Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was life.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 5% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Youth Criminal Justice Act March 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to the broader issue of dealing with youth rather than getting into the details of the amendment. I will do that by asking at least four questions, to which I will give some answers. I understand that in the House we do not always get answers to questions, so I will try to provide my own as I go through.

The first question is: With whom are we dealing? It sounds like a very simple question because obviously we know we are dealing with youth under 18 years of age. We are not sure whether that should go down to 12 or 10 years but we are sure that it is youth under 18 years of age. What does that mean? Who are these people?

I was severely shocked about 20 years ago when I walked out to my backyard in Regina and heard some kindergarten children and first graders using language that I had never heard in my youth all the way through high school. I came from the sticks, as the House can tell, but I had never heard that kind of language.

What I realized was that we live in an age where the age of participation in violent and vulgar activities is becoming lower and lower. It is a declining age of awareness and involvement. We are dealing with young people who are in that kind of time.

We are also in a time when young people are dealing a lot more than I ever did with the peer pressure trap. They sometimes get into situations where they must commit crimes to be in the in group. They play games of committing certain crimes.

Recently in my city I was at the police station one day and learned that overnight every colour of Jeep Cherokee had been stolen because that was the game of the evening for young people. A Jeep Cherokee of every colour was stolen, joyridden and then trashed or parked somewhere. That was the game of the evening. We have had the Oldsmobile gang in Regina. Now I understand it is the SUVs, the sport utility vehicles, and the Volkswagen Jettas that are the vehicles to have.

A group of people are doing such things to be in the in groups in our high schools. There is a group of repeat offenders. A couple of years ago one offender in our town was up on his 85th car theft charge. Something is wrong when we allow one young person to accumulate 85 car thefts charges in one lifetime in one town. We are in an age of when these things are happening.

We are also dealing with young people who are in some cases basically rebelling against any authority in their lives. Perhaps they are out and making a laughing stock of police, teachers, parents or any authority figure in their lives. That is going on.

There are also young people out there who are crying out for some authority to be exercised in their lives. They do not experience the restraint from teachers and parents that teenagers require to develop properly. We are dealing with that kind of a young person.

We are dealing with young people who commit crimes against their communities. We are also dealing with young people who have been victims of other young people's crimes. Almost two-thirds of youth crime is committed against other youths. We need to take a good look and get an understanding of what kind of person we are dealing with.

Before I go any further, let me also say who we are not dealing with. We are not dealing with some of the finest young people who have ever been born, some very bright students, some keen personalities, some who have tremendous athletic ability and academic ability and who participate in many things. We are told in our town that 80% of the youth crime is done by only 20% of the youths.

We have some tremendous young people in my riding. I would like to call attention to a young lady named Brea Burgess, a key player in the Regina Lady Cougars basketball team for the University of Regina. They won the national championship a couple of weeks ago. She attended the Dr. Hanna School as a young elementary student where my wife teaches and then Thom Collegiate. I know her parents Laurie and Spencer Burgess are very happy about this fine young lady who is not a young offender and who displays all this great talent. I commend those proud parents for their wonderful daughter.

Just how are we dealing with the youth crime problem? I believe that we insult their intelligence in the way we deal with the problem. They understand much more than we give them credit for.

I have an eight year old grandson. I have him come and visit us and stay with us about one weekend a month. Every once in a while he puts on the front of being a baby. He tries to convince me and his grandmother that he is a baby, and yet we know that he knows much more than that.

It seems to me that somehow the youth of the nation have been quite successful in duping adults into believing that they are not intelligent and that they are incapable of making adult decisions. At the age of 11 or 12 my youngest son, who is now 23, came to me and declared that he had known right from wrong ever since he was 10 years old or younger. He said when they say they do not know what they are doing, they are not telling the truth.

We have young offenders who certainly know how to work the system. They are smart enough to know that. Some years ago a man taught me how to finish concrete and he told me that learning to finish concrete was very simple. He said there was only one thing required: to be just a little smarter than the concrete.

When it comes to making laws and dealing with young offenders, perhaps that would be a good guideline for us too: to be just a little smarter than young people to be able to figure out how to best help them. I think we are failing them on that point. Lawmakers, enforcers, teachers and parents all need to be ahead of our young people.

