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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Charlottetown (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 50.06% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 25th, 2011

With regard to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC): (a) how many persons were employed by VAC in Prince Edward Island for each of the fiscal years 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, broken down by (i) full-time employees, (ii) part-time employees, (iii) term contract employees, (iv) student contract employees; and (b) what was the total remuneration for VAC employees in Prince Edward Island for the same periods in (a)?

Resignation of Members March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, and colleagues in the House of Commons, I was elected to the House in November 2000 and have had the pleasure and honour of representing the riding of Charlottetown during the past four Parliaments. This has been a tremendous honour for me and one for which I will be forever grateful to the voters who live in that great and historic city of Charlottetown.

I have decided that I will not be a candidate in the next general election and, like the speakers who spoke before me, it is with mixed emotions that I address the House today, which will likely be my very last time.

I look back on the last ten and a half years with many fond memories, dealing with great people and, most important, having the opportunity to debate and decide upon some of the issues, great issues, that affect our country. There are many who helped me greatly along the way.

First are my parents, the late Bill Murphy and Kathleen Murphy. Unfortunately, my father died prior to me being elected to Parliament. I am sure if he had lived longer, he would have enjoyed watching the many debates that took place in the House.

My wife, Yvette, has been so tremendously supportive over all these years. When I first was elected to Parliament, Yvette really did not follow politics all that closely. Now she is a political junkie. I am sure there has to be some de-programming sessions available out there for people like her and me, and we will both sign on, but not until June of this year.

Our children, who were students when I first was elected and who are now adults, Kevin, Paul and Brian, have always been at my side with their support when that support was needed.

I have hundreds and hundreds of volunteers in the riding of Charlottetown who helped me out during and between campaigns. I am not going to name them, but I want to thank each and every one of them.

To be an efficient, effective and productive member of Parliament, it really comes down to staff. I have been truly blessed with tremendous staff members who came to the job with the goal of serving the people of Charlottetown.

I will mention Corinne Reid who, after working with me for many years in a local law firm, joined me for the last ten and a half years in the constituency office; Barry MacMillan, who taught me the role of a politician as opposed to the role of the public servant; Mary Gillis, my administrative assistant, who has worked here for the past eight years and has done a tremendous job; and Lisa Callaghan, Michael Currie and the many others who have worked for me over the years and have all remained my close friends. I want to thank them. They have each contributed so much.

I want to thank all the clerks, analysts and other individuals who work for Parliament, some of whom are here today, and you, Mr. Speaker and your staff.

Finally, I want to thank my colleagues here today, from this Parliament, the 40th Parliament and the previous three Parliaments, from all parties. I want to thank them for all their guidance, their support, the many words and acts of kindness and the encouragement they have shown me over the past ten and a half years. Most important, I want to thank them for their friendship. I will miss this place. I will miss each and every one of them.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 21st, 2011

With regard to Building Canada Fund projects in Nova Scotia: (a) in which federal riding is each project located; (b) what is the description of each project; (c) what is the expected cost of each project; and (d) what is the expected completion date of each project?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Eglinton—Lawrence indicated, this is an unusual set of circumstances. The member is quite right that this was apparently discussed by the Attorney General and his provincial counterparts previously and that there was an agreement made to do nothing. Then the incident with Mr. Chen arose and, of course, there was an overwhelming national outcry about his being sanctioned. It makes one wonder why the police officers or the crown prosecutors did not have the wisdom to see where this would lead and head it off at the pass. That, unfortunately, did not matter.

The member's question deals with restitution. I will leave that to the committee as it is a complicated area. It gets into whose responsibility is it. Is it Ottawa's or the provinces? We do not know all of the facts now, but I know Mr. Chen incurred substantial bills. The Canadian public certainly sympathizes with him and I believe it wants to see him get restitution, but we should leave that to the committee and let it have a full hearing on this very interesting and important issue.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House this afternoon to say a few words in this debate.

It is an interesting debate that I have been following very closely. It really blends in the issues that have been around a long time. First is the issue of self-defence. In other words, a resident of Canada has the basic right to protect his or her person, family or property and use whatever reasonable force is necessary, depending on the circumstances.

It follows in the continuum to the next issue of the right of someone to make a citizen's arrest. Generally, the law has been that a citizen's arrest is made during the commission of an offence. If we move along the continuum, we get into the whole issue of vigilantism, where someone or a group of people takes the law into its own hands. Of course, that principle is not supported in a free and democratic society.

This legislation arose from the case of Mr. Chen in Toronto. Certainly, no Canadian I have ever spoken to or heard from has expressed anything but support for Mr. Chen and the circumstances he found himself in. He obviously is a small business person who works hard, plays by the rules, pays his taxes and was the victim of a crime.

Unfortunately, he was not able to effect a citizen's arrest but did identify the victim. Lo and behold, a day or two after the commission of the original offence, the offender reappeared at Mr. Chen's place of business and the latter then effected a citizen's arrest. Unfortunately, at one point it looked as though he would be subject to sanctions from the authorities. Certainly every Canadian did not agree with that position, which was unfortunate, and the response has been overwhelming.

Since then, there have been a number of private members' bills and Bill C-60. This legislation would change the statute, but not substantially. Rather, it would broaden the statute and add the concept of a citizen's arrest being made not only on the commission of the offence but also on a reasonable time thereafter. Of course, that begs the question, which other members have spoken to, of what is a reasonable time.

