House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Independent MP for Surrey North (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Justice March 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, this week in Surrey an 18 year old who has already had his licence suspended twice lost control of his car at 140 kilometres per hour. He smashed a bus shelter, injuring 71 year old Sarjeet Dhillon. Everything points to yet another tragic result of a street race. Spring will bring an increase in racing with nothing more than house arrest for those who injure or kill.

Bill C-338 sends a message to the courts to treat these crimes more seriously. The minister could pass it in a day. Why will he not support it?

Justice March 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, today's Vancouver Province newspaper states:

We say it's time politicians passed Surrey North MP['s]...bill to make street racing an aggravating factor in sentencing.

The media and the public want Parliament to act on Bill C-338. The House has shown support by sending the bill to the justice committee, but we all know time is running out on this Parliament. It is time to deter this irresponsible criminal behaviour.

Will the minister show some leadership by supporting Bill C-338 so it can become law before an election is called?

Street Racing March 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, here we go again. Yesterday in Surrey, B.C. just before the evening rush hour, an 18-year-old lost control of his muscle car at an estimated speed of 140 kilometres per hour. He demolished a bus shelter, critically injuring a 71-year-old woman. Another car was spotted fleeing the scene, making it obvious to all concerned that this was yet another tragic result of a street race.

As warmer weather approaches, street racing incidents will likely increase and participants are confident they will not spend a day in jail even if they kill or injure. Nationally, insurance claims resulting from street racing more than doubled between 2000 and 2002. A message must be sent to the courts that these crimes are to be treated more seriously.

I urge all members to maintain support for Bill C-338, which the House passed and sent to the justice committee. It will make street racing an aggravating factor for sentencing. If we are really serious about deterring this irresponsible criminal activity, Bill C-338 must become law before the end of this Parliament.

Marijuana February 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, marijuana growing factories are appearing all across Canada.

There are an estimated 15,000 grow ops in homes across Ontario. This is old news to British Columbians. Surrey alone has an estimated 3,500 to 4,500, while the city and the RCMP do their best to cope.

The RCMP have called grow ops an epidemic in B.C., Quebec, and Ontario. The huge bust at an old brewery in Barrie underscored just how big the problem has become, an increase of more than six-fold since 1993, all during this government's watch.

In Ontario the green tide summit on March 4 and 5 will coordinate the efforts of police, firefighters, utilities, real estate brokers, and insurance companies, in the fight against grow ops. Police believe that 10,000 Ontario children are being raised in these houses.

Ontario Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter is quoted as saying, “There are serious implications for the quality of life that we have in our community”.

The best the Liberal government can do is to tinker around with maximum sentences when the courts do not even use those currently on the books.

Contraventions Act February 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate Bill C-10, this government's feeble attempt to address the possession and production of marijuana in Canada.

At times Canadians must wonder if the government is even aware of the problems of marijuana grow ops in Canada. I have tried for some time now to make these Liberals aware of the extent of the problem in my constituency of Surrey North.

In Surrey alone, an estimated 3,500 to 4,500 grow ops generate, conservatively estimated, in excess of $2 billion per year. B.C. bud goes into the United States as currency for guns and cocaine. These grow ops are run by violent criminal gangs and many are located in residential neighbourhoods where there are plenty of children. I continue to receive letters, e-mails and phone calls from constituents who are extremely angry that too little is being done.

The criminal intelligence directorate of the RCMP issued a report, “Marijuana Cultivation in Canada”, in November 2002. In 2001, Canadian police seized close to $1.4 million marijuana plants, a six-fold increase since 1993. In 2002, 54 million grams of bulk marijuana were seized, up from 28 million in 2001. This phenomenal increase in the illegal production of marijuana occurred under this government's watch while the current Prime Minister held the purse strings on funding that could have addressed the problem long before now.

The RCMP told the former solicitor general that grow ops had reached “epidemic proportions”--that is their wording--and that resources to take them down were an issue.

Innocent lives are at risk here. We have had drive-by shootings, assaults and murders. Neighbours frequently have their homes violently invaded in so-called grow rips, when the bad guys get the wrong address.

