a result, the other bill would have been more watered down in the sense that it would have been less enforceable than this bill.

We believe that Bill C-65 in fact is stronger and does put more teeth behind the opportunity for the court to give a sentence that is actually proportional to the crime. I believe that in this particular case the bill certainly does meet that request and need.

Criminal Code October 18th, 2005

moved that Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the government Bill C-65.

The bill contains a set of amendments to the Criminal Code regarding street racing. It is inspired by private member's Bill C-230, which was tabled by the late Mr. Chuck Cadman, who, until his untimely passing, was the member for Surrey North.

In summary, the government bill, as did private member's Bill C-230 that inspired it, specifies that street racing is an aggravating factor when a court is setting a sentence for certain offences. Also, as with Bill C-230, where street racing is found to accompany the offence, the government bill makes a driving prohibition mandatory. Unlike Bill C-230, the government bill does not call for the system of higher minimum and maximum periods of driving prohibition based on a repeat aggravating factor of street racing. I will speak more about that shortly.

I note that the four offences to which these reforms apply are the same in this government bill as in the late Mr. Cadman's private member's bill, Bill C-230. These offences are: dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm; dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death; criminal negligence causing bodily harm; and criminal negligence causing death.

Some members across might be asking themselves why government members had spoken against Bill C-230 in the earlier iteration of that bill during an earlier Parliament. I can say that the reasons for not supporting the private member's bill were based entirely upon principled objections to important sentencing aspects of the private member's bill and upon the practical difficulties in implementing certain key elements of the private member's bill.

One such principled concern that arises from the private member's bill is that for a first offence involving street racing—and most offenders appear in court for a first offence—the maximum driving prohibition is only three years. The current driving prohibition found in the Criminal Code is discretionary, but where it is imposed, the court may order a period of driving prohibition up to a maximum of 10 years for a case of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death or criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

In the case of criminal negligence causing death, where a court chooses to impose a driving prohibition under the existing provisions found in the Criminal Code, the maximum period is a lifetime ban. The government bill maintains these current maximum driving prohibitions that currently can be used on a discretionary basis, but it does so in the context of a new provision for a mandatory driving prohibition.

Again, the maximum driving prohibition in the government bill for three of the offences is 10 years. With a lifetime driving ban as the maximum prohibition for the offence of criminal negligence causing death that involves street racing, the government bill's prohibition is ever so much higher than the three year maximum driving prohibition that is in Bill C-230 for a first offence of criminal negligence causing death that involves street racing.

For the second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm that involves street racing, the government bill's maximum driving prohibition is higher by five years than the proposal within the private member's bill, Bill C-230, for a second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The maximum driving prohibition in the government bill for the two offences just named is, once again, 10 years.

The private member's bill, Bill C-230, would have created a scheme of higher minimum and maximum driving prohibitions that are based upon the repetition of the aggravating factor of street racing. The minimum in the private member's bill would have been a one year driving prohibition on any first offence of criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, or dangerous driving causing bodily harm where there is an aggravating factor of street racing.

On the second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm with an aggravating factor of street racing, Bill C-230 would have created a minimum driving prohibition of two years. On a third offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm where street racing was an aggravating factor, the private member's bill would have had a minimum driving prohibition of three years. On a second or subsequent offence, if either the first or the current offence involves street racing and a death, the only penalty under the private member's bill would have been a lifetime ban.

Because of very significant practical obstacles, the government bill does not create a scheme that relies upon the prosecution proving a repetition of the aggravating factor for subsequent offences followed by a higher minimum driving prohibition. This is because it would be very difficult to implement a scheme, since aggravating factors are not recorded by the Canadian Police Information Centre. Therefore, the only cases where a subsequent offence scheme could be used would be those cases where the prosecutor is fortuitously alerted to the existence of the aggravating factor of street racing in a prior offence and successfully obtains a certified transcript of the sentence hearing.

This would be difficult in many cases where a prior aggravating circumstance of street racing arose in another city or even in another province. The end result would be an inability to implement consistently the higher minimum and higher maximum driving prohibitions scheme that is envisaged by the private member's bill, Bill C-230.

The mandatory minimum driving prohibition in the government bill for an offence involving street racing equals that proposed for a first offence within the private member's bill, Bill C-230. The minimum driving prohibition in the government bill is also a one year driving prohibition.

In order to be very clear, I wish to summarize that the government bill provides for the following. In every case involving one of the four listed offences with street racing, the offender will have a mandatory driving prohibition. The minimum driving prohibition will be one year and judges will have the discretion to make an order up to the maximum of 10 years' driving prohibition for dangerous driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death or criminal negligence causing bodily harm. In the case of criminal negligence causing death, the judges will have the discretion to order up to the maximum driving prohibition of a lifetime ban.

The government bill on street racing should be supported. It specifies that street racing is an aggravating factor in the four offences already noted and it makes a driving prohibition mandatory for such cases that involve street racing. The minimum and maximum driving prohibitions in the government bill are workable because they avoid the higher minimum and maximum driving prohibition periods for repeated aggravating factors found in Bill C-230.

Again, a system that by necessity requires proof that there was an aggravating factor in a prior offence in order to obtain the higher minimum and maximum driving prohibition leads to inconsistency of application because the police system does not record aggravating factors and show them on the criminal record.

This government bill is, I believe, relatively straightforward, and police and prosecutors will be able to use it in a very easy way. I urge hon. members of the House to support the bill.

Firearms Registry October 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I think everyone in the government is concerned about our communities and the violence that is being demonstrated in those communities.

Clearly this is a complex matter that requires a number of steps to be taken. One of those is dealing with legislation, which we already have on the books, another one is working with the community groups to educate the public, and the third one is to make sure we work with those other community groups that are interested in keeping these young people employed in other aspects of their lives and not to participate in this sort of activity.

Justice October 6th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, first, I remind the member that he should check the record. In fact, the provinces, territories and the federal government could not agree on that happening. Therefore, what the member says is not accurate and does not reflect the facts.

With respect to the age of sexual consent, as I have been explaining, the government brought in the first legislative bill of this Parliament to deal with the area of sexual exploitation. The House fully debated the age of sexual consent and it was decided and passed by—

Criminal Code October 6th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as the minister has stated, there is no greater responsibility for this government or any government than to protect its citizens.

In this particular case, the Criminal Code contains many minimum mandatory sentences relating to violent crimes that are committed with a firearm. In fact, I think the hon. member and all members of the House ought to hear about these mandatory minimum sentences that deal with violent crime.

First, if a firearm is used in the commission of an offence in a criminal negligence case causing death, under section 220—

Justice October 4th, 2005

Again, Mr. Speaker, clearly the issue of consent is of some concern to the member. I think what one has to appreciate is that exploitive conduct where one cannot consent are such things as pornography, prostitution, or a relationship of trust, dependency or authority, which we already recognize. What Bill C-2 is doing is actually adding one more category, and that is one of sexual exploitation where one cannot consent to the exploitation.

Justice October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member simply does not understand the issue at hand. The issue at hand is not the age of consent, but rather can one actually consent to be exploited. The reality is that no one can consent to be exploited. The purpose for which they are moving forward is totally at odds with what the goal is.

Each and every one of us wants to protect our children and that protection is a priority of the government. We are going to do so through Bill C-2 when it is fully enacted and the section dealing with sexual exploitation which deals with the predator—

Justice October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe the hon. member had the benefit of hearing my answer. In fact if she had listened, she would have heard that we are very much interested in proportionality in sentencing so that those who do participate in the most violent crime will receive the most severe sentence that we can possibly have brought and deal with them in the appropriate manner.