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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was justice.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Wild Rose (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 72% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code May 17th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to comment once again with regard to the farmers. It is strange that such things as house arrest, community service or those kinds of penalties did not enter the minds of the court. It was jail. The farmers did not comply. Jail.

I am talking about the punishment fitting the crime. They did not pay a fine. Jail. I guess the Liberals do not get the picture. It is not the idea of how much more was involved in it. That was the event that took place. Did the punishment fit the crime? The answer in Canadian society was no, not even close. Unfortunately, the answer is also no in society when we ask if the punishment fits the crime in so many of our violent crimes that take place. The answer is still no.

As legislators, we write the laws and what is wrong with providing sentences that we believe, from our discussions with our constituents, are more in line with the thinking of society as a whole which pays for a system that it wants to work on its behalf. We must write laws that make it possible.

We have many laws. Sometimes I do not think we need to write any more laws. I look at the maximum penalties on some of these charges and my goodness, when is the last time we ever had a maximum penalty issued in Canada? So, I guess the judges need a little nudging from minimum penalties to nudge them toward a little more severity in their sentencing.

Criminal Code May 17th, 2007

That is the Liberal way. That is what I was thinking. This is not right. There is something wrong with that picture.

Of course, somebody might say that is a simplistic way of thinking, but it is not. The punishment should fit the crime. I see nothing wrong with that philosophy. Yet when we check on various other aspects of sentencing, we see that offenders actually receive house arrest or community service when they commit a violent offence. All of this was going on at the same time that those 14 farmers were hauled off to jail for selling their own grain. But that is probably simplistic talk.

Millions of Canadians are wondering when we are going to stop all this nonsense and start addressing crime. They want us to send out a strong, loud and clear message that it is not acceptable for criminals to hurt people or their property or do something that is against the law. It blows my mind that some members cannot grasp that concept.

Yet on one occasion a bunch of farmers were hauled off to jail in shackles and chains for selling their own grain. They were hauled off in front of their crying wives and kids. I was there and I saw it. I talked to the wives and the children after the event was over and those farmers were locked up and the doors were slammed shut. It was that day that I vowed we had to get some common sense into the minds of the people here in the House of Commons. We need to realize that this kind of activity is not right.

So we prepared legislation. We want to get tough on crime so we brought in minimum mandatory sentencing for the use of a gun in the commission of a crime. We are trying to send the message that it is not acceptable to use guns for the purpose of committing crimes. We are telling criminals that it is not going to be tolerated. We are going to get tougher. We are telling criminals that minimum mandatory sentences will be the result.

Is this going to deter criminals? As people say, it probably will not go through the minds of a lot of them. I do not disagree with that. That is not the point. The point is this: is the punishment going to fit the crime? Is it going to match up? Yes, we are starting to take serious action, particularly against people in cases of violence and who use guns in the commission of a crime.

There are a lot of examples out there. There is not a member in this House of Commons who cannot think of one particular instance where house arrest or community service was the punishment for a crime of violence. It is a shameful disgrace to this place. Unfortunately, many of the crimes I know of were crimes against children, the most vulnerable in our society, who are treated with the least respect.

We are trying to bring forward a piece of legislation that will send a message that this House of Commons is not going to tolerate violent crimes. We are going to do our very best to make certain that criminals pay the price for their crimes, that they get a penalty they deserve.

Yes, at the same time, we have to work very hard with earlier programs and prevention activities. I was in a schoolhouse for 30 years and 90% of my time was spent trying to prevent kids from getting into trouble. However, they learned after a period of time, and they knew that once they crossed the line they were going to be held responsible for their actions. They knew that the punishment would not be pleasant. I was trying to send out a message that I did not tolerate the activity that took place and I wanted it to cease.

I find it really discouraging when we get a debate going in the House of Commons and the best argument I keep hearing is, “I listened to the speech by the fellow from Abbotsford and he was far too simplistic”. Good grief, he is talking the hearts and minds of the people in his riding who discuss these very issues day in and day out with every one of us.

I will be frank. I am pretty simplistic and I will be as simplistic as I can. I am sick and tired of this nonsense. I am really sick and tired of it. I have acquaintances, friends of mine, who have lost loved ones and have had no real closure because the perpetrator is going to be released on parole very soon who took the life of an individual. They do not understand why their loved one is gone forever and the perpetrator, who committed the most sadistic crimes of sexual assault and murder, is going to be released back into our society soon.

