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Track Rick

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is police.

Conservative MP for Northumberland—Quinte West (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 53.80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, absolutely. As I mentioned in my speech, we would be able to provide the Canada Border Services Agency with the ability to access the sex offender registry, put an obligation on the people who have been convicted, and say that if they are going to travel outside of this country, we can keep an eye on them.

We know that there are certain countries in the world where pedophiles like to go. I will not mention the countries in particular because we do not want to create some problems, but I think most of us know that there are certain Asian countries and other places in the world where it is easier to get access to young children. We are co-operating with those governments, and we want to be able to make sure we can keep an eye on those people leaving Canada.

We need to protect children not just within our country. We have an obligation as citizens of the world to protect those vulnerable citizens, those children, throughout the rest of the world. That is what part of this legislation would do. As the member just mentioned, it would give the tools to the Canada Border Services Agency that it needs to keep track of people who are disposed to want to cause terrible harm to young children.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, absolutely, I do believe in prevention. However, I believe that prevention for certain criminal offences is more difficult than for others. We can prevent theft by taking certain steps as citizens to discourage people from taking things from our houses.

When it comes to people who prey on our children, they are pedophiles. In my past and present experience, I have talked to psychiatrists who treat people with pedophilia, and there is no real cure for it. How do we prevent a pedophile from engaging in what we consider to be an aberration and a terrible act against the most vulnerable in society?

Most of these pedophiles are what we would consider to be very intelligent, meaning that they know how to gain trust in order to get at their prey, which is our children. They put themselves in positions of authority, so we as a society have brought in measures to make sure we check the criminal background of people like teachers and boy scout leaders, anyone who has access to young people. We could say that this is prevention, somewhat.

The real prevention is letting the people who are pedophiles know that if they commit this crime, there will be consequences and they will be serious consequences. Additionally, if they do commit the crime and go to prison, we will do everything we can. We cannot necessarily cure them of that problem, but we will give them the tools with which to do so, through counselling and having psychologists and psychiatrists do their best to treat them, so that they can subdue these tendencies they have.

However, that takes a long time. That is why we are bringing in this legislation.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate because it is of extreme importance to all of us. The previous member just said how important it is and I would agree with him, although there will be some areas, I suspect, where we may not be in so much agreement.

Today I will focus my remarks on offender accountability, a key part of Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act. Indeed, our government has always placed considerable focus on improving our criminal justice system in order to shift more accountability onto offenders. The fact is that most offenders will eventually be returned to the community after incarceration. As such, our correctional system is set up to provide offenders with proper treatment and support, as required, to help them work through rehabilitation and eventual reintegration into the community.

The Correctional Service of Canada has a comprehensive program in place that helps guide offenders toward the right pathway to address the needs that led to criminal behaviour, including programs that address substance abuse, violent behaviour, sexual offences and mental health issues, among many others. Ultimately, the bulk of responsibility for successful rehabilitation and reintegration must rest with the offender.

Our government has made a number of changes to respond to the concerns of victims. In particular, in 2012, the Safe Streets and Communities Act put in place a number of measures that focus on offender accountability by expressly requiring in legislation that every offender has a correctional plan. We have created an environment in which offender accountability is placed at the forefront.

From the moment offenders enter the federal correction system, it is made clear that they must follow a well-defined correctional plan that includes expectations for behaviour, as well as objectives for the program participation and for meeting court-ordered obligations such as restitution to victims or child support. This is done in collaboration with offenders, so they take part in building that program.

Before I go any further, I would like to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.

We have also modernized the current disciplinary system, creating new disciplinary offences for disrespectful and intimidating behaviour either toward staff or inmates. Once outside the institution, offenders are also expected to continue on the right path.

Peace officers can now arrest, without warrant, an offender who they believe to be in breach of a condition related to the offender's conditional release and offenders who receive a new custodial sentence automatically have their parole or statutory release suspended. We have recently taken further steps to assist in offender rehabilitation by supporting amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act regarding vexatious complaints. We now have a process in place that promotes offender accountability by encouraging inmates to resolve problems through appropriate means rather than burdening the complaint and grievance system with frivolous complaints.

We have introduced the drug-free prisons act, which would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to provide the Parole Board of Canada with additional legislative tools to ensure that parole applicants who failed drug tests would be denied parole. Addressing offender behaviour while individuals are incarcerated is critical.

