House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was energy.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Timiskaming—Cochrane (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Corrections And Conditional Release Act June 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say first of all that although I support the objectives of Bill C-240, I strongly object to its approach, since it has a number of deficiencies and is a contradiction of the terms of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The present government is committed to making public safety one of its priorities, and an important part of this commitment consists in taking steps to respond to the concerns raised by high risk violent offenders.

The bill would allow post-sentence detention of such criminals, based on current provisions in the Criminal Code for dangerous offenders serving the last year of their sentence.

Some of you may recall that the provisions of Bill C-240 on post-sentence detention were among the proposals tabled by the previous government in this House in May 1993. The proposals were given thorough consideration by a wide range of groups and individuals and were carefully examined by a federal-provincial-territorial task force, created specifically to find ways

to improve the protection of the public against high-risk violent offenders.

Consultations were conducted in August and September 1993 and ministry officials met with more than 200 groups in 44 separate consultative sessions. Included in those sessions were representatives of the judiciary, defence counsel, crown prosecutors, provincial and territorial corrections and justice officials, police, victims, voluntary agencies, municipal agencies, women's groups, aboriginal groups, inmate committees, mental health professionals and academics.

While there was a general consensus on the need to do something about a small group of dangerous offenders, there was no agreement that the post-sentence proposal would right some things. There was significant support for an examination of the current dangerous offender provisions, strengthening their applicability and ensuring appropriate use of these provisions at the time of sentencing.

The vast majority of those consulted, including members of the task force on high risk violent offenders, had serious concerns about the charter implications and potential ineffectiveness of the post-sentence detention proposals.

The main concern with these proposals, Mr. Speaker, can be summarized. The proposals permit what amounts to a re-sentencing of someone who has already served his or her sentence, contrary to section 11(8) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That section states:

If finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again, and if finally found guilty and punished for the offence not to be tried or punished for it again.

There is concern that a prediction of future dangerousness would result in a violation of a person's charter rights.

There remains doubt that the proposed scheme would capture the target group of federal offenders who are identified as posing a significant risk upon release.

The requirement for new evidence of dangerousness is thought likely to have a negative impact on treatment participation. Since offenders' disclosures to treatment professionals could be used to substantiate a dangerous offender application under the post-detention sentence scheme, offenders may be reluctant to participate in treatment programs.

The expense of such proceedings is of concern to the provinces, particularly because of the requirement to link the application to the original offence, which may have occurred many years ago.

As you can see, Mr. Speaker, the concept of post-sentence detention has raised numerous concerns. The government recognizes that controlling high risk violent offenders is a complex problem. This requires us to look not for a single solution that will address all cases but to take a broader view of all aspects of the criminal justice process and the links between the criminal justice and mental health systems.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, the federal government and the provinces share responsibility for Canada's criminal justice system, while mental health comes under provincial jurisdiction. Since the problems caused by high-risk violent offenders are a shared responsibility, it was decided to establish the federal-provincial-territorial task force on high-risk violent offenders, which I mentioned earlier.

The task force is looking into a range of legal solutions and policies for treating, managing and supervising high-risk violent offenders. We admit there is no single solution to the complex and difficult problem of violent repeat offenders and that there must be co-operation between the federal government and the provinces, especially between our criminal justice and mental health systems. That is why the task force has looked into a number of measures that would protect the public more adequately against repeat offenders who commit acts of violence and sexual assault.

I agree with the task force that even if the proposed legislation were found to be constitutional, something I do not expect because of the problems raised by dual punishment and other measures in terms of the charter, these proposals create a problem that is even worse: they would apply to a relatively limited number of the repeat offenders in question. In order to treat high risk violent offenders as effectively as possible, we must reinforce our present system for treating dangerous offenders.

It is a fact that the provinces are increasingly using the provisions of the Criminal Code concerning dangerous offenders, hence the increase in indeterminate sentencing. The provisions regarding dangerous offenders allow a judge to sentence, for an indeterminate period, an offender believed to be likely to commit other violent offences. At a March meeting of federal-provincial justice ministers, it was agreed to continue to make every effort so that such requests be presented whenever appropriate.

Moreover, the provinces are in the process of establishing a system to identify high risk violent offenders and monitor them. This information will be made available to crown prosecutors, even if offenders move to another province; this will ensure that repeat offenders do not fall through the cracks and that they will be prosecuted as dangerous offenders.