We can all rub our hands together and say we have done a wonderful job. I want us to think about that just a little, just start thinking about it a little more. Does the punishment fit the crime? If it does not, then let us do something about it.

I am proud of the Minister of Justice who brought this bill forward and wants to do something about it. None of us has any magic answers as to what we can do that will make it better, but we have to concentrate on all the possibilities.

In the meantime, when individuals cross the line and use a gun in the commission of a crime, the penalty will be stiff. It will be tough. If that does not work, we may have to make it tougher. We have to get a message out that this is not the society we want to live in.

If it takes a few million dollars more to build another penitentiary to keep people like that off the streets, then let us do it. What is wrong with that? I always thought keeping criminals behind bars was a wise thing to do.

There are small communities in rural Alberta that do not have police on every corner or do not have access to police. There are small businesses and little grocery or hardware stores in small towns where it would take a policeman half an hour to get to once a crime has been committed.

How do they live? They live behind bars. They have bars on every window and door. They are doing everything they can to protect their property and keep criminals from coming in. They unlock their doors, enter their businesses, slam their doors and work throughout the day behind bars because they are afraid of the people on the street running free. There must be too many of them because there are constant troubles of breaking and entering and destroying property. Hopefully, they do not run into any these people while they are at work because it could be dangerous.

I hope that people do not believe that I am being too simplistic. I have lots of friends and relatives who all work hard and pay their taxes. The least I can do for them while I am here, I hope, is to make certain that we have people in this place who are willing to decide that criminals are not a good thing in our society and we are going to do the very best we can do take care of it. Then we get into these legal matters and opinions which most of us, including me, do not understand when conversations are engaged in with witnesses in committee. When the Bar Association representatives have discussions with members who have law degrees, they lose me most times. I admit that.

I listened to one speech today about the expert witnesses who are against this bill. I do not know why they are considered to be expert witnesses when people who agree with the bill, like the police and many others, are not referred to as expert witnesses. In other words, if witnesses agree with that member's idea of what the bill should look like, then they are experts and if they do not, they must not be experts.

The police made a very good presentation in regard to their support for this bill and others associated with it. It made very good sense.

We certainly did not get into any legal wrangling because they would lose me, but we can converse and society as a whole can converse. I simply say “Wake up, folks, wake up”. The public out there is not satisfied with the way the justice system is working.

If people do not believe me, get on those little computers and newspapers and put out all kinds of polls and ask: “Folks in my riding, are you satisfied with the way our justice system operates, yes or no”? Then people will see how satisfied Canadians are.

Canadians are not satisfied. They are paying for something they are not satisfied with. I say let us work hard to give them something that they are paying for and that they will be satisfied with. I believe in satisfying the customer.

If that is too radical or too extreme for some members of the House, then that is too bad. That is the way it ought to be. That is the way people are telling me in my riding it ought to be. As long as I can stand on my two feet in this place I am going to expound that. That is the way it ought to be.

Wake up and do the right thing and support Bill C-10 to indicate to the public out there that we are taking crime a little more seriously. Let Canadians know that we are not being simplistic about it, but that we are sincere about it. If people think I am not sincere then give me a test.

I do not know if I have any time left, but I do not think I need to say any more. I have just about said all I want to say and all I can say. For the love of me, I cannot understand what goes through the minds of individuals who simply say that the punishment fitting the crime is not right.

I will revert once again to that day that I saw farmers hauled off in shackles and chains for selling grain. I do not think there was a person in the entire public society of Canada that cheered that day, not one. “Yes, we are going to teach those farmers a lesson”.

They say it is not a deterrent to do these other things, but they certainly thought that would be a deterrent. It is not about deterrents. It is about punishment fitting the crime, letting society know as a whole that it is not acceptable to hurt people in this country, that it is not acceptable to destroy their property or steal from them. It is a wrong thing to do. It is a very wrong thing to do and we are going to take tough action.

I am thankful that we have a minister sitting in that seat that wants to do just that. I thank the House for the time. I did not intend to speak today, but I could not resist after hearing many of the things that I heard this morning.

I hope people will give this bill a second thought before they react to the bill with such negativism and criticism that says we are too simplistic because we mean what we say and we are going to get the job done. It has not been done for years. Now is the time to get it done.

Criminal Code May 17th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how much time I have, but I will not be taking up a lot of time. I will start and see where we end up.

I was listening to the debate on the monitor in my office for the entire morning and trying to get a lot of things done, but I could not help but come over and try to get involved with the debate to some degree because there are a few things that I would like to point out.

