House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was kyoto.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Red Deer (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 76% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Young Offenders Act June 16th, 1994

Madam Speaker, there are a lot of things we could say that we would change. We could certainly take a look at things like boot camps and those sorts of things. However, more important to the question, we must include victim's impact statements. We must include parents in the actual criminal justice system. The parents have to be forced to be there to hear what the victim went through and what their little darling did to that person. If they are found in any way to be responsible, they have to be part of that restitution; that money that is paid back, that fence that is fixed, whatever that damage has been.

I agree with the member fully. We must involve the parents in this. We must involve the victims in this. I do not see that in Bill C-37. I see a wishy-washy bill that really just satisfies the red book claim that we are going to make some changes but will do nothing to improve the actual situation we have.

Young Offenders Act June 16th, 1994

Madam Speaker, Canadians have waited a long time for this day. For years they have been demanding substantial changes to the Young Offenders Act. Canadians say they do not feel protected. They have asked the government to put society first instead of the criminal.

Canadians have demanded changes and Canadians have waited. In the meantime there have been costs. The public confidence has been eroded. Young offenders who have been released for violent crimes have reoffended. All the while Canadians have appealed to the government to protect society and ensure offenders are rehabilitated before being released.

The government has tabled before us amendments to the Young Offenders Act, which it says will address these concerns. The amendments would change the declaration of the Young Offenders Act so that its primary objective is to protect society. On the surface this looks good. The protection of society should always be the objective of our criminal justice system. We as parliamentarians must ensure the protection of Canadians is paramount.

Bill C-37 falls far short of this goal. We as Reformers will be supporting the bill because it does do something about toughening up the system. Something is better than nothing. However there are problems. The government's proposed changes are merely cosmetic. They appear to give the act a smooth finish, but when we look beneath the surface we can see serious structural flaws.

Here are some of the flaws. Bill C-37 does not lower the age limit. Those young offenders who commit serious crimes and who are under age 12 are still not held criminally responsible, even though criminal acts are committed by children under age 12.

All we need to do is look at the newspapers today. They tell a harrowing tale about an Aylmer boy who held his classmates at gunpoint. The boy had a .357 magnum and 9-millimetre pistol. He was 10 years old and apparently threatening the lives of his classmates. Yet he has not been charged because he is too young.

In 1993 Regina police were paralysed to act after a nine-year-old and an eleven-year-old attacked two young boys. The victims were forcibly confined, beaten and sexually abused. Police could do nothing. Parliament has not given them any power to act. The stories could go on. We have heard many of them repeated in the House.

Young offenders like these ones should be included in our youth criminal justice so they can receive treatment, so they can learn that their crimes are not acceptable to society, so we can be assured they do not reoffend and, finally, so they can eventually become productive members of the community. We have the chance to reform the violent actions of these young children but we are missing this window of opportunity.

Bill C-37 also fails in another area. It softens the law for violent offenders under age 16. The amendments we are considering today will allow youth courts to deal more harshly with murders. Canadians across the country have demanded that the current five-year maximum sentence is a slap on the wrist.

The proposed changes will increase first degree murder sentences to 10 years. In reality this translates to six years of custody and four years of community supervision. Second degree murder sentences will be increased to a seven-year maximum. This translates into four years in custody and three years of supervision.

I would argue that these changes would work to soften the law in its treatment of murderers. The slightly higher sentences will mean fewer violent offenders under 16 will be transferred to adult court. The changes before us today will ensure that many murderers will remain under the Young Offenders Act.

The government argues that its amendments are sufficient. It says most of the murder related cases heard in youth court are committed by 16 and 17 year olds. In 1992 and 1993, 60 per cent of the cases heard in youth court involved this age group.

These statistics like the amendments before us today look good at first glance, but once we look a little deeper we see the blemishes. The numbers completely ignore an important fact. Offenders under age 16 committed 40 per cent of the murder cases heard in youth court at this time. I would argue this is a significant proportion.

There is yet another flaw in these amendments. The general public is kept in the dark about violent repeat offenders. The proposed changes will provide information on young offenders to the police, to school officials and to child welfare workers. Certain members of society whose safety is in jeopardy will also receive information on the young offender.

These seem like valid changes but in reality they are superficial. The general public does not have access to the information. If certain members of the public can receive information about a young offender because their safety is at risk, why is the general public not also informed? If there is a chance a young offender will reoffend then all society is at risk. It is impossible for anyone to know for certain that only a targeted few will be in danger. If the government were truly interested in protecting all

society then all society would be informed about dangerous young offenders. This is not the case.

