Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was horse.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Liberal MP for Lanark—Carleton (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Corrections And Conditional Release Act October 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-240 seeks to address concerns about the incidence of offenders repeating violent offences, particularly sexual offences.

The focus of the bill is upon the identification and further detention of a select group of offenders who are identified after sentencing during their period of incarceration as presenting a continuing and substantial threat of harm to the physical or mental well-being of other persons.

Predicting violent behaviour is undeniably a highly valued goal in terms of achieving community safety. Attaining this goal is very elusive. Other speakers have addressed the wide variety of measures which have been tried or which are currently under way to deal with the protection of society from dangerous offenders.

There are, however, a number of obstacles to effectively carry out this highly laudable goal. Approximately 10 per cent of all crime can be called violent. The base rate for violent behaviour is therefore quite low. For example, given the fact that only 10 per cent of all crime is violent, if we were to predict that no one would behave violently we would be correct about 90 per cent of the time.

The crux of our problem is that no one is satisfied with even a 90 per cent rate of prediction. Research over the past decade has made significant strides in the prediction of violent behaviour.

Correctional Service Canada has been working hard at developing risk assessment instruments and has developed one of the better assessment and prediction tools in the world.

The major predictors of criminal and violent behaviour have been reasonably well identified in research. These predictors include criminal companions, a history of anti-social behaviour, anti-social attitudes, family problems, cognitive dysfunction and low educational and vocational achievement. Some of the items in this list can be assessed relatively easily through extensive and detailed individual histories. Some, such as cognitive dysfunctions, require sophisticated testing.

One of the better predictors relates to assessment of psychopathy which comprises many traits including callousness, manipulation, dishonesty, irresponsibility and persistent anti-social conduct.

There are childhood predictors of violent recidivism associated with difficulties in pregnancy, especially the addiction of mother to alcohol or drugs, early childhood problems such as temper tantrums, and being the victim of or witnessing abuse or parental conflict.

Various conduct disorders characterized by stealing, lying, fire setting, truancy, sexual aggression, violence, cruelty and running away from home are strongly related to violent recidivism.

The research seemed to suggest that there is an increasing ability to predict dangerous behaviour. Accurate identification of the highest risk offenders can be achieved by combining measures of psychopathic traits, demographic variables and criminal histories.

Although using such tools will optimize the accuracy of predictions, it will not unfortunately identify all persons who will commit violent crime after release from custody.

Attempts to refine the predictions even further will result in high numbers of people wrongly identified as dangerous persons. It will greatly increase the costs of such measures and will impinge upon the rights of the many individuals improperly identified.

One of the striking things about the predictive factors which have been associated with violent recidivism is that virtually all of them occurred years before the violent offence for which we are concerned. They were known or could have been known at the time of sentencing.

The Criminal Code contains extensive provisions for dealing with dangerous offenders. The definitions in these sections have evolved over time and have survived or have been modified by a variety of legal challenges. Since we are increasingly able to predict dangerous offenders, the tools for managing the kind of problem being addressed in Bill C-240 already exist within the Criminal Code.

What is needed to address the kinds of cases leading to the current expressions of public concern is better early identification and prosecution of the most dangerous offenders. The various jurisdictions involved in administering criminal justice need to carefully scrutinize cases of violent and dangerous offenders to ensure that the appropriate use of existing dangerous offender provisions are made.

Finding ways to identify and track high risk offenders from as early as possible in their contacts with the criminal justice system throughout their involvement with the law will enable prosecutors to better apply the dangerous offender provisions of the Criminal Code. Finally it must be recognized that some offenders will slip through the net of criminal justice prosecution.

For these individuals, better co-operation and co-ordination at the policy level, at the level of prosecutions, in the correctional domain and, most important, with mental health can provide effective solutions to dealing with high risk offenders without exposing our current, effective and tested tools to the risk of invalidation on charter grounds.

In closing it is important to recognize an unpleasant reality. It is ultimately impossible to identify in advance all those individuals who will commit heinous acts. Our long term interests are better served by more effective crime prevention.

I quote from the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and the Solicitor General entitled "Crime Prevention in Canada: Toward a National Strategy":

The Committee accepts that crime will always be with us in one form or another and will require police, court and correctional interventions.

At the same time, it believes that our collective response to crime must shift to crime prevention efforts that reduce opportunities for crime and focus increasingly on at-risk young people and on the underlying social and economic factors associated with crime and criminality.

