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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was terms.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Miramichi (New Brunswick)

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code April 9th, 2008

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Criminal Code April 9th, 2008

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Criminal Code April 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, today we again bring before the House further discussion and debate on a bill dealing with animal cruelty. It has been a long journey. In fact, between the House of Commons and the Senate, this legislation has been debated over and over through different bills for more than a decade.

We are really dealing this afternoon with Bill S-203, a bill that was presented in the Senate by Senator Bryden and which I introduced in the House some weeks ago. Basically we are dealing with amendments to the Criminal Code in sections 444 to 447.

The debate of this has been long. It has affected many people. In fact, many members of Parliament are receiving emails from different groups who stand on different sides of Bill S-203.

Today, I would like to present my argument in terms of the bill that has come from the Senate, a bill that reflects the need for changes in the Criminal Code which would place greater emphasis upon animal cruelty and to those who might be accused or involved with cruelty to animals.

Many people are affected. In fact, when we looked at other bills in terms of Bill C-10 and so forth, we began to realize how broad our constituency was in dealing with those involved and affected by animals. We found in fact that one of the largest jurisdictions is with people who have family pets, but of course the livelihood of many people involved in farming is also affected by what we might do in the House in terms of legislation.

We found that universities and university researchers, and those involved in research for humans dealing with animals, have great concerns of what legislation might produce. We have minor groups such as those who maintain zoos and those who are involved with circuses. In the previous legislation, we were also involved with fishermen because fish became part of the debate on previous legislation.

Above all, we have hunters and trappers, many people in our first nations communities who historically depended upon wildlife for their livelihood.

When we look at all these different groups, we look at what proposals come forward, what animal rights groups say to us, what pet owners say to us, and above all, those in our farming communities. It is interesting to note that in terms of pets, many Canadians have tremendous affection for the cats, dogs, horses, birds and those pets which they maintain in the vicinity of their homes.

When we look at American statistics, this industry, the industry of providing health resources to pet owners, approaches $40 billion U.S. a year. So it is a growing industry. We have to respect and certainly pay great thanks to those who love their animals, those who care for them, those who maintain them, and those who are so interested in any legislation which the House and Parliament would provide.

I am not sure that the Criminal Code is the right place. Probably in future parliaments, we will see special legislation outside the Criminal Code. In terms of animals and cruelty, and respect for animals, the care for animals, we also have our provinces who have a vested interest in some of this because in terms of our wildlife, most wildlife species are protected under provincial legislation.

However, I would like to answer a few of our critics who have called upon some members of Parliament not to support Bill S-203. I personally have some difficulty with that logic because Bill 203 does not preclude the necessity or the fact that further legislation could be brought to the House which would improve upon this legislation. It would tend to see that the various groups that I mentioned are not seriously and adversely affected. It would indeed demonstrate that all of us as Canadians can enjoy the fact that we as a Parliament and as a nation can see that our animals are properly protected and that we can find joy, warmth and comfort in the relations that we have with them.

Bill S-203 basically deals with any person who kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures cattle, or kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures dogs, birds or animals that are not cattle and are kept for a lawful purpose.

If people were to commit offences under the Criminal Code with that description of it, they could be charged with an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years. That is a very serious penalty for those who would be convicted. Furthermore, if the court should decide it is not an indictable offence, there could be fines of up to $10,000.

This cruelty, in section 445.1, says that anyone who wilfully causes or, being the owner, wilfully permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or a bird or anyone who assists at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds, or promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money in such circumstances, can be convicted of an indictable offence and receive up to five years in prison.

Section 446 goes on to state that anyone who, by wilful neglect, causes damage or injury to animals or who is involved with a domestic animal or a bird or an animal, whether it be wild in nature or in captivity, who abandons it in distress or wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care, would be committing an offence.

Furthermore, Bill S-203 also attempts to preclude from ownership of animals people who are guilty of these offences. The court, under section 447.1, may make an order prohibiting the accused from owning, having the custody or control of, residing in the same premise as an animal or bird during any period that the court considers appropriate, but in the case of a second or subsequent offence, a minimum of five years.

What I am advocating today is that the House could approve at report stage and third reading this legislation. I know it is not perfect, but it is a tremendous improvement upon the present legislation which was put in place almost a century ago.

There is another bill, in fact, that is before the House. It is further down than my own. However, there will be an opportunity in the future for another government or another member to bring a private member's bill before this assembly that can be debated.

I hope that as time progresses we as Canadians can develop legislation which is valuable to all, protects our animals, birds and fish and, above all, does not cause harm or unjustness to our farmers, fishermen, and those who rely upon these species for their livelihood.

