Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was horse.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code October 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before to the hon. member across the way, our approach has always been a two tracked approach. We first went to the WTO and the NAFTA. We have been very successful on that track. The second track is the track we have been working on in consultation with the provinces, the industries and municipalities.

On the issue of the rising value of the dollar, of course we will be going back and talking to the industry to find out the best way possible for it to address that issue and, with the ongoing negotiations with the United States, to come to the best long term solution to the problem.

Criminal Code October 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the questions of the hon. member across the way. I would like to say too that the member has worked very hard on this file, as has the Government of Canada.

As I have said in the House before, this dispute is the most significant trade challenge facing Canadians today. The member also knows that this dispute has gone on for many years.

In the most recent action, the U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed 27% countervailing and anti-dumping duties on imports of Canadian softwood lumber following the expiry of the softwood lumber agreement of 2001.

Throughout this dispute, the Government of Canada has consistently provided strong leadership to Canadians. That leadership is rooted in our strong and ongoing commitment to consult with all provinces and industries affected by the dispute and our resolve to defend the interests of affected Canadian lumber companies, the people they employ, and the communities they are located in.

That leadership is reflected in our legal challenges of the U.S. actions. We have cooperated closely with Canadian stakeholders in our challenges of the final determinations of subsidy and threat of injury before both the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada is also challenging the final determination of dumping before the WTO, in close consultation with Canadian industry, while Canadian producers have taken the lead in challenging the dumping action before NAFTA.

The Government of Canada has also exercised leadership in working closely with the provinces and the industry in discussions with the United States that are aimed at finding a fair and reasonable agreement which will bring about a durable resolution of the lumber dispute.

The government has worked closely with the provinces during discussions with the U.S. government on a U.S. Department of Commerce policy bulletin that would guide changed circumstance reviews of the countervailing duty on Canadian softwood lumber. Throughout these discussions, which focused on provincial policy, we were able to maintain a united Canadian front. We are continuing to work together to press the U.S. to include a Quebec example in the policy bulletin.

The government has been working hard to find a resolution to the dispute in the form of an interim measure that would replace U.S. duties pending provincial policy changes and changed circumstance reviews. Throughout these efforts we have worked closely with provincial governments and Canadian industry, which are and have been supportive of the federal leadership.

The leadership exercised by the Government of Canada has resulted in a highly unified Canadian approach to the softwood lumber dispute and we plan to continue with this approach. There are differences of view at times and this dispute is a complex and difficult one too, but we intend to continue with our approach of close consultation with the provinces and the industry.

As part of that ongoing commitment, the Minister for International Trade met numerous times with representatives from the industry, the provinces and municipalities. The government has also demonstrated leadership in its ongoing efforts to ensure that Canada's concerns in this dispute are heard by Americans. We have maintained a vigorous campaign to demonstrate to U.S. decision makers and the U.S. public that there is no basis for the duties and that these duties are harmful to American businesses and homeowners who need quality Canadian lumber at a fair price.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act October 21st, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with interest to the member for Mississauga South, who raises a lot of really valid points.

I would like him to comment on the process. We as members of Parliament know best what is going on within our ridings. The two issues I would like him to comment on are the issues of community of interest and community of identity.

I am a rural member of Parliament and in fact the past chair of rural caucus. I was very happy that the commission listened to my concerns and in fact acted on them, but the point is that the reality within Canada right now is this: 80% of the population lives on 20% of the land and 20% of the population lives on 80% of the land. From that aspect, we can see that when the ridings are being put together we have an urban core, and the commission is cutting and pasting rural parts of the riding onto that urban core.

It is difficult for urban members of Parliament to deal with rural issues like agriculture if they have never ever had to deal with them before in their lives. The flip side for rural members coming in is that we can come up to speed when dealing with urban issues because, quite frankly, we have those same issues in rural municipalities. They are just not quite as large or as intense as they are in larger urban centres.

The commission, I believe, has to involve the member of Parliament more on the issues of community of identity and community of interest before it draws up these boundaries instead of just using boundaries and population numbers.

Contraventions Act October 10th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice recently introduced Bill C-38, the proposed cannabis reform legislation, and I am pleased to debate the bill.

As the House is undoubtedly aware, countries treat cannabis possession in different ways. Some countries tolerate certain forms of possession and consumption, certain countries apply administrative sanctions or fines, and others apply penal sanctions.