We insult their intelligence. I believe we also strip them of responsibility and accountability. We take responsibility and accountability away from the parents. We take it away from the teachers. Then we take it away from our young people. We tell little Johnny, if he is bad, that we will not tell anyone. He will not be accountable. We do not want him to feel badly about it. We know he will grow out of it when he gets older. We turn our heads away and forget that they need a sense of responsibility and accountability. We simply pretend that they are innocent little kiddies, too little to understand, and that is not true.

We take away their opportunity to experience positive peer pressure, leaving them subject only to the others around them who are encouraging their offending activity. This is what I mean.

If someone in the community knows what is happening with a young offender, if someone knows what is going on in his life and that young offender knows the person knows, there is peer pressure on him, some kind of community pressure. If he knows the teacher knows, there is pressure on him. If he knows the other students know what he is like, there is pressure on him. It seems that we want to insulate him, protect him and keep him from having any kind of positive peer pressure, which only throws him to the negative peer pressure that is readily available.

I have in my hand some notes that were taken this past weekend as I met with some salvation army officers who had been flown to somewhere in southern Ontario to meet with the justice minister. There is a list of oppositions. Let me quickly name three of them. They oppose the legislation because there is no provision to make parents responsible. It fails to address the root cause of youth crime. There is no provision to reverse existing standards regarding rights.

Supply March 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleagues on this side of the House, especially those two who are from Ontario, for joining in this agriculture debate today. Those of us from Saskatchewan sometimes feel like we are the only ones, but we know we are not. Statistics Canada actually has said that 63,000 jobs were lost last year alone because of the agricultural crisis.

The plan announced recently by the government requires the provinces to contribute 40% to the federal programs already in existence. Saskatchewan has already removed all the provincial taxes on farm fuels. I wonder what the government would think if it were forced to match that move. My question to my colleague is this: what does my colleague have to say about the requirement of the provinces being forced to put their money into the federal programs rather than being able to add it directly to their own?

Agriculture March 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister is more concerned about fighting with provincial governments to force his own programs upon everybody rather than allowing some provincial discretion.

Is the minister trying to tell the House that the governments of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are wrong in saying that at least $900 million is needed from the government?

Only the current agriculture minister could unite two Conservative governments and two NDP governments with the separatist government of Quebec. Why does the minister continue to ignore the advice of governments and—

Agriculture March 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, five provincial governments have publicly called upon the Liberal government to deliver at least $900 million in emergency aid to farmers this year. This is the absolute minimum farmers need.

In today's Regina Leader Post the Saskatchewan minister of agriculture stated:

The $500 million in aid announced recently by the federal government to address the current problems in the industry is clearly an inadequate response given the emergency situation facing the industry.

Will the minister listen to his provincial counterparts and commit the additional $400 million being called for today?

Judges Act March 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, a few moments ago the hon. colleague from Prince Albert talked about the possibility of it being unwise to select judges specifically on their need or greed of money. It would seem to me that those were pretty good comments. Selecting someone to be my judge who is so greedy or so needy that his love of money causes him to not take that position unless he makes over $200,000, in my mind brings him into question.

My hon. friend is a lawyer. He has had experience in a lot of court cases. There are two questions I would like to ask him. Could you give us some specific examples of how the courts have usurped the power of parliament? What is the proper way of selecting judges?

Judges Act March 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to address Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act and to amend another act in consequence.

Before I begin this opportunity to address government legislation for the first time, I should like to thank my constituents in the riding of Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre for having granted me the opportunity and honour of representing them in this notable House.

Bill C-12 proposes an 11.2% salary increase for 1,013 federally appointed judges retroactive to April 2000. No one can be faulted for requesting a pay raise. Let us be honest. Who would not like a pay raise? What bothers me is our federal government's willingness to grant substantial pay increases to individuals who are already making what most Canadians would see as a very good living.

In the meantime, one of the mainstays of our Canadian economy, Canadian farmers, including many in my own riding, time and again have to come to the federal government for the funds needed simply to stay alive.

Back in my home province of Saskatchewan, the 2000 net farm income is projected to be 35% of the five year average taken from 1995 to 1999, and that was a bad five years. That is a 65% decrease. For 2001, total net income is projected to drop further, from $251 million to $141 million. This is only 20% of the 1995 to 1999 average, or an 80% decrease in income. The five year average, as I mentioned, already has two bad years of income included in it.

