House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Kitchener—Waterloo (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act February 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I was hoping my colleague the parliamentary secretary would stand in the House and say that the courts found it to be unconstitutional. I regret he did not take up the challenge.

Is this better than it was before? Yes, I will say it is somewhat better than it was before. That is number one. This is the British model. We heard evidence from Ian Macdonald, a British lawyer who used to take part in the British model. He gave up doing the security certificate process because he said it did not work satisfactorily.

Clearly, if the Conservative government wanted to further improve the security certificate process, it could have picked up on the suggestions by the Liberals and gone with the SIRC model, which it chose not to do.

Let me express my disappointment that the parliamentary secretary did not stand in his place and tell the House that the Government of Canada has created a crisis on the Immigration and Refugee Board, which has created a huge backlog in the Immigration Appeal Division. There are thousands of people whom we should legitimately be getting out of the country because they have broken laws and have serious criminality issues, and not being citizens can be dealt with. However, those cases cannot be dealt with because prior to being able to deport permanent residents, they have a right to a hearing before the Immigration Appeal Division and there is a real crisis there.

If the parliamentary secretary were to say to me that the government is going to address that, that would go so much further for the security of Canadians than this bill would, which by the government's own admission, applied to 28 people in the last 30 years. We heard that industrial saboteurs were given a get out of jail free card and airfare out of the country when they should be doing time for their crime.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act February 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I will switch the order in which I was to speak because I just find it incredible that a member of Parliament would stand up and say, “Let us not bother with the niceties. If the police say they are guilty, then they are guilty”. Has the member not heard of Steven Truscott? Has he not heard of Guy Paul Morin? Has he not heard of Donald Marshall? The list goes on.

The member should check out subsection 11(d) of the charter. It is a fundamental right. It says:

Any person charged with an offence has the right

(d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

When the parliamentary secretary started talking about the bill, he mentioned the case of a person who allegedly committed industrial espionage. That is a very serious charge. That can actually have an economic impact on Canada. It could cause hardship for Canada. We could lose intellectual property.

That being the case, it seems to me that this person should have been charged and if found guilty, should have been put in custody and held for a period of time. By the time that person got out, the intellectual property taken would no longer be of the same value as it would be if we let the individual go right away.

The whole line of reasoning also bothered me because we do not want Canada to get the reputation that it is a country where people can commit a crime, get caught, and all that would happen is that they would get picked up and be sent out of the country, and no one would have to do any jail time. Surely there is something wrong with that logic. However, the parliamentary secretary from the Conservative Party stood in the House and said that. It seems to me that if somebody commits a crime, then there is an appropriate way of dealing with the person.

I will now get back to the original speech I wanted to give. Back in the House, during the course of the first world war, a bill was debated that dealt with the internment, the naturalization and the disenfranchisement of people involved on the side of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Ukrainian-Canadians were particularly damaged by it.

At the time of the debate, the following was said:

It is quite probable that if this proposal becomes law the alleged “foreigners” and hitherto “naturalized Canadians” will bear their reproach meekly, but they will have sown in their hearts the seeds of a bitterness that can never be extirpated. The man whose honour has been mistrusted and who has been singled out for national humiliation, will remember it and sooner or later it will have to be atoned for.

That happened during the first world war. Of course, we have had apologies coming from the government to Canadians of Ukrainian background for those who were interned. It was not just the Austro-Hungarian people who were discriminated against. We discriminated against all sorts of other people. We all know the story of the Chinese-Canadians. In fact, we just apologized for the head tax.

We know about the Asian exclusion act, we dealt with that. We know about the internment of Japanese Canadians during the second world war for which the government has apologized. We know about what happened to S.S. St. Louis and how it was turned away and Jews were sent to the gas chambers in Europe. We know about that.

We know that we used to have a racist immigration policy and it was because of that that we ultimately enacted the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on April 17, 1982. We did that because we wanted to make sure that injustices of the past did not carry us forward into the future.

A very important section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms relates to the legal section. Section 7 states:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

Section 8 states:

Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Section 9 states:

Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

Section 10 states:

Everyone has the right on arrest or detention:

a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;

b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and

c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

The other day a very serious police corruption case which has been ongoing for 10 years died and the judge ruled that a fair trial was violated by excessive delays on the part of the Crown. The Crown failed to inform the accused, I believe there were six of them, concerning the charges against them.

