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

Question No. 71 February 4th, 2003

For the fiscal years 1993/94, 1994/95, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/2000 and 2000/2001, from all departments and agencies of the government, including crown corporations and quasi/non-governmental agencies funded by the government, and not including research and student-related grants and loans, what is the list of grants, loans, contributions and contracts awarded in the constituency of Victoria, including the name and address of the recipient, whether or not it was competitively awarded, the date, the amount and the type of funding, and if repayable, whether or not it has been repaid?

(Return tabled.)

Criminal Code February 3rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, as someone has mentioned, it is a sad day when we have to stand to debate this kind of issue in this nation of ours. It is sad because there are the defenders of pornography and child pornography. We as legislators need to have the starch in our bones to make a strong stand against it.

I want to talk for a minute about what pornography really is. I have not heard that discussed and the definition is not in the legislation. In fact, what I am going to talk about is not a legal definition, and I do not suggest that it should be considered as a legal definition, but I want to talk about what it really is because we sometimes fail to recognize that.

Pornography is visual or verbal exploitation of the decency, privacy and well-being of a human body, soul, mind and spirit. It is exploitation of a human being, whether it be a child or an adult.

What is child pornography? I have here a quote from Hansard , in which the member for Palliser said earlier in the debate at another time that:

--the position that I take, and I believe would be shared by a majority if not all of my caucus colleagues, is that if it has not specifically hurt a minor in the production of it, if it is created by people's visual imaginations and if the main purpose of it is not simply about pornography and sexual exploitation, then under the laws people do have a right to their own imaginations and thoughts, however perverse the member and I might think they are.

Let me say one more thing in addition to that. Every crime and every action starts in the mind but is not contained or ended there.

I am concerned that this is the extent to which many people will look at pornography, as in fact has happened in the John Robin Sharpe case. The right to produce and to have was defended, but that is because they do not understand that it is never ever the case with child pornography.

Child pornography is the most hideous form of pornography. It is usually a graphic product produced primarily by an adult, with an innocent child as its primary victim. Indirect child abuse happens because of child pornography. I would define indirect child abuse as that which is used to desensitize other children and of course recruit them. It is used to excite other pedophiles.

If we talk to those who have counselled, worked with and dedicated their lives to helping people who have lived through child pornography and child sexual abuse because of this, we will then understand that it is never produced to keep private. It might be the thought for the moment that it would remain private, but it does not end up that way. Those pictures and stories have to be passed to someone else in exchange for others because we have to keep changing the pictures in our mind to remain excited. That is the way human beings are built. They are not going to sit and look at the same catalogue of old pictures all their lives and never share them with others. That fallacy has to be shot down. It has to be understood.

It is indirect child abuse because it is used to excite those who prey on children. It is indirect child abuse because it is used to perpetuate abuse and pornography. It is indirect child abuse because it is used for the recruitment for further pornography, drugs and the sex trade. It is even direct child abuse when a child is used in its production. It is the worst form of child abuse.

There are many kinds of child abuse. There of course is the lack of providing the necessities of life and that is sort of mentioned in some of the legislation. There is abusive discipline, whether it be physical, verbal, emotional or psychological. They are abuses of a child and certainly we would speak against them. There is even, I submit to the House, what is probably one the largest categories of child abuse going on in this nation in this day and age, and that is simply the lack of discipline, when we do not teach our children how to grow up and how to mature.

Bill C-20 is about child protection at all these levels, but it is still so woefully inadequate. It is inadequate because there is no adequate definition of pornography. So without an adequate definition of pornography, I am told, there have to be certain defences put in there. What has happened here is that the government has taken the old artistic merit clause, has sort of done away with those two words and simply has replaced them with the words “the public good”.

I have a hard time imagining at any time that drawings such as those John Robin Sharpe was allowed to retain in his possession could ever be for the public good or even ever be considered to have any kind of artistic merit.