We believe that, instead of detaining offenders at the end of their sentence, as proposed in this bill, when an offender has finished serving a sentence of determinate imprisonment and is believed to be still dangerous when released, he might be committed under provincial mental health legislation. Even if the situation varies widely between provinces, they all permit mandatory confinement of persons considered a threat to themselves or others, because of mental illness.

The mental health of prisoners who are detained until the end of their sentence because the National Parole Board believes that they are too dangerous to be released, is carefully assessed to determine whether they should be committed to a psychiatric institution. If they meet the criteria, they are transferred to a provincial psychiatric hospital.


The federal-provincial task force on high risk violent offenders is looking to see if changes to provincial mental health legislation could be recommended to improve the system's ability to commit and hold mentally disordered dangerous people.

In addition it is studying the extent to which other factors such as the lack of appropriate secure facilities play a role in preventing mentally disordered dangerous people from being civilly committed. I would like to mention another initiative in this area. A federal-provincial joint action committee on corrections and mental health is reviewing operational issues related to the management of mentally disordered and sex offenders.

The mandate of the action committee is to examine alternative methods to manage, treat, and supervise offenders with a disorder be it mental, sexual or behavioural. The aim is to find solutions that bridge the correctional and mental health fields and aid in the co-ordination of effort.

In conclusion, the post sentence detention provision of Bill C-240 does not present a realistic option for our federal structure. Detaining offenders in penitentiaries after they have served their court imposed sentences raises serious charter concerns. Solutions to this problem lie with the link between the criminal justice and mental health systems.

In Canada, mental health legislation is the constitutional responsibility of the provinces and therefore the federal government cannot act alone in this area. That is why the government is committed to working closely with the provinces to find real solutions. In order to bring about meaningful, effective reform in protecting the public from the threat of high risk violent offenders, the federal and provincial governments are working together to advance solutions that tackle the problem in a comprehensive fashion.

This government is committed to the work currently under way which brings the federal and provincial governments and the criminal justice and mental health systems together to ensure the best protection for all Canadians.

Financial Institutions June 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment my colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois.

In spite of our differences of opinion on federalism, I think that the Bloc members are great believers in the notion of democracy and the privileges that flow from it.

That is why I ask them today to collectively denounce the tactics used by the Parti Quebecois Leader Jacques Parizeau, who bullies and utters shameful threats against financial institu-

tions that dare to speak out on the adverse economic costs of separation.

What does Mr. Parizeau fear? Why resort to blackmail to suppress the legitimate, democratic right to speak that these financial institutions have? Perhaps Mr. Parizeau is afraid that the people of Quebec will learn the truth and take an informed and democratic decision on the issue of separation.

Crtc June 9th, 1994

My question is directed to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

I will take advantage of this lull in the opposition's offensive. Has the minister received formal objections from francophone groups outside Quebec regarding the CBC's news network, and what does the minister intend to do to ensure that francophones in Canada receive the services to which they are entitled?

Official Languages May 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to condemn the assumptions of the members of the Reform Party that bilingualism is not working in Canada and costs too much.

By challenging the Official Languages Act, the Reform Party is doing as much to destroy this country as the Bloc québécois. Their intolerance towards French-speaking Canadians merely fires the zeal of the separatists.

As a Franco-Ontarian member of Parliament, I think the comments made by the Reform Party are an insult to Francophones in this country. French Canadians outside Quebec play a vital role in the economic and social development of our country.

I am very proud to be a bilingual Canadian, and I intend to stand up for the principles of the Official Languages Act.

Mining Industry May 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, May 14 to 20 is mining week in Ontario. The mining industry has been and continues to be the cornerstone of our economy, representing 16.2 per cent of total exports.

I wholeheartedly support the "Keep Mining in Canada" campaign and the Save Our North organization which have been actively working to keep mining alive and well in this country.

As the member of Parliament for Timiskaming-French River, as a northern Ontario MP and as a member of the natural resources committee, I have been working and will continue to work to raise the profile of our Canadian mining industry and to push for mining incentives for exploration and development in Canada, especially in northern Ontario.

On behalf of all members of this House, I wish to extend my best wishes to the mining industry, to the over 100 mining communities across Canada, and to all Canadian miners and their families for a very successful mining week.

New Liskeard College Of Agricultural Technology April 25th, 1994

The New Liskeard College of Agricultural Technology located in my riding of Timiskaming-French River is a state of the art agricultural learning institute. Unfortunately the Ontario government is bent on closing the college on May 1, 1994.

