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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

Young Offenders Act April 20th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day when politics and lobbying interfere with the security and safety of Canadians. The Minister of Justice is having problems with her own caucus on proposed amendments to the Young Offenders Act. The minister has had the benefit of an extensive justice committee review of the present legislation. She has had extensive input from provincial justice ministers. She has had extensive input from Canadians.

Will the minister do the right thing for the country or will she succumb to her backbenchers, many of whom have not studied the issues?

Young Offenders Act April 20th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the justice minister has had her job for almost a year now. The Young Offenders Act was supposed to be one of her priorities but we are still waiting. She has used words like “timely fashion”, “soon” and “complicated”. Indeed her parliamentary secretary has told us to be patient. Now we find the real reason for delay is her lack of power or influence within her own caucus.

Will the minister admit she is in over her head and is unable to do the job Canadians expect of her?

National Head Start Program April 20th, 1998

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak in favour of Motion No. 261 as proposed by my hon. colleague for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

I am also pleased to hear of the support for this motion from other parties. As has been stated many times, this is not an issue that needs to attract political sensitivities. It is unfortunate that members of the Bloc appear to be attempting to characterize this proposal in that fashion.

They referred to encroachment into the area of provincial jurisdiction. They have tied this motion into the Canadian unity debate. That is quite a stretch for the imagination. It may be an example of paranoia, whereby the separatists now see every issue as an attempt to attack Quebec. This motion should and must be solely seen as an attempt to address problems experienced throughout our society. It affects all Canadians.

As to the issue of provincial jurisdiction, I would first like to point out that the motion includes the words “develop, along with their provincial counterparts, a comprehensive National Head Start Program for children in their first 8 years of life”.

Just as with health and education, the federal government has an acute interest in the proper development of our children. As well, the primary purpose of this motion is to provide a good start for our children. Extensive studies have shown that the first eight years of life are critical in an individual's development.

Inadequate attention and nurturing for our youngsters can often lead to subsequent developmental difficulties. With a poor start children may often wind up on the wrong side of the law. Since the federal government has a significant stake in the area of criminal law, together with our institutions of the police, the courts, the prisons and the parole system, there may well be a sufficient argument toward federal jurisdiction merely on the basis of criminal law. After all, the federal government should be interested in any opportunity which results in such successful crime prevention whereby a dollar spent on providing a good head start results in the saving of many dollars down the road through decreases in our criminal statistics. But as I said, this motion only proposes the development of the program along with the provinces.

The government has already implemented head start programs among our aboriginal communities. They have been primarily limited to reserves, but both aboriginal people living off reserve and non-aboriginal people are also in need of such programs.

This government's own National Crime Prevention Council has been very supportive of a national head start program. In its 1996 report at page 2 of the executive summary it states:

There is ample evidence that well-designed social development programs can prevent crime and be cost-effective. Rigorous evaluations, mainly American, show that crime prevention through social development pays handsome dividends. In almost 30 years of participant follow-up the Perry Preschool Program in Michigan has been shown to be responsible for very significantly reducing juvenile and adult crime.

This motion proposes that the government explore models based on the Perry Preschool Program, among others.

The Secretary of State for Children and Youth has already spoken to this motion. She commented on how successful the aboriginal head start program has been. She pointed out that funding had doubled due to its benefits. She encouraged further expansion to include the protection of all our children and to assist needy parents toward proper nurturing and caring of the next generation of our society. This motion is on all fours with the secretary of state's comments.

Additional comments have been made in this place about how a national head start program can be a head start on the prevention of crime, about how it is like a registered retirement savings plan. Invest a dollar today to reap many more dollars in the future.

The Minister of Finance should be the first to climb on board and support programs of this nature. He should not concern himself solely with attempting to solve the problems of the present, but should plan ahead. By spending money today as an investment in our children he can save much more in the future through decreased health costs, crime costs and societal costs.

The Minister of Health knows that well fed, well adjusted children from sound families lead much more healthier lives. The Minister of Justice knows that this type of child is much less likely to come before our justice system. The Solicitor General will be very pleased to see less strain on his limited prison and parole resources.

