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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 36.30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Justice February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, public safety and crime are very important issues for families in all of Quebec's regions. The Bloc Québécois prefers to keep listening to the leftist urban elite from the Plateau and other great thinkers who are out of touch with the reality of Quebec's regions.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice tell the House what the Conservative government is doing to fight crime?

Justice February 16th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, street gangs and crime are major challenges for families in every region of Quebec. The Bloc Québécois prefers to listen to the leftist urban elite of Quebec and other leading thinkers who are disconnected from real life in the regions.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice tell this House what the Conservative government is doing to deal with street gangs and crime?

Early Parole February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, although the Liberal member for Lac-Saint-Louis and the NDP member for Outremont are trying to block our bill to abolish early parole for white collar criminals, the victims of Earl Jones in Quebec are calling on us to take action. Yesterday, these victims called on all the political parties in Ottawa to stand up for Earl Jones' victims, do the right thing, take action now and support the passage of Bill C-59.

Can the Minister of Public Safety tell us the status of this important bill?

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the only thing that matters is minimizing the impact on victims.

The simple-mindedness of my fellow members' questions is absolutely unbelievable. We are in this House before you, Mr. Speaker, to try to make all Canadians understand that we are working for them and for their security, and they tell us that it does not matter. I believe that it is important for citizens and all members to understand that we must act quickly.

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has been here much longer than I have. I feel I should to welcome him to the club. This is what it is to be a parliamentarian. There are no set hours and we work 365 days a year. This is the nature of the work we have to do. We must do our work regardless of the place or time. It is important and we have to do it now.

This bill is extremely important for victims and for all Canadians who may be victims of fraud or who could potentially become victims of fraud. We want to put an end to this current lack of action. It is appalling. An incredible number of people in Quebec have fallen victim to fraud over the past few years. Again, yesterday, we heard on the radio and on television that some people had been defrauded by their best friend.

Can the members of the House understand the need to act quickly? That is what we are in the process of doing. Fortunately, the Bloc Québécois has understood this message.

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the cost I think that it is important to acknowledge today is the cost that victims have to pay. It is not simply a monetary cost; it is an extremely high psychological and emotional cost.

The members here today and all members must understand that the cost we may or will have to pay as a result of this particular bill, whether we take two weeks or two years to pass it, will not change inevitably, but it will change for the victims. Thus, it is extremely important to ensure that there are not further costs for victims in the future.

We must ensure that these offenders are kept in prison for the maximum amount of time they deserve for the crimes they have committed. We must ensure that we put pressure on society to prevent these crimes from happening again. For our government, that is the cost that it is most important to understand today.

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's question. Clearly the bill aims to speed up procedures so that they may begin as soon as possible. I think the Bloc Québécois members have understood how important it is to push this bill through quickly. It needs to be done as soon as possible. It is extremely important that this bill pass today, if possible, and if not, then in a few days or weeks so that it may become law as soon as possible. Thus, we will be able to punish people in a way that corresponds to their crimes.

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear my colleague talk about co-operation and solidarity in the House.

I am trying to put myself in the position of a victim who has just lost all her savings, who sees us working here in the House of Commons and wonders if we can pick up the pace, if we can do something to ensure that this cannot happen again to her or anyone else.

That is basically what we are thinking: the faster we can pass this bill, the sooner people will feel more secure and ready to trust other people again when it comes to investing their money.

I almost feeling like turning the hon. member's question right back to him. If he were a victim right now, would he not want all members of the House of Commons of Canada to do everything they could to pass some sort of legislation? We have before us an excellent bill to ensure that these things never happen again and, if they do, to punish the criminals for their crimes.

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill C-59, which, when passed, will abolish accelerated parole review.

Before giving my speech, I would like to say that I hope that the victims of white collar fraudsters are watching the debate being held in the House today.

The presentations we have just heard by our colleagues opposite—the NDP—were rather odd, to say the least. I do not understand from their remarks how they are helping the victims. I personally heard nothing about that.

I would first like to thank the hon. members for their collective efforts that have enabled us to properly debate this bill and to give priority to the safety of Canadians. I am pleased to speak in the House to tell Canadians that our government is determined to ensure that this bill is passed quickly.

We are here to debate a bill that will amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in order to abolish the procedure known as “accelerated parole review”. These changes will ensure that white collar criminals will no longer have access to accelerated parole review. With Bill C-59, these offenders will have to assume responsibility for the crimes they have committed.

I appreciate the efforts made by my hon. colleagues to explain how accelerated parole review works, how it has created a two-tier parole system that allows white collar criminals to apply for parole earlier than offenders who have committed violent crimes, and how white collar criminals need only prove to the National Parole Board that they will not commit violent crimes to be eligible for day parole.

We also heard hon. members on the other side of the House state that they agree that we should ensure that white collar criminals who defraud Canadians serve appropriate sentences for their crimes. We appreciate the important work that has been done and we ask all hon. members to continue to co-operate with us to ensure that this bill is as strong and effective as possible.

My hon. colleagues pointed out the differences between the procedure for accelerated parole review and the procedure for regular day parole review so that we can be sure that all members of the House and all Canadians are aware of the objectives of this bill.

I would like to give you a brief summary of the bill. These amendments will make it possible to repeal sections of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which governs the procedures for accelerated parole review, so that offenders are no longer eligible for day parole at one-sixth of their sentence and full parole at only one-third of their sentence. When you really stop and think about it, it is fairly ridiculous that, with the existing system, offenders who commit crimes and steal from people who trusted them with their money are put in prison but serve only one-sixth of their sentences. It is completely unacceptable.