Just very recently we heard a speech from the member for Abbotsford that was what I considered to be a talk that was coming from the hearts, the souls and the minds of ordinary people in his riding. A lot of ordinary people are out there wondering what is going on and what is happening.

I have a lot of respect for lawyers, I really do, but they seem to approach things with a totally different idea than a lot of us do. I say that simply because it is difficult to understand them when they begin their lingo. Their language becomes so legalistic that it is difficult to know exactly where they are at and their comeback always is that the problem with people like me, the member for Abbotsford and others is that we are just too simplistic. I have heard that term so many times that it just about drives me crazy.

It is a simplistic answer, they say, when what we are doing is expressing this in terms as best we can, as every member can, and I know that you are the same, Mr. Speaker. We listen to the people in our ridings. They are really fed up with some of the things that are happening in our justice system. They want a truly good justice system. It appears to have turned into more of a legal system, where we are constantly engaging in debates as to what this term means and what that term means, et cetera, such that we lose sight of some things, that is, the public is not happy with the way that the justice system is operating. That is it, pure and simple. The public is not pleased.

Members can check any poll, or if they like they can conduct their own in their own riding. Even the Liberal member who just spoke can do that in his own riding with just ordinary people out there. Members can forget about those ordinary people being simplistic. Members should just remember that they are the people who are thriving in this country, who are working and paying their taxes, and they want the services rendered by this government to be efficient and effective.

One of the best things we can do to answer a lot of their concerns is provide a system that will make society as safe as possible and will protect society as a whole. One of the most elemental duties that we have as members of Parliament is to come up with legislation that will do that. I think we all try hard to do that, even in our own way of thinking, which too often is referred to by too many people in this House as simplistic.

The day that I really started getting more concerned than I ever had in the past was the day I saw 14 farmers, and prior to that another two, hauled away from a court, in shackles and chains, and going off to jail to serve consecutive sentences. Consecutive sentences meant that for each crime they had to serve a specific amount of time before they began to serve the next one. The courts do not usually sentence people consecutively; they sentence them concurrently. Clifford Olson, for example, is serving a life sentence for the death of 11 people, but he is only serving one. He probably should be serving 11 life sentences.

These farmers were hauled off to jail. They were taken to jail in shackles and chains, in most cases in front of their wives and children. For what? For selling their own grain, their own product that they raised on their farms with their own hard-working hands. They broke the law because they went across the border and tried to sell their grain. Nobody is denying that it was a disobedient thing to do and nobody is denying that maybe there should have been some charges. That is not the question.

The question is this: how did the punishment fit the crime? How well did we do in that department? We had farmers who worked hard to raise their own crops and who, in a form of civil disobedience, made a move to try to make more money, more profit, for their farms, which are struggling all the time. How well did we do when the Liberal government in power at the time did nothing about the fact that all these people were hauled off to jail?

Old Age Security Act May 11th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it appears to me there are many reasons for providing assistance through our old age system. They need more money and I hope that day will come, but it is a way to honour those who have thrived and survived through thick and thin to bring this great country to the point it is at today.

If someone has lived here three years or less, I do not think it is a sign of that. I really object to that kind of proposal. I have not even heard what kind of an impact this would have economically on the entire system.

Spokeman Tour May 11th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to a young man from my riding by the name of Tim Harriman.

Tim is a 19-year-old cancer survivor. His goal is to cycle across Canada to raise awareness for childhood cancer and to increase donations toward finding a cure that will put an end to this disease. Tim will work to raise this money by cycling through all 10 provinces visiting many of the 17 children's hospitals and cancer treatment centres along the way.

Tim's cycle will begin on June 4 in Victoria, B.C. and will end in mid-August in St. John's, Newfoundland. The trip will take approximately 81 days, will cover 7,738 kilometres and will take an estimated 412 hours of riding.

In order to watch Tim on his journey or make a donation, please visit his website at Tim vowed that as soon as he finished his cancer treatments, his next challenge would be to cross this country spreading the word on behalf of kids who are fighting cancer. I know with his determination he will fulfill his dream and beat his goal of raising $100,000.

Best wishes to Tim Harriman.

Senate Appointment Consultations Act May 7th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I kind of remember one thing the member said in his speech but most of his speech was pretty bungled up. I do not even know if he knew for sure what he was talking about. However, he made a couple of comments about the days when the Reform came in and he was right on. I do not think I have changed since 1993 when I came in as Reform member.

