House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Huron—Bruce (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Eric Winkler March 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, today we put aside party differences to remember the late Eric Winkler.

Eric Winkler served at all three levels of government during his 29-year political career.

He served as mayor of his hometown in Hanover, he was a cabinet minister at Queen's Park and chief whip for the federal Tories when the late John Diefenbaker held power.

During World War II he served in the bomber command of the Royal Canadian Air Force where he was shot down and held as a prisoner of war from 1942 to 1945.

In 1957 he ran federally and was elected as the MP for Grey-Bruce, where he was re-elected four times.

In 1967 he left Ottawa and was elected the provincial member for the Grey riding, a position he held until his defeat in 1975. During his time at Queen's Park he became minister of revenue under Bill Davis in 1971.

In the 1980s he served as a member of the Ontario Racing Commission.

I extend on behalf of all my colleagues our deepest sympathy to his wife Frances, his children Mark, Tim, Jane and Mary, and his six grandchildren.

Eric Winkler served this country with pride and dignity and he will always be remembered as a great Canadian. May he rest in peace.

Petitioners March 20th, 1995

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(1), it is my pleasure to present a petition with 269 names from petitioners in the Kitchener-Waterloo area on behalf of my colleague from Kitchener.

The petitioners pray and request that Parliament not amend the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the charter of rights and freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the human rights code to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase of sexual orientation.

Firearms Act March 13th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House this evening to address a matter that has attracted a great deal of concern in my constituency of Huron-Bruce.

On November 30, 1994 the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announced the government's action plan on firearms control. This was a series of proposals designed to generate comments and constructive criticism from Canadians so they might have an equal partnership in forming the bill before the House today.

The people of Huron-Bruce seized the opportunity to comment on the issue, causing my Parliament Hill and constituency offices to be flooded with thousands of calls, letters and visits.

Among the proposals was a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison in addition to a lifetime prohibition against possession of a restricted weapon when convicted of committing any one of or a combination of ten specific offences with a firearm. Among those offences, attempted murder, armed robbery and sexual assault with a weapon were included. Also included in the proposals were new Criminal Code offences with strict new penalties for illegal importing and trafficking firearms, enhanced border controls with improved inspections, and permit requirements for import, export and in transit shipments of firearms within Canada.

I take this opportunity to commend the minister for putting forth the aforementioned crime control measures. I would however like to draw attention to Bill C-68, an act respecting firearms and other weapons that is currently being debated in the House.

The act encompasses most of the original proposals released by the justice department, including a new mandatory registration system and a ban on a variety of specific handguns and replica weapons. As I have mentioned before, the proposals prompted a massive outcry in my constituency. In response I have spoken and met with many groups and individuals in an attempt to acquire an understanding of their views.

The process has allowed me to speak directly with my constituents, thus giving me a good understanding of their thoughts and views. As an avid hunter and sportsman I am pleased to recognize the government taking the initiative to punish individuals for the illegal use of firearms. However I am not able to support further restrictions being placed on the legitimate and safe gun owner.

Bill C-68 is a bill that resulted from many tragic events in recent Canadian history such as the massacre at Montreal's École polytechnique in 1989 and a recent drive-by shooting in Ottawa. The events have fuelled the fires of public demands for changes to the Criminal Code with respect to the illegal use of firearms.

The most recent package of gun control measures is known collectively as Bill C-17. The process of putting the legal aspects of the bill into place has only now just begun. Unless the new law is successfully implemented the changes contained in the legislation run the risk of becoming little more than symbolic gestures by the government to satisfy public opinion.

Good policy development and the delivery of adequate laws also include effective implementation and enforcement. There has not been enough time for the regulations contained in Bill C-17 to be fully realized. Thus the effectiveness of the regulations is also not fully understood. One can therefore reason that if this is true it is also too early to impose or evaluate the effectiveness of further controls such as a national registration system that would require more time and would place further stress on the already sparse financial resources of the nation's taxpayer.

There are clear constraints in public funding when it comes to our police forces that are already responsible for protecting our citizens under other provisions of the Criminal Code. It has been estimated by the justice department that implementation of a registration system could cost up to $85 million with an annual maintenance cost of $10 million, not considering annual increases.

Public safety will only be endangered if we dilute our resources. As a result we as members of Parliament must take care in allocating the limited funds we have in this area to ensure they are spent in the most effective and practical way possible.

It must be reiterated that gun control only plays a small role in our overall criminal justice system. Other aspects of the Criminal Code need to be fortified to effectively combat violent criminal activities.

As a legitimate gun owner I am already subjected to a large number of controls. By law, to purchase a firearm I must complete a firearm acquisition certificate course, pass a formal examination and submit to a thorough police examination of my social, employment and psychological history. I must also provide the police with character references that they can investigate to ensure I will use my firearms in a responsible manner. In addition, there is a mandatory 28-day waiting period before I receive my FAC with picture identification.

If I wish to hunt, I must first pass a mandatory hunting course which covers firearm handling and safety. I must then also submit to a provincially regulated test which further reiterates these points.