Over the past few months I have been working with the Coalition for NLCAT and CIDA to secure a block of students from eastern Europe to come and study at the college.

The idea is simple but the benefits are many: Canada would make better use of our foreign aid. The Canadian economy would benefit through all the spinoffs. It would enable foreign students to return to their homeland with the ability to feed their own people.

I want to thank the Minister of Human Resources Development for approving funding for a study into the feasibility of my idea. I call upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs to push forth this project. We have a chance to show the world what Canadians can do. It would be a shame to let this opportunity pass us by.

Gun Control April 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Timiskaming-French River is a rural, northern Ontario riding, and our way of life differs greatly from that of urban centres. Solutions that work in Toronto will not necessarily work in the north. The majority of gun owners in my riding are law abiding and safe users of firearms for hunting and sport. It is part of our way of life.

In the interests of public security it is important to maintain a certain level of gun control in Canada. However, since 70 per cent of all criminal acts involving guns are committed with smuggled, illegal firearms, we need to have and enforce stricter laws and penalties for criminal users of firearms. We do not need more complicated regulations for law-abiding citizens.

I will forcefully oppose any new legislation that will impose further controls on law-abiding firearm owners.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup certainly did not listen to my speech this morning. He claims that it is only in Quebec that one can get an education in French. In fact, he is asking a question to Acadians and francophones outside Quebec. Earlier, he was telling us: "Ask them if one can get an education in French outside Quebec".

Madam Speaker, I think that I am living proof of that. I completed all my studies in Ontario and in French. Not only did the Franco-Ontarians have a good education system, but they also served a good part of Northwest Quebec, where people

would come to Sudbury because there was no learning institution in Northwest Quebec.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, on one side we have the Reform Party claiming that we did not cut deep enough, while on the other side, we have the Bloc Quebecois that says we were too ruthless. They want us to reduce the deficit, but they do not want us to make any cuts or increase taxes, as we did on corporations and wealthier Canadians.

A well-known Quebec comedian and philosopher by the name of Yvon Deschamps summed it up quite well when he said that what these people want is an independent Quebec within a united Canada.

I must say that one cannot have it both ways. One cannot have one's cake and eat it too.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the House this morning on this important matter of my government's first budget.

For the past few weeks, I have sat in the House, listening to the many statements, questions and speeches made by my colleagues on both sides of the House. I was struck by one fact. No matter how different our approaches and methods and no matter which region of Canada we originate from, we all share something in common: a strong sense of duty to our constituents.

For me my riding will always come first. I want to thank the people of Timiskaming-French River for putting their faith in me. I want to tell each and every one of them how proud and honoured I feel to be their voice here in Ottawa.

Many of my colleagues on both sides of the House have addressed specific issues in relation to the budget speech today. I would like to restrict my comments to two areas which I feel have more direct consequences to my riding: mining and agriculture.

My riding of Timiskaming-French River is largely a rural riding. It is vast in size and stretches from Matheson and Kirkland Lake in the north to the French River of Alban and Noelville in the south. It is a riding that has been developed by the forestry, mining and agricultural sectors. Although tourism offers great potential it remains relatively undeveloped.

Unfortunately as a result of the poor mining policy of the previous government and the cancellation of mining incentives by the Conservatives in 1987, for the first time in its history Cobalt has no operating mine. The Adams mine in Kirkland Lake and the Sherman mines in Temagami, two iron ore pellet producing mines, closed in 1990. Dofasco through very questionable circumstances now buys its iron ore pellets in the former Prime Minister's riding.

Permit me to state a few facts and statistics on the mining industry in Canada. The first big myth is that mining is only important to a few remote areas of the country. This could not be further from the truth. The mining industry is the cornerstone of our economy, accounting for approximately 16 per cent of total exports, 4.6 per cent of gross domestic product and 100,000 high paying, skilled jobs. More jobs are created in urban centres from services and supply to the mining industry than in the actual mining communities.

Mining is a mainstay of employment and industrial activity in more than 150 communities across the country with a total population of about one million people. Urban areas also benefit as they are home to international mining head offices, support industries including banks, stock markets, insurance companies, suppliers, legal services and consultants.

This is why I am so pleased with our initiative to establish a reclamation fund mechanism for the mining sector. I intend to continue my consultation with the Minister of Finance and cabinet to ensure that other initiatives, as set out in our mining policy, such as a single window environmental process and an incentive program for exploration, be implemented as soon as possible.

