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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was system.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Durham (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Finance April 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. At this time of year everybody is concerned about filing their income tax returns.

Currently, on the death of an RRSP annuitant all capital gains are recognized to the date of death. Any gains from death to distribution are gains of the beneficiaries. However there is no provision to deduct capital losses.

Why is the government only interested in taxing capital gains but does not allow capital losses?

International Transfer of Offenders Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the important aspect of what the intervention is all about is, by virtue of the fact these are agreements or treaties, that it takes two parties to make a treaty. Obviously, those people in the judiciary of those other countries fully understand the concept of entering into these agreements with Canada, where those sentences may be reduced in Canada. However, it is a recognition of the importance of a return of people to their home countries to be close to their families and to possibly help them go through a process where they can get help and be reintroduced to the society as useful and gainful people.

International Transfer of Offenders Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I think it is clear in the legislation that the sentencing provision would not be greater than that which was given in another jurisdiction. Therefore, I do not really understand the example. Clearly, if somebody were given a murder conviction in Washington state and the penalty was capital punishment, we would not carry out that sentence in Canada because we do not believe in capital punishment. The reality is it is the better of all of those things, which happens to be the Canadian model.

International Transfer of Offenders Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I will simply just confirm. Basically, what I have said is where there is a sentencing provision, that cannot be greater than the sentence, but conceivably it can be less than those sentences. However, once again, it is a determination that is made through a negotiating process between prisoners and the judicial authorities in both countries.

International Transfer of Offenders Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the first comment was that the opposition members did not want canned speeches. The second comment is they do not want originality. I do not understand what the opposition's problem is. Every member has his or her own opinion as to what the legislation says.

International Transfer of Offenders Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is asking me a very specific question and I will first temper that by saying I do not know 100%. The wording of the legislation, as I understand it, is that it would have to apply to the normal sentencing provision of a similar offence as if it occurred in Canada. Somebody would have to consider whether a similar offence would have a similar sentencing provision in Canada as it would in the United States and adjust it accordingly.

International Transfer of Offenders Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic to hear the opposition complain that there are too many people speaking to bills when I have often heard them say that we unduly cut off debate. The fact that the opposition has no questions and no comments on this only tells me that they must be bankrupt of ideas on the legislative agenda that is before them.

It gives me great pleasure to discuss the bill entitled international transfer of offenders act. If members were to look back they would see that I also spoke to this legislation at second reading.

This is important legislation for a number of reasons. Canada has a long history of dealing with corrections in the sense of the need to reintroduce people who have offended into the milieu of their environment. I am not so sure that is true of other jurisdictions. What the legislation would basically do is guarantee Canadian citizens, who for some reason or another committed a crime in another country, the same due process that exists in Canadian law, and obviously we need a way to effect that. We need to be able to go to foreign powers, where they believe these people have offended within their jurisdictions, and find a way to bring those people back to Canada, with a similar set of rules obviously for those from foreign jurisdictions who have offended in Canada, we need to find a way to send those people back into their communities.

Why is that important? I know members of the opposition have probably raised the issue that they do not believe that is important and it seems like we are coddling convicted felons or whatever the case may be but I do not believe that is really the case.

Within two years of being elected I did a long study of Millhaven Penitentiary. I actually had the advantage of spending about five hours in there, going through and talking to offenders and so forth. I quickly gleaned the importance of the reintroduction process. If we were to wait until the last minute to reintroduce offenders into the non-offending population we would run the risk of those people reoffending.

The whole concept of parole allows us to introduce those people into the polity under observation. People say that we just release them. The fact is that they are still being scrutinized by the penal system. There is a process where they can be re-incarcerated if they offend their parole jurisdictions.

I do not have the statistics on this but, statistically speaking, after Canadians, who offend in foreign jurisdictions, are released they likely will come back to Canada. However those people who have served time in a foreign institution could pose a significant risk if they are brought back into the non-offending population without some kind of oversight mechanism.

It is important that we effect these kinds of treaties. Clearly it is important that we have as many treaties on our books as possible because we can expand the number of possible countries where Canadians might be offending.

The other thing that is important here is the cultural differences between some of what we do here in Canada, in the western world, and what is done in other countries, such as what we would not consider certain acts an offence or we may think that the sentencing is more severe than a sentence that would exist in Canada. I know there are those who will stand and say that if a person went to a foreign country and committed an offence then that is their problem, that he or she should not have been there in the first place, but that is oversimplistic of a very difficult argument.

The fact of the matter is we pride ourselves in a certain humanitarian aspect and the way we treat each other as Canadians. That, unfortunately, also includes also how we treat each other, even those Canadians who offend in our country and outside our borders.

It is important that we try to apply as much as possible Canadian jurisprudence to those cases even where an offence has been committed in a foreign jurisdiction. The popular press is replete with all kinds of cases of Canadians who are incarcerated in jurisdictions where they possibly come under Islamic law, communist law or other laws that for many of us would seem very harsh and inhumane. Personally, I would have to say that those types of laws, that kind of jurisdiction, criminal prosecution and incarceration is inhumane. Being Canadian citizens should give us some kinds of rights, even in our offence, that give us access to a fair proceeding.

