House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was crime.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Ajax—Pickering (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 38.30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fairness for Victims of Violent Offenders Act March 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, every one of us in this House is deeply concerned when a serious violent crime occurs. All of us are seized with the questions of how we ensure it never happens again, how we ensure there is justice for the people who suffered as a result of that crime and how we provide comfort to victims to ensure they are able to endure and get over the process of victimization.

The bill is something we should look at and debate to ensure that in the overall spectrum it makes sense. The bill is very targeted. It only deals with violent offences that are schedule 1 offences and would increase the time from two years to four years that somebody would wait while having their pardon eligibility reviewed.

However, I think we need to look at our criminal justice issues in a more fulsome way. If we are to do true service to victims, to community safety and public safety generally, then we cannot just piecemeal these things. We cannot just throw one little bit on top of one little bit with no information.

One of the things we do not have, yet again, for this bill, which I think it is important, is how much it will cost. We have 18 government bills that are before this House right now that relate to having impacts on incarceration and prisons and yet we do not know the true cost.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer said that there remains significant gaps between the information requested from parliamentarians and the documents that were provided by the government which will limit the ability of parliamentarians to fulfill their fiduciary obligations. He went on to point out that more than 55% of the documents relating to the cost of these bills are not there. They are missing.

When we are considering legislation, whether it this bill or any bill, my constituents will ask me how much it will cost and what the trade-offs will be, which are fair questions.

In this case, the bill is clearly limited in scope but we want to ensure it is getting the best result and actually is increasing community safety.

One of the things we need to keep in mind is that if we are truly interested in stopping crime, ensuring communities are safe and reducing victimization, then we need to go after the root causes of crime and stop it before it happens.

In Canada, it may surprise some to know that we actually have a rate of violent recidivism, which is the rate at which violent offenders commit a new violent offence, of less than 1%. That means that somebody convicted of committing a violent crime will commit another violent crime less than 1% of the time. That means the vast majority of crimes that are committed are offences we never saw coming. It means that investments need to be made in things like prevention, community capacity and diversion in terms of dealing with addictions and drugs. Investing in fixing issues surrounding mental health is absolutely critical.

Of course stiff sentencing must be an important part of any package of actions taken to make communities safe. However, places that have tried incarceration and only incarceration have ended in ruin. In fact, I point to recent testimony before committee of the former head of the U.S. drug enforcement agency under President George Bush who talked about what happened in his country. He said:

...we made some mistakes, and I hope that you can learn from those mistakes.

I'm here because I signed on to a “right on crime” initiative, which is an initiative led by a group of conservatives in the United States who support a re-evaluation of our nation's incarceration policies.

In short, he was saying that states like California embarked on a path of dramatically increasing incarceration and did little else. It left the state nearly bankrupt, with no money for health or education and no money for prevention. As they stopped investing in prevention and as the crimes mounted up and the prisons got more full, their rate of violent recidivism was driven north of 20%.

Imagine, today in Canada we have a violent recidivism rate less than 1% and yet we are emulating a model that has driven its rate over 20%. Its overall rate of recidivism is 70%. That means for every 10 people who walk out of a jail, 7 will recommit a crime in California.

I can give the House another example. Newt Gingrich, the founder of the whole movement of incarceration for all problems, points to the example in his most recent letter, comparing the states of New York and Florida, which took two very different paths.

New York invested heavily in prevention, in community capacity, in dealing with drugs and mental health, which are at the root of so many crimes. Florida took the conservative approach. Florida ended up spending an enormous amount of money ramping up incarceration, driving its incarceration rates higher and higher at the cost of billions of dollars. For both states, the net result was a difference of 16%. Florida had 16% rise in violent crime. New York decreased 16%. The difference is New York saved literally billions of dollars and wound up with a safer system.

This is the problem. If we are speaking honestly and sincerely to victims, we cannot just talk about incarceration. We have to talk about the fact the government has cut more than 43% from the victims of crime initiative. We need to talk about the fact that the government's hand-picked victims ombudsman, Steve Sullivan, who stood up and said that the government's plan for victims was unbalanced and would not work, was fired.