The violent recidivism test will no longer apply to accelerated parole review. All offenders will be subject to the same general recidivism criteria. The cases of all offenders will be assessed at a hearing rather than by means of a paper review.

This is the main purpose of the bill. It is actually a simple change. It does not create a new system for white collar criminals by applying a different set of rules to them than to other offenders.

We are simply eliminating a system that has allowed people who commit white collar or non-violent crime to apply for parole earlier than those who commit violent crimes. In our opinion, it is important that those who commit crimes, whether they be moral or violent, serve appropriate sentences.

As any responsible government should, we must ensure that the laws that govern our country are not only fair and reasonable but also adapted to the times in which we live. We live in a time where the ease of transmitting data— particularly financial data since that is what we are discussing today—makes it possible for crime to be committed at an incredible rate. That is why it is important that this bill be passed quickly.

This is certainly not the first time a government has amended legislation to adapt to changing times, which is the case today. Ten years ago, September 11 changed the world. Following those tragic terrorist attacks against the United States, that country, Canada and its allies made significant and often permanent changes to methods for managing safety and security at the border and on their territory.

Of course, the bill before us today is not motivated by such a radical cultural change, but it contains changes made necessary by the rapid rise in crimes like fraud over the past two decades. I believe that in Quebec in particular we have seen some completely unacceptable cases of fraud. Obviously it is never acceptable to commit fraud, but you know what I mean, in that it is important for people who commit this type of crime to be punished accordingly.

We have all read articles in the newspaper about so-called smart and helpful people who have convinced Canadian workers to entrust their entire savings to their so-called solid name. That is the sector where we have seen a rise in white collar crime. These people no longer just go after corporations. Now they are attacking Canadians who worked hard their entire lives and saved money for a bit of financial security when they retire. Those are the people we want to protect with this bill. We want to protect Canadians who work hard to save money their whole lives only to see that money go up in smoke in the hands of a fraudster. This is totally unacceptable.

In the difficult economic times we have seen in the past few years, we cannot blame Canadians for looking for ways to build up their savings. These law-abiding Canadian workers suddenly discover that their savings have disappeared. Everyone here in this House has heard about families who have lost everything and ended up isolated after such a loss. We have seen many examples of this in the past two or three years in particular, and it is important that we do something about it immediately.

It is difficult to imagine the humiliation and embarrassment these people must feel after having put their entire savings in the hands of an expert fraudster. Imagine handing over all your financial assets to someone you trust, only to have them abuse that trust and steal all your assets. It must be absolutely terrible, and it was for many families.

Some victims find the courage to testify at the trial of the person who stole from them, but many victims remain silent because they are afraid to tell anyone what happened. Goodness knows that each of us has had moments where it seemed completely natural to trust friends, who eventually turned against us. And it is not always easy to admit that.

We must understand that the victims who choose to speak and play an important role in the legal proceedings must feel relieved once the criminal is convicted. It takes a long time and a long process before that happens. They must feel a certain sense of victory when the criminal is finally put behind bars for many years.

And it is at this stage that the system breaks down and we turn our backs on victims by saying that fraud is not a very serious crime. This is when accelerated parole review comes into play. As it currently stands, accelerated parole review allows white collar criminals to apply for day parole earlier than a violent offender who receives the same length of sentence.

In Canada, financial fraud is not considered to be the same as a physically violent crime. But emotional and psychological abuse are just as serious as physical violence.

It must be a terrible shock and disappointment for the victims of these crimes to learn that the offender has received day parole so soon after being incarcerated. While the victims are still trying to pick up the pieces, the fraudster can apply for day parole and begin to rebuild his life after having served only one-sixth of his sentence.

It is rather unbelievable, when you think about it. Imagine that a fraudster caused you to lose everything you own, and after a year, a year and a half or two years, he is completely free and goes back to his life as though nothing happened. That is completely unacceptable. I am sure that hon. members will agree that that is completely unfair. Our government believes that this system is outdated and that it must be changed quickly.

I would like to stress a very important point. This amendment was not put forward by our government just for the sake of introducing a bill. Canadians told us that they wanted us to defend victims and their families. That is the purpose of Bill C-59.

Furthermore, Bill C-59 is a direct response to the recommendations in the 2007 report of the Correctional Service Canada Review Panel. The report, which made 109 recommendations, expressly stated that the accelerated parole review process should be abolished. Our government studied these recommendations and committed to following through on this recommendation so that all offenders are treated equally when it comes to eligibility for parole.

This amendment will ensure that white collar criminals, such as people who have been convicted of fraud, are no longer able to apply for day parole after serving only one-sixth of their sentence. They will have to wait until they have served at least six months before being eligible for full parole, like any other offender. It will also ensure that white collar criminals participate in their parole hearings and plead their case in person before the NPB.

With this amendment, the rules will change so that the NPB will be able to refuse day parole if it has reasonable grounds to suspect that the offender will commit another crime, no matter what type. Under the current system, the NPB must only determine whether the offender could commit another non-violent crime. With this amendment, the same criterion applies to all offenders when they appear before the board.

I urge all hon. members to support Bill C-59 and to show our total commitment to the many Canadians who have been victims of these crimes. Changing times call for new measures. The sooner we pass Bill C-59, the sooner we can put an end to the two-tier system that makes white collar criminals eligible for early parole. We must work together to provide justice for all victims.

The Economy February 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, while the Conservative government is focusing on the economy, the real priority of Quebeckers, and continuing to support our families and businesses, the leader of the Bloc Québécois wants to trigger an election before even reading the budget.

Can the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State for Agriculture tell this House what the Conservative government has been doing recently for the economy in the regions of Quebec?