That does not mean the cases will be tried over again in Canada. That is not the intent of this act whatsoever. What is the intent is that the crime or the conviction would be weighed against a similar conviction which occurred in Canada and how it is likely that the sentencing provisions would have occurred.

In other words, there is provision obviously within the act to be more lenient in those cases where there is a severe penalty for something that possibly we did not consider severe. I know some people will bring up the issue of marijuana. In some jurisdictions, clearly, marijuana is a very significant and serious offence, not least of which to our neighbour to the south. We have a different attitude toward the sentencing provisions, not that we condone the use of marijuana. It is unclear to us why some jurisdictions are harsher on some of these areas when we have clinical studies and others that tell us that that need not be the case.

I can assure the House it is very important that the legislation proceed. It is also commendable that the government would bring this legislation forward at this time. Clearly, this type of legislation is not technically popular with the masses in general because it deals with a portion of our population which, quite frankly, many Canadians would like to forget about.

The underlying aspect of this is that Canada promotes human rights, whether they are for a non-offending public or whether they are for an offending public. We promote human rights because they are Canadian, and they are Canadian values that we share as a country.

It is very important that the legislation go forward, that we give the government the opportunity to negotiate a wider, broader based and different ways of interpreting the international transfer of offenders and that we allow our offending public, whether they be domiciled here in Canada or otherwise, the rights and privileges that exist within our Canadian judicial system.

I support this legislation. I am surprised once again that the opposition cannot think of any good questions to ask. It is certainly very profound legislation.

Petitions April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to bring forward a petition on behalf of my constituents who note that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has ceased funding for SMART, the only specialized service in the Durham region that assists women who have lived with abuse and violence to move toward gainful employment and economic independence.

These 370 petitioners, therefore, pray that Parliament enact legislation against ceasing funding for SMART.

Supply March 22nd, 2004

Madam Speaker, I read today's motion and I was sort of mystified. I would have thought that a party which on the weekend presumably came together as a united party would have had a new vision, yet I have come here today and I have found that there is no new vision, there is no new policy approach. Those members are wasting the time of this chamber on cheap politics. I think the people out there thought things might be better, but once again they have been disappointed.

I was surprised when the member talked about the red book, on which I ran in 1993. He said that somewhere in those pages there was a commitment to abolish the GST. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that within those pages it talked about reviewing the GST to see how we could make it better. I was fortunate to be one of those people who went across this country and asked people what they wanted to do and how they wanted to reform it. I can only assume that the member has never even read the very book that he is seeking to criticize.

The fact of the matter is there is no change on the other side. It is the same rhetoric that we have heard from those people, whether they were the Reform or the Alliance or whatever they will be called in the next couple of months. Maybe they are going to change their name again or change their colours, like some kind of a chameleon that fits into the Canadian landscape and changes colour depending upon what the mood is. The fact of the matter is they can change their spots several times but the animal is still there. It is the old Reform party and the old Alliance party to me.

I am just making a comment. I am not even going to bother to ask a question because the member has stood here and said that there has been no change in the Liberal Party which presented a new throne speech and which tomorrow is going to present its first budget. It will have some very exciting things for the business community of this country, some very thought-provoking ideas about how we can encourage education, how we can get more people to raise the knowledge base of our economy. There are some very important things on people's minds today, yet members of that party, the very day after they have had a leadership convention, are using none of the House's time to talk about where they want to take this country or what their policies are, to talk about the things that mean something.

The member talked about the Tim Hortons of this world and I agree with him, but the people are talking about health care. They are talking about things that bother them. They are not talking about cheap political tricks in the House of Commons. They are talking about things that are important to them and those are the things people expected to hear. My comment is that it is the same old same old from that party.

Supply February 24th, 2004

First, Madam Speaker, that is predicated on the assumption that this is all known, understood, documented and agreed on, whatever this activity is, which I suspect is questionable.

There is one other aspect to this assumption, which is that we should even be restricting the countries that we invest in because we are saying those countries do not have laws that protect their people adequately and so forth.

The problem with the flip side of this is that we get no investment. Some of those countries need foreign direct investment to help their people, to bring them along and to raise their income.

The hon. member will probably talk about the maquiladoras region of Mexico. The reality is that the Mexican economy and the average Mexican life and standard of living have been better ever since the World Trade Organization, but that same member would say what was said 20 years ago: that we should not be investing, that we should not be allowing our country to invest in Mexico because the labour practices are a lot different from ours and therefore we are subsidizing an inadequate or inferior labour force. The reality is that this has been a success. Those people's lives have been made better.

I really question this subjective argument that we know everything going on in every country, and I also question whether we can override the laws of an individual country by refusing to actually invest because of some subjective argument that we believe in. When the member talks about these things, sure, we can all sympathize with her. We all sympathize with the idea. None of us here would agree with child labour and some of these things. Clearly these are things that I think any corporate executives, if they knew about it or had knowledge of it, would not be involved in and would not invest in.

Having said that, let me say that if we try to change the actual investment criteria of the Canada pension board to make it somehow responsible, such that somehow it is supposed to know all of these things, suddenly we will have a huge overhead structure in which the people can be intransigent and will be unable to make good investment decisions.