The government's attempt to get support to farmers, the AIDA program, has failed the majority of our farm families. This is why the farmers have and will continue to come to have their voices heard on the Hill. Only 60% of that emergency aid has even reached the farmers. Over a quarter of the claims for 1999 remain unprocessed by the federal government and the farmers want to know why it is taking so long. The money promised over two years ago by the minister of agriculture for losses in 1998 and 1999 needs to be delivered, but they still do not have their money. Because of the years of farm policy failure by the Liberal government, farm families need an immediate cash injection. They demanded this. The funds that were given were merely an insult to them.

I know it seems that I have wandered from the topic as I mention the farm crisis, but Bill C-12 seems to reward some people who are already doing very well and are not in a crisis at all. We are able to easily come up with money to hand to them. The apparent contrast of these two issues begs the question: where are the government's priorities?

Many constituents of mine in the riding of Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre are disillusioned with the government due to its uncanny ability to make decisions that fail to address the real issues affecting real people.

I want to be clear. I am not saying that judges are not real people, that they do not have real needs and that they do not have a right to have the government's attention for their real and often valid concerns. What I am saying is that to the majority of my constituents and, I would venture to assume, to the majority of Canadians, granting federal judges a salary increase of almost 20% in a three year period is not an important priority.

How can the government justify giving its federal court judges an additional salary increase of 11.2% over and above the already given 8.2% increase that they received in 1997? How will this proposed pay increase help fix the current backlog in federal court cases? Will the federal court be 11.2% more efficient in dealing with the current backlog of court cases?

The Auditor General of Canada recently stated in his February 2001 report that government departments must do a better job at providing value for money. In other words, the auditor general is asking government departments if taxpayers are getting true value for the government's spending of their tax dollars.

This very day I attended on the Hill a symposium in which we were told that value for money would be a valid criteria by which we should judge government actions and government programs. I ask this question of the government with respect to proposed Bill C-12: how will this pay increase provide value for money for Canadians and for their taxpayer dollars? How will giving the average judge an increase of approximately $19,000 to $20,000 in salary address the roots of the problem the federal courts are facing today?

Although I am no economist, I did a little math to try to shed some light on the amount of dollars being spent on this legislation. If one takes the salary of the lowest paid judge, according to Bill C-12 itself, and adds an 11.2% increase, it means a minimum salary increase of nearly $20,000 to every federal court judge. If we multiply $20,000 by the number of federal court judges whose salaries will be increased, there is a total salary increase of over $19 million. Is this money, $19 million for only 1,000 people, well spent?

There is a need for an improved judiciary system. As my colleague has mentioned already, there are plenty of lawyers to fill these positions; the Prime Minister has a list. Yet all he can think about is increasing their salaries. The problem requires more imagination than simply adding money. More money in the hands of judges does nothing to address any of the problems.

In closing, I do not support Bill C-12 on the basis of four points. First, it fails to address the vital questions of integrity and honesty regarding the appointment process used by the Prime Minister and the government. Second, it fails to meet the reasonable expectations of Canadians in regard to how their judicial system should serve them. Third, the bill fails to address any backlogs presently being experienced. Fourth, it fails to meet the taxpayers' demand for a reasonable return on their hard earned tax money.

Divorce Act February 23rd, 2001

Madam Speaker, this is my first opportunity to rise in the House to speak to any legislation. I am not a graduate of too many schools. I guess I graduated from the same law school that Joe Clark graduated from, or so I heard today. I am not a lawyer, but I have taken courses. One course was the course of life.

The hon. member spoke of legal presumption. There are several presumptions I want to mention today that are actually already being made in the courts when it comes to divorce and custody. I also want to mention the fact that the reason many cases are not presented with a request for joint custody is that it is understood and well known that there is very little chance for that request to be granted because of these legal presumptions that are automatically being made.

I was not aware that I would have an opportunity to speak to this legislation so I will not quote statistics, legal points or that sort of thing, but I will speak from my experience as a family counsellor for the last 30 years.

First, I find the presumption is made that the female spouse in the situation is the better parent. I agree that in many cases this may well be true, but I also know of many cases in which it is not true. I know of a case in which a female parent was involved in drugs and in many kinds of activities that were wrong, yet she automatically got custody of the child and the father did not.