Petitions April 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have two petitions from constituents in Miramichi.

All petitioners are very much concerned with assaults on pregnant women. They ask the House to give speedy passage to Bill C-484.

Livestock Industry February 13th, 2008

--or Korea.

More importantly, I will provide a couple of facts in terms of what The Fiscal Monitor talks about with regard to agriculture and spending by the government in that area. For the month of November, for example, in the year 2006, $324 million was spent in that department. Last year in the month of November, $198 million was spent, which in fact is a decline of 38.9% by the government's record.

If we take a look at the month ending from April to November in the year 2006-07, there was $1.37 billion spent, but this year only $903 million.

We hear a lot of talk about aid going out to farmers, but the record indicates that the money did not get there. There is a lot of talk, but maybe the hon. member can explain why there is a 35% decline in spending in the agricultural field for the months to the end of November.

Livestock Industry February 13th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member opposite. Tonight we are talking about the livestock sector and the beef and pork industries, which are under a lot of stress, but the hon. member talked about what he called prairie gophers. He was shooting them with 3,500 rounds of ammunition. He spoke a long time about money being spent.

I have a couple of questions. He talked about bilaterals. We wonder sometimes in regard to the present government what the advantage to Canadians of the bilaterals will be with Colombia, for example, which is being pursued, or--

Pond Hockey Tournament February 8th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, last weekend the Rotary Club of Newcastle held its fourth annual pond hockey tournament at French Fort Cove Nature Park. Ninety-seven teams, both men and women, participated on 12 rinks.

The Miramichi welcomed five former NHL players and teams from Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Massachusetts and Illinois.

Base Gagetown was represented by its base commander, Colonel Ken Chadder, and three teams of service personnel.

Everyone enjoyed an exciting and entertaining weekend with thousands of visitors. Rotarians, partnering groups, sponsors and the many volunteers are to be commended.

Plans are now under way for another event next winter. It is a highlight of Miramichi's winter activities and a major fundraiser that supports youth activities and community projects.

People who enjoy hockey and outdoor fun, they should set their sights on February 2009.

PREBUDGET CONSULTATIONS February 8th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary talked about the sad truth. The sad truth is that the economy is stalling, if it has not stalled already. Based on the speech the member for Peterborough gave, one might call him a good car salesman. We hear from the other side of the House that the Conservatives have increased spending in the last two budgets by about 10%, the biggest budgets that we have had in Canadian history. We see that the manufacturing sector is in difficulty. We see that the farm groups, the pork and beef producers are in trouble and we have seen little response from the party opposite.

We need an election in this country to get rid of that group over there and to bring back true fiscal balance, to bring back a government that represents the people of Canada, that is willing to see Canada as a progressive state. We need a government that is responsible, that works for its people, that offers good programs to those in need, that supports the Kelowna accord, that supports university students, that brings in a child care program, not two days of child care a month for the people of this country, the working mothers, but a good child care program that will be for the benefit of all Canadians.

I would like the hon. parliamentary secretary to admit that on balance this country is going down the tubes, that in fact the revenues of the government have decreased for the last several months and that they are worried about the economy. The Conservatives talk about an election. We need an election to get a real government, a real party in charge of this country.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns January 28th, 2008

Within the Atlantic Canada provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, during the period from July 2, 2007 to September 21, 2007, inclusive: (a) what was the number of employment insurance claims submitted, by office location; and (b) what was the number of claims administered and finalized for payment, by office location, (i) within 4 days or less including the 4th day, (ii) within 5-8 days including the 8th day, (iii) within 9-13 days including the 13th day, (iv) within 14-18 days including the 18th day, (v) within 18-23 days including the 23rd day, (vi) within 24-28 days including the 28th day, (vii) requiring more than 28 working days from the date of submission by the applicant?

Criminal Code November 30th, 2007

moved for leave to introduce Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).

Mr. Speaker, with your permission, it is my pleasure to reintroduce a bill to the House which recently has been approved in the Senate, entitled Bill S-203.

Pursuant to Standing Order 86(2), I wish to state that Bill S-203 is in the same form as Bill S-213 which was before the House in the first session, and I ask that the bill be now reinstated.

For your information, Mr. Speaker, it is an act to amend the animal cruelty act. I believe it has broad support across the House and for those who have better ideas in terms of what might happen here, I know that it may be a matter of some debate, but we have to do something to amend an old act which has been before our country for so many years.

This certainly would give greater support to those who are concerned about what happens with the many animals that people enjoy and which often are our friends.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)