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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was debate.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code November 21st, 2005

It is not sloppy legislation. If the hon. member across says that it is sloppy legislation, then he had better go to all these groups, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and tell them that all of them are wrong, if that is what he thinks. The hon. member across is entitled to say that all of the agricultural groups are wrong and maybe he can go tell them that they are wrong.

I understand tomorrow will be a big lobby day on the Hill for some of the agricultural industries, particularly in supply management. The reason I know this is that I am sponsoring the event, which will be a large social event. Perhaps the member could tell them how they are all wrong in supporting this bill. They will be pleased to know how the hon. member thinks he is so much smarter than all of them. They might have a different opinion of the hon. member after he has told them that but he is perfectly entitled to do so.

I will be at the lobby event tomorrow shaking hands with the hon. member when he enters the room to explain all this to my constituents, agricultural constituents and all the others across Canada who support the bill.

Just in case the hon. member and others did not get it, I will repeat what I said. The industry organizations wrote, as in paper, to the Minister of Justice before this legislation was introduced and requested it. All these agricultural organizations and everyone else who asked for the bill, who the hon. member says are wrong, wrote and requested this. With no disrespect, these people know a little bit more about agriculture than some of us and they are in favour of the bill.

These same groups wrote again to the minister in February 2005, three months before Bill C-50 was introduced, and again requested its introduction. I just happen to have the text of that letter here and it says, “We once again ask you to move forward with the reintroduction of Bill C-22”. Bill C-22 was the original bill as I indicated a while ago. People in the agricultural sector asked, not only once for the bill but they wrote a second letter asking for it again.

The moral of this story is that no matter whether one lives in urban Canada or rural Canada the issues are not that different. There will be people on the margins here and there, on the extreme side one way or the other, but no one can tell me that my constituents who work in agriculture are less conscious of proper animal husbandry and less conscious of issues involving cruelty to animals than people living in the urban parts of my constituency who may never have been inside a slaughter house or anything close to it. One might know more about how it is done than the other, and as someone who was raised on a farm I believe that, but that does not mean that one group is less concerned about animal welfare than the other.

When it is time for a cow to give birth, how many of us know that a farmer will be up all night attending to it? They take a lot of care in feeding their animals. Sometimes they are more careful with feeding their animals than they are with their own diet, but that is another matter.

All of that is to say that this is good legislation for either rural or urban Canada and it is supported by rural Canada.

Criminal Code November 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-50, an act to amend the Criminal Code in respect of cruelty to animals.

As we have heard, a number of members on the other side of the House oppose the bill currently before it. We have just heard a member say that only specific interest groups, such as vegetarians and others he mentioned supported the bill—I have nothing against vegetarians, although I am not one myself—however, it is quite wrong to say that such is the case.

In 2003, the House passed the bill in question, which was sent to the Senate. It then proposed amendments, which the House considered and adopted. The bill could not be passed for lack of time.

I repeat what I said earlier. Some of these amendments were supported by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. It is not an interest group that deserves to be described as marginal or the like.

I heard the member for Leeds—Grenville claim that we in Canada passed laws that were not found anywhere else. People from outside Canada visiting his riding come from the state of New York, a few kilometres from where he is from, and the laws are that much stricter there.

I am not a believer in there being no laws at all. Of course, there should be a law, in criminal law, to prevent cruelty to animals while protecting the people of Canada, those who hunt and fish and pursue other similar activities. There is no need to say agriculture and the slaughter practices need to be protected—it goes without saying. These areas are clearly not covered by this bill. The proof of this is that national groups representing farmers have already confirmed it.

I will give another quote, “This amended legislation”, that is the bill as it is with the two amendments from before, “is technically sound and is as strong as ever”. With that, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture encouraged Parliament to pass the legislation.

As I said a while ago, the legislation then died on the order paper in the other place where there continued to be attention paid to two other amendments which were not requested or supported by industry groups or by the House. That is where we were in 2003.

Let us fast forward a little. In November 2004, several months after the opening of this Parliament, the Minister of Justice received a letter from a large coalition of industry groups that explicitly requested a retabling, which is not really the right word, but the reintroduction of a new bill on the issue of cruelty to animals with the amendments that I described, and those amendments are in the bill.

