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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was peterborough.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Peterborough (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Criminal Code September 28th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-53 regarding proceeds of crime.

Bill C-53 would be a very worthwhile addition to the proceeds of crime provisions already in the Criminal Code. In particular, it would add the important reverse onus measure, which my colleague has just been discussing, that can apply in appropriate circumstances to applications to forfeit property. It also makes a number of practical improvements to the existing proceeds of crime application procedure, a procedure that will continue to exist in addition to the new reverse onus measures.

I will begin by speaking in more detail about the way in which the new reverse onus provisions of Bill C-53 would operate. The reverse onus forfeiture power would be available after conviction for a criminal organization offence as defined under the Criminal Code that is punishable by five or more years of imprisonment. It would also be available upon conviction on indictment for certain drug offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Under the proposed scheme, the court would have to be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that either the offender has engaged in a pattern of criminal activity for the purpose of providing the offender with material benefit, or that income of the offender unrelated to crime cannot reasonably account for the value of all the property of the offender. Upon these conditions being satisfied, any property of the offender identified by the Attorney General will be forfeited unless the offender demonstrates, again on a balance of probabilities, that the property is not proceeds of crime. The court, however, would be permitted to set a limit on the total amount of property forfeited as may be required by the interests of justice.

I want to comment on the particular offences that would be subject to this reverse onus set of provisions. These offences do not comprise all of the designated offences that are subject to the current proceeds of crime scheme under the Criminal Code. It is important to emphasize this. It is also important to emphasize that the current forfeiture scheme under the code will continue to exist and be available for this wider range of offences. Indeed, at the discretion of the Crown the current forfeiture scheme will also be available even for the particular offences identified in the reverse onus forfeiture scheme.

What Bill C-53 adds, however, is an additional special forfeiture power for which the Crown, at its discretion, may apply in respect of the narrower class of offences that I just mentioned. Ultimately, the new forfeiture power is targeted at organized crime and its main activities. That is why the legislation specifically identifies criminal organization offences as the basis for the reverse onus forfeiture.

These criminal organization offences are crimes that logically can support a presumption that substantial property of the offender is the proceeds of crime. A core aspect of the definition of criminal organization is that it is a group formed for the purpose of committing offences to obtain “material benefit”. There is, therefore, a logical basis founded on the definition of criminal organization itself for the underlying presumption inherent in the reversal of the onus. There is also the justification of taking special measures to address the substantial societal harm caused by organized crime.

The one other category of offences to which the reverse onus provisions will apply are the serious drug offences of trafficking, importing and exporting, and production of illegal drugs where these offences are prosecuted on indictment. There are probably no offences more closely associated with organized crime than these serious drug offences, so it was thought entirely in keeping with the purpose of this legislation to include them. There is also the justification of taking special measures against such drug offences that represent matters of recognized societal harm in their own right. These are the offences that the government puts forward in Bill C-53 as appropriately being subject to the reverse onus forfeiture which my colleague was discussing earlier.

I recognize, of course, that organized crime is involved in a wide variety of offences beyond those specifically identified in Bill C-53. It is worthwhile to point out, however, that while the definition of a criminal organization offence in the Criminal Code of course includes the special criminal organization offences set out in there, such as participation in the activities of a criminal organization, it also includes other indictable offences provided these offences were committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal organization. Therefore, the potential scope of application of the proposed new reverse measure is quite broad, although still tied to organized crime.

I now wish to address the additional conditions attached to the application of the reverse onus. Once again, these are that the court would have to be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that either the offender engaged in a pattern of criminal activity for the purpose of providing the offender with material benefit, or that income of the offender unrelated to crime cannot reasonably account for the value of all the property possessed by the offender.

These conditions have to be added to help support the presumption that extensive property of the offender is the proceeds of crime and that reverse onus forfeiture is appropriate. It should be remembered that these two conditions are alternative conditions and it is sufficient to prove one or the other. Each is to be assessed on a balance of probabilities.