The reality is the plan that is put before us today would lead to more crime, more costs, more victims, less safety and would steal money from education and health, while dumping billions of dollars into debt.

I note that some money was put into prevention. We will have to see if it was actually spent. One of the strategies on the crime prevention budget was for the government to keep the budget the same but not spend it. The government would keep the budget at about $50 million, but would only spend $19 million.

I have gone across the country and talked with organizations that are on the front lines of keeping our communities safe, groups like the Boys and Girls Clubs and church organizations. These organizations ensure that when somebody starts to head down a dark path, that individual is pulled back before a crime is committed, before there is a victim.

Groups like that are seeing their funding cut and slashed. It is being replaced by funding that they have to twist themselves into a pretzel to go after some weird objective the government has set nationally, but makes no sense for their local communities. They are begging for a government they can partner with, that would help them drive the changes they need to keep their communities safe, to help build community capacity. They need to ensure that when this happens, the federal government will give them money not to fit something that has been created in Ottawa, but to fit something that works for their communities.

We see community safety councils in places like Summerside, P.E.I., or in Kitchener—Waterloo, which has a fantastic crime prevention council, or in Ottawa, develop those plans. They desperately need partners if we are serious about breaking the back of this.

I also hear from police chiefs across the country. They say that the cuts being made with respect to services for the mentally ill are totally unacceptable. They say that if we are honestly interested in reducing crime, then we have to take on the problem of mental health in our country. So many prisons are replete with people who have mental health conditions because police have no where else to put them. The police chiefs say that they wait for somebody who is mentally ill to commit a crime so they can put that individual in jail and at least get him or her out of harm's way. When these individuals are in that jail cell, they are left in segregation with no services. Then they are released on to the streets worse than they ever were before.

Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom has turned away from these polices. Australia has turned away from these policies. The United States has turned away from these policies. It is imperative, as a nation, that we get balanced and intelligent policies when it comes to crime, that when we take action to stop victimization, we do not just talk but we actually do and what we do is based on evidence and fact and not just on drama.

Public Safety March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, if the minister wants to keep pushing fear and fiction, he should go write Stephen King novels.

Here is the fact. The Conservatives have been hiding information from this House. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said that almost 60% of the information on how much their agenda costs is hidden.

This is about how much debt would be put on the shoulders of Canadian families. This is about how much money would be taken from health care and education. This is about the Prime Minister who has broken his word to be transparent.

Where are the numbers? Where are the facts? Where is the information?

Public Safety March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, for years the government has hidden the cost of its megaprison agenda, worked to hide the tens of billions it would cost and the fact that it has been a disaster everywhere it has been tried.

Now the Speaker has ruled and a committee of Parliament has found the government in contempt and the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirms that the Conservatives are still hiding nearly 60% of the information.

When we have no truth, we have no democracy. When the budget is tabled today, very simply, how could Canadians trust a single word the government says?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 21st, 2011

With regard to the government’s support for victims of crime: (a) how do each of the following bills directly assist victims of crime: Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts, Bill C-5, An Act to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act, Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, Bill C- 21, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for fraud), Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, Bill C-23B, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, Bill C-29, An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, Bill C-30, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act, Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, Bill C-35, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, Bill C-38, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, Bill C-43, An Act to enact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Labour Relations Modernization Act and to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act, Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act, Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (interception of private communications and related warrants and orders), Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, Bill C-52, An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations, Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mega-trials), Bill C-54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual offences against children), Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts, Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act, Bill S-7, An Act to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act, Bill S-10, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, and Bill S-13, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America; (b) were victims groups consulted in the development of any of these bills and, if so, which groups where consulted, on which bills and what advice was given to the government; (c) broken down per year since 2000-2001, what programs specifically directed to victims of crime has the government funded, how many victims have been served by these programs and how are these services accessed by victims of crime; (d) what is the funding, broken down per year over the past 10 years and over the next 10 years, for grants and contributions for victims of crime; (e) what is the formal position of the government concerning the role that rehabilitation plays in reducing victimization; (f) what is the formal position of the government concerning the role that crime prevention programming plays in reducing victimization; and (g) what empirical evidence does the government have that mandatory minimum sentences will address the needs of victims of crime?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 21st, 2011

