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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is respect.

Liberal MP for Charlottetown (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 39.50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will just respond to that last comment. All of us here share a goal of there being fewer victims of child sexual violence. We all share that goal.

Where we differ is whether the approach should be driven by evidence or by ideology. As to the suggestion that we are grasping at straws to find a way: no, we are trying to find a way that creates fewer victims.

The member for Kildonan—St. Paul indicated that throughout the summer we heard from many victims on Bill C-26, and yes, indeed, we did. I was in that room. One of the things we heard repeatedly from victims and from those in the system is that the fiscal measures are not adequate to address the problems. As Kyle Kirkup said: “Got a complex social issue? There’s a prison for that.” We need to be much more sophisticated in our approaches.

I have a question for the hon. member. Can she identify non-legislative fiscal measures that the government can and should be doing for there to be fewer victims of child sexual violence in this country?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, throughout the debate today the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul has been posing questions that would seem to indicate that this seeming contradiction between a two-year increase in sexual offences at the same time that mandatory minimums are being increased can be explained away by the phenomenon of more people reporting.

I would like to invite the member to expand on that. She has a theory that the reason these offences are increasing at the same time as mandatory minimums are going up is that more people are reporting. Is there some empirical evidence to support that statement, or is that simply an impression that she has developed as a result of people phoning and e-mailing her? I would be interested to know whether there is any evidentiary basis for that assertion.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for her speech. Certainly, as someone who has had a long career in law enforcement, she has a very valuable perspective to offer.

My questions throughout the morning have been on the subject of mandatory minimum sentences. As someone who has worked so closely on these horrible crimes, she undoubtedly shares the goal of all of us here that we should adopt measures that work and that result in fewer victims.

I would like to cite three studies that have commented on mandatory minimums. The Department of Justice, in 1990, found:

The evidence shows that long periods served in prison increase the chance that the offender will offend again.

In 1990, researched commissioned by the Solicitor General concluded the following:

To argue for expanding the use of imprisonment in order to deter criminal behaviour is without empirical support.

A Massachusetts study from 2004 called mandatory minimums:

…a recipe for recidivism rather than a recipe for effective risk reduction.

My question for the minister is whether she is aware of a single contradictory study.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we share the goal of there being fewer victims of child sexual offences. We all share that goal in this House. It is therefore critically important that we seek ways to reduce the number of victims who are affected. The mode of choice for the current government is mandatory minimum sentences.

There were mandatory minimum sentences introduced in Bill C-10, which came into effect in 2012, and since then, the incidence of child sexual offences has increased. The answer in Bill C-26 is to take those mandatory minimums we had in Bill C-10 and increase them. Given that this has not worked, would the member agree with me that we must be more creative in trying to cause there to be fewer victims rather than doing over and over again what is not working?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I believe, on all sides of the House, it is fair to say that we abhor these terrible crimes and we should all seek to have fewer victims.

I would like to have an adult conversation about mandatory minimum penalties.

We believe in evidence-based decision making. In 1990, the justice department said, in a report:

The evidence shows that long periods served in prison increase the chance that the offender will offend again.

In 1999, research commissioned by the Solicitor General concluded that:

To argue for expanding the use of imprisonment in order to deter criminal behaviour is without empirical support.

In 2004, a Massachusetts report called mandatory minimums “a recipe for recidivism rather than a recipe for effective risk reduction”.

Would the parliamentary secretary point us to one study that shows that mandatory minimum sentences would create fewer victims?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her thoughtful speech.

There were several specific themes that she touched upon that really resonated with me. I certainly appreciate her comments with respect to the need to support victims. We are grappling with that issue right now at the justice committee with the victims bill of rights.

The member said we need to adopt measures that will work. What we know is that the go-to, the default tool of the government, is mandatory minimum sentences. We saw a bunch of them imposed in Bill C-10; now we hear that there is 6% increase in these horrible crimes after the imposition of these mandatory minimum sentences. What are we doing in this bill? We are increasing them again.

The member referred specifically to two non-legislative initiatives that should be encouraged. That was also something that resonated with me. She talked about increased policing and the circles of support and accountability.

In keeping with our mutual wish to adopt measures that work, knowing that mandatory minimums do not, I invite the member to perhaps add some additional comments or thoughts on where our efforts should be focused if we are truly targeted on trying to have fewer victims.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech and the work he does on the justice committee.

I want to raise with him a matter that I raised with the minister when he appeared before the committee on the bill. First, I hope it goes without saying that on all sides of the House we absolutely abhor these types of crime and agree that measures that work to reduce them should be taken.