A couple of years ago the Minister of Finance recognized that an investment in our children today would keep them out of jail in 20 years. He said that caring for children should be Canada's number one priority. This motion encourages him to do just that.

I note that recently the province of Ontario provided $10 million to fund a home visiting program for new mothers. It is known as Healthy Babies, Healthy Children. Hospitals will screen all new mothers to identify babies and families who may need extra support and services. It is to provide high risk families with the parenting help needed and to avoid child abuse and neglect. But already health authorities are saying the funding is not enough.

Everyone appears to be on side as far as need and as far as applicability. But, with all due respect, there is a definite requirement for federal involvement. Pooling of resources will reduce costs of implementation. Ideas and successes can be shared. National standards will ensure children from all parts of this country receive necessary assistance and protection.

Canada has come under criticism by the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime. It has been pointed out that Belgium, with a population of 10 million, spends $140 million a year on crime prevention. Canada, with nearly three times the population, spends only $10 million.

Crime costs Canadians approximately $46 billion a year. So far caring for children through crime prevention measures, as proposed by this motion, has not become our number one priority.

Back in August 1996 the former minister of justice commented about the justice system and how the harm has already been done by the time people come before the courts. He stated “We must do more than deal with the symptoms of the problem. We must go to the source”.

Programs as proposed by this motion go to the source. In 1996 the Child Welfare League of Canada argued the need to create a comprehensive and permanent universal program cross Canada to address funding for early intervention measures to assist our children. Sandra Scarth, executive director of this organization, in meetings with the former justice minister and solicitor general pointed out the necessity to identify mothers and children who are likely to be in difficulty and who need regular intensive support from birth until school entry.

Some of the facts presented were:

Child maltreatment in Canada is estimated at one in five.

There are 40,000 Canadian children in substitute care, such as foster homes and group homes.

Child welfare authorities are monitoring nearly 200,000 children who may be in unsatisfactory and unacceptable positions in their homes.

One sex offender in three suffered some kind of sexual trauma as a child.

Eighty per cent of female prisoners were physically and/or sexually abused as children.

The risk of drug abuse is seven times as high for children who have been sexually abused as for children who have not, and the risk of suicide is 10 times as high.

The biggest factors in whether a parent will abuse a child are childhood experiences, social isolation and physical or developmental problems with the child.

Surely facts and figures such as these should be enough for all of us to address how we can better provide for a proper good start for our children. They are the most defenceless and least protected members of our society. This motion is a good start toward addressing some of the inadequacies toward these children. We will all benefit from the further developments as proposed by the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

There is much demand across this country, and rightly so, to strengthen the Young Offenders Act, especially as it relates to violent crime. Would it not be nice if we were able to head off the problems before they entered the realm of criminality? Would it not be nice if we never had to invoke the Young Offenders Act or the Criminal Code in the first place? Of course we know that such a state is unattainable. It would be Utopian, but perhaps this House could move the country one small step closer by supporting this motion.

I urge my colleagues in this place to give it careful consideration.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998 March 31st, 1998

Mr. Speaker, this government has made a unilateral decision to tax a Canadian family of four and to give those tax funds to a minuscule proportion of youth. This government is not being overly compassionate or considerate toward youth. It is merely taking from the family to create a memorial for the Prime Minister.

I will now move on to a couple of areas of concern to my constituents. This government promised to spend $30 million on crime prevention. It has been having difficulty even maintaining the status quo. In my community the officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP detachment has lost a number of his more experienced officers to other police forces and other agencies. Why? Because it took until last Friday for this government to finally provide a pay raise so that these officers could feed and clothe their children.

This government was more concerned with looking after government executives than it was with those who were in more dire financial straits. Now that it has finally brought in the pay raise it may well be too late and may not be enough.

Instead of keeping its commitment to maintain the salaries of its national police force in line with the average salary of the major municipal forces, this government has merely thrown them a bone. There is little meat involved. Many other officers from my community may be forced to move onto greener pastures. It is unfortunate.