We have also reinstated the accountability of offenders act, legislation that, if passed, will require offenders to pay off any debts they owe to society before receiving any monetary award resulting from legal action against the Crown. Just as important is making it clear that offenders must continue to address their needs and make proper choices once they are released from penitentiary.

The parole system is set up to help offenders do just this, using the appropriate checks and balances and oversight of offenders, depending on their criminal history and risk to society. While we have taken action to strengthen the conditional release system, some gaps remain that need to be addressed. It is critical, particularly when we consider the risk to our children, that we ensure a child sex offender cannot find a loophole in the law that gives him or her an opportunity to commit another such devastating crime.

That brings me to the legislation at hand.

A key tool we have to ensure police are aware of the location and other information on convicted sexual offenders is the national sex offender registry. Administered by the RCMP and accessible by police forces across the country, the registry contains vital information about convicted sex offenders, such as name and address, where they work, their physical description, and absences from their residence for seven days or more.

A number of amendments to the Sex Offender Information Registration Act came into force in 2011 to ensure that the registry is a proactive law enforcement tool that contains the names of all registered sex offenders.

While it is an important law enforcement tool, there are some gaps found within the act that need to be addressed. Specifically, the rules surrounding travel notification must be tightened as they relate to international travel of registered sex offenders who have committed a sexual offence against a child.

As we have heard, Bill C-26 would accomplish this in a number of ways. It would require offenders who have been convicted of child sex offences to report trips of any duration outside of Canada, as well as to provide information about the exact dates of travel and where they plan to stay while abroad. All other registered sex offenders would be required to report all addresses or locations in which they expect to stay, as well as expected dates of departure and return for trips of seven days or more within or outside Canada.

It would allow for information-sharing between the Canada Border Services Agency and officials with the national sex offender registry. This would add a safeguard measure at our borders to ensure offenders are following notification procedures and registration requirements. Further, it could help make investigations of crimes of a sexual nature possible.

The bill would also create a new stand-alone legislation that would create a national database that would be accessible to the general public. That database would contain information about high-risk child sex offenders who have been the subject of public notification in a province or territory.

There are also several amendments proposed to the Criminal Code that would increase penalties for child sex offenders and, particularly relevant to our push for more offender accountability, they would ensure that any crime committed while an offender is on parole, on unescorted temporary absence, on statutory release, or under a conditional sentence order would be considered an aggravating factor in the determination of a sentence for a new crime.

All told, these proposed measures would create a much stronger system that would place another level of accountability on convicted sex offenders; a system in which offenders would live with the knowledge that border services officers would be alerted to high-risk child sex offenders who travel abroad; a system in which high-risk child sex offenders know that any public notifications released about them in a specific province would now be available to the general public right across the country.

All of these measures would serve to emphasize to offenders the importance of following all conditions and making the right decision in order to remain in the community.

They would also build in another layer of safety and security for citizens who worry about registered sex offenders living and working in their communities and travelling throughout the country, as well as abroad.

I am proud to support these efforts and I ask all members in this House to join with me in giving the legislation a swift passage.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the question I have for the parliamentary secretary is based on his legal experience and from someone who has about 30-plus years of policing experience. We are dealing with child sexual offences. Generally, although not always, they are committed by pedophiles.

To the best of my knowledge, pedophilia has no cure. To the best of my knowledge, all we can do is to empower a person who has this distorted sense of sexuality, shall we say, and give them the tools to be able to subdue it somehow, whether through chemicals or other types of training or education. We know that this takes a substantial amount of time, having spoken myself to people who are trying to working in our prison system to do those very things.

The parliamentary secretary talked about our most precious resource, our children. These are our children and anything inappropriate that happens to them will have lifelong effects on them. Therefore, would mandatory minimum sentences not give the perpetrator of these crimes sufficient time in our prison system to be able to at least subdue those urges, which are totally and entirely inappropriate?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I find the member's comments interesting. The Liberal Party was the government for some 13 years before this. If the oversight body is that bad, why did the Liberals not do something about it? It is funny how when it is the third party, it begins to see the light and things happen. Quite frankly, it was good enough in their 13 years, and I accept that. I believe this oversight body is good enough for us now. It has done, and is doing, a fine job.