There have to be ways in which we can define what would constitute a medical use of illustrations, et cetera. If we are so worried about not being able to have educational materials, we can describe that and we can define that. We do not have to leave it to some nebulous decision on a liberal judge's bench as to whether or not it has educational, artistic or public good to it at all. We are not doing that in the bill. I think we are missing the mark by a long way.

We are missing it when we come to dealing with the sentences. The sentences have been mentioned many times, but it must be said over and over again that it does not matter if we put in maximum sentence of 100 years for child pornography, child abuse or sexual exploitation of a six month old baby. It does not matter. What really matters is what the minimum sentence is, because in this day and age, a day of full prisons and liberal wishy-washy thinking in our country, we do not give sentences worth handing out. We do not enforce what we give. We turn offenders loose. It would have been much more effective if in fact the sentences had been raised on the minimum rather than the maximum.

Then there is the refusal to address the age of consent. We have in the bill the protection in regard to an exploitative relationship by an adult, but we all know, if we are honest with ourselves at all, that there is room for both approaches and that the age of consent should have been raised to 16 so that we do not continue to allow the sexual activity between children and adults to be legal and then have to go to court to prove whether or not there was some sort of exploitive or trust relationship. This is woefully inadequate and we in the Canadian Alliance have been calling over and over for this change.

Another very major shortcoming is that the bill did not address at all the need to change the requirements for how a case is presented in court. In this day and age when a computer is filled with hundreds of thousands of images and we have to process every one of them to present them in court, how ridiculous can we get? We do not do this in any other kind of law. The bill did not address that. I will just say that the legislation needs to go back to the drawing board for some common sense and to have some teeth put into it.

Canada Pension Plan January 30th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for Churchill for bringing this to our attention today. The motion states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should amend the definition of “pensionable employment” in the Canada pension plan to include worker's compensation payments.

I want to bring to the House's attention a few problems and questions that this would raise. A major problem would be the precedent that it would set if the motion were to be enshrined in legislation, that is, accepting that insurance payments constitute income. By accepting the premise that insurance payments are income it would cause a number questions to be raised.

First, where do we draw the line? There are many people who are on monthly disability insurances, both provincial and federal as well as private insurance payments. Would people receiving CPP disability have it considered as income as well? That seems to be a problem.

The motivation for this motion comes from the fact that CPP does not collect premiums from people receiving provincial workers' compensation benefits. The result is that individuals injured on the job and receiving WCP for an extended period of time would see their CPP pension decrease at retirement since they are unable to contribute while injured.

The federal and provincial governments have been reluctant to implement this change as it would increase the CPP liability without a revenue generating mechanism to cover the increased cost. This raises a couple of other questions at that point.

There is the question of who would mandate that employees pay 4.95% of their disability cheque. It would be a political nightmare. Presumably, the CPP would be expected not to do this, but simply to take this on as an additional cost with no premium revenue to help bear it. It would make the CPP even less sustainable.

To keep the CPP sustainable both the employer and the employee need to pay 4.95% of that employee's income, or nearly 10%. Who would pay the employer's half of that income? That is also a question that has to be asked.

This measure could leave CPP recipients who were injured on the job with more money at retirement. This would lessen of course the need for dependence on family members or reliance on other social programs. There are, however, some other problems that would favour those close to retirement at the expense of current and future contributors or younger relatives who might be left paying more of the bill.

There are also some provisions already given in the CPP that allow for the deduction of the lowest earning years. Individuals can take 15% of the lowest years of their contributory period off their record and thus keep their average up.

The Canada pension plan calculations include both how much and how long people have contributed. However, to protect a person some parts of the contributory period can be dropped and these periods include if a person stops working or earnings become lower while raising children under the age of seven, or if there are low earning months after the age of 65, or any month a person would be eligible for a Canada pension plan disability pension. So, there are provisions already in the plan to average out the low years.

The Canadian Alliance highly values retirement security and that is a vital element of later independence. We believe the government would always have to honour obligations and fund the current programs to retired Canadians and those close to retirement. We do not want to see that dropped, but we also believe that we must maintain support for low income seniors.