In the the Safe Streets and Communities Act, Bill C-10, there were several mandatory minimum penalties imposed for these types of offences. Bill C-10 took effect in 2012. We heard from the parliamentary secretary that since 2012, incidents of these types of crime have gone up by 6%. I counted eight types of existing offences, and the parliamentary secretary said there were nine. However, we are increasing again the mandatory minimum sentences that were put in place or increased in Bill C-10. If they have not worked, why are we doing it again?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 7th, 2014

With regard to government funding, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group in the electoral district of Charlottetown, providing for each (i) the name of the recipient, (ii) the location of the recipient, indicating the municipality, (iii) the date, (iv) the amount, (v) the department or agency providing it, (vi) the program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) the nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?

Champlain Bridge November 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, can you imagine if the Americans decided to change the name of the George Washington Bridge to the Babe Ruth Bridge? Every Canadian admires Maurice Richard, who has Acadian roots. There are many ways to honour the Rocket but not by changing the name of the Champlain Bridge.

Does the Prime Minister need to be reminded that Samuel de Champlain is a key figure in our history, that he was the founder of Canada and that, without him, Canada as we know it would not exist?

CSEC Accountability and Transparency Act October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, from across the aisle, I am being told we are different. However, we can learn a lot from best practices.

As I understand it, the original Five Eyes alliance was formed in 1946. It is the result of strategic bilateral agreements that allow each country to conduct independent intelligence gathering within its own jurisdiction and ensure that it is shared with the other four members of the alliance by default.

This alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand is long-standing. I am curious as to why the Conservative government is reluctant to join the other four members of the Five Eyes alliance in their efforts to maintain sufficient oversight. I think the explanation that we just heard, that we are different, does not quite cut it. At this time, under the current government, Canadians would be well served by additional parliamentary oversight.

Yesterday in the House, the leader of the Liberal Party, the hon. member for Papineau, urged the Prime Minister to strike a proper balance between security and civil liberties. The member for Papineau also correctly indicated that Canada is not facing this issue alone. We are certainly not the only western democracy that struggles to simultaneously protect the security and the rights of its citizens.

There is no doubt in my mind that this debate will reference the tragic events that took place here last week, in fact it already has, and also in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Those awful events should remain with us as legislators and we should seek to prevent more tragedies.

With that being said, the atrocities committed last week should not be the only guiding thought when we deal with issues of terrorism and national security. We need to remain committed to striking the balance I keep referring to and to be careful not to rush into knee-jerk reactions, to borrow a phrase from Justice John Major, when it comes to something so important.

I was impressed by the measured, respectful joint statement by the Privacy and Information Commissioners of Canada. I would like to read it into the record before continuing with my own thoughts on this matter. I quote:

The following days, weeks and months will be critical in determining the future course of action to ensure not only that Canada remains a safe country, but also that our fundamental rights and freedoms are upheld. Legislative changes being contemplated may alter the powers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

We acknowledge that security is essential to maintaining our democratic rights. At the same time, the response to such events must be measured and proportionate, and crafted so as to preserve our democratic values.

To that end, the Privacy and Information Commissioners of Canada call on the federal Government:

To adopt an evidence-based approach as to the need for any new legislative proposal granting additional powers for intelligence and law enforcement agencies;

To engage Canadians in an open and transparent dialogue on whether new measures are required, and if so, on their nature, scope, and impact on rights and freedoms;

To ensure that effective oversight be included in any legislation establishing additional powers for intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Canadians both expect and are entitled to equal protection for their privacy and access rights and for their security. We must uphold these fundamental rights that lie at the heart of Canada’s democracy.

I am sure members can understand why I felt it was so important to read that statement into the record. The third recommendation from the Privacy and Information Commissioners of Canada is most important to the subject of the bill. The commissioners are requesting effective oversight. Effective oversight consists of a parliamentary committee. We are all here in the House to, I hope, uphold the fundamental rights that lie at the heart of Canada's democracy. We do that on behalf of our constituents and on behalf of our country.

Let me say in closing, we cannot simply accept short-term political considerations based on a reaction to fear to be our guiding principle in matters of national security and intelligence gathering. Likewise, fear should not and cannot trump our fundamental rights as Canadians. Our rights do not flow from security laws; they flow from our fundamental values and freedoms and our ability to exercise those rights even when our sense of security is under attack.

We should not, we must not, subjugate our rights to the ebb and flow of circumstances or tragedy. I hope that some of my colleagues on the other side of the House will take note of the support from the National Firearms Association and break away from their traditional “just vote no” mentality to this opposition private members' bill and that they demonstrate that they understand the true merit of a bill of this nature.