Demonstration of a pattern of criminality leading to material benefit and the alternative condition that income of the offender unrelated to crime cannot reasonably account for the offender's property each have a clear link to the reversal of the onus with respect to the offender's property. The legislation has been carefully designed to include conditions which ensure that the reverse onus will apply only in appropriate circumstances.

Additional provisions that I wish to discuss are specific safeguards in the legislation to protect legitimate interests in property, including third party interests.

The current proceeds of crime legislation in the Criminal Code includes procedures to ensure that such interests can be considered by the courts. For example, prior to an order of forfeiture being made, a court is directed to require that notice be given to any person who appears to have an interest in the property subject to forfeiture. The court may then hear a claim from such a person. The court may order that the property will be returned to that person if satisfied that the person is lawfully entitled and is innocent of any complicity or collusion. Specific provisions of Bill C-53 ensure that this protection is also available in respect of the new forfeiture powers under the bill.

In addition, the current forfeiture scheme under the Criminal Code allows that any person who claims a legitimate interest in property that has already been forfeited may apply for an order declaring that his or her interest is not affected by the forfeiture. The court may then make the order under this section if it is satisfied that the applicant is innocent of any complicity or collusion in a designated offence that resulted in the forfeiture. Under Bill C-53, these orders are all specifically extended to apply in respect of the new forfeiture power.

In summary, Bill C-53 has as its main purpose the addition of an important new forfeiture power to the Criminal Code. This new power would provide, in appropriate circumstances and subject to certain logical conditions, for the forfeiture of property of an offender unless the offender can prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the property is not the proceeds of crime. Safeguards are also put in place to ensure the protection of legitimate interests in property. The bill seeks to build on current proceeds of crime schemes in the Criminal Code to more effectively address organized crime and its prime motivation of illicit economic gain.

I urge all members to extend their support to Bill C-53.

Petitions September 28th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from people in the Peterborough area who are concerned for all those affected by kidney disease. They point out that kidney disease is a huge and growing problem in Canada. They know that real progress is being made in various ways in preventing and coping with that disease. They point, in particular, to the development of a bioartificial kidney, an experimental device that is partly mechanical and partly biological.

They call upon Parliament to make research funding available to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the exclusive purpose of conducting bioartificial kidney research as an extension of research being successfully conducted at several centres in the United States.

Human Resources and Skills Development June 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Davenport for his fine work on this issue on behalf of his constituents.

The standing committee did excellent work and I am pleased that its recommendations moved toward a more open and transparent process and toward dialogue with our partners.

The minister is studying the recommendations carefully and remains committed to dialogue with the not for profit sector to discuss proposed changes to the calls for proposals process. The consultations are consistent with the recommended procedures outlined in the volunteer sector initiative.

Habitat for Humanity June 27th, 2005

Madam Speaker, Habitat for Humanity, Peterborough, is a local volunteer organization that seeks to provide affordable housing for low income people in our community. It builds homes with partner families, using donations from businesses, churches, service clubs and individuals, donations of capital or in kind.

With this help, Habitat builds simple homes with the aid of volunteers, professional tradespeople above all with the hard work, at least 500 hours, of the partner families. The families become homeowners and take on all the responsibilities of ownership.

A number of homes have been and are being built in Peterborough. In addition, Habitat has opened a re-store staffed by volunteers where people can buy recycled construction materials at reasonable prices. All proceeds go toward Habitat's work.

Habitat for Humanity and its volunteers are making a real difference in Peterborough.

Extension of Sitting Period June 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take all members back to election night. We had similar and different experiences in each of our ridings. I remember people congratulating me on being elected. I won fairly comfortably and I was pleased and relieved to be re-elected.

They then went on to say that they were glad it was a minority government because they needed some change of attitude. In my riding they said that they were glad that it was a Liberal minority government.

In the succeeding days, the people kept coming to me and saying how difficult it would be for the Liberals in a minority Parliament to form the government because we would not have the votes we would need in committee or in the House. They told me that we would need to negotiate and work with the other parties but in a different way.

