House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was police.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Calgary Northeast (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 65% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House December 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I am pleased to report that the committee has considered the supplementary estimates (A) under justice for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008, and reports the same.

Canada Evidence Act November 21st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to address this issue. As a former police officer, I had numerous occasions to utilize confidential sources for information that led to maybe lengthy investigations and some major charges, which were only solved through the need to have a source. Those sources were very much protected as well as registered.

In fact, now I think all police departments in the country have a registry for sources. There were many dangers fraught with using sources among the police because the sources began to run the police. They would provide information to one police officer in one jurisdiction. At the same time, they would supply information to another police officer in another jurisdiction. Before the registry and the structure was developed, they were committing criminal acts themselves and getting away with it, sometimes unbeknownst to the handlers of the sources. Therefore, they became rather dangerous to any police officer who managed these sources, even though it was pertinent to the investigation.

I am not quite sure how journalists look at their position in this issue of protection of a source. Yes, they can receive confidential information. I can recall journalists being under substantial scrutiny by the police for obtaining information that was embargoed, even embargoed from the House. A lengthy hearing would pursue and journalists were subject to police scrutiny.

I do not know if it is a good idea to remove the authority of the police when it comes to investigating any kind of activity that may involve a source who has passed information, maybe very sensitive information, on to a journalist.

What does the member define a journalist as? I do not know if the bill clearly defines what a journalist is. Is it someone who carries credentials, or someone who is recognized by the media overall, or someone who temporarily acts in that position, or is the tag “journalist” put on anyone who reports to another new media or another source? It is difficult to understand where this is all going.

The provisions of the bill supercedes all other federal acts. I do not know if that is the intention of the crafter of the bill. Many of the provisions of the bill, especially the search warrant provision, should be in the Criminal Code rather than in the Canada Evidence Act. Throughout my history and knowledge of the Criminal Code, those provisions have always remained in the Criminal Code as opposed to any other act.

There are illogical provisions in the bill that appear either to overlap or to contradict each other. There is no question that there is a substantial amount of clarification needed to make the bill an acceptable instrument.

I will talk about a few other gaps that exist.

For instance, there is no waiver provision in respect of the privilege. What if the handlers, who we will call the journalists, decide that the sources they are using have gone beyond what they are even comfortable with, that they may be going deeper into some kind of other criminal activity, but they are also supplying information to those journalists.

If the source is doing such things, where is the provision for the journalist to waive that provision? There does not seem to be any such provision in the bill. It is something to really pay attention to, given the fact that sources can go on a wild tangent. I personally have experienced that, even on a police investigation. Until a tight rein is put on them and restrictions on how that information is used, journalists could run into serious problems, but the bill does not provide any way out. There is no requirement that the journalist must be an innocent third party.

This is a very touchy area on any investigation. If the police were looking for the source of information that the journalist received and reported on and the source had, for whatever reason, determined some information that was very sensitive in the House, for instance, or even if it were a breach of national security, how would it be handled as far as the evaluation of the police and their relationship with a journalist? Would the journalist be looked at as an innocent third party? It is highly unlikely. If there were an investigation into some major breach of security, journalists would be considered as much of the problem as the sources would be.

I assume this is where the crafter of the bill is going with it. He wants to provide absolute protection to any journalist who may receive that kind of information.

I guess the only absolute protection for any group or any individual would be within the legal community, and there are even some limitations there. I can reflect back to the Karla Homolka trial and a source that one of the lawyers had, and it failed. The police never recovered evidence that was confiscated by a lawyer, but the source provided that information. In here, lawyer-client privileges supercede all.

There are many gaps in the bill. There is no requirement that the information in the possession of a journalist must relate to the journalistic activity. Therefore, it appears a fair amount of study is still required to deal with the issue of the protection of journalistic sources.

I suggest the member address some of those points maybe in the future, because I cannot support the bill the way it is.

Committees of the House June 20th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In accordance with the order of reference of Tuesday, February 6, 2007, the committee has considered Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, and as agreed on Tuesday, June 19, 2007, to report it with amendments.

I would like to commend the members of the committee. We sat very late yesterday to conclude this particular debate on Bill C-32 and were successful in bringing it to the House today.

Committees of the House June 11th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill S-211, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (lottery schemes).

Given the workload of the past few weeks, the committee has been unable to give the bill the consideration it requires and therefore requests an extension of 30 sitting days.

Committees of the House June 4th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In accordance with the order of reference of Monday, October 16, 2006, your committee has considered Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments), and has agreed on Thursday, May 31 to report it with amendments.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act May 30th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in the House today to the bill put forward by my hon. friend from Peace River.

I believe the member for Peace River has introduced this bill in a very timely fashion as many of the items that are coming forward, when it comes to meth, are coming to the attention of the police and the lawmakers. It is unfortunate that on one side it takes a while to catch up with what is happening out on the street with a lot of drug pushers and the criminal element. However, I think we have an opportunity here to actually curb the growth of this particular drug. It is of great concern because of how it affects Canadians and I commend him for drawing this particular issue to the attention of this House.

Unlike other better known drugs of abuse, such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana, methamphetamine presents some unique challenges. It is a synthetic drug. It is not dependent on cultivation of a crop. Its production requires no specialized skill or training. Its precursor chemicals are relatively easy to obtain and inexpensive to purchase. These factors make production attractive to both the criminal trafficker and to the addicted user.

