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Conservative MP for Mississauga—Erindale (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 47.00% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Municipal Elections in Mississauga October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate all of the winners and each of the participants in yesterday's municipal elections in Mississauga. For the first time in 36 years, Mississauga is going to have a new mayor and a new voice directing our city.

I would like to convey my sincerest congratulations to mayor-elect Bonnie Crombie on her election victory. I would also like to congratulate Steve Mahoney on running a formidable campaign. I look forward to working with mayor-elect Bonnie Crombie on issues of importance to the people of Mississauga, including promoting jobs, safe communities, growth and long-term prosperity.

I would also like to thank outgoing mayor Hazel McCallion for her years of service and her tremendous contributions to our city and to Canada.

Committees of the House October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Liberal justice critic for his speech and for his good work at the committee on this particular study.

I wonder if he could give the House a bit of a flavour of some of the testimony we heard from witnesses.

There were a few issues brought up about the lack of sufficient French-language, legally trained, court document translators in the province of Saskatchewan, and the time it takes to find a judge who speaks in the other official language, whatever the majority language was in a particular province. In some provinces, and Yukon springs to mind, sometimes it took a bit of time to find a francophone judge to take a trial in that province and to preside over preliminary hearings. We also heard some testimony from one particular practitioner about the delay in finding access to anglophone judges and services in some smaller communities in Quebec.

I wonder if the hon. member could comment on that and just give us a flavour of some of the other testimony that the committee heard.

Committees of the House October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as the member will know, there are several funds and interprovincial and joint committees of the provincial jurisdictions and the federal jurisdiction dealing with access to justice in both official languages. Those committees meet regularly. They determine where there are issues to be addressed to ensure that there is parallel administration of justice in all parts of Canada in both official languages.

There is funding available in two funds, one of $40 million over five years and the other of $50 million over five years, which is to be applied by the provinces to ensure that there is a parallel provision of court services in both official languages in all courts in Canada. If the member looks at those, I think he will be very satisfied with the way that is proceeding.

He will also know, if he read the committee's report, that the committee had reports from most of the provincial and territorial attorneys general. Not all of them responded, but most did. Most said that the system was actually working very well and that, in their view, Canadians who were involved in the justice system had equal access to all necessary procedures in both official languages. There were a few situations pointed out in which, for example, there were not sufficient resources for the translation of documents in certain provinces. One of the recommendations made in the report by the committee was that further resources be made available for the training of court translators.

In all, the provincial and territorial ministers of justice and attorneys general reported that the system is working very well and that Canadians have good, fair, and equal access to justice in Canada in both official languages.

Committees of the House October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the justice officials are participating in that meeting.

Committees of the House October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to speak to this important matter. The Minister of Justice mentioned to me earlier today that he recently met with the Commissioner of Official Languages and that he wishes to thank the commissioner for his very good work in this area and all areas concerning official languages.

As members know, access to justice in both official languages is an important issue for all Canadians. Canadians wish to live in a law-abiding society with an equitable, accessible and fair justice system for all. In criminal matters, these principles mean that the courts must be able to operate in French and in English in accordance with the official language chosen by the accused for his or her trial. It is extremely important that one's constitutional rights are well understood, and this is a fundamental principle of justice.

First, it is important to remember that because of the division of legislative authority between the federal and provincial governments, the federal government has a limited role in the implementation of the Criminal Code provisions. While the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over amendments made to the Criminal Code and over criminal procedure, the provinces are primarily responsible for the administration of the courts and the prosecutions under the Criminal Code.

While the Prime Minister has executive authority for the appointment of superior and appeal courts judges, the provinces and territories are responsible for the composition of the provincial courts. This means that under the provisions of the Criminal Code, which form the basis for the standing committee's statutory review of part XVII, the provinces and territories must ensure that they have the institutional and human resources necessary within their respective criminal justice systems to allow defendants to face trial in the official language of their choice. That said, working within its jurisdiction and its means, the Government of Canada is supported by the minister and the Department of Justice, and works with its provincial and territorial counterparts in order to support and improve the implementation of the language provisions found in the Criminal Code.