In a public policy perspective, this is a very serious matter. When a police officer is charged, that is the very basis of our justice system. We want to make sure it gets a full hearing and a judgment is made on it, either guilt or innocence. It is a very unsatisfactory way of handling it. But the principle of disclosing evidence to the accused is so important that the case was dismissed by the judge. I am not sure what is going to happen on appeal, but it really goes to underline this fact when we are talking about the security certificates.

The security certificate process has been around since 1977 and in total we have dealt with 28 cases. We have spent a lot of energy and a lot of money dealing with the security certificate process than if we were dealing with the criminal justice process.

We have a special Guantanamo north holding facility in Kingston where we keep our security certificate detainees. This facility cost $3.4 million to build and to house six people. Right now there is one person there and there is a budget of $2 million annually for the facility. So it is a very expensive and unsatisfactory process. The other people who have been issued security certificates are essentially under house arrest in their community.

One of the issues we in this chamber have to get our minds around is that by following the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which we enacted, we are not weakening our society, we are very much strengthening it.

I think that this is an important consideration for members, particularly in light of the events of 9/11. I believe that the best way we can possibly deal with security issues is to make sure we have the kind of society that is inclusive, where all Canadians buy into it and all groups in Canada buy into it because we are all in the same boat as far as our security is concerned. We cannot single out any group the way we have done in the past with Ukrainian Canadians, Chinese Canadians, the Sikhs, Japanese Canadians and the groups go on an on. We have to make sure that all of us are in an inclusive society, where we are all in the same boat and we are all rowing in the same direction.

The Liberal Party critic on this bill mentioned the need for necessary evil. It is interesting that he used the term “necessary evil” because I was just reading a book entitled The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror. It is quite a good book. It truly makes one think about how to balance security for the whole versus security for the individual and what are the trade-offs. The author states:

Legislatures can take hearings on sensitive intelligent matters in camera; judges can demand that the state prosecutors justify secret hearings or the withholding of information from the defence. The redlines should be clear: it is never justified to confine or deport an alien or citizen in secret proceedings. Openness in any process where human liberty is at stake is simply definitional of what a democracy is.

Essentially, I am saying that this is a real challenge for our society and we are much better off if we operate in accordance with the charter and do not violate any of its sections.

There is no question that a democratic society has to defend itself, but we defend ourselves much better when we take people who are actually dangerous to our society at large, dangerous to peace, order and good government, dangerous to individuals and put those folks where they belong, which is in jail.

Picking someone up in this day and age who we say is that dangerous and getting him or her out of the country does not make Canada safer. We do not have the kind of borders that keep people out as such. What we want to do with someone who is dangerous is to put the person on trial. If the person is found to be guilty, we hold the person in custody. That is how we should deal with dangerous individuals.

For the life of me I cannot understand how many of my colleagues on the other side fail to understand that the security certificate regime was found to violate section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which makes it unconstitutional. I notice that we have the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in the House which is good. He is a lawyer and he can definitely inform his colleagues on what it means to violate section 7 of the charter and what the court judgment actually said.

We would show a great deal of maturity if would let this piece of legislation lapse and if we would get rid of the security certificate process and put money into enforcement. There are thousands of people that the government is actually trying to get rid of legitimately, but it cannot deal with those people because the government has created a crisis on the Immigration and Refugee Board and in the Immigration Appeal Division. In those cases where there are people with status in Canada who are actually a risk to Canadian society, they cannot be deported. They cannot get hearings before the Immigration Appeal Division because the government has created a crisis there.

On one hand, there are thousands of people whom the government is legitimately trying to get rid of because of criminality and other issues and that is not happening because the IRB members have not been appointed. A crisis has been created because of that shortage. We are dealing with thousands of people, which would greatly impact on the safety of Canadians. On the other hand, the government is wasting a great deal of time and resources in trying to deal with something that is going to apply to very few people and something that has not complied with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Having heard the judgment of the Supreme Court, for 26 years the security certificates have been operating unconstitutionally and it is time to let that whole process die. Let us reinforce and strengthen the charter and let the government ensure that there are quick hearings at the Immigration Appeal Division so the thousands of people we are legitimately trying to get out of the country can be removed and they are not given protection by a government that has created a crisis in enforcement in that regard.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act February 5th, 2008

Strictly, Mr. Speaker, no to adjourning debates.

