Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was place.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Sarnia—Lambton (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Gambling May 31st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

The federal government has jurisdiction with respect to gaming on the Great Lakes. American authorities have recently approved such activity on certain Great Lakes cruise ships.

Will the minister encourage Canadian tourism and job creation by allowing gambling on Great Lakes cruise ships operating in Canadian waters?

Witness Protection Act May 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as you have already heard from other hon. members, the main intent of witness protection is to offer protection to those who assist the authorities in criminal prosecutions and in particular those prosecutions aimed at organized crime. Given this emphasis on organized crime I think it would be useful to give the House a brief overview of exactly what that term means in the context of the bill.

If we can understand the threat that organized crime poses for our society then we can understand why the bill is so important and why it must be given careful consideration. What is needed is a statutorily based guarantee of protection for people who come forward and are prepared to give evidence against organized criminals.

Police of all jurisdictions deal with organized crime, including the RCMP, provincial and municipal services. Other enforcement authorities also have important roles to play. For example, federal immigration and citizenship authorities work with the police to deal with the smuggling of illegal aliens and illicit trafficking in forged or stolen personal identification documents. In a similar fashion customs and excise authorities work closely with the police in dealing with the movement of drugs, weapons, contraband liquor and tobacco, protected technologies, or other illegally imported or exported goods.

On the judicial side federal and provincial crown attorneys are of course responsible for pursuing prosecutions and obtaining convictions through the court system.

All of those authorities are united in their desire to develop and use the most effective laws and programs possible to combat organized crime. This desire is understandable given the serious threat organized crime poses to Canadian society.

The raison d'être of organized crime is simple: to make as much money as possible and to minimize the risk of getting caught by forming organized groups and networks. In its pursuit of illegal profits organized crime will engage in activities as varied and complex as those engaged in by legitimate multinational corporations.

Consider money laundering for example. The laundering of criminal proceeds through financial institutions and otherwise legitimate businesses by organized criminals subverts the operation of the legitimate economy by introducing unfair and unlawful practices, including tax evasion. Organized crime plays a key role in the maintenance and expansion of the underground economy by fueling the trade in stolen and smuggled goods.

The results are enormous tax losses for government and poorer services to the public. Every honest Canadian pays for the illicit profiteering of organized criminals and not just in terms of dollars and cents.

Many organized crime activities, such as drug trafficking and gaming, can have serious negative effects on our youth and families.

Violence associated with organized crime contributes to public fears and perceptions about personal victimization. In certain instances organized criminals use violence and intimidation in an attempt to dominate community members. In so doing they contribute to the isolation of some groups in our society. As profits from organized crime grow, so does the potential for the corruption of public officials and democratic institutions.

Organized crime groups challenge the legitimacy of government and encourage disrespect for lawful authority and public institutions. In its international variations, organized crime threatens Canadian sovereignty and our ability to control our borders.

Let me set out a brief typology of organized criminal behaviour to further illustrate the depth and seriousness of the organized crime problem.

Organized crime can occur locally. Juvenile prostitution rings operating in urban centres are one particularly sad and cruel example of local organized crime at work. In many cases local criminal operations are loosely or formally linked to other operations across the country.

Interprovincial organized crime is a particular problem because when criminals operate across jurisdictions it is more difficult for authorities to track and to combat their activities.

Then we have transnational crime where Canadians are involved in the movement of commodities into or out of the country. The initiative launched recently by the government to bring the smuggling problem under control shows how serious this variant of organized crime can be. Similarly transnational economic crime and money laundering by Canadians or by foreigners using Canadian or international institutions represent serious threats to the integrity of our financial and economic systems.

Finally, there is the very difficult and growing problem of international organized crime. Here foreign crime networks work with or co-opt Canadian criminals. International trafficking in cocaine and heroin is the best example with extremely well financed, well organized and ruthless cartels manipulating the international drug trade.

Underlying all of these criminal enterprises are two common denominators: violence and intimidation. Violence and intimidation are used to enforce discipline in criminal organizations, to compete for shares of illicit markets and to prevent people victimized by crime from co-operating with the police. This is a crucial point in the context of the bill because violence creates a climate of fear and fear can be a powerful disincentive to co-operation with the police and prosecutors.

To break the conspiratorial silence of organized crime we have to be able to offer protection to people who are willing to assist the authorities in their criminal investigations. There is a clear need for a system that encourages people to come forward to give information or evidence against organized criminals, a need recognized by the bill.

In summary, I would like to make some general observations on what I believe a protection program must do in the context of the organized crime problem.

First, we must ensure that a program would accommodate the needs of all the police and enforcement authorities with responsibilities for dealing with organized crime.

Second, every kind of organized crime is serious. In setting the parameters for a program we would need to ensure that the fullest range possible of offences carried out by organized criminals are addressed.

Finally, I note that the problem of international and transnational organized crime is a growing concern in the context of economic and political globalization. Therefore a protection program would need to take into account the necessity of co-operation between Canadian agencies and their counterparts in other nations.

I believe that this proposed act to provide for the relocation and protection of witnesses is important in signalling to the Canadian public the need for a statutorily based protection program for people who assist the authorities in criminal investigations and prosecutions. However before that is possible it must be studied further in light of the criteria I have just described.