I will get back to the comments by the member for Prince Albert and the member for Leeds--Grenville. I will read into the record the names of these groups: the British Columbia Cattlemen's Association, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association, the Ontario Farm Animal Council and the Dairy Farmers of Canada. They must know a little about animals. How about the Ontario Egg Producers? Some people were mentioning chicken a while ago. Those are the groups of people who are supporting this. Those are the people who asked us to go ahead with this bill.

I can go on. Some people will want to ask about hunting and about the raising of animals for fur. I am glad they asked. We have the Canada Mink Breeders Association, the Fur Institute of Canada and the Fur Council of Canada. People may then ask whether those using animals for research are against the bill. No. The Canadian Animal Health Institute, the Canadian Association of Laboratory Animal Sciences, the Canadians for Health Research and Canada's Research Base Pharmaceutical Companies are all in favour of the bill.

I say to the Conservatives across the way that it is high time they start to get with it. This is not an urban issue versus rural. It is nothing like that.

Criminal Code November 21st, 2005

Given that, then, which the member seems to be confirming, the member will know that this bill is a 2003 bill, plus two amendments asked for by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, following which the Canadian Federation of Agriculture issued a press release. It states, about the two amendments that were added, or in other words, the bill that is there now, “...Canadian farmers are 100 per cent behind these two amendments they have made”.

Does the member consider the Canadian Federation of Agriculture one of those special interest groups that he was talking about a minute ago?

Criminal Code November 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the speech by the hon. member. Basically he was saying that this bill is designed to pander to what he referred to as special interest groups.

Criminal Code November 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief so as not to delay the adoption at second reading of this bill, which will undergo consideration in committee very shortly.

We know that this is the second attempt—if that is the right term—to legislate in this area . As other parliamentarians have noted, there was Bill C-13. The use of DNA to identify genetic ties and so forth is completely new to all of us, the criminal justice system and even other sectors.

This completely new technology has been used for such purposes for several years now. It has proved effective, to the point that it can now be integrated into our criminal law procedures, particularly with regard to taking DNA samples. Previously, for example, fingerprints were taken or other methods used. Now, of course, our methods are much more sophisticated and the applications very different from those in the past.

According to the bill summary, the bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act—meaning Bill C-13—and the National Defence Act to facilitate the implementation of the acts in question.

The first element is somewhat different from the others. It:

(a) allows a court to require a person who is given notice of an application under subsection 487.055(1) of the Criminal Code and who wishes to participate in the hearing to appear by closed-circuit television or a similar means of communication;

Once again, this is very different, in technological terms, from the rest of the bill. However, this technology enables and allows Canadian criminal law to better function.

The second element also mentions the following:

(b) allows samples of bodily substances to be taken as soon as feasible after the time set by an order or a summons for the taking of the samples....

This is very important in order for a proper inquiry to take place to have a summons and then be able to utilize that instrument to obtain bodily samples in order to make the later determinations that are required.

The next element of the bill reads:

(c) requires the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Policy to destroy the bodily substances collected under an order or authorization and the information transmitted with it if, in the opinion of the Attorney General or the Director of Military Prosecutions, as the case may be, the offence to which the order or authorization relates is not a designated offence;

In other words, if the material was accumulated and it was not one of the designated offences, this is an order to have what was acquired destroyed. I believe a colleague from the New Democratic Party referred to these data banks based on people not having been convicted of anything or at least not having been convicted of offences where this would normally be permitted. In other words, we do not utilize the process for an offence that is not covered, obtain the information and then keep it in case someone does commit an offence in which it would qualify. Obviously that would not be appropriate.

The next element reads:

(d) enables the Commissioner to communicate internationally the information that may be communicated within Canada....

Consequently, if data has been collected in Canada in connection with what I have just listed, we are allowed, but only in keeping with Canadian legislation, to share that data with similar authorities in other countries. Once again, this is very logical, provided we keep within the guidelines we have set for ourselves in Canada, so as not to provide to a foreign authority information that it would not be acceptable to disclose within this country.

Lastly, the commissioner is authorized to communicate information for the purpose of the investigation of criminal offences, and to subsequently communicate that information for the purpose of the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences.

That is the main thrust of this bill, a bill I recommend to the House and will be pleased to support myself. I will not take up any more of the House's time, but will close by saying that I hope to see this bill passed in the very near future.

Old Age Security Act November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have been looking at this matter in considerable detail for some time.

I would like to first of all assure the public that the Government of Canada shares this objective and is taking the necessary steps to ensure that Canadian seniors receive the benefits to which they are entitled.