This comprehensive approach involves partnerships between governments, criminal justice organizations, and community agencies and groups.

And it situates the crime problem in a community context and sees its solution as a social question.

North American Waterfowl Management Plan June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform all members of the House and all Canadians that the signing of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan update took place this morning.

The North American Waterfowl Management Plan, originally signed in 1986, is designed to protect 3.6 million hectares of wetland and upland habitat in Canada. With the signing of this update, Canada has extended its commitment to this conservation program to the year 1999.

Without this form of conservation, wildlife depending on these habitats for survival would continue to decrease in numbers. However, since the implementation of the plan, populations of several species of waterfowl, such as the gadwalls and blue winged teals, have begun to increase.

In the spirit of Environment Week, let us keep in mind that protecting the environment is an ongoing commitment, and that the signing of this plan strengthens the government's commitment in this regard.

National Transportation Week June 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to announce to the House that today is National Transportation Day in Canada.

Today in Thunder Bay there will be inaugural celebrations for National Transportation Week which runs from June 5 to 11. A wide range of transport related ceremonies, activities and seminars have been planned for major cities from coast to coast to coast.

The theme of National Transportation Week 1994 is "Intermodalism: The Perfect Fit". Intermodalism, which describes the use of two or more modes of transportation in a continuous operation under a single bill of lading, is increasing in this country. This mode of transport is particularly evident in our import-export trade which counts on computer applications and streamlined procedures to get goods to market quickly and at the best possible prices.

Transportation is the life support system for our economy and it is critically important to our ability to compete internationally in the ever evolving global marketplace.

I am very pleased therefore to salute the many men and women who keep our transportation systems running as they should year round.

Education March 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, education is the cornerstone of economic development in modern societies.

To succeed in competitive world markets we must continue to invest in people. Canada spends some $55 billion per year on education and training. The level of our investment is world class but the relevance and equality of Canadian education are being questioned.

On February 28 the Minister of Human Resources Development met with provincial ministers. The federal government supported the national agenda announced last fall by the Council of Ministers of Education in its Victoria joint declaration.

This government is working closely with the council to address issues facing Canadian education. We look forward to the council's national consultation on education scheduled for May 26 to May 29 in Montreal in which over 300 participants will represent all partners in education.

Nordion International Inc. February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House a dispute between Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and Nordion International Inc. This problem has important public policy implications that affect Canada's reputation internationally.

Nordion is a high-tech success story. The company employs 400 of my constituents in Lanark-Carleton. Internationally over 300 million medical procedures that are dependent on Nordion products are performed each year.

The dispute between AECL and Nordion is threatening the future of Nordion and hurting Canada's reputation as a world leader in nuclear technology.

I urge the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Health to intervene to resolve this unfortunate and critical dispute.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, this has been of particular interest to me personally over the years. I have not pursued it primarily for the reason that in my previous job I enjoyed a high income and it was always my sense that if someone talked about the problems that high income earners face with the tax system they should be dismissed as perhaps those who do not deserve to be complaining.

However, when one looks at the burden of taxes on upper and middle income earners and if we consider that a family could be five or six people getting by on the income of one person one starts to realize that there is quite a bit of unfairness embedded in the tax system.

I really had my suspicions confirmed during the election campaign when I would go door to door. During the daytime I would meet women who were at home raising their children and very much feeling the pinch from high taxes.

It is only fair that the government make this change partly to recognize that people who do stay home to look after their children are providing a real benefit to society. Most of us would agree that it is in the interest of the children and the interest of society if they are able to be raised by their parents.

I have not looked into the intricacies of such a change. I am sure it has been suggested in the past. I am sure the Department of Finance must have looked at this as an option. It is one that I intend to explore in the coming days. I thank the hon. member for his comments.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, may I first congratulate you on your appointment. This is also my first opportunity in the House of Commons to thank the people of Lanark-Carleton for putting their trust in me as their member of Parliament.

I want to thank the Minister of Finance for convening this special pre-budget debate. This is a worthwhile extension of the cross-country consultations the minister has held during the past 10 days.

The most important consultation with the people of Canada took place late last year when each of us during an intensive 47-day election campaign heard first hand from Canadians how they felt about their country and their governments.

The economy of my riding which is just west of Ottawa includes small businesses, farms, manufacturers and the centre of Canada's high technology industry. The people of Lanark-Carleton have felt the full impact of the recession and the realignment of international trade. I have been impressed by the tenacity and the resilience demonstrated by many small business owners.