However, despite the different legal approaches toward cannabis, a common trend can be seen, particularly in Europe, in the development of alternate measures to criminal prosecution for cases of the use and possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use. Fines, cautions, probation, exemption from punishment and counselling are favoured by many European justice systems.

Some Australian states and territories have also adopted cannabis decriminalization measures. Some of these measures are similar to what is being contemplated in Bill C-38. I would like to take a few moments to describe the situation in South Australia, the first Australian jurisdiction to adopt cannabis decriminalization measures.

Reform of the cannabis laws in South Australia came with the introduction of the controlled substances act amendment act, 1986. This amendment proposed a number of changes to the controlled substances act of 1984, including the insertion of provisions dealing with the expiation of simple cannabis offences. This represented the adoption of a new scheme for the expiation of simple cannabis offences, such as possessing or cultivating small amounts of cannabis for personal use, or possessing implements for using cannabis.

The cannabis expiation notice, CEN, scheme came into effect in South Australia in 1987. Under this scheme, adults committing simple cannabis offences could be issued with an expiation notice. Offenders were able to avoid prosecution by paying the specified fine or fees ranging from $50 Australian to $150 Australian within 60 days of the issue of the notice. Failure to pay the specified fees within 60 days could lead to prosecution in court and the possibility of a conviction being recorded.

Underlying this scheme was the rationale that a clear distinction should be made between private users of cannabis and those who are involved in dealing, producing or trafficking in cannabis. This distinction was emphasized at the introduction of the CEN scheme by the simultaneous introduction of more severe penalties for offences relating to the manufacture, production, sale or supply of all drugs of dependence and prohibited substances, including offences relating to larger quantities of cannabis.

The CEN scheme was modified by the introduction of the expiation of offences act, 1996, that now provides those served with an expiation notice the option of choosing to be prosecuted in order to contest being given the notice. Previously those served with a notice had to let the payment of expiation fees lapse in order to secure a court appearance to contest the notice. In choosing to be prosecuted, however, people issued a notice have their alleged offence converted from one which can be expiated to one which still carries the possibility of a criminal conviction.

The expiation system for minor cannabis offences in South Australia has been the subject of a number of evaluation studies. The impact of the implementation of such a system is therefore best seen there. As I mentioned, the South Australian cannabis expiation notice, CEN, system began in 1987. The main arguments for an expiation system were the reduction of negative social impacts upon convicted minor cannabis offenders and the potential cost savings. Implicit in the former view was the belief that the potential harms of using cannabis were outweighed by the harms arising from criminal conviction.

None of the studies upon levels and patterns of cannabis use in South Australia found an increase in cannabis use that was attributable to the introduction of the CEN scheme. Cannabis use did increase in South Australia over the period from 1985 to 1995, but increases in cannabis use were detected throughout Australia, including in jurisdictions that possessed a large prohibition approach to cannabis.

In fact, the largest increase in the rate of weekly cannabis use across all Australian jurisdictions occurred in Tasmania, a strict prohibitionist state, between 1991 and 1995. A comparative study of minor cannabis offenders in South Australia and Western Australia concluded that both the CEN scheme and the more punitive prohibition approach had little deterrent effect upon cannabis users.

Offenders from both jurisdictions reported that the expiation notice or conviction had little or no impact upon subsequent cannabis and other drug use. However, adverse social consequences of a cannabis conviction far outweighed those receiving an expiation notice. A significantly higher portion of those apprehended for cannabis use in Western Australia reported problems with employment, further involvement with the criminal system, as well as accommodation and relationship problems.

In the law enforcement and criminal justice areas, the number of offences for which cannabis expiation notices were issued in South Australia increased from 6,000 in 1987-88 to approximately 17,000 in 1993-94 and subsequent years. This appears to reflect the greater ease with which police can process minor cannabis offences and a shift away from the use of police discretion in giving offenders informal cautions to a process of formally recording all minor offences.

Substantial numbers of offenders still received convictions due to their failure to pay the expiation fees on time. This was due in large part to a poor understanding by cannabis users of the legal implications of not paying the expiation fees to avoid a court appearance and due to financial difficulties. Most CENs are issued for less than 25 grams of cannabis. Half of all CENs issued were received by people in the 18 to 24 age group.