Like most, if not all, Canadians, the members of my party believe we need to show our gratitude to the seniors in our communities for all they have contributed through the years, which has made Canada the great country it has become.

I can also assure my colleagues that seniors, low-income seniors in particular, are a priority of this government. We are, for instance, well aware of the commitment of the Minister of Labour and Housing, who has worked so hard to improve the RRAP program and other similar programs to ensure that seniors may remain in their homes as long as possible. We are very much aware of this.

I have just heard an NDP member say that people ought to be able to receive benefits even if they have not applied for them. Nothing could be more ridiculous. Anyone who has worked on similar cases in his or her riding must know that sometimes seniors are in receipt of a lump sum payment at some point during the year.

This may be a source of income they were not expecting, and could be any amount that improves their quality of life: a new pension or a new benefit to which they were not entitled earlier. This will, of course, disqualify them.

When it comes time to apply at the end of the year, they do not do so, because they know their income was higher in the current year. That is why many people do not apply.

We cannot say this happens in every case where a person has forgotten to apply for the supplement. That is ridiculous. Both cases certainly exist. However, to claim that no one's income changes throughout the year, as the hon. member who just spoke suggests, is absurd. Things can change. My income is about to change if the government falls.

That said, the Guaranteed Income Supplement for people of low income will help meet their immediate needs, if they apply for the supplement, of course.

Every year in my riding, I send a mailing to my constituents. We arrange information sessions and help people fill out their forms. Nonetheless, some people are forgotten and we know that. However, we are working on increasing the number of people wanting to apply for benefits. I think we have succeeded in many cases.

In his bill, the hon. member is asking for an element of retroactivity. On the eve of an election it is easy to want to give money retroactively to large groups of the public. Far be it from me to attribute motives. However, if my colleagues opposite think about the interests of seniors as often as they say they do, then I invite them to come up with another option.

In a few days, they will get ready—I hope not—to trigger a mid-winter election. Some 750,000 Canadians, mostly seniors, will be out of the country and practically all of them will therefore lose their right to vote.

These same hon. members are telling us today that they have seniors' interests at heart. I am not running in the next election. I would not want to lose my right to vote because I happened to be out of the country. Of course this could be a theoretical right. For instance, a person might live in Daytona Beach in the winter. We are told they can go to Miami to vote—the distance from Daytona Beach to Miami is the same as Quebec City to Windsor—and that that is reasonable, but what happens to these 750,000 Canadians does not matter.

I suggest that people should think about it, because this is about to happen.

Apparently, this bill is an effort to help. While not knowing everything, I do know a thing or two about parliamentary procedure. Everyone knows that this kind of bill requires a royal recommendation. This bill will not even reach third reading. I challenge hon. members to find one person knowledgeable in parliamentary law who can tell me otherwise. It cannot be done. A royal recommendation is required, and the member knows it. In fact, the bill's title is in italics, indicating that it cannot be passed at third reading.

Claims are being made to want to help, when it cannot be done. Next week, we will be forced to vote, knowing that it is pointless. The bill cannot be passed because it cannot get a royal recommendation. Such is parliamentary law. This is not my invention. The Constitution was written quite a while ago, and the British parliamentary law that we are familiar with applies. No one even considered amending the Constitution to change that. It is the prerogative of the Crown, the governor in council, which means the government, and no one else.

Even as a member supporting the government, I cannot propose that measure myself. I am a member of the Privy Council, but that does not allow me to do it, either. A royal recommendation is required. It is therefore up to cabinet to adopt a royal recommendation, and that is then submitted to the House. This is not a private member's bill from the opposition that can go to third reading. We all agree on that.

Some may claim today that we will get this bill passed. They can try to convince the public of that, but the reality is far different. There are some 10 or 12 bills like this on the order paper. They are all bills that cannot be considered at third reading. Everyone in this House is getting riled up about getting this bill passed, saying that if a critical mass of MPs votes in favour it will be passed. Really now. We know very well that the Speaker would rise at third reading stage to say, “I regret to inform the House that the motion, lacking royal recommendation, cannot be put to a vote”. That is more or less what you would have to say at that point, Mr. Speaker. Not that I want to put words in your mouth, but I have some idea of how the procedure works.