I underestimated that until I came back and realized that it was a very difficult management situation. I also realized it would not be a normal year. I think the people elected us to make this thing work. They elected us to at least get a budget through. I did not expect it to be a normal year and I do not expect a normal vacation at the end of that year.

Brain Injury Awareness Month June 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize the fine work of the Four Counties Brain Injury Association based in Peterborough which had a fundraiser last weekend. This is an organization which works with those who have brain injuries, their families and caregivers. They raise awareness of the implications of brain injury in our communities, focusing strongly on injury prevention.

One of its major projects year round, especially in Brain Injury Awareness Month, is promoting the use of helmets for people using bikes, scooters, roller blades and skateboards. The association conducts helmet clinics through which children learn the value of helmets and how to wear them properly.

I thank all those associated with this fine association and all the sponsors and volunteers who assist the Brain Injury Association in its fine work.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I listened to what the member had to say and I sort of got lost on the brain drain in Saskatchewan and the link between that and this budget, in particular, and this government over the last number of years.

I may have been watching the wrong channels on television but I seem to have seen ads promoting Saskatchewan as a place for R and D, as a place to do business now and as a proud have province to which people, entrepreneurs and scientists should come.

I do not have the figures here but at the University of Saskatchewan, Light Source has become a world centre of high tech science, not just high tech in the general sense but of big science, science that requires massive facilities which exist almost nowhere else in the world.

I also understand that the University of Saskatchewan has the best selection of health training programs in the country and probably in North America. If we look at the range from what we might call normal medical school through to the different types of nursing schools and health technology schools, the University of Saskatchewan is in a class by itself on this stuff. In veterinary science and other aspects of agriculture, if veterinary science is agriculture, the University of Saskatchewan is an extraordinary place.

I am less comfortable with talking about the University of Regina and the First Nations University which is in Regina. However I think if we were to look at the two of them we would see that they have both received a substantial number of Canada research chairs and a substantial amount of indirect costs of research. Both universities do wonderful work for aboriginal students in the province.

Would the member tell me what she means by the brain drain in Saskatchewan when it has been built up in this particular way? Could she tell me, for example, how many Canada research chairs the University of Saskatchewan received? How many millennium scholarships did Saskatchewan receive? How many Canada graduate scholarships did Saskatchewan receive? How much in indirect costs of research did the University of Regina receive? How much, between them, did those universities get from the granting councils, the social sciences, the physical sciences, NSERC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research?

Could the member also explain this brain drain that she was discussing and explain why she cannot support a 2% addition to the budget, most of which adds to the sorts of things that I have just listed?

Kyoto Protocol June 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the motion regarding climate change and Kyoto. It is a very important topic, one which I hope all members of the House are taking very, very seriously.

I want to focus on our strong interest in working in much closer partnership with a full range of stakeholders across society as an essential aspect of making progress on climate change. This is required for the development of a truly national response to this challenge.

Climate change is an issue that can either bring the world community together or push us further apart. The choice is ours to make. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, it is either all or nothing, or better, all or none, because we are talking about people in this case. We need to do this in order to draw on the respective strengths and capacities of all constituencies across Canada.

Meeting our emissions gap of some 270 megatonnes will not be achieved without considerable action on the part of all regions and stakeholders.

In our climate change efforts to date, it has been extremely challenging to lever significant changes in a society with a GDP in excess of $1 trillion a year and with expenditures in the order of hundreds of millions per year.

We recognize that we need to move forward with an approach that fully engages provinces, territories, communities, industry, business, as well as individual Canadians if we are to be successful in meeting our Kyoto obligations in a manner that fully advances our economic interests.

In looking to partner with provinces and territories, the federal government clearly recognizes that it does not have jurisdiction in all policy areas that are relevant to climate change mitigation. Our collective efforts need to intersect to provide financial and policy support to drive economic competitiveness while simultaneously addressing urban air quality concerns, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring greater social equity across our communities.

