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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was debate.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Conservative MP for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals) June 6th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to follow the member for Scarborough Southwest because in listening to his remarks it was gratifying to learn that other members on this side had the same concerns about the definition of animal in this legislation and took action.

The member for Scarborough Southwest would be interested to hear what I said in this place on June 3, 2002, when this legislation was before the House at third reading stage. I rose and I said:

Throughout its long journey through the House of Commons I have struggled in the background with the definition of animal in the legislation and tried to change it, unsuccessfully, I regret to say. I am hoping that when the bill goes on to the Senate that the senators will take some of my concerns to heart--

And of course, what we have before us today is the senators did take my concerns to heart. They have changed the definition of animal. My concern was exactly the same as the concern expressed by the member for Scarborough Southwest. The definition of an animal in the original legislation was far too broad. It defined an animal as a vertebrate other than a human being and any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain.

Well, it does not take much imagination to know what would have happened if that definition actually made it into law. There would have been unlimited litigation as various animal rights organizations brought forward cases claiming cruelty to crustaceans, octopus, squids, amoebas, you name it, worms even could be included. That definition was so broad that virtually any sentient creature could have been included. It is still a puzzle to me as to why the justice department steadfastly defended a policy that was so obviously in the interests of the radical animal rights organizations and so obviously would have taken up so much time in litigation.

I was interested to hear the parliamentary secretary defend the original definition by saying that the original definition was drafted with a view to bringing some clarity to the law to enunciate that vertebrates were included. Well, that is obvious. There was never a question about that. He went on to say that the original definition “would have allowed the Crown to prosecute a case in respect of a non-vertebrate if it was prepared to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the animal had the capacity to feel pain”. And here is where we get into this whole problem of where people look at words in their legalistic sense and do not look at what the words actually mean, and what they actually connote in the broad sense.

Any sentient creature has the ability to feel pain. If we take an non-vertebrate animal from the sea and cut it, it will react. It will shrink back. I am reminded of the fact that the Discovery magazine very recently had quite an article on a scientist in the United States who had made a career of studying squid. The way he would get the squid is it was basically by hook and he would pull them out of the water. He noted rather elaborately in his article that the squid very obviously showed all kinds of indications that they were experiencing pain. They flushed red, they did this, that and the other thing.

Now the issue that the justice department officials, who formulated this policy that has this capacity to feel pain definition in it, is they ignored the question of whether an animal suffers or not. When we talk about cruelty to animals, what we are really talking about is causing another creature to suffer.

I submit to you, Madam Speaker, as I did numerous times in the various speeches that I have done on this topic before, is that if an animal basically does not have a brain, if it basically does not have a sense of--

Lobbyists Registration Act June 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the member for her insights into Bill C-15, the Lobbyists Registration Act.

I think many of us on all sides of the House feel that Bill C-15 does not go far enough. We would like to see it go even further. I appreciate some of the suggestions she made.

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the amendment before the House and remind the House that it is an improvement on an amendment that was put forward at report stage by a government member. It was an unfriendly amendment. It was subsequently found by the Senate to have merit. The Senate improved upon it and that is why we have this debate before the House.

In saying all of that, I would like to acknowledge to the House the contribution of the member for Edmonton Southwest. I must say that at the time this member put forward the original amendment he alerted me to the fact that there was a flaw in what I was doing. In fact, I had put forward two amendments. He walked across the aisle and advised me, with courtesy, that I needed to make this change.

I then sought unanimous consent for the change. It enabled the final amendment that was put before the House to succeed among the members on this side and the members on that side.

While the House has to be partisan--and we have to have an opposition and a government side, and sometimes we have to clash in debate--the important thing to remember for all Canadians and all who are watching is that often, and it is not seen, we can cooperate in the public interest. And this was a fine example of that. I would like to acknowledge and thank the member for Edmonton Southwest for his contribution on this particular occasion.

Middle East June 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I invite my colleagues to join me in congratulating United States President George Bush for his efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.

As we are all aware, the conflict in the Middle East is an old and deep-rooted one. Yesterday, President George W. Bush attended what may very well become an historic meeting for peace by joining Mahmoud Abbas, the new Palestinian prime minister, and Israel's leader, Ariel Sharon, in the Jordanian city of Aqaba.

This meeting represents the first cautious steps taken along a road that is designed to lead to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I am sure the House shares my optimism toward this renewed effort to resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. I join my colleagues in support for the U.S. president in building the confidence on both sides that is crucial to the success of achieving peace in this troubled region of the world.