I should clarify when I specified that it requires no specified skill. In many of the smaller labs, it does not, but many super labs have suddenly popped up all over the country. It appears that some areas of the country are more subject to their growth than others and the chemicals are ordered in bulk container loads at a time. That, of course, poses another problem. Not only has this particular drug proliferated some areas of North America, it is being packaged in a way that is attractive to youngsters. A new sort of designer element to this particular drug, which is called strawberry quick, is that it is strawberry coloured and flavoured, and it is packaged in a way that youngsters might want to try it. It is a dangerous way to go but it is actually out there and it is happening in that fashion.

I know that this legislation may fall a bit short, as the member from Windsor has pointed out, but he is also very supportive of seeing something move ahead, which is the key issue.

Any piece of federal legislation needs to permit the domestic seizure and forfeiture of methamphetamine precursor chemicals. Therefore, the precursors, the stuff that this chemical is made up of, must come under a clear direction from legislation for the police to be able to seize it. The legislation should also direct the police and the attorney general to cooperate with international drug enforcement agencies to interdict such chemicals.

When I say that these chemicals come from all over, they come from all over the world actually and they land on our shores, sometimes not even noted in bulk form but they are destined for, now, these super labs. Therefore, there is a need for this international cooperation to take place.

The bill also should increase penalties for the possession of equipment used to make controlled substances and for trafficking in certain precursor chemicals.

What kind of equipment is used? We could go to any lab that produces any kind of pharmaceutical actually and we would find equipment there that could be easily employed in these super labs. In fact some of them are almost like that. It would have to include anything that would go into lab work, whether it is a beaker or glass containers. Some of the smaller ones use makeshift equipment, glass tubing or plastic tubing and they need a lot of it.

Some of these labs are popping up in high-rise apartment buildings or the house next door. They pose a considerable hazard to the neighbourhood. If it is in an apartment, sometimes depending on what chemicals are used, toxic vapours are emitted. Those vapours can kill. After hearing from concerned neighbours, there have been labs that have been discovered in apartment buildings by police officers and all the occupants inside were dead. It is very, very dangerous. It could ignite and create an explosion, almost like a bomb, that damages neighbours and certainly injures those inside.

There is a need for law enforcement. The public should be made aware too. Herein lies the need for education. The public should be aware of what is happening around them as well. They should be the eyes and ears of the police. What should they look for? They should look for quantities of equipment like I have just described, or large barrels of chemicals going into a residence. These are items that are often used by organized criminals to create crystal meth.

Above all, because the distribution of crystal meth is such an international scourge, it requires a very strong link to other agencies worldwide. There has to be an agreement to interdict any such chemicals and any such equipment if they are destined for certain places. Of course, agencies need to educate people and other countries. There is a growing need for an international approach to law enforcement.

If people think there is a crystal meth lab in their neighbourhood, the first thing to do is to approach the police, advise them that this could be a very toxic area and stay away from it. Police officers are now being trained to look after these situations.

We can talk about a lot of issues. I had the privilege of attending a crystal meth conference in the United States. I just came back last week. Mexico, Canada and the United States are coming together to combat this huge problem and they have certain successes. There are concerns about what is happening in Canada. There are concerns about what is happening in Mexico and of course in their own nation as well. They seek our cooperation as much as we seek theirs.

The human misery attached to the use of this drug is beyond words. For the young people who use it, one of the side effects is rapid tooth decay. They call it “meth mouth”. They can have heart failure, kidney failure, brain damage, neurotoxicity, paranoia and depression. Some of these things are lasting. They cannot be fixed.

We have an obligation in the House to support this kind of an initiative, to make sure that it is workable in our courts, in our society, that police officers are directed to place this as a priority. I am pleased to hear there are a number of members in the House who will support this bill. We all do indeed look forward to seeing the bill in committee.

Committees of the House May 28th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to the judicial appointment process.

Justice May 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, Canada has one of the lowest ages of consent for sexual activity in the western world, 14 years. Our government introduced Bill C-22 which seeks to raise the age of consent to 16 and protect our young people from sexual predators and exploitation.

Can the Minister of Justice inform the House, and I dare say the grandmas, grandpas, moms and dads in this country, on the progress of this legislation which shares widespread support among Canadians?

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I should point out that I served in the Calgary police department with the uncle of the member for Laval. I know that as a police officer Mr. Syl Demers had a lot of concerns about this issue. I think we would find most police officers feeling very much supportive of this kind of legislation.

The member for Laval brought forward several points, along with her concern over what might be some shortcomings in the bill. I do not think those shortcomings are realized and I think there is going to be far more good in the bill. The member has expressed concern about her children and grandchildren. That view is shared by just about every member in the House who has children or grandchildren.

In spite of all the shortcomings that the member might see, and I know you are supporting it, do you see any other areas that we could tighten up in the bill and that could make the environment more protective of our youngsters? I think that is the purpose of this particular bill, in addition to targeting those who want to abuse them.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have to agree with the member for Wild Rose 100%. If members of the House would sit down and look at matters from a practical point of view, we could come up with a collective judgment. There is a cross-section of people here, not just lawyers. Lawyers can argue the technical points when it comes to the legislation, but if we collectively put our heads together, I think we could have a much safer environment for our kids.