However, when we arrived here there were a couple of things we recognized. First, Brian Mulroney was the first prime minister to appoint an elected senator, Stan Waters. Stan Water was a Reformer. Is that not amazing? Brian Mulroney belonged to a different party but he appointed the choice of the people.

We then had to wait a long number of years until we finally got the present Prime Minister who once again has appointed another great Canadian, Bert Brown, to the Senate. Those are people who were elected.

During those 14 Liberal years, I will bet a dollar to a doughnut that if I heard it once I heard it a thousand times coming from the Liberal benches that we should elect our senators. They actually said that in conversations outside and all around. The Liberal members of the caucus, through those years, said that it was a good idea to elect members to the Senate.

I cannot believe what I am hearing today. What happened to the good old Liberals who were here back in the days when the good Reform were here? What kind of a change have they had that they would do that?

I can go through a whole list of boondoggles that started changing the trend of thought in this place, all the way to Gomery through to the cancellation of the helicopters, time after time after time. It is no wonder we lose our decorum in this place when we find out about the billions of dollars that the people over there, when they were in charge, did.

I would ask the member to reconsider, to go back to the Liberal thinking that I heard in the early years of Reform, that an elected Senate is a good idea.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have just a brief question. I thank the member for the job he is doing. He is coming from a realistic point of view, like I am, in that we have seen these things from a police perspective and from a school teacher's perspective in dealing with parents and in dealing with the situation at first hand. I know that both of us approach the legislation from a common sense point of view and the experiences we have had.

Should this place not use a little more common sense? I would ask the member if he would agree. Bless the lawyers, and I love every one of them, but they get so legalistic. They want to enter into the legal end of things with fine wording and all of that. Should we not put more emphasis on the fact that it is the right thing to do and we have to do it?

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I hope we do not get tied down with the idea that this will cause people to clam up and not say anything. Parents are crying out for some authority and some ability to act on behalf of their kids.

Yes, it may be true that the 14 or 15 year old is demanding to stay in the situation and that they do not want to report it or talk about it. However, if mom and dad want to remove their child from a situation, they also should not be blocked from being able to do so. When they call on the police and ask them to remove their 14 year old daughter from the home of a 40 year old man who is exploiting and using her, a 14 year old who has consented but does not truly understand what she has done, this bill would give them the authority to do it.

All I am saying is that we need to get a lot of education involved. We need people to understand that exploitation is not acceptable in today's society. We need people to understand that raising the age of consent to 16 will help to prevent that from happening. It is about preventing it from happening in the first place.

Yes, I realize that 14 and 15 year olds who give their consent will not report it if they really believe they have done the right thing. However, the parents should not be blocked from trying to intervene. Our responsibility as parents is to intervene on behalf of our kids.

When I was 14 years old I had to be intervened with on a few things that did not have anything to do with sex. My father intervened quite often because I was a kid and I did not have enough brains to understand what I was doing. We need the public to understand this. We need to give the parents the authority. It is a family thing. Let us educate the world about it, but let us provide them with the ammunition.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I would like thank all members of the House of Commons who are supporting this measure. I and many of my colleagues have been waiting a long time for this.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Northeast.

The member for Calgary Northeast and I have been here since 1993 and one of the first major meetings we had was with the then appointed justice minister, Mr. Allan Rock. At that meeting the member for Calgary Northeast pointed out to the justice minister, loudly and clearly, particularly from a policeman's point of view, the need for having this kind of legislation in place.

Strangely enough, the minister at that time seemed to agree that it was a good cause and, of course, I reinforced it from an educator's point of view. It seems police and educators work with the same people quite often on the same issues. I want to commend the member for Calgary Northeast on his dedication to correcting this situation over the years. I know he is as glad as I am today that this legislation is about to come to light and that it will happen.

I also want to point out that several members in the House of Commons are very positive about seeing this happen. Some of us think it is long overdue, but it is finally here. A colleague I would like to mention, who is my good friend but who is no longer here, is Darrel Stinson, the former member for Okanagan—Shuswap. He presented this bill way back in the early years, like many of us, and spoke many times on this kind of issue.

I could commend a lot of people, even from the Liberal side, who spoke quite strongly about getting this thing moving. It is going to happen but it is too bad that it takes so long under our process to get something accomplished that absolutely makes no sense not to get done soon. I really do not believe that some members in the House of Commons recognize or know the seriousness of allowing 14 and 15 year olds to be of legal age for age of consent.