Our government's commitment to official languages is undeniable. In Canada's economic action plan 2013, our government pledged to support official languages by maintaining funding dedicated to protecting, celebrating and reinforcing Canada's linguistic duality. This commitment is reflected in the road map for Canada's official languages 2013 to 2018. The road map, which was approved by this government in December 2013, has three pillars: education, immigration and communities. Under the road map, the Government of Canada has undertaken a number of measures to fulfill its commitment and to support our provincial and territorial partners. The access to justice in both official languages support fund, with a five-year funding envelope of $40 million, allocates resources to, among others, the provinces, territories, court administrations, universities, training centres and official language minority communities. This funding supports justice in both official languages within their respective spheres of activity. In addition to grants and contributions, the government also provides support to its governmental and non-governmental partners in the form of collaborative activities and ongoing consultations.

All told, provinces and territories can count on this government to provide them with the necessary financial and collaborative support for language-training programs that are specifically adapted to the needs of justice stakeholders, including crown prosecutors, provincial court clerks, provincially appointed criminal judges, and probation officers.

In addition, as part of its ongoing efforts and in response to the standing committee's recommendations stemming from the statutory review of part XVII of the Criminal Code, the Department of Justice has made a contribution toward the creation of a national consortium for justice training in both official languages. The consortium is essentially made up of post-secondary teaching institutions, jurilinguistic centres and non-profit organizations that provide training services. This consortium will advise the Department of Justice, where appropriate, on the language-training needs of provincial justice stakeholders. It will also develop collaborative approaches among its members in an effort to meet these training needs. It should be noted that the Minister of Justice, as evidenced by the government's comprehensive response to the committee's report, has committed to bringing the committee's recommendation with respect to court interpreters and transcribers to the consortium's attention for consideration.

In addition to its justice stakeholder training initiatives, this government is committed to ensuring that all Canadians from coast to coast to coast can rely on accurate, reliable and easy ways to find and access legal information in the official language of their choice. In this regard, the Department of Justice will call upon an extensive network of partners to develop a concept of justice information hubs. In order to prevent the unnecessary duplication of structures and to build bridges between organizations serving both official language communities, partnerships between minority community associations and organizations will be encouraged.

Once they are rolled out, these hubs would serve as a stepping stone for Canadians to become more knowledgeable about their legal rights and obligations, including their language rights under the Criminal Code and the Canadian charter, and to be better equipped to deal with everyday legal issues.

In addition to the access to justice in both official languages support fund initiatives, the Government of Canada also fulfills its commitment through the Contraventions Act fund, which provides provinces and territories that have signed agreements with the Department of Justice to implement the federal contraventions regime with financial support to cover judicial and extrajudicial measures that guarantee language rights provided under part XVII of the Criminal Code and part IV of the Official Languages Act, regarding services and communications to the public.

This fund, consisting of approximately $50 million over five years, demonstrates the government's strong commitment to supporting measures and providing the necessary resources, such as the hiring of bilingual judicial and extrajudicial court personnel, language training, bilingual signage and documentation, to enhance Canadians' access to justice in both official languages.

Furthermore, the government's commitment to justice in both official languages is also reflected by the close co-operation between federal institutions, such as the Department of Justice, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of Public Safety. As evidence of this close co-operation on the issue of access to justice in both official languages, these institutions have created an interdepartmental network on justice and security, specifically dedicated to the issues faced by Canada's francophone and anglophone minority communities.

At the intergovernmental level, the Government of Canada has adopted a fair and reasonable approach to support access to justice in both official languages, based on collaboration with the provinces and territories. As the standing committee rightly recommends in its report, it is essential that the government continue in the same vein in order to ensure compliance with part XVII of the Criminal Code and to find solutions to the particular challenges associated with access to justice in both official languages.

As part of its efforts in this regard, the Department of Justice co-chairs a federal-provincial-territorial working group on access to justice in both official languages. In addition, other intergovernmental forums, such as the federal-provincial-territorial heads of prosecution committee, are actively addressing issues relating to the implementation of part XVII of the Criminal Code as part of their respective mandates.