This government has so much difficulty with its priorities that it fails to properly look after those who toil to preserve the peace in our communities, our police officers. The former minister of justice and the former solicitor general were promising $30 million for crime prevention all the way back to 1996, but little has been seen. When it comes it will again likely be for a political purpose rather than being in the best interest of our citizens.

I will provide another example of the dreadful mismanagement of this government. It is all hoopla and little action. The former solicitor general was quite proud of the RCMP for introducing its violent crime linkage analysis system, or ViCLAS, a project to monitor and solve crimes of a serial nature. It has been said that if the system had been properly used during the Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka investigation the murders of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy may never have occurred.

Guess what? The province of Ontario has learned its lesson. It has managed to allocate sufficient but scarce resources to properly fund ViCLAS through the operations of the Ontario Provincial Police. But where is the federal government with the RCMP? I have been led to understand that the RCMP ViCLAS project is now under severe threat because this government has not found or made available the necessary resources to properly fund this worthwhile and world-recognized program.

Imagine, the RCMP is forced to fly the Prime Minister to the ski hills but the government does not have enough money to fund one of the world's most advanced technological crime fighting tools. As with most things, this government is more concerned with trumpeting and taking credit for the program. It is not interested in providing the funds to operate it efficiently or effectively.

With that thought I will end my comments on this bill.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998 March 31st, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be provided with the opportunity to speak to Bill C-36 and the official opposition amendment.

It was most unfortunate to bear witness to our government attempting to play fast and loose with the financial books of the country. We have a world renowned organization of professionals called the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. Members of this group are contracted all over the world to audit financial records to maintain the integrity of financial statements.

The Minister of Finance's recent methods of creative bookkeeping make a mockery of Canadian professional accounting practices. All the minister can say is that he knows better.

We have the office of Auditor General of Canada. His office has a budget of approximately $50 million. Approximately 500 people are employed to scrutinize government programs and financial activities. The auditor general has been most critical of the minister's creative bookkeeping.

How does the government react to the very office set up to monitor its finances in the interest of Canadians? It provides thinly veiled threats to its servants who are attempting to do the job they have been mandated to do. It tells its own watchdog that the finance department is in charge and if the auditor general does not like it then the rules will be changed.

I sincerely hope that this is not an example of what Canadians can expect, should the Minister of Finance ever fulfil his goal of becoming prime minister of the country.

The issue of cooked books is just a symptom of the disease. Sometimes I wonder whether the Minister of Finance is conducting himself in such an irrational and questionable fashion merely to draw attention away from his failure to address the real problems of his budget.

The main element of the recent budget was the establishment of the $2.5 billion Canada millennium scholarship foundation, but the funds are not to be disbursed until the year 2000.

Canadians get little in the way of direction or assistance from the government for the years 1998 and 1999. Finally, in the year 2000 the millennium fund kicks in. Who benefits? In 1996 there were 1.7 million students. The millennium fund will only help 2% a year with $5,000 grants. It will not necessarily help the needy. It will often aid those who already have sufficient means to fund their education. It only helps those who are continuing their education.

Millions of our youth do not have the interest, background or qualifications to gain the opportunity of this fund. It will be limited to a few. It will do nothing for those who do not go to our universities.

I recently attended a forum put on by street youth, just some of those who will not be eligible for the Prime Minister's millennium fund. At this forum there was a great deal of soul searching and relating of tragic stories: abusive homes, alcohol, drugs, hopelessness, cynicism. Name it and it was there.

These kids are a major component of our next generation and society is doing very little for them. They have been forgotten by the budget. Indeed, they appear to have been forgotten by those who loudly profess to care for them. Even though there were about 150 young people attending the session, there was not one Liberal or NDP member of this place to be found, even though the gathering took place in downtown Vancouver, their constituencies, miles away from my own.