Terrorism June 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member opposite suggested that the House would be agreeable to a three minute brief comment from myself if it were allowable to other members of the House from each party, as I understand it, at the most.

That would only be about 12 minutes at most so I would seek unanimous consent that her suggestion be adopted.

Terrorism June 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say, in response to--

Terrorism June 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The standing orders do not provide for a government member to comment on a ministerial statement as we have before the House. Therefore I would seek unanimous consent to be allowed about three minutes to make a comment on the Solicitor General's statement.

Lobbyists Registration Act June 4th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to assure the House that of all MPs in the opposition, the member for Saint-Jean leads in his concern for transparency and accountability, and he has been active on that file in many ways. His very presence in the House on this debate on the amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act is an indication of his passionate desire to further legislation that calls for transparency, not just to make the Government of Canada operate more efficiently but to ensure that the Government of Canada leads the world in terms of transparency and accountability.

I think the member for Elk Island, the member for Saint-Jean and myself would agree that while Bill C-15 has brought in some improvements to the Lobbyists Registration Act, they fall far, far short of what could be done, and I think all three of us will continue to campaign to get the government to bring in better amendments.

I wanted to comment very briefly on the issue of the Senate and direct a question to the member for Saint-Jean on that issue. I certainly do not agree with abolishing the Senate. I have great reservations, as the member for Saint-Jean has, on having an elected body because if the Senate were an elected body, then it would greatly diminish the power and authority of the House of Commons and it would make it eminently more difficult to do business as Parliament. We would have to have a separately elected president as they have in the United States to have two elected houses if we were going to have a workable situation.

I ask the member for Saint-Jean, if he suggests that the Senate be abolished, why would we even be here debating today because the Senate has addressed an amendment, it has improved upon that amendment, an amendment by a backbench MP, and has returned it to the House. I would submit that the Senate has done a very fine job, at least in this instance.

Lobbyists Registration Act June 4th, 2003

I will just point out in reply, Madam Speaker, that I know the opposition made no effort to make amendments in committee and made no effort to make amendments at report stage. In fact, Bill C-15 breezed through committee with hardly any comments or obstacles.

So I would say to the member opposite that I am willing to serve, I am willing to do the role of the opposition, but it is lonely here when it takes a Liberal backbench MP to criticize his government and the opposition is silent.

Lobbyists Registration Act June 4th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I thank the member and again I stand corrected. Obviously there was a lot of content in what the member said, but I regret that it was, shall we say, spread out in such a long period of time that perhaps it was just somewhat difficult to grasp all of his tremendous points as readily as I might have.

It is simply my failure. I realize that he is a very well qualified speaker in this place, but try as I might, it is hard to recover the content of his speech of the other day. I will return to Hansard, look up exactly what he said and take note of it, but I suspect it will not be a page and a half of Hansard. I suspect it will be about four pages of

Hansard.

Lobbyists Registration Act June 4th, 2003

I stand corrected, Madam Speaker, about the time the member for Elk Island spoke. He spoke for half an hour. I can assure him it certainly felt like an hour. I would suggest that the reason why it felt like an hour was that there was very little in his speech that was actually substantial. Try as I might, I cannot remember, and I did listen the entire time, a single, clear suggestion that he made on how to improve the Lobbyists Registration Act.

I put to him that he could have said, for example, as I did in committee when I proposed to the ethics counsellor, that mid-level bureaucrats keep a telephone log of all the lobbyists who make representations to them, and that telephone log would be available through access to information or any other means that would be available for the public to see who precisely, what lobbyists and what individuals in the bureaucracy, are being approached.

Now, we well know that deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers are approached by lobbyists and we well know that there are senior politicians and senior bureaucrats who become lobbyists. What we do not know is those people who are in the lower levels of bureaucracy, who are, shall we say, the nameless policy-makers, who may be approached by their colleagues who have become in-house lobbyists, who are also nameless. They get together and it is sort of a little old boys' school.

I have proposed that change. I think the first time I did it was in 1994. It was rejected by the government at the time and by the committee, I regret to say. I proposed it again when the bill came up for review recently. You know, Madam Speaker, you have to take the bones that are available to you, and I do believe that the government heard the message of the amendment, heard my colleagues who supported it, because the backbench MPs, the soldiers, shall we say, of democracy, are very aware that there is a problem in the lower levels of the bureaucracy, in the lower levels of the lobbying firms, and that it needs to be corrected.

Our job here is to make those suggestions. The member for Elk Island had an opportunity to make a very clear suggestion like that, and I really regret I did not hear it. I am sure he has some other ideas of his own and maybe we will get a question from him.