An additional flaw is that violent young offenders' records are not kept on file permanently. The proposals also claim to protect society by allowing police to keep the record of young offenders on file for ten years instead of five. According to the justice department this change will ensure that the length of time a young offender's record is kept is in keeping with the seriousness of the offence. Keeping the young offender's murder record on file for 10 years does not begin to mirror the seriousness of the offence. Murder is permanent; it demands a permanent record. The victims' names and ordeals will be forever etched in the minds of their loved ones long after the murder record has been wiped clean. Society has the right to know. If the government were truly interested in protecting society it would keep all murder records and violent crime records on file permanently.

Bill C-37 also raises some questions about serving sentences in the community. Will the community sentences be adequate? Under the changes set before us today more non-violent offenders will serve their sentences in the community instead of in custody. This change has many attributes. Young offenders will not be influenced by harder violent offenders. Often jail is considered a training ground for crime. It will save government money. It costs approximately $75,000 to incarcerate an individual. However, the government in saving this money must be committed to redirecting some of it into the communities.

If these offenders are to live in our communities we must ensure that they do not become repeat offenders. We must protect society. To do this, some of these offenders may need treatment and we must ensure that they receive it. I am not talking about spending more money. I am talking about saving money and spending some of it more wisely.

In conclusion, when we make changes to our criminal justice system we must ensure that the system is predictable to society. In order for a judicial system to act as an effective deterrent, citizens must be able to anticipate the outcome of their actions.

It is therefore important that the Young Offenders Act mirror the adult system as accurately as possible. We still have a long way to go, especially in the area of criminal records and publication bans. I believe these changes before us today are a small step toward this goal. Bill C-37 is far from perfect but it will improve the current system somewhat.

Amendments to Bill C-37 are essential. I would urge my fellow members of Parliament to ensure that these are enacted.

Haiti June 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I think the problem is that the sanctions are just not working. In fact the abuses are getting worse and worse.

I think the Canadian public is demanding more serious answers to the questions that we are raising about decisions that are being made. I think the big concern is what kind of clean-up action might be necessary for Canadian peacekeepers if in fact military intervention did occur.

We need to know the answers to these questions before we can make that decision.

Haiti June 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, we have heard earlier today that flights into Haiti are being suspended. We have heard that nationals are being asked to leave Haiti and we have heard that many nations are now asking for military intervention.

Will the minister please clearly state the Canadian position regarding military intervention in Haiti.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement Act June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have heard bandied about the idea that Yukon people are very familiar with self-government, what it means and what its implications are, and that the Canadian people are also familiar with them.

I wonder if the member could comment on how general is this knowledge and how informed people really are about the settlement agreements that we are talking about.

Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, we need to put this whole issue in a different perspective. For the last three months I have been involved in the foreign affairs review. We have been looking at different countries and the property disputes, future disputes and the ethnic and racial tensions that have developed. I can see many of the things we have looked at there when I look at the type of legislation we have before us today. We might simply be trading one problem for another. We should take a serious hard and long look at some of the poorly thought out measures in this bill.

First I should make clear that I and certainly my party believe the department of Indian affairs is a mismanaged, poorly operated bureaucratic nightmare. All of us can agree it is something long overdue for reform. We can also agree with the principle of self-government. However, before something like that is set up there must be the criteria and an understanding of what you are getting. As was just mentioned the minister has been asked over and over again what is meant by self-government and the answer has never come.

My general overview of self-government is one where we have a municipal-like organization. It is one which has limited powers and co-operates with the other levels of government. It is one which is harmonized at all levels and one which leads certainly to a better form of government for its people. The most important words would be "democratically chosen" and democratically representing the entire group of people, the grassroots. It does not mean representation by a clique, by powerbrokers, by a mob-like government, which in fact can happen if there are no restrictions or if the people are not ready for that type of government.

In examining the bill itself we see a very broad range of powers being given, literally an unlimited set of powers with absolutely no guarantee of any kind of democracy. We see more bureaucrats, more rules, more laws, more regulations, and more waste. We in fact see something possibly worse than the department of Indian affairs is today. Relating back to the world

situation, if people are not ready for self-government and are not prepared to work by certain criteria, which they should have a part in establishing, then you have nothing but disruption and ultimately possibly chaos.