After cutting billions of dollars from transfer payments the government appears to think that our next generation's problems are to be handled by the provinces and territories. The government attempts to characterize any critics of the Prime Minister's memorial fund as being anti-education. They say the fund is all about a stronger future for our young people.

Actually this government is more concerned with creating a personal political memorial for the Prime Minister than it is with assisting our youth.

When the Reform Party and the vast majority of Canadians argue for debt and tax relief measures to stimulate our economy this government plays with the books to conceal any surplus. It says it will look at debt and tax relief once the surplus surfaces, but can and will that ever happen if the minister has free rein over his bookkeeping practices?

Instead of a millennium fund for students the Liberals have provided a millennium burden for taxpayers. By the year 2000 Canadians will be paying over $173 billion per year in taxes. That is $155 billion in total budget revenues plus another $18 billion in Canada pension plan taxes. This works out to $48 billion more and is equivalent to about $5,000 per year higher for the average family than when the Liberals were elected.

It may be a coincidence, but the $5,000 figure arises here as well; $5,000 more per year for the average taxpayer and $5,000 per year for 2% of our students who will be fortunate enough to obtain the millennium funds. This government has made a unilateral decision to tax the Canadian family of four and give those tax funds to a minuscule proportion of our youth. This government is not being overly compassionate or considerate toward youth—

Judges Act March 30th, 1998

Madam Speaker, when I spoke to Bill C-37, I was asked a question concerning the morale within the RCMP when its members see judges getting this kind of an increase. The RCMP is just coming out from under a five year wage freeze and has received a pittance compared to the judges.

My hon. colleague is a former member of the RCMP. I would like to get his views as to what he feels this will do the morale of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and to the constables out on patrol. How is this going to affect them? My experience is that they will do their jobs and they will do them well but it certainly does not bode well for their morale.

Judges Act March 30th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I cannot say that I have seen a correlation because I have not actually seen the data. My gut instinct tells me that there would be if we do not have police on the streets to deal with some of the crime we are seeing, especially in rural parts of the country.

During my speech on Bill C-16 I alluded to the difficulties the RCMP had in remote parts of Canada. I know the Speaker likes to go to Whistler and knows how remote it can be up there. I go to a place that is even further outside Vancouver than Whistler. If the Pemberton RCMP need me they have to drive an hour up a logging road to get me.

There are some serious problems with policing in rural areas. Somebody had better get the idea straight as to where funds will be allotted.

Judges Act March 30th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I have to agree. I honestly do not know how many more police officers could be hired. I do not have a calculator handy.

It spreads into other areas. It is not just the question of salaries for the RCMP. I alluded to the ViCLAS system for tracking sex criminals, violent offenders and repeat offenders. I have seen this program demonstrated to be very useful. It cuts down the amount of time police spend investigating cases. There is a serious potential that it could go under because of lack of resources.

They should start getting their priorities straightened out on the other side of the House and decide where we have to spend the money for law enforcement.

Judges Act March 30th, 1998

Yes, certainly, Mr. Speaker. I can speak from my own experience with RCMP members in my community of Surrey, which as I said is the largest in the country. There is a serious morale problem there. I know a lot of the members personally. They are very honourable people. They will not let it affect their ability to perform the function we ask them to do.

However, a real serious problem is the bleeding of experienced RCMP members into other police forces and other businesses which give them better rates of pay and a definitely less stress related job, not to mention usually nine to five hours.

Yes, there is definitely a morale problem now and I cannot see it getting anything but worse when they understand how much the judges are receiving as an increase.

Judges Act March 30th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, what can I say? I mentioned in my speech that if the commission is to be appointed why do we not take a look to see if the commission could have something to do with reviewing or actually considering the appointments? Of course this would be subject to approval of the House. Whether the bill is the appropriate vehicle to put this clause into effect remains to be seen.

The way the whole process of appointments to the bench is now has left the public absolutely cynical. Again I say it is not an appropriate time to give judges a raise.

I would just like to add that the 4.1% is compounded in the second year, so we are looking at 8.3% by the time we are finished, which is considerably more.