The second big myth is that mining is environmentally damaging and irresponsible. Well-intentioned environmentalists have virtually declared war on our resource based industries like mining, forestry and trapping. Yet the total mined acreage in the country is smaller than metropolitan Toronto.

Although I recognize that forestry and mining practices of the past cannot be repeated, we must guard against extremes which would result in the death of our resource based communities and thus do great harm to the Canadian economy as a whole. We must do more to educate the general public, especially from the urban areas, on the importance of mining in the Canadian economy.

In the last five or six years our ore bodies inventories in this country have been reduced to dangerously low levels. The lack of consistency and the duplication in environmental processes, the lack of incentives and a reclamation fund mechanism, land accessibility because of native land claims and parks are but a few of the problems facing the mining industry.

The Liberal Party in the last election was the only party which developed a comprehensive mining policy. These policies received tremendous support from the mayors and reeves of the mining communities across the country, most of which are single industry towns. These policies were also endorsed by all major mining associations in Canada. I praise the finance minister for acting expeditiously to implement some of those policies.

Agriculture remains an economic sector which is essential for the security, the prosperity and the sovereignty of our nation. On December 15, Canada signed the GATT Agreement in Geneva. I want to congratulate the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister for International Trade as well as the 60 members of the Liberal caucus who worked hard to defend the interests of the Canadian farmers in Geneva.

Together we have succeeded, under those very difficult circumstances and in spite of though time constraints, in maintaining our marketing system and an effective control over import quotas through an appropriate pricing method. Those measures will allow our family farms to survive in the short and the long run.

We still have a very thorny problem to settle with the Americans, the cream and yoghurt issue. I am confident that the Minister of Agriculture will be quite capable of negotiating with them a bilateral agreement which will satisfy our Canadian dairy producers.

However, we will have to be very careful not to give in to the constant pressures of the Americans who are asking us to lower those import tariffs. We will have to maintain the viability of our family farms at any rate.

A country that cannot feed its own people is not a sovereign nation. Therefore, I am very proud that the Minister of Finance maintained the major safety nets for farmers, including the Gross Revenue Insurance Plan and the Net Income Stabilization Account.

I would like to make a few comments to my colleagues from the Official Opposition, in particular to their leader. First, I wish to say a few words about my background. My ancestors arrived in the beautiful city of Quebec around 1658. I am very proud to be a descendant of one of the greatest Canadians, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. My family moved to Ontario around 1889 to work in the logging industry and clear rocky lands. I am extremely proud that we were able to preserve not only our language but also our French culture, despite all the challenges and fights we had to face in Ontario.

Last year, my family was designated the Francophone Family of the Year by the ACFO Nipissing.

My riding is made up of about 30 per cent of francophones, as well as Canadians of Ukrainian, Polish, Italian and other origins, and 45 per cent of anglophones who came to work on the land, sometimes a very difficult land to develop. I intend to defend the rights of all these minorities equally.

I am doubly proud to be the first francophone elected in the Timiskaming-French River riding, with the biggest majority ever seen there, since the riding includes six municipalities which declared themselves unilingual anglophone, even before Sault Ste. Marie went that way.

That is why I listened to the opposition leader's speech with great concern and apprehension. I had the impression that, during the election campaign, he promised Quebecers that he would concentrate first and foremost on job creation and economic renewal. I think it is the reason why many Quebecers voted for his party. However, nearly all his speeches have been very negative and mostly devoted to his separatist agenda. Quebec constituents are not any different from those in Timiskaming-French River. They want to be able to earn a decent living and put food on their table.

Consequently, I would like to warn the opposition members that if they do not set aside their separatist option and start working with this government to put Canada back to work, as a party, they will end up paying a huge political price.

Moreover, for the Leader of the Opposition to consistently refer to the rest of Canada as English Canada is an insult to the millions of francophones outside Quebec, as well as the millions of Canadians of other origins.

I had the opportunity and the pleasure to visit beautiful Quebec City and other areas in Quebec where I felt at home. They are as much part of my heritage as of any Quebecer's. Thus, I would like to invite my colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois, especially those who come from Northwest Quebec, to work with us to implement our mining, forest and farm policies, extend the Ottawa seaway, and jointly develop our tourist industry, so that we can stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Let us look for what unites us rather than what divides us and together, let us put our country back on its feet.