Also there is no mention in this bill as has been mentioned a number of times before about the charter of rights. I do not think there are any Canadians including the native people of Yukon who would not want the charter of rights included in any kind of government they might have. If those charter of rights cannot be guaranteed, that is how countries get into human rights abuses, how they get into an area where the people are not protected from that power clique that could potentially run the proposed government.

We have to stop and look at this and get the people along with the experts to define what exactly we mean by self-government.

This is setting a serious precedent for the future. We are going into uncharted waters and we are going to come up with proposals that are going to be used in other parts of Canada. Are we sure these in fact are the rules by which we want to play? Certainly by removing any future settlements and allowing cabinet to decide these could not be much less democratic. We have literally taken the people out of the equation and have put it in the hands of politicians. I do not think that is a decision that is current with the way Canadians are thinking.

With the big picture now in place, do Canadians really know what they are getting? Do the natives of Yukon really know what they are getting? What are the repercussions later? Are the seeds of racial and discriminatory practices being sown by a bill like this? The potential is there. You just do not know enough of the guidelines or there are no guidelines to guarantee that will not happen. We have then a poorly defined self-government and the repercussions are for Canada entirely. There is no place that does not have a land claim in Canada and so the repercussions are great.

Of course there is the cost. No one really has talked about that. We have talked about the blank cheque in clause 24 and we have to ask as to who pays. We have to ask about the kind of repercussions that could come from the Canadian taxpayers when they find the price tag on this kind of agreement that has been signed.

This is just another case of legislation that will come back to haunt us in the future. It is another time when we should take a sober reflection and look at it before we move forward. The government should be happy to blame the last government for this kind of botched deal. Obviously the Canadian people believe the last government botched things pretty badly. This would be an opportunity then to simply reiterate that, as the Canadian people told us last October, go back and do it right, set the criteria and put this bill on the back burner until we can come up with something better.

China June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to stand in front of the House and honour the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in Tiananmen Square five years ago.

Like the minister, I often think about the huge square standing in front of the forbidden city, with its overpowering picture of Chairman Mao overlooking what has happened through history in that square.

It was mentioned by one of my colleagues that looking back in history we can often learn some things. Certainly one of the things that might take us back to the thirties was listening to the commentary regarding the rise of the Nazis and what happened in Germany. It only emphasizes the difficult decision we have to make today, whether we isolate or do we get involved.

All of us look forward to the day when China joins other countries that respect freedom and democracy for its people, respect and accept the human rights standards that exist for all countries of the world. In the interests of security in Asia it is vital that we work with these people and that we work from within as the minister has suggested.

We too would agree that the interests of China's people will best be served in the long run by our participation in China. The only real choice the people of China have for more humanitarian and democratic treatment is for us to help them become less economically dependent on the Government of China and with a vision of what is really happening in the world outside.

I cannot help but think of the first time I visited China 15 years ago. It is unbelievable the changes that have occurred within that country in a relatively short time. It stands as some proof of exactly what happens when the western society gets involved. China has made changes and the people have achieved more freedom. It is not perfect but at least they do have a better quality of life.

While we would like to have a perfect world, that just is not possible. All we can hope is that we can have influence and that over time things will change. This is our opportunity to play a leadership role based on our early recognition of China and our continued dealings with China over the years.

We must become more aggressive in our approach to China and be certain that we take every diplomatic opportunity open to us to press for more human rights. We look forward to the day we can stand in the House and truly congratulate the Chinese people on having achieved true and complete democracy.

Questions On The Order Paper May 30th, 1994

With respect to the electoral observer's trip to the Ukraine on March 24, 1994, sponsored by the foreign affairs department, (a) who attended, (b) what was the cost by person and (c) what was the total cost?

Canadian International Development Agency May 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate that response but I still think it comes down to legal accountability to the House.

It is one thing to say that the accounts are there, but I think all of us realize how difficult it is to really look at those and to really analyse those as to the costs.

Can the minister commit to making a legal accountability directly to the House?

Canadian International Development Agency May 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Yesterday we questioned the government on both the accountability and the effectiveness of CIDA. Contrary to what the parliamentary secretary has told us, the Auditor General did not praise CIDA with a glowing report as was suggested.

The Auditor General exposed serious deficiencies in CIDA; for example, a poor managerial system, a lack of focus, conflicting objectives, not to mention a lack of accountability. Will the minister now make a commitment that CIDA will become responsible to Parliament through real legislation?