At first blush, I believe most members of Parliament support this legislation, and I support it and its referral to committee. It is important to get this legislation to committee so that committee members can hear from some police officers, criminologists and experts who deal with this issue on a day-to-day basis.

It will be a very interesting debate in the committee and perhaps the committee will decide at the end of the day after hearing witnesses that the law does not require any changes, but it would appear now that there seems to be a fairly broad level of support for this particular initiative. I support it very cautiously, and I certainly will be deferring to others who are more knowledgeable in this area than I am and will be following the debate in committee very closely.

We get into this whole issue of what is reasonable. Do not forget that if anyone is ever charged with the offence of unlawful arrest, the Crown would have to be in a position to prove that offence beyond a reasonable doubt, which is an extremely high threshold. We could envisage all sorts of circumstances where a person or child was offended, assaulted or whatever, and then two weeks, three months or six months later, he or she decides to make an arrest without the powers, authority and respect that peace officers have.

That would lead to the next question of whether the person making the so-called citizen's arrest is entitled to use whatever reasonable force is necessary in the circumstances. Is he or she allowed to enter a private dwelling? Is he or she allowed to go to the person's workplace? There are some issues that will be given a full airing when the matter goes before the committee.

Again, it is extremely interesting. It is an issue that members should proceed cautiously on and whether the law requires tweaking or amendment, I believe, should be considered after the committee has had a good, long, hard look at this particular legislation.

As I said before, I will be voting for this legislation when it comes up for a vote at second reading and I will be following the issue extremely carefully before committee.

That basically concludes my remarks. I have summarized where I stand on the particular issue. It is an interesting issue that requires a little more discussion, review and analysis when it does go before committee.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have a comment as opposed to a question.

One issue the member did not address was the constitutional element embedded in our country, which is we have the separation of the parliamentary branch of government versus the judicial branch. What is said in the House or a committee of the House cannot be used in any judicial body or other evidence-taking body in our country. The reason for that is because of the separation.

If we accept the member's premise, then Parliament would become not a separate branch of government, but would be subservient to the courts of our land. Any issue, question or challenge raised in the House, within hours, could be brought before the courts. If we accepted the member's premise, then the House would go silent for three, four, eight years until the judicial proceedings and appeals were heard.

That it is embedded in our Constitution. It is part of our constitutional framework and it should not be changed by the assembly today.

Points of Order March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to that submission.

It is of no merit whatsoever and there is no Canadian authority that supports the notion that once a matter is before the court, this assembly in the House of Commons does not have jurisdiction to deal with the matter. That would be a total and absolute violation of our privileges as members of Parliament and this assembly.

In Canada we have a separation of the judicial branch, the legislative branch and the parliamentary branch. There is no authority and the parliamentary secretary did not cite any Speaker's ruling that would support the proposition that once a matter is brought before the court, this assembly is not allowed to discuss it.

Just think this through. In any situation that comes up, all a person would have to do is issue a writ in a court, originate a notice, and all of a sudden this House would be silent. The Canadian people would be silent. Parliament would be silent. There is no justification for that.

I have two points on this issue. First, the motion has been on the notice paper since last Friday. That is about 72 hours. Why was this point of order not raised before? Second, I do not know how many times questions on the issue in the motion have been asked in the House of Commons, but you would know, Mr. Speaker.

If the premise that has been advanced here today had any weight to it at all, then of course all those questions would also be out of order. Any issue that went before the courts would be out of order in this assembly. We have dealt with this situation many times before. We dealt with it in the Barbara George case; I dealt with that in committee. Even when we went through the sponsorship issue and the sides were reversed, that matter was in court. It was in court every day. We knew that. However, questions were asked and committee meetings were going on. The committee of inquiry tried to get hold of the proceedings before the committee but it could not because it would have been a breach of parliamentary privileges.

There is no authority for what the parliamentary secretary has stated. He cited some sentences of sub judice. I do not know what goes on in the other provinces, but he did not at any point in time refer to any instance in the 143 years this assembly has been in existence that we would change course, that we would become silent if somehow a matter were raised in court.

Mr. Speaker, I would therefore ask you to not allow this point of order.

Committees of the House March 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th Report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in relation to its study of the follow up of the Information Commissioner's report cards.

Curling February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the annual Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women's curling championship, is being hosted in my hometown of Charlottetown starting this weekend.

Curling is an important part of Canadian culture and a great winter pastime. Sometimes, in good humour, it is referred to as Canada's other winter sport.

In the province of Prince Edward Island, we have a very strong and competitive curling community. Men, women and youth enjoy their winters at curling clubs across the province and generally do well in national competitions.

I would like to wish all teams the very best of luck in this year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and in particular, the team representing P.E.I. made up of Suzanne Birt, who is the skip, Shelly Bradley, Robyn MacPhee, Leslie MacDougall, Tricia Affleck, and coach Paul Power.

I welcome all teams and fans to Charlottetown for this year's tournament. I encourage all members of the House to tune in to the action and cheer on their respective provincial teams.

Business of Supply February 17th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I disagree slightly with the member. It is not a Liberal or Conservative issue and it should not be a partisan issue. It is simply an attack on Parliament.

Parliament has a duty to hold the executive to account. One of the tools that has developed over the years and has been adopted in all Westminster systems is that Parliament, in its duty to hold the government to account, has the right to send for persons, papers and records or, in other words, to send for information. In this case, that information, for no good reason at all, is being withheld from Parliament. For that reason, this motion should pass.