As the member said, we are talking about an important piece of legislation and he is trying to cut off debate. No. That just will not fly. That is just not the way we operate in this chamber nor should we operate in this chamber.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act February 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the member for Leeds—Grenville stood in this chamber, and he is not the first member of the Conservative Party to do so, and said that the security certificates were not judged unconstitutional. They were judged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. What the Supreme Court said was the government had a year to fix it. If it did not fix it within the year, it would be struck down.

I find it incredible that members of the Conservative Party would say things that fly in the face of the truth, in the face of the Supreme Court. If they want to see how unconstitutional it is, do not pass the bill for another couple of weeks and then see it get struck down.

The member did misunderstand what he said. The member said that it was not unconstitutional and the Supreme Court might have said that it was unconstitutional. Could the member comment on that because the court definitely said that?

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act February 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, let me say for my colleague that I guess the problem that I have with these dangerous individuals with whom we are supposedly dealing through the security certificate process is that if they are indeed that dangerous then certainly we should be bringing them to justice, but just getting them out of the country does not keep anybody safe. It does not keep Canada safe. It does not keep people in other countries safe.

Just to underline the importance of disclosure of information, and I would like to get my friend's comment on it, there was a situation in Toronto where a number of charges were laid against I believe a half a dozen police officers. That situation went on for something like 10 years. The charges were corruption charges. This is a serious case of corruption in the police force, which has huge implications for our judicial system, yet Justice Nordheimer struck down the charges because the Crown did not inform the defence attorneys of the case against them.

There is no question in my mind that this is a most serious charge against police officers because it strikes right at the heart of our judicial system, but that is how important the disclosure of evidence is; that is why the justice struck it down. I wonder if my friend would comment.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act February 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, in relationship to the security certificate, many of the people who have a security certificate issued against them are not aliens but have standing in Canada. Because of the amendments to the 2002 immigration act, the security certificate process was extended to people who had standing in Canada.

Further, in Bill C-18, the proposed citizenship act at the time, it was proposed that security certificate methodology be introduced into the revocation of citizenship.

Would my colleague kindly tell us if he would agree with putting citizens under this regime as well?

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act February 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, what is important to underscore is the people with whom we are dealing. If they truly are as dangerous as the government is to allege, then we want to keep them in custody. If we have a very serious offender who is truly a threat to Canada, I want to see that person in jail.

However, let us not kid ourselves. If there is a real professional, who we are deporting under a security certificate, that individual can easily return to Canada. We may say what we will, but our borders are porous. If an individual intends to do harm, that person can certainly come back, given the state of our borders.

It seems to me that the way we deal with dangerous individuals is to put them in custody and keep them there. If somebody has a problem with serious criminality, the individual is inadmissible to Canada in the first place.

However, the security certificate process attacks the very integrity of the legal section of the Charter of Rights of Freedoms. Let us not fool ourselves. This security certificate regime has been unconstitutional ever since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been in place. We have an unconstitutional piece of legislation, and the government says that it wants to continue to do more of the same. That does not work. If someone is dangerous, that person should be in custody either here or someplace else.

Half-Masting of Peace Tower Flag January 29th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I belong to a Legion and many members in the Legion do support it.

The other issue that the member talked about was debating policy as to what kind of actions we should take in terms of defence diplomacy development. I want to underline again that there are legitimate points of debate and we must separate that from our total support for the service of the men and women in uniform who carry out the policies of this House.

Half-Masting of Peace Tower Flag January 29th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, when I see or have seen a flag lowered on the Peace Tower because a soldier or somebody serving Canada abroad has died, I remember the sacrifices of all the previous soldiers who have died in the service of Canada. I have absolutely no problem with that. To suggest that this somehow is not respectful of the memory of people who died previously is just wrong.

I do not see this as an additional honour. I see this as being very mindful of what our soldiers are going through. Their sacrifices are no less than the sacrifices of current soldiers who might have died.

The other issue is in terms of police officers. If an OPP officer dies, the flag in the province of Ontario is lowered. If a regional officer dies, the flag in the region is lowered. These soldiers are employed by us.

If the hon. member wants to propose a motion to recognize those dying in the service of Canada within the military, I would be very supportive of it.