I am sure all hon. members listened during the election campaign to countless individual examples of economic hardship, personal bankruptcies, jobs lost or families squeezed by ever-increasing taxes demanded by every level of government.

On October 25 Canadians voted for change. They demanded a change from a system that fostered dependency to one that rewarded initiative; a change from a climate of worry to a climate of hope; and, a change from a system of privilege to a system of fairness.

When the first budget of this government is presented it will be judged by the men and women of Lanark-Carleton on how we live up to our commitment to change. There is no shortage of ideas available to the minister as he prepares the budget. There are only difficult choices. Therefore we need a set of principles to guide us as we make those choices. In particular, we need to reward individual initiatives and those who create jobs for other Canadians. We must be fair. We must agree that taxes are too high. People have said "enough".

In the short time I have today I want to mention a few specific items. Whether we like it or not each federal budget influences the behaviour of Canadians. There will always be trade-offs but the issues of fairness as perceived by taxpayers must be addressed. Though we try to make the tax system neutral society is too complex for the tax system to accommodate all of our differences.

Personal taxation has been based on the traditional family unit. We must come to grips with the realities of change in the family unit, whether it be single parents, working couples or stay-at-home dads. Like many Canadians, I am wrestling with how we can make the system fairer by allowing for these differences.

Several residents of Lanark-Carleton have suggested we look at the income of the family unit as a whole. There is a sense that families which decide to have one parent remain at home while raising children are penalized by the tax system. One suggestion which I personally support would allow income splitting between spouses while they have dependent children.

I have also heard from many people who are very concerned that the budget may target RRSP contributions. It is easy to portray this tax expenditure as a benefit for the rich. However for many self-employed people and others who do not have the security of a company or government pension plan RRSPs represent their best opportunity to save for their retirement.

The government should also continue to encourage people to take personal responsibility for their future.

During the election campaign all parties spoke of the importance of small business to our economy. In fact we are looking to small business to be the primary engine for economic growth and job creation in Canada.

If it is the role of government to create an environment to stimulate private enterprise what can we do to show entrepreneurs that we mean business? We must allow them to operate free from the growing burden of taxation, required contributions and paperwork they now face. Our priority should be to make it easier for them to hire new employees. Government must change its attitude and realize that the vast majority of business people are honest, law-abiding citizens who do not need bureaucrats and government auditors looking over their shoulders.

Let us address the question of financing for small business through the innovative use of the tax system. Just as we should encourage those who create jobs we should use the tax system aggressively to reward individuals who invest in Canadian start-up companies.

For example, the real problem we face as we move further into the information age is how to finance small software companies with few if any capital assets. Their main asset is brain power. Though a high percentage of new high-tech companies fail, those which succeed more than compensate for that risk. This has been proven many times in my riding. The well-known success stories inevitably spin off new companies. This may be an opportunity to put the capital gains tax exemption to good use by rewarding risk takers. Low risk investments do not need support from other taxpayers.

Business associations have been saying for years that government handouts to large businesses should end. Let us take those groups at their word and channel money from existing grant programs toward funding tax incentives for job creation. Grants would remain available to small businesses as their more stringent cash-flow requirements make it difficult for them to take advantage of tax incentives.

One government-funded program that has received far too little credit comes under the community futures program of the Department of Human Resources Development. Local business development centres provide loans as well as technical advice to new or existing companies.

Over the past six years the Business Development Centre in Lanark-Carleton has been responsible for the creation of several hundred jobs at little cost to the taxpayer. As we look for expenditures to cut I hope ministers will recognize the importance of maintaining this community based program.

The first budget of this new government is only one step along the road toward renewed prosperity and job creation. The coming months will see the development of complementary programs that were outlined in the Liberal election platform "Creating Opportunity".

As a responsible and caring government we must never lose sight of Canadians who are the casualties of global economic forces. As Canadians we are in this together. We do need to ensure that scarce financial resources are directed where they will be most effective.

I wish the Minister of Finance well as he and his colleagues continue to work on dismantling interprovincial trade barriers and the sooner the better.

I also believe we should keep in mind that real job creation comes from the creation of wealth, not its redistribution. The minister is faced with making exceedingly difficult choices in the certain knowledge that he will not please everyone.

The people of Lanark-Carleton will be looking for a budget that rewards initiative, inspires hope and restores a sense of fairness in the way that government operates.