In addition to these regulations, the province of Ontario has strict ammunition purchasing regulations in effect. Once I have the gun and the legal ability to hunt, I must then adhere to stringent laws regarding separate storage of the firearm and the ammunition under lock and key, rigid transportation standards and tough guidelines for using firearms.

This clearly demonstrates how heavily the legitimate gun owners are already regulated. These regulations, like all gun control regulations, are very difficult to enforce. The police simply cannot search each household to see if these rules are being observed.

The UN estimates that firearm owners represent approximately 27 per cent of the Canadian population or seven million people owning up to 27 million firearms which is considerably more than what people are telling us in most of this debate.

Perhaps the government should concentrate its efforts on implementing innovative and cost effective methods of enforcing the laws currently in place. One such example could be a community based group of gun owners checking the homes of other gun owners in their area. This would alleviate the suspicions that many Canadians have of government intrusion in their daily lives and would assist in the enforcement of the safe storage aspects of Bill C-17.

Third, I would argue that crime control would be a more effective method of obtaining further public security. We must punish the criminal element and leave the law-abiding citizens alone. Firearms owners possess and use their firearms in a safe and responsible manner and do not contribute to crime or violent death and injury statistics.

In addition, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reports that in 1991 two-thirds of all accused murderers were known to have criminal records, the majority for previous violent offences, and were already prohibited from legally owning or acquiring a firearm.

To further illustrate my point of the small number of firearms involved in deaths in this country, I would offer the fact that in 1991 only one person out of every 400,000 Canadians died as a result of a fatal gun accident compared to one person out of every 14,000 who died as a result of a fall. I am suggesting that we have adequate controls in place but we are simply not enforcing them.

Under Bill C-17 all firearms are required to be trigger locked in a locked cabinet separate from the ammunition. An analysis of fatal gun accidents in the United States could not locate even one instance where a child victim or shooter discovered a locked gun, unlocked it and shot themselves or someone else. Studies also indicate that at least one-half of all accidental shootings involved the consumption of alcohol just prior to the incident. How will the registration system prevent this from occurring?

Canadians must bear the responsibility of using their firearms in a responsible manner. The Government of Canada should not be asked to shoulder this burden. We must congratulate firearms owners in this nation for their initiatives into the area of the safe handling of firearms, not condemn them for their efforts. In

Canada, while firearm ownership has increased, the accidental death rate has reduced by 80 per cent between 1986 and 1991.

In conclusion, people are demanding that we take action to further protect them from violent crime and other illegal activities present in certain areas of our society. The problem that the minister and indeed the entire government faces is the question of what response is most appropriate.

In his recent report, the Auditor General expressed concerns over the lack of evidence to justify the fact that the Canadian government passed more gun control legislation between 1977 and 1995 than in the entire preceding 50 years. The Auditor General also questioned the enforceability of the laws contained in Bill C-17. He also expressed anxiety over the lack of uniformity across the country regarding the FAC screening system.

These concerns are only a few expressed by the Auditor General and others concerned with this issue. I call upon the minister to consider the Auditor General's comments and the comments of all Canadians. Hunters and collectors compose a large part of our population and generate revenue for our economy each year through licensing fees, conservation efforts and the recreational hunting industry.

Canada's first explorers were from Europe, coureurs des bois who served the vital function of opening the new world to settlers. Hunting and responsible gun ownership is an intricate part of our rich heritage.

I suggest to the minister and to the House that firearms can co-exist with all Canadians in an allegorical guns and roses relationship respecting individual rights and privileges without further imposing unnecessary, cumbersome and expensive regulations on legitimate firearms owners and our nation's finances. The process must begin here with us.

Petitions March 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have one further petition in which the petitioners call upon Parliament to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Petitions March 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, this petition relates to the gun control issue.

The petitioners pray and call upon Parliament to refrain from making further changes to existing firearm control legislation and direct the judicial system to enforce existing penalties more stringently in the effort to deliver effective crime deterrents.

I support these petitions.

Petitions March 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in another petition the petitioners pray that Parliament act immediately to extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human beings to unborn human beings.

Petitions March 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in this petition the petitioners pray that Parliament ensure that the present provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously and that Parliament make no changes in the law which would sanction or allow the abetting or aiding of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

Petitions March 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this afternoon a number of petitions, pursuant to Standing Order 36.

The first has to do with the societal disapproval of same sex orientation. The petitioners pray and request that Parliament not amend the human rights code and not give approval to same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the human rights code to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase of sexual orientation.

The next petition has to do with same sex relationships. The petitioners pray that Parliament not amend the Canadian human rights code.

Petitions February 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition has to do with sexual orientation. The petitioners are asking that the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms not be changed in any way to allow and indicate the societal approval of same sex relationships or homosexuality, including amending the Canadian Human Rights Act to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase of sexual orientation.

I support these petitioners.

Petitions February 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the third petition speaks about the unborn. The petitioners pray that Parliament act immediately to extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human beings to unborn human beings.