Half-Masting of Peace Tower Flag January 29th, 2008


That, in the opinion of the House, in order to show respect and to honour Canadian Forces and other Canadian government personnel who are killed while serving in overseas peacekeeping, peacemaking or humanitarian missions, the government should lower the flag on the Peace Tower to half-staff for the day following their demise as a remembrance of their important service to Canada and Canadians and that a moment of silence to be observed in the House, if the House is sitting on that same day.

Mr. Speaker, as I rise to start off the debate on this motion, I would like to make a couple of important points.

Much debate goes on in the House relating to Canadian missions abroad, the latest one being the mission in Afghanistan. While there are many points of view in the debate, be they on defence, development, diplomacy, what the length of stay of our forces should be, what the troop commitment should be, they are all legitimate. However, it is important that we, as members of the House, all recognize that there is absolutely no debate about all members of Parliament supporting our men and women in uniform and other officials who serve our country abroad.

That is very important, because there has been commentary about the ideas we are fighting for, the way we treat captured prisoners and we want to ensure that we embody them in the conduct of the mission. I want to make sure that going forward there will never be a question from anybody in any party about their commitment to the men and women who are serving overseas.

Just yesterday we observed a moment of silence in the chamber with respect to the tragedy that happened in New Brunswick to students of Bathurst High School and a teacher from Terry Fox Elementary School. Seven people lost their lives. To commemorate that event, the members of the House stood for a moment of silence.

Over my years in Parliament there have been moments of silence observed pertaining to any number of tragedies that have happened in Canada or around the world. It seems to me that when we deal with the untimely death of one of our people serving abroad, there should be no question that in the House we would have a moment of silence.

We have also had occasion, following the demise of one of our soldiers overseas, to lower the flag on the Peace Tower. Symbolically we do that because the decision to send people abroad on missions is made in this place. In my community or any community across Canada, on the death of a peace officer, the flag flies at half-mast at the city hall in that person's community.

In the case of RCMP officers who had been killed, we honoured them in the House. We commemorated the tragedy of their deaths. It seems to me that when we commemorate the deaths of soldiers or officials who are killed while serving their country, that would be a proper thing to do.

Let me refer to one of the motions moved in the house on the issue of lowering the flags to half-mast. In Hansard on Thursday, October 7, 2004, the member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, a member of the Conservative Party, said:

Mr. Speaker, when I was walking to the office this morning I was actually saddened and disappointed to notice that the federal government has not recognized appropriately the tragic loss of Lieutenant Chris Saunders yesterday on the HMCS Chicoutimi.

Therefore, I am rising today to ask unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. I move:

That this House demand the Prime Minister instruct all federal government buildings to immediately lower all Canadian flags to half-mast to recognize the tragic death of Lieutenant Chris Saunders yesterday on the HMCS Chicoutimi.

That motion was unanimously adopted.

The flags have been lowered on previous occasions. As a matter of fact, for the most part, the policy of the previous government was that if a Canadian soldier died overseas, the flags would be lowered. That policy seems to have gone by the wayside.

There have been various controversies around the way we have dealt with soldiers who have died serving our country overseas. One of the controversies was about how we would deal with the repatriation of the body. Unfortunately, the government took the position that the media would not be allowed at those events.

We are talking about something that is very simple and very basic. We should be commemorating the passing of the soldiers who have been killed overseas while serving this country, soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. We should be commemorating their passing in this House and also lowering the flag on top of the Peace Tower.

We could deal with this issue expeditiously. All we have to do is let the debate collapse today. We have had representation made to this effect by all parties in this House. It would show our soldiers that we are in solidarity with what they are doing overseas. We could have the necessary debate in this chamber when we set the policy.

There is no greater sacrifice an individual could make than to serve his or her country abroad. When a tragedy does happen, when a death does occur, we as a Parliament and we as a nation should commemorate it.

This does not have to be a controversial motion. Most members of this House would agree to this motion. I urge members of the House to expedite the passing of this motion.

Four soldiers have died this month in Afghanistan and we have had no commemoration of their deaths either in the House or by lowering the flags. Let us show the men and women who are serving abroad that in spite of any differences we might have in this chamber about the policy relating to the mission, they have our wholehearted and unanimous support, just as they have the wholehearted and unanimous support of all Canadians.

I am going to cut my time short because I really would like to see this debate collapse so we could proceed to a vote as soon as possible on an action we could take to show our solidarity with our men and women serving overseas. We should expedite it and make it happen as quickly as possible. There should be absolutely no question that we are behind them 100%.