With regard to why the police, CSIS or someone not laying charges against this person or that person, after 30 years of policing and people sitting back quarterback judging, I would like the police and the authorities do their jobs. There are reasons things happen and there are sometimes reasons things do not happen. I leave it up to the people who do the job. It is not members of Parliament who are investigating these 80 or 140 people.

When we stand here and begin to criticize authorities because they did not do something or should be doing something, we are meddling in affairs about which we have to be careful. Let us let the police and CSIS authorities do their job as to when it is appropriate for charges to be laid, or not laid. There is intelligence going on here and we should not be second-guessing the people who are here to make us feel safe. I trust their judgement and will support them from this very chair. From this side of the House, our Conservative government supports our law enforcement agencies.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the events we have seen around the world, especially when it concerns the radicalization of citizens within their own countries, and the evidence we have already received from the RCMP and CSIS before the public safety and national security committee just a few weeks ago, before the terrible events of October 20 and 21, shows us that we have had this conversation. We have talked about these issues and discussed them.

If we listen to the member's adjectives and adverbs, the powers we would be giving CSIS are no greater than the powers we already give our police officers. We want to put them on a level playing field. I firmly believe we have the checks and balances in place with our police forces. They would be the same checks and balances that exist with CSIS. It has an oversight body that would ensure this legislation would meet with the desired results.

CSIS is there to keep us safe. CSIS is not the enemy of Canada. CSIS is our friend, our protector and is there to ensure the safety and security of Canadians. This is why we need to ensure we give that organization the tools it needs to do its job.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure and privilege to rise today to add my voice to the debate on the protection of Canada from terrorists act.

As members know, the bill was not tabled in haste, and it has not been tabled as a stopgap measure in reaction to the terrible acts of violence our nation has witnessed in recent weeks. Indeed, as the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has made abundantly clear, this legislation was drafted and ready for tabling on the very day that a terrorist killed one of our Canadian Armed Forces members who was standing watch over the tomb of the unknown soldier, on the very day that this same terrorist ran down the hallways of this building before our brave law enforcement and House of Commons security forces brought him down. This bill was drafted with much thought and consideration in the light of the evolving terrorist threat facing all western democracies.

The two Canadian Armed Forces members who were murdered on October 20 and October 22 were the victims of individuals who had the same goals: to terrorize Canadians and frighten us into losing our resolve for doing that which is right and just.

Today we are debating Bill C-44, which would make amendments to the CSIS Act. These amendments include, among others, ensuring that CSIS has the tools it needs to investigate threats to the security of Canada outside of Canada, as well as creating a means to protect the identity of CSIS' human sources from disclosure. The bill would also make technical amendments to the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act to allow our government to seek earlier implementation of the citizenship revocation provisions, which received royal assent on June 19.

These amendments are critical to clarify the role of CSIS in light of recent court decisions that have addressed the important aspects of the mandate and investigative authorities of CSIS.

However, legislation is only part of the solution to countering terrorism and violent extremism.

A key part of our government's counterterrorism strategy involves building partnerships with Canadian communities over the long term. The focus of these partnerships is to develop resilience and foster critical thinking about extremist messaging and to help devise effective means to intervene during the radicalization to violence process.

The troubling phenomenon of individuals travelling to commit terrorism is a fast-emerging component of radicalization to violence. As we have heard from CSIS and the RCMP recently, we know of a significant number of Canadians who have travelled to hot zones like Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria to join terrorist organizations, to undergo terrorist training and to conduct terrorist activity.

This is of grave concern for many reasons.

We are concerned because we care about young Canadians dying abroad. We are concerned because we want to prevent the damage that may cost human life and to societies struggling in the face of deep divisions. We are also concerned about what happens if these foreign fighters return home. Battle hardened and fully radicalized, they have tremendous potential as terrorist actors in Canada, and, even more important, real credibility as agents of radicalization in their own right.

However, we are tackling this issue in a number of ways.

One way is the revocation of citizenship of dual citizens who have, for example, served as members of an armed group engaged in conflict with Canada or have been convicted of terrorism.

Another way is to attack the movements and activities of those who have managed to leave the country in order to engage in activities that are a threat to the security of Canada. Again, this is part of the bill before us, which is to ensure the authority of CSIS is clear and is able to investigate threats outside of Canada.

Still another way is through initiatives like the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security, CCRS, jointly led by Public Safety Canada and the Department of Justice. The CCRS is an excellent example of collaboration between the federal government and diverse communities across Canada. It brings together leading citizens from their respective communities, with extensive experience in social culture issues, to regularly engage with the government on long-term national security issues.