There has been strong support by law enforcement and criminal justice personnel for the CEN scheme. The scheme has proven to be relatively cost effective and more cost effective than the prohibition would have been. The total costs associated with the CEN scheme in 1995-96 were estimated to be around $1.24 million Australian, while total revenue from fees and fines was estimated to be around $1.68 million Australian. Had a prohibition approach been in place, it is estimated that the total cost would have been around $2.01 million Australian, with revenues from fines being around $1 million Australian.

A report on the CEN scheme noted that it appeared to have numerous benefits for the community, not the least of which were the cost savings for the community as a whole, the reduced negative social impacts for the offenders, greater efficiency and ease in dealing with minor cannabis offences and less negative views of the police held by offenders.

The Australian Capital Territory in 1992 and the Northern Territory in 1996 introduced similar expiation schemes. Victoria implemented a system of cautions for minor cannabis offenders in 1998 and Western Australia has followed with a similar scheme.

The changes made in the cannabis laws in Australia are not technically decriminalization measures as cannabis possession still remains a criminal offence in all Australian provinces.

What has been changed is the reduction in the penalty for possessing small amounts of cannabis for personal use to something less than imprisonment, which is what is being proposed in Bill C-38.

I would like to thank the House for giving me the opportunity to say a few words. I will conclude my brief remarks by indicating that this piece of legislation goes a long way in the right direction.

Trade October 3rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, first, Canada's wheat exports to the United States are not subsidized. We are carefully reviewing the U.S. decision and then we will examine our WTO and NAFTA options under the context of deciding the most effective steps to take.

Supply September 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, just last week when the beef farmers were on the Hill, they met with members of Parliament outside. The chair of the rural caucus and the rural caucus members went to the Minister of Agriculture and asked for a private meeting afterwards with the leaders of the CFA, the OFA and the OCA, which we had. It was a very productive meeting. We laid out the direction in which the government was going and basically how we were looking at solutions to the problem.

Supply September 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party has just verified what I was concerned about. I just laid this out. I said at the beginning of my speech that I support the motion. I said at the end of my speech that I was hoping he would not be over there trying to make cheap political points on the backs of farmers who right now are in dire straits financially because of BSE. What did he do? Exactly what I was worried about.

Now, the relations between us and the United States are very good. The United States had an option when it closed the border. It could have closed it in such a way that the only way we could open the border back up again would be all at once, which would be extremely difficult. We would have to have everything solved.

The United States is a good trading partner. The member across the way may not be aware of the fact because he does not have an agricultural background, but the beef industry is a highly integrated industry. It is just as important to people in the United States who are part of the U.S. beef industry to get the border open as it is for us. But unfortunately the member is wrapped up as usual in cheap, partisan, political shenanigans.

Supply September 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the discovery of a single case of BSE in a cow on May 20 changed Canadian agriculture forever. It is also forcing us to re-examine the international system of food safety and its impact on trade relations.

The partial opening of the U.S. border in August was an important achievement, but this matter is far from settled. I am reminded daily by farmers in my constituency and across the country that their economic hardship remains desperate. Every day I hear heart-rending stories from farmers and others in my constituency about the impact this crisis has had on their families and their businesses. Just the other day I heard from Dean, a young farmer who had bought his farm five years ago and struggled to make a go of it. The weekly drop in cattle prices has forced him to sell off 36 heifers at just over half their cost and he cannot even find buyers for the remaining 23. He faces financial ruin and has had to work off the farm to cope with his payments.

I hear from cow and calf operators in the beef industry, backgrounders, who argue that they have not benefited from the compensation package and that their current need is critical. Compensation can help in the short term, as long as it does not trigger trade challenges, but it does not solve the problem. We must restore confidence in the system and re-open international borders. That takes time and I believe though that we are on the right track.

On one level, I welcome the intention of the opposition motion that the MPs should become more active in lobbying their counterparts in the U.S. Congress on important bilateral issues. I have believed this for some time. On another level, this motion seems to imply that the Canadian government has not done enough to try to open international borders to Canadian beef. I completely reject that implication. Instead, I praise my colleagues, especially the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister for International Trade for their hard work and for what they have accomplished so far.

I have previously advocated, and I will repeat it here today, that MPs should be allocated four travel points per year for trips to the United States. We have heard a lot about Canada-U.S. relations in the past year. I believe that more face to face contact between the legislators of our two countries would help improve relations and resolve problems. Canada and the United States are economically interdependent. The beef issue, more than many, shows just how true this is. If MPs could visit Congress periodically those trips would likely be reciprocated by American congressmen and congresswomen coming here.