I was an educator for about 30 years and the principal of a small town school which contained that age group. Even in small towns throughout this country there is the problem of 14 and 15 year olds being allowed to decide through consent that they can take up residence with an older person, basically for the purpose of engaging in sex or other activities, and not having to worry about getting their parents' permission. For the life of me, I could never understand how a country could consider 14 and 15 year olds anything other than children. They are young people and most of them in junior high school.

I can recall the days when we could not do anything in the schoolyard. When a 14 year old consented to get into a car and take off with a 20 or 21 year old, I wanted to run out and stop the person but I had no authority to do that because the 14 year old had the privilege of age of consent.

Many times parents came to me broken-hearted after having gone to the police and would ask me what they could do. Nobody could do anything. Yes, if children were lured or enticed and there was any evidence of exploitation in a relationship, then something could be done because it was against the law, but most of the time if a 14 or 15 year old indicated that he or she had given consent then nothing could be done.

I can name a number of cases where a father has removed his 14 year old daughter from that situation and has put her into a better place under better supervision only to be arrested and charged with trespassing or, if he forcefully entered a residence to withdraw his child from that situation, with assault or break and enter. That just does not make sense.

In 1993, when I was first elected, I said that I would like to see the existing laws, which have failed to protect our children better, changed. When I would visit some police departments I was amazed to hear about the problems, even in those days before the Internet, with child pornography and the difficulty the police were having in bringing those violators of this evil stuff to prosecution because we were too worried in this place about the rights of the criminal.

We have the Charter of Rights, which is a wonderful document, but along with the Charter of Rights there should have been a charter of responsibility: a responsibility that would protect our children and a responsibility that would give the parents the right to enforce what they need to enforce, no matter what it took because it is kids we are looking after. However, the laws of the land and the court systems would interfere and always seemed to put an emphasis on protecting the bad guy.

One of the first cases happened in Calgary. I remember a five year old girl being abducted from her backyard. This poor girl was handicapped. I believe she was deaf. Later that evening they found her body in a dumpster. She had been raped and murdered. When the perpetrator was found and arrested, do members know what happened? The perpetrator received psychiatric help. He was seen by psychologists and medical doctors. He was looked after. He was coached. All those things.

In the meantime, the family of the five year old girl, the parents and the siblings, were breaking apart at the seams. One can only imagine how they felt but where was their aid? Where was their assistance? It just was not there, unless they wanted to cough up the money and pay for it themselves.

The member for Calgary Northeast and I have recognized for nearly 15 years how wrong that was and we fought hard to get everyone to recognize with their own eyes the evilness of child pornography and to get rid of it. However, we were always blocked. Nothing is more important than the protection of our children and yet we stumble over little things. We need to stop that.

I want to pay tribute to KINSA, Kids' Internet Safety Alliance, a group I met with last night in Toronto, which is a big supporter of this bill. Its members were happy to hear that Bill C-22, the age of protection, the raising the age of consent, would be coming to light. They were so happy that they wanted me to express this morning, if I had the chance, which I now have, their thanks to the House of Commons for finally getting this done. I, in turn, want to congratulate them and their organization, right from Bill Gates, down through Paul Gillespie, through to the whole pile of people who made a big effort in fighting this child pornography and this Internet garbage that is going on. I pay tribute to them. Let us help them by making the laws right. Today is our chance, with Bill C-22, to get things started.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate and respect the fact that the member is here in this institution doing the best job he can. What I have a difficult time understanding is that the member is giving a canned speech. That is a canned speech.

First of all, if he were to look back over the last 15 years, he would never have made a statement that I and my colleague from Calgary Northeast and others over here have been playing games with this. We are not playing games with this. I have never played games with this kind of an issue in all the years I have been here and members on that side of the House darn well know it. I hate to be accused of those kinds of things. I hate to be accused of that when they know it is not true.

Second, I want to remind the member that my colleague from Calgary Northeast and I approached the first justice minister that was on duty, Mr. Allan Rock, about this very issue years ago. In all those years it was never brought forward to be dealt with, never. One minister after another refused to bring forward legislation.

The last point I want to make is that in 2005 we did have a vote on this and guess who voted no? The minority Liberal government at that time voted no, so I think it is too bad that the member has to read this canned speech which is not really very accurate. It is too bad for him because I think he is a genuine man with grandchildren who wants to protect children. I appreciate his support for Bill C-22 and thank him very much for that; however, I wanted to make that comment to set the record straight.