However, we believe in providing future retirees with greater choice. There could be choices made between simply the mandatory government plan or a mandatory personal plan. We also believe in eliminating the foreign investment restriction for retirement investments in order to allow individuals a greater opportunity to save for their own retirement and make some of the decisions on their own. We believe, then, in giving Canadians greater control over their own affairs.

A number of questions have been raised. Of course there is one that I guess a lot of people would raise as far as giving people freedom of choice is concerned in order to be able to prepare for their own retirement. We might raise this question. If the candidate for coronation can register ships in foreign domains, then why should ordinary Canadians not be allowed to have greater foreign investments or greater private investments for their own retirement? There are a number of questions.

The CPP benefits are modest in the first place and it would seem harsh to deny a few extra dollars to someone who had the misfortune of getting injured at work and was prohibited from contributing to the plan. However, there is another question. Would that be harsh and detrimental or would it in fact be more important to leave that worker's compensation payments fully in the worker's hands to help meet immediate and pressing needs?

I remember my first job in Canada. In the first week, I was inadvertently injured on the job. As the weeks went on compensation payments came to me and they were very much appreciated, but I did not get rich on them and I was glad to keep it all without losing some of it.

At first glance, it would appear that disallowing workers' compensation benefits as income for CPP contributions would constitute a penalty to future recipients. However, to consider these benefits as income would incur a large liability on the already unsustainable CPP program and it would create, as I have already mentioned, a number of other complex issues.

I bring these things to the attention of the House. We need to weigh all sides as we make up our minds on how to vote on the member's motion.

Assisted Human Reproduction Act January 30th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-13, an act respecting assisted human reproduction.

Before I begin I would like to commend the hon. member for Mississauga South for his outstanding work on this portfolio, the bill and these recommendations that have been put forward. The health committee also has done outstanding work. The health critic for the official opposition along with the member for Nanaimo—Alberni have done great work in keeping this party informed. I want to express my sincere appreciation to them.

Before I start I want to give the conclusion, because I usually get cut off before I conclude.

I have heard that diabetes is a fatal disease. I suppose I will find out some day, because I have it. Knowing that I have it and knowing that diabetes is one of the diseases targeted for possible cure through stem cell research, I still make this conclusion in spite of that. Even though there are many needed aspects to the bill, especially if amended properly, I still cannot support a bill that opens the door to the intentional destruction of innocent human life. Now I have said that. That is where I stand.

We have had information about the bill provided to us. The bill allows for human embryos to be used for experiments under four conditions: first, all embryos must be byproducts of the AHR process, not created solely for research; second, if written permission is given by the donor; third, research on a human embryo if the use is necessary; and fourth, all human embryos must be destroyed after 14 days if not frozen.

I think we are creating a great dilemma for ourselves. We all value life. Just prior to this, the member spoke of the value of human life. Not one of us would fail to value human life, especially if it is our own life. Somehow or another God has built within every one of us that desire to survive, to survive well and to be healthy. We can even observe it in the animal kingdom. If we corner an animal that thinks it is in danger of losing its life, the fight comes out in that animal like it will not be observed in any other manner. That is a natural thing.

However, we are talking about sacrificing other lives in order to benefit our lives. That is what embryonic stem cell research is permitting. We all appreciate technology. Or at least we appreciate the benefits of that technology. We like the conveniences of the modern life. We like the many things that happen because of technology. But sometimes technology goes awry. Technology becomes, in part, a curse on humanity rather than a blessing. Running in my mind is the example of gunpowder or dynamite. I have been told that its inventor is very sad to see that it is now used for such destructive purposes. Yet I come from a part of the country where there are many rocks, quite similar to what we would find in Nova Scotia, and the roads built through those hills and chiselled out of those rocks required the use of dynamite. That is a proper use of that technology. When we use it to kill and to take away other lives, that is an improper use. We appreciate it, but we do not want it to become an instrument of death such as it has in many cases.