Why do we not see any resources directly targeting marijuana grow operations and why is there not a strategy in place? This is out of control.

The former solicitor general called the problem serious and admitted it should be challenged head on. He said, “We do have to do more”. He said that he had raised the matter with the former minister of finance, the current Prime Minister. At that time, he declared that in the next few weeks the government would bring forward proposals that, in his words, “will in a more comprehensive fashion challenge the grow operations, to increase penalties and take them down”.

Bill C-10 falls woefully short of that promise.

The current maximum sentence for growing marijuana is seven years. The bill we are debating proposes increasing the maximum sentence to 14 years, but only for more than 50 plants. The maximum sentence for growing four to 25 plants will actually be reduced to five years. That is shocking. We are reducing sentences while international organized crime is increasingly establishing grow ops in Canada due to our already lax laws and lenient sentences.

Besides, with penalties still at the discretion of the courts, what is the point of increasing maximum sentences when they rarely, if ever, come close to imposing the current maximums? With no set mandatory minimum sentences, we will continue to see judges giving far less than the maximum penalties for cultivation. If the government were truly serious about combatting grow ops, it would have instituted mandatory minimum jail sentences and more effective proceeds of crime legislation.

This legislation is great news for organized crime. The November 2002 RCMP criminal intelligence directorate report declared that high profits, a low risk of being caught and lenient sentences are spurring the epidemic of marijuana grow ops in Canada. It states:

Police resources are now being taxed to the point where difficult choices must be made when faced with competing priorities.

This explains why law enforcement agencies are unable to make a lasting impact on the marijuana cultivation industry in Canada. Huge profits from illegal marijuana growing are often used by organized crime, in the words of the report “to finance other illicit activities, such as the importation of Ecstasy, liquid hashish and cocaine”.

The number of illegal marijuana operations is rising so fast that some Canadian police agencies are being overwhelmed, the RCMP report said, stating that:

In some parts of the country, the phenomenon has reached epidemic proportions.

I have been asking questions in the House for some time now about the government's lack of effort to take down marijuana grow ops. In the spring of 2003, the former solicitor general visited Surrey to examine the problem, in part, by his own admission, because of questions I had asked in this place. To this point in time, neither my constituents nor I have seen any action from the government. I commented at the time that his visit was just a grow op photo op. It now appears as though that is all it was.

In August 2003, another RCMP criminal intelligence unit report said that organized crime is extending its marijuana grow op reach clear across Canada by merging with biker gangs.

On December 17, 2003, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police released a report entitled “Green Tide: Indoor Marijuana Cultivation and its Impact on Ontario”. This study sounds an alarm in Ontario about a problem the RCMP labelled epidemic on a national scale one year previously. It details the threats to public safety and the cost to society in stolen electricity and insurance premiums, among other things. It also links grow ops to organized crime and shows that the problem affects both rural and urban communities. This is all old news to British Columbians.

B.C. and the Surrey RCMP have been tackling the problem head-on and in recent months have taken down numerous grow ops, no thanks to Ottawa. Perhaps now that grow ops are a problem in vote-rich Ontario, these Liberals will take serious legislative action.

Why has the government allowed the problem to get worse? Report after report, year in and year out, has declared that there is an escalating marijuana grow op problem. Why did it not use the bill to do something significant rather than just tinker around with maximum sentences?

On the issue of decriminalization, the government is sending our youth an extremely confusing message. On one hand it has said not to use drugs and that it is getting tough on cultivation and trafficking, but then it has followed up by tacitly condoning the use of marijuana by decriminalizing its possession.

To further exacerbate things, the Liberals propose lower fines for kids than for adults: one gram of hashish, $300 for adults, $200 for youths aged 12 to 18; 15 grams or less of marijuana, $150 for adults and $100 for youths; 15 to 30 grams of marijuana, $300 for adults and $200 for youths. What lunacy: if they can afford to buy the drugs, then should we not assume they can afford to pay the fine? What kind of message is this?