So, whatever claims are made, there is a difference between wanting a bill to be passed, saying it will be passed, and actually doing it. Hon. members know the difference. If they really want to take concrete action. let them stop trying to deprive our seniors of their right to vote, as the NDP, the Bloc and the Conservatives may be plotting together to do.

What amazes me about this is the support of the Conservatives. It is all very well for the other parties to say that seniors never vote for them any way, whether in the dead of winter or not, so they are not particularly bothered. That is one thing, and I can, unfortunately, almost understand that reasoning. Not completely, however, because I feel a voter must never be deprived of his right to cast a vote, even if he does not vote for us. What I do not understand at all, however, is the Conservative Party's willingness to be a party to this. I have the impression that the ones who will pay the price for this will, in fact, be the Conservatives over there.

There can be no division at third reading on the bill we have before us. I am sure of that, because there is no royal recommendation.

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague simply to react to the following. Just before he spoke, we heard comments from the hon. member from Prince George, a member with whom I usually agree on many things, except today he spent a good part of his discourse criticizing the civil servants who work in the Indian affairs department, the many hard-working people who work very hard for the people of this country. Does he share the view of the member, or does he agree with me that those comments were unfortunate, uncalled for and undeserved by our loyal civil servants?

Committees of the House November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 52nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding its order of reference of Wednesday, June 22, in relation to Bill C-312, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act (appointment of returning officers).

The committee has considered Bill C-312 and reports the bill with amendments.

I also have other reports from the same committee. We have been very busy. I have the honour to present the 53rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding its order of reference of Tuesday, October 18, in relation to Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act.

The committee has considered Bill C-63 and reports the bill with one amendment.

In addition, I have the honour to present the fifty-first report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the question of privilege relating to an inquiry conducted by the ethics commissioner.

Official Languages Act November 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is rather ironic. Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier, for whom we all had great respect, introduced as his last bill before leaving the Parliament of Canada, Bill-S-3, to amend the Official Languages Act. If things proceed as we might hope, it is highly possible that this will also be the last bill on which I will myself have occasion to work prior to leaving this Parliament.

Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier and myself are both francophones from outside Quebec, and specifically Franco-Ontarians. I am in fact of Quebec stock, since I was born in Quebec with one Franco-Ontarian and one Quebecois parent. I am nonetheless a Franco-Ontarian through and through.

I grew up during the post-Regulation 17 era in Ontario. The member, my colleague from Nova Scotia, referred to a period when the teaching of French was prohibited in his province. That was also the case in my province. Admittedly, I was not attending school at that time, but I was able to recognize its vestiges. It was practically impossible to attend high school in French, except at sectarian schools, when I was going to school. My children, however, were able to attend elementary school, high school and university, even do a Master's degree, in Ontario entirely in French, thanks to section 23 and the legislation we had. Today, we are in the process of passing new legislation so that my children's children can have an even brighter future. As I mention frequently, I am a grandfather.

In conclusion, in addition to adding my own thanks to the hon. Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier, I would like to thank all my colleagues. Sometimes we were in agreement, sometimes not. All in all, however, I think that it is the wish of all those to whom I have spoken that the circumstances of those who live in minority communities should be improved.

I would like to clarify that part VII, which becomes enforceable, is justiciable. Not only section 41, but also sections 42 and 43 can be used as the basis for launching a court proceeding. This is the possibility we are giving ourselves today. I am not worried that this will result in millions of cases being brought before the courts. However, it is no bad thing if a case is brought from time to time, as happened with section 23. Remember the school management issue. It is not inherently bad if it happens from time to time, just not often.

On the other hand, the Government of Canada will have to do everything it can to avoid being taken to court. That enhances the accountability throughout the entire system and makes it better. The minority communities are the ones who will emerge victorious, of that I am convinced.

Again, I want to thank my colleagues as this may very well be the last piece of legislation on which I will work prior to my retirement. I have a hard time using that word, but I guess I will have to get used to it some day.

I thank my colleagues on all sides of the House for their support on this bill, which hopefully I will get in a minute or two. I thank them in advance for their generosity not toward me, although that is appreciated too, but more important, toward those we are called upon to serve.

Criminal Code November 14th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke as she gave us her discourse.

This is important particularly at this juncture before we get into an election which may come some months down the road. Of course I will not be a candidate in that election. Does she think that this bill would stop fishermen from fishing? Is it the position of her party to repeal it should the country be so unfortunate as to elect that party?