I think back to the days of my youth. I remember growing up on the farm where we of course had a variety of animals. It was my job to take care of some of them. We had quite a number of brood sows. We raised pigs, fattened them for the market and sent them away. That was a part of our cash income on the farm. I remember that on one or two occasions in that operation we had a brood sow that took on a particularly destructive trait, which was that as soon as the newborns hit the ground she would turn around and eat at least one or two of them. When that tendency did not stop, we of course eliminated that particular specimen from our herd. We attribute that to a low animal that does not understand.

However, what are we doing as human beings when we take the lives of our own embryos, our own offspring, and excuse it because we need to find a cure for diabetes?

We cannot assist human reproduction at any cost. There has to be a limit. There has to be a place where the cost becomes too high. There has to be a place where we say stop. We all appreciate the need to assist couples who do not have children. They are childless and they are anxious about having a child in their home. We appreciate that very much. I understand the desire in the heart of these people to have children. I appreciate so very much my own children, and let me say that one of my four children was adopted. There are the means of acquiring children besides natural birth. It is not impossible for people to have children if we do not go ahead with investigating all the technology available.

The bottom line is this: assisted human reproduction, yes, but not at any cost.

Motion No. 88 is a very needed motion. I again commend the member for his work in putting forth these motions. The amendment recognizes abuses that can and do occur in some fertility clinics and the potential for abuse. I know that already some sort of limits are implied and now there are going to be more specified limits on this kind of thing, but there are always those words “as necessary” written in, which are open to interpretation.

I appreciate the remarks of my colleague who indicated that there was a need for the opportunity to do an unlimited number of fertilizations or have an unlimited number of implants. That is the cost I am talking about: not at the cost of human life. We must not create human life in order to play God, sort through it, choose the life we want and destroy the rest or even do research with it. There is a better way to avoid this dilemma. I have with me copies of three articles which emphasize the fact that non-embryonic stem cells are very promising, much more promising than the embryonic stem cells.

I see that my time is running out. It always happens, I do not know how. I will skip to another important statement, one from the Law Reform Commission of Canada in a working paper from more than 10 years ago: “It is a scientific error to refer to the human embryo or foetus as a potential human; it is a human with potential...”. If that one statement could sink through into our heads, in fact, it would change our approach to this.

The present code has a curious provision in section 206 to the effect that a child does not become a human being until it has proceeded completely from its mother's body and is breathing. Thus, far from being a proper definition of the term, it runs counter to the general consensus that the product of human conception in the womb or out of the womb is a human being. There is no question of that and we should remember that any time we allow the destruction of a human embryo.

Petitions January 30th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is primarily from constituents in my riding of Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre. It calls upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

Petitions January 30th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table today.

The first one calls upon Parliament to modify legislation to ensure both parents are actively involved with their children after divorce through specifically defined shared parenting and modified support guidelines. The petitioners ask that the taxation system be changed to ensure that child support payments are used only for the children of divorce and not tax in the hands of any party. Interestingly enough these petitioners are primarily all from Ontario.

Human Resources Development January 29th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, neither the minister nor the bureaucracy should be able to override the OAS review tribunal and cut cheques for tens of thousands of dollars on a whim.

I have written to the Auditor General today asking her to look into this matter. Will the human resources minister also investigate this issue and report back to the House with a full explanation of why her department broke the rules by arbitrarily cutting a cheque for over $20,000?

Human Resources Development January 29th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, retroactive GIS payments are supposed to be limited to an 11 month period.

In August 1999, a claimant received a cheque for over $20,000 covering a period of over five years. The minister of HRDC had previously denied the claim. The OAS review tribunal denied the appeal and ruled in favour of the minister.

What mock parliamentary authority was used to justify the cheque?

Petitions December 13th, 2002

Madam Speaker, my second petition requests the government assemble in Parliament to order an independent public inquiry, which is the only way to shed light on the close links between the Liberal Party and some advertising agencies which receive hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts from the Prime Minister's government in the past nine years.

Petitions December 13th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first petition is from people who call upon Parliament to focus its legislative support on adult stem cell research to find the cures and therapies necessary to treat illnesses and diseases of suffering Canadians.