To sum up, although the Liberals have committed to studying “drug driving”, without effective roadside assessment capabilities we will see more drug impaired drivers getting behind the wheel with no concrete way to detect them. The Ontario police are experimenting with a “potalyser”, which would detect marijuana in the bloodstream. The federal government should investigate these types of innovations.

Collection of fines and the nonpayment of tickets will fall under provincial jurisdiction. Many provinces have already indicated that they do not have the resources to follow up in these areas.

Fine levels do not increase for subsequent offences, so therefore there would be no deterrent for repeat offenders.

There has been no provision put in place by the government to review changes to the law resulting from the future increase in THC toxicity or potency of marijuana.

The proposed meagre enforcement resources add up to about two dozen extra RCMP officers nationwide. Local or municipal law enforcement would not receive any new resources.

There is no establishment of an office to coordinate the efforts to deal with illicit drugs in our society.

There is no change in the penalties for trafficking, and only a truly pathetic effort at addressing grow ops.

Personally I am opposed to any attempt to decriminalize the possession of even small amounts of marijuana, for a very simple reason. I have experienced the ultimate consequence of drug abuse by young people. The individuals involved in the assault on my son, which culminated in his murder some eleven and a half years ago, raised marijuana abuse as an issue for defence.

In conclusion, let me say that many of my constituents, several provinces, the Canadian Police Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and many Liberal backbenchers have expressed various concerns over this legislation. For all of these reasons, I will oppose Bill C-10.

Auto Theft February 16th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my City of Surrey, although it is a wonderful place to live and work, unfortunately has the dubious distinction of being a North American leader in auto crime. While joyriding youth contribute to the problem, criminals stealing cars to commit other crimes are a major factor.

The typical Surrey car thief is a drug addicted adult male with multiple prior convictions. They steal vehicles, preferably SUVs, for personal transportation and for use in drug trafficking, home invasions and drive-by shootings, among other crimes.

The city plans a number of measures to reduce auto thefts, including bike patrols and a bait car program to bolster current efforts. However, liberal laws and lenient courts allow B.C.'s estimated 300 car thieves to commit up to 90% of thefts each year. There is rarely jail time even for multiple convictions, no deterrence, and no incentive to stop stealing.

On Wednesday, a public forum will be held at the Surrey Arts Centre to discuss the facts and the measures everyone can take to protect their property. I urge the citizens of Surrey to attend this event and become part of the solution to auto crime in our city.

Youth Criminal Justice Act February 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on July 16, 2000, a 15 year old car thief ran a stop sign in Surrey and t-boned an SUV, killing 11 year old Tina Burbank. Her mother, Chrissy, and her grandparents were seriously injured. Chrissy has since founded Our Angels in Heaven, a support group for parents of children lost to violent crime.

Tina's killer was sentenced to 19 months, including six in secure custody, for criminal negligence causing death. At sentencing, Chrissy received a letter from him expressing sorrow and his desire to switch places with Tina.

Last week an 18 year old was charged with dangerous driving, flight, possession of stolen property and driving while prohibited in a case involving a stolen pickup truck. Even though he is 18, he cannot be identified. Why? Because to do so would name him as Tina Burbank's killer. So much for the crocodile tears and deterrence.

Chrissy is not surprised and holds out little hope for car thieves, because in her words, “They know nothing is going to happen to them”. Sadly, she is right because under this government's new Youth Criminal Justice Act, nothing will change. In fact it will in all likelihood get worse.

Petitions February 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of 143 constituents of Surrey North. The petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

The Environment November 3rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the Greater Vancouver Regional District and other municipalities have expressed concerns about the government's proposed management plans for dissolved ammonia, among other substances, for the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. One primary concern is the potential for duplication.

Will the environment minister commit to harmonizing his proposals with provincial regulations, to ensure that municipalities have a so-called one window approach to waste water management?

Justice October 31st, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the government has also failed to respond to demands to strengthen our impaired driving laws. The minister is well aware of the carnage and the misery caused by drunk drivers.

Last week, RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli was injured in a crash involving a suspected drunk driver. An impaired driver has injured Canada's top cop. Again, what is it going to take for the government to get serious about protecting not only our citizens but our police?