The second presumption that seems to be made in the courts I am aware of in the city of Regina is that the mother is always the one who is telling the truth. Insinuations can be made, the children given over and the case closed, just an automatic thing that happens.

Third, I think there is the presumption that the mother is the one with the most inherent right to be the parent. Again, I disagree with that. Usually that is the case, especially with younger children where the mother may do a better job, but I think recent studies tell us of the tragedy that is caused by the lack of a father in the family. We understand that over 70% of juvenile delinquents come from fatherless families, so it is extremely important that our children be able to maintain contact with their fathers.

The other presumption is that the mother is the one most likely to be subjected to continued abuse. I am not so sure that is always the case either. Perhaps mothers are the most likely, but in fact abuse does happen to the other parent. Many times the father suffers from that element of control in the aspect of being barred from seeing the children or the aspect of being totally controlled in regard to when, how and where he will see the children. It has reached the point where it is totally unfair.

Just this morning in my office I received from a constituent information about a website that I visited for about five minutes before coming to the House. The website listed many cases of suicide when fathers have been shut away from their children because of this automatic situation. They feel so hopeless and helpless, and many of them are committing suicide over this very thing.

Many of them are being asked to pay support beyond even their earnings. I know one parent in Regina, for instance, who was compelled to give 75% of his income to support his young children. That makes it a little difficult now in his new family. The mother is not always the one who may be the most likely to suffer abuse.

The fifth assumption that is made is that children would prefer to be with their mother. Again, this is false. In a case I know, the father plays with the children. The father takes the children on outings. The father is involved with the children in sporting events and many other things. The mother is not always the one who spends that kind of time with the children. So, it is wrong to automatically presume that the father is going to be the lesser of the two parents and to automatically give the child to the mother.

My final point is simply this. We as Canadians are big on human rights. We have gone through a period of time when everyone is most interested in receiving the rights they deserve. We fight for our rights. We are proud that we give rights to everyone. We extend rights so far that we end up with no rights ourselves sometimes, especially in our criminal system.

However, one thing we forget, one thing I have never heard mentioned by any lawyer or anyone else and something that I believe very seriously in my heart, is that every child in Canada deserves an equal right to two parents, not just one. The system we have now, which automatically presumes that it is okay to legislate one parent out of the equation except for financial situations and very limited access, takes away the right for our children have to two parents.

I would favour the legislation. It may not be the be all end all, it may not be the perfect solution, but if we could start from the premise that our children deserve the right to two parents then move to an equitable situation and work that out, we would be doing what is in the best interests of our children.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police February 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and an honour to serve as the member of parliament for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre. There is a wonderful spirit of co-operation and community in my constituency. This extends to community based policing. The RCMP knows the dangers of losing touch with the citizens in the communities in which it serves. RCMP F Division headquarters and depot training academy are in my constituency. It is there that every RCMP recruit in the country is trained.

With increasing costs for policing, the Canadian public wants a police service that is accountable, efficient and effective. In an effort to meet public expectations, the RCMP has developed community based policing. I am proud of the effort it has made since the 1980s to get back into the communities in which it serves.

I trust the government shares the pride all Canadians feel for the RCMP. I believe, however, that it is absurd that we would spend nearly half a billion dollars on registering guns and manufacturing criminals when funds are so badly needed by those responsible for arresting criminals and protecting law-abiding citizens.

Correctional Service Canada February 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, we know what the government's on the fly approach has resulted in before. Last week we saw the heating rebate fiasco result in countless prisoners receiving heating rebate cheques after the government proceeded with haste before the election.

Once again the government has proceeded with haste. It has ignored its promise to consult with the Union of Solicitor General Employees before coming to any decision regarding daily searches of prison guards. Why has the solicitor general chosen to ignore his promise to consult with the union?

Correctional Service Canada February 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, yesterday it was reported that Canada's federal prison staff may resort to job action or lawsuits after a top down decision by Correctional Service Canada. The decision will subject guards to more frequent security searches than the convicts.

We are all for a zero tolerance policy on drugs in our federal prisons, but could the solicitor general explain why his war on drugs is focused more on honest, law-abiding staff than on the convicted criminals they guard?