The CCRS meets three times a year to cover a wide scope of issues under the national security umbrella: resiliency, cybersecurity and airport security, among many others.

Over the past several years, the CCRS has focused much of its attention on the topic of countering violent extremism. It has been key in providing guidance and shaping how we talk to Canadians about this issue.

Through this forum, we look to our leaders and communities to help us better understand how to build trust with diverse communities, identifying the tools that communities need, and identifying contributing factors and intervention programs for persons who may be at risk to radicalization to violence.

CCRS members have also helped bridges into communities. Most recent, Public Safety undertook dedicated dialogues with communities on the topic of radicalization leading to violence. Communities are often the first to see suspicious signs or behaviours by others if they are planning something such as travel, attack planning, radicalization and recruiting others. We value the input we receive through these regular meetings.

Countering violent extremism is a defining challenge of our times, a challenge facing Canada and all nations that believe in the rule of law and the rights of our citizens to live in a safe and secure society.

As members can see, our government has been actively pursuing a robust strategy to counterterrorism activity and violent extremism well before the recent attacks on the Canadian Forces members last month.

We have been open in discussing that threat with the citizens of Canada through our counterterrorism strategy released in 2012 and two subsequent public reports on the terrorist threat to Canada which were released in 2013 and 2014.

Today, I have shared just a vew of the measures we are taking that speak to the “prevent, detect and deny” pillars of our strategy. This includes fostering trust and encouraging collaboration between government and communities. It includes preserving the integrity of Canadian citizenship by allowing certain provisions found within the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act to come into force earlier than planned. It also includes getting our society and intelligence agencies the tools they need to protect the safety and security of Canadians.

We must move ahead with these amendments with purpose and without delay.

I ask all members to join us in supporting the legislation. I ask all members to join us in protecting Canadians.

Energy Safety and Security Act November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that question just confirms what the hon. member for Durham said about the NDP. It is really not interested in what the liabilities are and the fact that we are increasing them. It just does not like the nuclear industry and wants to find any excuse whatsoever to not support the legislation.

Let me assure the hon. member that the Canadian nuclear industry post-Fukushima was reviewed by a task force created by that industry by the commission itself in 2011.

The hon. member for Durham has said, and this is a fact, that in over half a dozen countries around the world and in this country, there have been no nuclear incidents that caused anywhere near the concern that the hon. member refers to in Japan. That accident occurred due mostly to human error, and that is not a fault of the nuclear industry but a human error.

In Canada, with the nuclear reactors that we have, the CANDU reactors, those types of human errors have not occurred and are highly unlikely to occur. To reassure the member, the legislation says that once that threshold of $1 billion is exceeded, the matter comes back before this Parliament, before the government, and the House will decide what further action needs to be taken.

Energy Safety and Security Act November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we do not think that it is either the environment or jobs. We believe that the responsible use of our natural resources coupled with environmental protection is doable, and that is what the bill actually enhances.

We know that the extractors of this country, whether it be the petroleum industry, the mining industry or the forestry sector, all combined, create the basis of our economy, the basis upon which much of our economy is founded.

We can do that responsibly. Indeed, Canadians are known around the world as some of the best mining researchers. Almost every single operation around the world has mining engineers or someone from the Canadian mining industry involved. We have learned from other countries that do not have the track record that we have. We have learned that responsible resource management and the protection of the environment go hand in hand to create jobs. I want to thank the hon. member who comes from an area of Canada where this is most important.

The hon. member for Durham talked about the nuclear industry and the jobs it created. In my riding, which is adjacent to Darlington, we produce nuclear fuel. Cameco Corporation is the largest non-government employer in Northumberland County.

We know all too well the importance of this industry to Canada. I thank the hon. member for Durham for bringing that to the attention of the House and all Canadians.

Energy Safety and Security Act November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act, and particularly on the ways in which the bill would enhance environmental protection.

As part of our responsible resource development plan, our government has been clear that the development of our natural resources will only proceed if it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.

Over the past year, our government has initiated a series of new measures to ensure that the development of our natural resources in the offshore is balanced with the protection of the environment. For example, we have increased the number of tanker inspections, required the use of double-hulled ships, and we have improved navigational tools and surveillance used in offshore.