With regard to correctional programming provided by Correctional Services Canada (CSC): (a) what are the reasons that explain the sharp decrease in the number of inmates participating in the Living Skills Program since 2000-2001; (b) what are the reasons that explain the sharp increase in the number of inmates participating in the Violent Offenders Program since 2000-2001; (c) how many offenders who are required to participate in correctional programs refuse to participate, broken down by year, since 2000-2001; (d) what are the reasons that explain the sharp decrease in the number of inmates participating in the Substance Abuse Program since 2000-2001; (e) how many offenders are diagnosed on intake as having a substance abuse problem for which they require treatment; (f) how many inmates are otherwise believed by CSC to have an addictions issues; (g) what course of action does CSC take when an inmate diagnosed with an addiction refuses to participate in Substance Abuse programming; (h) what is the cost per inmate to participate in the Substance Abuse Program, broken down per year since 2000-2001; (i) how is CSC programming addressing mentally ill inmates and their associated behavioural issues; (j) on what basis does CSC decide which programs will be offered at which institutions; (k) how does CSC ensure that inmates will have access to the programs they need if all programs are not offered at every institution; (l) in light of the CSC statement that it “will not be expanding the types of programs offered to offenders,” how will CSC meet the diverse needs of the growing inmate population; (m) does CSC have plans to cut the number of programs available to inmates and, if so, which programs and when; (n) what is the Integrated Correctional Program Model, how is it administered to inmates and what current CSC programs will it replace; (o) what are the reasons that explain the increase of inmates participating in the Sex Offender Program in 2009-2010; (p) how many inmates, broken down by year since 2000-2001, have been evaluated by CSC and have been found to require sex offender programming and how many of those inmates have participated in Sex Offender programming, broken down by year since 2000-2001; (q) what is the cost per inmate to participate in the Sex Offender Program, broken down per year since 2000-2001; (r) what is the per inmate spending on correctional programs, broken down annually since 2000-2001; (s) with regard to other correctional intervention programs, broken down per year since 2000-2001, what is the per inmate spending each of the following programs: (i) Offender Case management, (ii) Community Engagement, (iii) Spiritual Services, (iv) Offender Education, (v) CORCAN Employment and Employability; (t) what is the Correctional Reintegration Program, what does it do and where is it available?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 21st, 2011

With regard to federal lands in Pickering, Ontario: (a) what is the status of the Needs Assessment Study for a potential Pickering Airport, which Transport Canada (TC) commissioned the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) to complete, and what are its primary recommendations; (b) will it be released to the public and, if so, when; (c) it there a way a Member of Parliament can obtain a copy of the study and, if so, how; (d) has the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities determined the government's official position concerning the proposal by the GTAA to develop an airport on federal lands in Pickering Lands and, if so, what is it; (e) if the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has not yet determined the official position, when will he; (f) was Transport Canada made aware of the recent announcement made by the Sifton family, owners of the Buttonville airport in Markham, that the airport will close before the announcement was made in November 2010 and has Transport Canada been working with the Sifton Family on this matter; (g) how will this development impact decisions concerning federal lands in Pickering; (h) will the government agree to consult with the Member of Parliament for Ajax—Pickering and the community on any future demolition proposal before any final decision is taken; (i) what are the government's plans to preserve, restore and protect structures deemed as heritage structures by the City of Pickering or advisors to the City, including the houses located at 5050 Sideline 24, the “Richardson-Will House”; 840 Concession 8 Road, the “Stouffville Christian School”, 5413 Sideline 30, the “Century City”, 429 Concession 8 Road, the “Tran House”, 140 Concession 7 Road, the “Michell House” or “Perennial Gardens”, 5165 Sideline 22, 1095 Uxbridge-Pickering Townline, the “Hammond House”, 5245 Sideline 28, the "Hoover-Watson" House, 635 Uxbridge-Pickering, the "Worker’s Cottages", and the Bentley-Carruthers House, located at Concession 8/Sideline 32, which Transport Canada initially agreed to protect but boarded up in December 2010; (j) does the government have any plans to reinstate the Transport Canada Heritage Working Group; and (k) does the government have any plans to rescind the no-re-rental policy on residential structures and begin to re-rent residential properties when they become vacant?