As stated at the outset, and as evidenced by the concrete measures and steps I have just outlined, the government's commitment to official languages is abundantly clear.

On behalf of the government, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for its work accomplished as part of the statutory review of part XVII of the Criminal Code. Rest assured, the Government of Canada is taking the committee's recommendations into consideration and is grateful for the possible solutions that the committee outlined so as to help ensure a better implementation of part XVII of the Criminal Code, and more generally, access to justice in both official languages for all Canadians.

Committees of the House October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member feels very passionate about this subject matter. We could tell from the way he delivered the speech and the colour of his complexion as he was talking about it.

I sat through all of the justice committee hearings on this particular study. I recall that he might have shown up for part of one meeting. It is really too bad, since he is so interested, that he was not able to attend more of the meetings.

The committee prepared a report, which it tabled in the House. My recollection was that it was unanimously supported by all parties represented in the committee, including his. I wonder if he spoke to the NDP justice critic and his other colleagues from the NDP who were on the justice committee. Could he tell the House how they felt about the committee's report and whether they agreed with it?

Justice October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the former minister of justice. I wonder if he could tell me what all of the following names have in common: Justice Bastarache, Justice Binnie, Justice Arbour, Justice LeBel, Justice Deschamps, Justice Fish, Justice Charron, and Justice Abella.

Let me help him out. They were all appointed between 1994 and 2005 by Liberal justice ministers, and none of them appeared before an ad hoc parliamentary committee to discuss their nominations.

In the cases of Justices Charron and Abella, my friend the member for Mount Royal was the minister of justice, and he appeared before an ad hoc parliamentary committee to discuss how and why they were chosen. However, the justices themselves did not appear before the committee.

Justice October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is now aware, the appointment to fill the vacancy of the Hon. Justice Fish has been completed and Mr. Justice Gascon has now taken his position on the top court. We congratulate him on taking his position there today.

The appointment of Mr. Justice Gascon to the Supreme Court of Canada was preceded by broad consultations with Quebec's legal community. These included the Government of Quebec, the province's Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court, the Canadian Bar Association, the Barreau du Québec, the Barreau de Montréal, and, of course, the Supreme Court itself.

This process confirmed Mr. Justice Gascon's reputation as an outstanding jurist whose professional integrity and wealth of legal knowledge and experience would make him an excellent addition to the nation's highest court.

It is often noted that one of the strengths of the judiciary in this country is the diversity of experience and skills that the individual judges bring to their tasks. The result is a combination of different but complementary perspectives, grounded in a shared devotion to the law and public service, that enriches our courts and our justice system as a whole.

This is particularly important in the context of our highest court, which is called upon to address issues of national concern and to speak with a unique authority in resolving contentious matters from across this country.

Over the years, the Supreme Court of Canada has been blessed with a great many brilliant jurists, and the appointment of Mr. Justice Gascon reflects our government's commitment to supporting that proud tradition of legal excellence and merit. Ensuring that Canadians everywhere can have confidence in our highest court and in our justice system as a whole continues to be one of our top priorities. The people of this country expect and deserve no less.

There will be no shortage of challenging issues to come in the months and years ahead, but I have no doubt that with the help of Mr. Justice Gascon, the Supreme Court of Canada, with a full complement of judges, will continue to serve the Canadian public with its customary integrity and efficiency.

What the hon. member opposite is really getting at is whether or not we will implement a review process for future Supreme Court of Canada appointments.

I can say with all certainty that we are reviewing the process, and when a decision has been reached, we will let Canadians know.

Justice October 6th, 2014

As always, Mr. Speaker, the government will consult broadly. These appointments have always been a matter of the executive and will continue to be so.

Justice October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the appointment of Justice Gascon to the Supreme Court of Canada was an excellent one. We congratulate him today on taking his seat.

When making all appointments, our government conducts broad consultations with prominent members of the legal community and the province affected by the vacant seat. This includes the government of that province, the justice minister of that province, the chief of the superior court of that province, the Canadian Bar Association, and legal societies of that province.

In all of these consultations, we ask for names as well as advice on competence and qualities for the position.