Ethanol May 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, ethanol is being presented as a subsidized gasoline additive offering environmental benefits.

However, the United States energy department earlier this month revealed that an assessment study of ethanol showed that the losses outweigh the gains, taking into consideration the money spent and pollution created in production and distillation. In fact ethanol will produce negligible if any benefits for air quality.

In the U.S., environmental groups such as the Sierra Club have publicly expressed their opposition on the basis of cost, use of fertilizers and potential pollution resulting from production.

Similarly the American experience reveals the economic trickle down to the farm community is negligible.

Anyone who spends taxpayers' money expects a positive result. Before we embark on this experiment let us remember those taxpayers and be in a firm position to tell them just what they are receiving.

Via Rail May 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it has been encouraging to read recently that the Minister of Transport is prepared to make public some of the problems encountered by VIA Rail in attempting to make it a real business.

The recent revelation of VIA employees being paid for 28 days when only 12 days have been worked is one stark example of the baggage that train line carries. Other examples are the inability of VIA to question bills submitted, non-negotiation of track rates and schedules dictated by freight trains.

The time has come to use some common sense about VIA Rail.

Perhaps it should cost more for cars to use highways and it should cost less to use trains for people who leave their cars at home.

The government could promote a transportation policy that would help VIA Rail to survive and at the same time it could show how to preserve this railway service.

Via Rail May 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

It is being suggested by various groups interested in passenger rail traffic in the country that VIA Rail pays 300 per cent more for track use than CN's normal commercial freight users.

Can the minister please advise us if VIA pays the same track rate as that attributed to freight cars or is it higher?

National Sports Act April 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, yesterday this Parliament approved Bill C-212, a bill officially designating ice hockey as our national winter sport and lacrosse as our national summer sport.

Both of these sports have a significant place in Canadian history and are an important element of our culture. Hockey and lacrosse are just as symbolic of Canada as the maple leaf or the Bluenose .

The passage of this bill is a good example of co-operation in Parliament and of how MPs on both sides should work together without the cross-checking, holding and interference that usually occur in the House as they do on the ice, on the floor, or on the field.

This bill brings all Canadians together, contributing to our national unity. I am sure that all Canadians will be pleased with the action taken by this Parliament.

Health Care April 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, there is in this country a small number of people suffering from environmental illness, or 20th century disease.

This is a malady thought to have causes from working in contaminated sites or in areas where water and air have been contaminated. At the same time, we know that doctors and scientists have a great deal of difficulty in defining exact causes.

The laboratory centre for disease control at Health and Welfare Canada in 1990 recommended that environmental sensitivities need to be considered on a case by case basis with acknowledgement of disability and compassion for the individual case.

Today, four years after this statement, individuals such as Susan Andersen of Calgary are forced to go to centres in Dallas, Texas to live and be treated in special medical centres.

Unfortunately these individuals are not given any financial help by our health care system notwithstanding the fact that there are no facilities for treatment in Canada.

I call on the Minister of Health, along with her provincial counterparts, to find a solution whereby all Canadians are subject to a health care system which is truly universal and to show the compassion suggested by the health department toward these individuals and their families which they deserve in a country which declares to have a universal health care system.

Ethanol Industry April 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, there is considerable pressure being mounted within and outside this Chamber to persuade the finance and natural resources departments to grant sizeable tax concessions to artificially create the ethanol facility proposed for southern Ontario.

Certainly the creation of new industry is always welcome news but industry must be based on economics and not agrohysteria. Let us remember that this ethanol project is premised on cash infusions from government, a principle which should be disavowed.

Ethanol in jurisdictions with very high taxation can be a competitively priced fuel in relation to ordinary fossil fuels. However, such is not the case in Canada. Our refining industry provides a quality Canadian product at a competitive price.

If the proposed ethanol industry could compete on a level playing field then it will proceed successfully. Conversely, if the ethanol industry as proposed will only be viable as a result of artificial means, that is, long term tax concessions and cash donations from taxpayers totalling close to 600 million Ontario and federal dollars over 12 years, we could conclude that it is still the fuel of the future, but not that of the present.

Via Rail April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, public concern regarding the future of VIA Rail service in the Sarnia-Toronto corridor continues to rise. A number of mayors and municipal councils have expressed concern following the release of certain internal documents attributed to VIA management.

The transport department has done nothing to deny or disavow such information. It is indeed ironic that in this time of heightened emphasis on infrastructure our most elementary public service, that is intercity rail service, is overtly and benignly discouraged by government.

If Canadian National can charge its other customers using rail service at the same rate that VIA pays, CN would have an income of $30 billion per year and not the $3 billion per year it had last year.

I call on the transport department to order Canadian National to charge VIA a rail usage charge based on reality. Indeed VIA receives federal subsidies which flow through to CN because of this unilateral usage charge.

Let us make some sense of VIA by rolling back track rental rates to a realistic number based on real market value numbers.

I call upon the department to make economic and environmental sense and to guarantee passenger rail service to both urban and rural Ontario.

Health Care March 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

The Ontario government is embarking on a new system of long term health care reform for seniors which will favour the not for profit home care providers, eliminating the commercial provider agencies. As well 20,000 health care workers are employed in Ontario by the private sector agencies.

What does the minister intend to do to ensure that the federal tax dollars transferred to the Ontario government are spent in a cost effective manner?