In short, I support the intention of the motion, that there be more contact between Canadian MPs of all parties and their American counterparts, especially on issues such as BSE. However I see this as part of an ongoing process rather than a single delegation aimed more at scoring easy media points at home.

I would like to turn now to what has happened since May 20. Canada's market access strategy was to keep our trading partners fully informed of the BSE investigation. Transparency is essential for restoring confidence in the system. Through Canada's embassies, consulates and high commissions abroad, we have kept foreign governments fully informed from day one. As a result of the investigation that concluded in late June, Canada asked its trading partners to resume trade in a wide range of products including: veal calves less than 36 weeks old for immediate slaughter; bovine animals less than 30 months for immediate slaughter; bovine meat from animals less than 30 months of age; sheep and goats for immediate slaughter; and meat therefrom; wild caribou; muskox and non-ruminant pet food.

Over the past four months the level of Canadian engagement with the United States and other trading partners has quite frankly been unprecedented. The Prime Minister has spoken with President Bush and the prime ministers of Japan and Korea. The Minister of Agriculture has been in regular contact with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Veneman and agriculture ministers in other countries. The Minister for International Trade has raised the issue regularly with U.S. trade representative Zoellick and other trade ministers.

Other ministers have been taking every opportunity to raise the issue with their counterparts. Senior officials in Ottawa have been in constant contact with U.S. officials. There have been Canadian technical level delegations to the U.S., Mexico, Japan and Korea. Several foreign technical level delegations have come to Canada.

All of our missions around the world have been in regular contact with host government authorities, keeping them informed of developments and pressing for a resumption of trade. Canadian officials have briefed foreign missions in Ottawa. Multilaterally Canada has reported to the Office international des épizooties, the OIE, the international standard setting organization for animal health, and to the WTO committee on sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures.

This intensive international lobby has resulted in progress. On August 8 the United States announced it would reopen the border to a wide range of products. At the same time the Americans committed to a rule making process that should lead to the importation of live animals. Our next priority is resuming live animal trade.

Although the United States is by far our most important market, we have also had significant successes elsewhere. Mexico announced it will be opening its borders to products like those that can now be sent to the United States. Substantial progress has been made in discussions with other countries, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and several Caribbean countries, including Antigua, Trinidad and Tobago.

I would like to take this opportunity to praise our American friends for the flexible approach that they have taken. We need to face the reality that as a result of that one cow, Canada is now officially a BSE country and will be a BSE country for the next seven years. Other countries have the right to block livestock imports from Canada for health and safety reasons. The Americans have chosen to open the border in stages rather than waiting to do it all at once. They did not have to do this.

The fact that the border is open even partway is no small accomplishment. Canada is the only country with a confirmed case of BSE that has had its trade resumed with a non-BSE country. This partial opening speaks to the close and interdependent nature of the North American beef industry, as well as to the dedicated efforts of our officials and the livestock industry representatives to reopen the border. Let us celebrate this accomplishment while continuing to work harder for further opening.

The Canadian beef industry has in the past decade made enormous progress in improving its tracing and tracking system. We are now world leaders in this regard. We must keep being proactive. Convincing the world of the safety of Canadian products is the key to reopening borders. In light of these improved methods, it is time for a reassessment of the import standards established by the OIE.

Canada, like our friends in the United States, Mexico and elsewhere, believes that the OIE standards are unnecessarily strict. Our three countries have been lobbying the OIE to revise its standards to take into account today's realities and to exempt products that pose no risk. Until the OIE standards are revised, however, our trading partners are within their rights to exclude affected products from Canada. Our success in obtaining exemptions then is due to our hard work in convincing our international partners of the safety of the Canadian system.

In summary I welcome any move that would increase ongoing contacts between members of Parliament and members of the U.S. Congress. I believe that members of Parliament should be given the means to do this through changes to the travel point system. I believe, however, that the delegation called for in this motion might not be productive at this time and could be aimed more at scoring cheap media points than achieving real accomplishments. I would hope that this is not the case.

Our governments are working well together on this matter. While much remains to be done, a lot has been accomplished in a very short time.

Petitions September 18th, 2003

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition signed by over 1,400 Canadians seeking the release of the post-1901 census records.

Petitions September 18th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the next pair of petitions are from constituents in my riding who urge Parliament to ensure that marriage, as it always has been legally known, is reaffirmed within Canada, preserved and protected.