Our government has worked closely with the governments of Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure that Canada's offshore oil and gas regime remains world class. In each province, offshore oil and gas projects are closely and jointly managed by a federal-provincial offshore board, namely the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

Bill C-22, the proposed energy safety and security act, builds on this work and would provide a world-class regulatory regime for Canada's offshore oil and gas sectors, as well as the nuclear sector, while strengthening protection for Canadians and the environment.

Bill C-22 is focused on the three main areas: prevention, response, and accountability. Today I would like to focus on the area of accountability, namely polluter pays.

In our Speech from the Throne, our government committed to enshrining the polluter pays principle into law. Bill C-22 would do exactly this. It would place accountability on industry and protect Canadian taxpayers in the unlikely event of an accident.

The polluter pays principle assigns responsibility to the polluter, who would have to pay for any damage done to the environment as well as any associated cleanup costs. In doing so, this principle would encourage industry to put more emphasis on the need to protect the environment through the course of its operations.

Under Bill C-22, our government would deliver on the promise to enshrine the polluter pays principle in the law for the offshore civil liability regime.

The current offshore civil liability regime is twofold. First, in the event of an at-fault accident, the offshore operator is subject to covering all costs related to cleanup and remediation. Second, an offshore operator could be subject to absolute liability, even without fault, of up to $30 million in Atlantic Canada and $40 million in the Arctic. This means that if an operator deliberately or negligently causes an accident, it is wholly responsible for all damages and cleanup costs. If it is not negligent in causing the accident, the offshore operator is liable for the accident and any damages that emanate from it, but only up to $30 million in the case of the Atlantic offshore and $40 million in the Arctic. This is clearly out of date, and the legislation before us will update these liability limits.

One of the key features of Bill C-22 is that it will raise the absolute liability limit to $1 billion. This would bring Canada's offshore liability limit in line with other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. It would mean that if a company caused an accident in the offshore or Arctic but was not found at fault or negligent, it must cover costs of up to $1 billion. I think we can all agree that this would be a significant improvement from the current $30 million and $40 million, in the offshore Atlantic and Arctic respectively.

Unlimited liability will remain. This means that if found at fault, a company must pay for all of the costs regardless of how much they are.

Another key feature is that the legislation would establish a basis to seek environmental damages. This would ensure that any damage to species, coastlines, or other public resources could be addressed in a timely and effective manner. The civil liability regime created under the bill would be one of the most robust and comprehensive in the world.

In addition to actual losses, environmental damages resulting from an accident will be included in the new civil liability regime. This is an important aspect of our legislation, and I would like to outline what can be claimed under that regime.

The regime is set out in three broad categories of damage, as follows: first, claims for all actual loss or damages incurred by any person as a result of an incident; second, the costs and expenses incurred by the federal government, a provincial government, or any other person in taking action in respect of a spill; and the third category would cover claims by the federal or provincial governments for loss of what is referred to as “non-use value” relating to a public resource that is damaged by a spill.

The scope of what would be included under the first category of damage is broad. It would cover all actual loss or damage, including loss of income and future income. With respect to aboriginal peoples, it would include the loss of hunting, fishing, and gathering opportunities. This head of damage would include the loss of what falls under the term “use value”, which would include claims for damages to what is commonly referred to as “ecosystem services”.

The second category of damage would enable the federal and provincial governments, or any other party, such as third-party response contractors, to recoup the costs they incur in the course of taking measures to respond to or mitigate a spill.

The third and final category of damage would create liability for loss of what falls under the term “non-use value” in relation to public resource. This would mean that the federal government or provincial government could bring forward a claim for damage to environmental assets that are valuable to Canadians and future generations.

We introduced authority to account for loss of non-use value in the calculation of fines for environmental offences, in 2009.

Bill C-22 would mark the first time that civil claims for loss or of non-use value of public resources would be available under federal legislation. This would clearly be a big step in improving environmental protection. I am proud that our government has brought it forward.

In conclusion, future generations depend upon our taking a long view of protection: establishing clear liability rules, plus an economically meaningful marker demonstrating that we value the full scope of benefits that we receive from our environment.

Bill C-22 would recognize the economic and social value of our natural resource assets, and the diverse and unique value that the environment holds for Canadians.

I urge all of my hon. colleagues to support this important legislation, and I remain available for any questions that may arise.