Provincial support and policy alignment are essential for effectively managing our climate change responsibilities, not only in terms of electricity regulation and building codes, but in terms of research and development, in terms of land use intensification and transportation policy, in terms of public transit promotion, and in terms of supportive policy for sustainable rural development, agriculture, forestry and industry.

We can provide incentives to encourage the adoption of far more efficient vehicles, but we need the cooperation of provinces to provide the owners of these vehicles with preferential access to high occupancy vehicle lanes to speed their commute to work, or better yet, to encourage their owners to work from home several days per week.

We need to move forward with all provinces and territories in the areas of clean energy development, energy end use efficiency, renewable energy development, waste reduction, public transit expansion, smart growth, rural development, and dovetailing incentives and disincentives to drive the behaviours that they want. I think the scope for improvements is enormous in this case.

Greater cooperation with industry and business is also needed in moving forward with our climate change objectives. There remains considerable untapped potential in this domain as well.

In a carbon constrained world, business as usual is not a viable option. Industry and business must focus on adding as much value to our resource base as possible while meeting legitimate public expectations for a clean and healthy environment and the continued provision of good paying jobs.

The federal government can assist in a variety of ways, including targeted support through research and development of next generation manufacturing technologies and with the provision of market intelligence that allows for market expansion and product export.

Our progress on smart regulation and in streamlining decision making could also help in this regard. No one benefits by wasted efforts or regulatory inefficiency.

There will be huge markets opening internationally as a result of carbon constraints. We need to ensure that we benefit to the maximum extent possible in positioning our economy to thrive over the longer term.

Market incentives can be designed to encourage the application and deployment of far more efficient technologies and far better designs that entail lower operating costs and environmental burdens without incurring large social costs that are borne outside market transaction by innocent third parties.

The recent announcements concerning large facility emitters, the technology investment fund and the auto industry, along with the introduction of the climate fund, have set the table to allow the private sector to become fully engaged in exploiting the opportunities inherent in the climate change agenda and to better manage the risks inherent in their existing operations.

Through the new deal for cities and communities, we anticipate ongoing investments of a portion of the federal gas tax revenues toward more sustainable municipal infrastructures across Canada. These investments can further Canada's objectives on climate change by promoting more efficient use of water resources, smarter and more energy efficient patterns of urban development, far more efficient public transportation networks, and by capturing landfill gas that would otherwise escape to the environment and combusting it to produce electricity and heat for use by local utilities and industry. There was a very important announcement this very day with regard to these matters in the province of Ontario.

Addressing climate change will require a concerted effort over decades. The growing international marketplace in a carbon constrained future will pose huge opportunities for clean and resource efficient technologies in all fields of human endeavour. Effectively addressing the issue requires leadership at all levels of society, but we need to begin the transformation now.

The pathways forward are known. Energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy, renewable transportation, covenants with industry, restorative agriculture and forestry, investments in R and D and innovation, and adjustment of the tax system to foster sustainability figure prominently in national strategies on climate change.

As we move forward in the next number of months on climate change, we will make concerted efforts to far better align our interests at the federal level with those of the provinces and territories, with those of industry and business, with those of consumers and communities, and those of the professions.

We anticipate having a far more directed ask, where each participant in the process brings something to the table and agrees to make binding commitments. Engagement will be encouraged and will be a prerequisite for gain sharing.

Employment Insurance June 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the EI program is designed to help all workers, whatever their age. We are continually adjusting it to changes in the labour force, be it changes in the demography of the labour force or in the gender balance of the labour force.

I would point out that many older workers are assisted through our existing employment programs. In fact, 160,000 workers aged 45 or over were assisted by those programs this year.

Employment Insurance June 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we recognize that some older workers are having problems when they are laid off. We do understand that. We know also that people are working longer and are retiring later.

The government has had a number of projects. I would mention in particular the investment of $50 million in the older workers pilot projects initiative which concludes this year.

I am pleased to advise all members in the House that this initiative was recently extended to 2006 and enriched by $5 million.