Questions on the Order Paper March 21st, 2011

With regard to the Canadian Firearms Program: (a) how many long guns have been seized since the inception of the long-gun registry and, of those seized, how many were registered and how many were unregistered; (b) how many long-guns have been seized from individuals as a result of a diagnosed mental illness or emotional instability and, of those, how many were registered and how many were not; (c) how many long-guns have been seized from individuals who have been charged with a violent or serious criminal offense, what were those criminal offenses, broken down by category and, of those, how many of the long-guns seized were registered and how many were not; (d) how many long-guns have been seized from individuals who have been charged or convicted of spousal abuse or domestic violence of any kind and, of those guns seized, how many were registered and how many were not; and (e) how many long-guns have been seized for other reasons than those mentioned above, what are those reasons, and how many of the seized weapons were registered and how many were not?

Pickering March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in March 1811, at Thompson's Tavern in Brougham, the first meeting of the township of Pickering was held and a new municipality born.

Two hundred years later, the now city of Pickering is kicking off its bicentennial year.

Born on Rougemount Drive, I have watched our small suburb grow into a booming community 100,000 strong. Now among the most diverse in Canada, it has one of the highest percentages of young families in the nation.

Pickering is rich not only in its diversity of people but also in its landscape. From large tracts of prime agricultural land to historic hamlets, like Brougham, Whitevale, Cherrywood, Greenwood and Claremont, Pickering has retained its small town character and heritage even as it expands.

In this bicentennial year, I call upon the government to finally respect and celebrate our history rather than tear it down, to recognize heritage structures on federal land, invest in them and stop their neglect and destruction. Two hundred years of history deserves no less.

I congratulate Mayor Ryan and members of council on an exciting year of celebrations ahead and wish then a happy bicentennial.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is not me who is making these accusations. It is the RCMP that raided the Conservative Party headquarters. It is the law enforcement officials who laid charges against senior Conservative organizers and senators. There is also the fact that only one party has a demonstrated paper trail of doing this. Therefore, the notion that we should investigate everyone and use committee time to go after them when there is no evidence that anyone but the Conservative Party did this is to distract Parliament and to waste time.

We need to look at the independent agencies that are responsible for overseeing these matters, which have determined that the Conservatives have broken the rules. For having done so, the Conservatives are now facing charges and potential jail time. And because they have done so, we need to investigate this matter.

However, the Conservative Party would like to waste as much time as possible, searching out every possible corner so that it delays this matter for as long as possible.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the member raises an excellent point. If this is such a minor issue and the Conservatives have nothing to hide, why are they blocking all of the processes that would provide us with the answers that we need to get to the bottom of it?

I would also point out that people do not get charged and do not get threatened with jail time on administrative issues. It is no longer an administrative issue when someone faces the possibility of going to jail.

The Conservatives have talked about this as just an accounting issue. Similarly, accountants are not in the practice of falsifying documents to break rules; and when they are, they are charged. We would no more accept an accountant who tries to cook the books to get a particular outcome to deceive shareholders than we would a political party trying to break the rules and move around the numbers to try to garner an unfair, illicit advantage in a campaign.

I think the following is an extremely important point and it blows me away that the government will not acknowledge it: the idea that we have fair, balanced and equal elections should be a fundamental precept of our democracy.