Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Saskatoon—Dundurn (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Department Of Agriculture Act September 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could remind the hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminster that the minister, wherever he is on the ice, has such a slapshot that he can score from any position.

On his criticism of the minister with respect to the durum quotas I wish to remind the hon. member that the cap that has been agreed to is higher than the average of shipments to the United States over the last number of years.

My question for this member is one with respect to the Canadian Wheat Board and the criticism of the minister again as to the shipping of grain into the United States. My question is very simple. Does the member and his party support the Canadian Wheat Board and the maintenance of the Canadian Wheat Board?

Criminal Code September 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, there has been reference made to the question of mandatory sentences when the firearms are used in the commission of an offence.

A close review of the provisions of the Criminal Code will show that that is already the case. There is a mandatory jail sentence for the use of a firearm in the commission of an offence. The minimum sentence is one year. The problem that arises is not one of legislation. It is enforcement of the code by the provincial attorneys general.

Further, there was reference made to zero tolerance. Zero tolerance of what? Police officers now lay charges when a person commits an offence. I would like to know from the hon. member what he means by zero tolerance in charging.

Criminal Code September 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the contributions of the aboriginal community in the area of sentencing and sentencing circles to the rest of society can be very important. We should be looking to many of the provisions that the aboriginal community has, one of them being sentencing circles.

That method of sentencing may be far more beneficial than many of the provisions that we presently incorporate into our criminal justice system. My answer is yes.

Criminal Code September 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today I address this bill before us on sentencing reform. These proposals fulfil a commitment made in the red book by the Liberal Party.

The hon. members opposite should take note that we are keeping our promise. The main goals of this bill are to ensure the rehabilitation of offenders to become law-abiding citizens, to separate offenders from society when necessary and to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders by making restitution and acknowledging harm done.

To achieve these principles the bill sets out a number of fundamental principles to guide the courts. These principles are, first, to reflect the seriousness of the offence and the responsibility of the offender. Second, the courts must consider the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Third, similar acts should receive similar sentences. Fourth, the principle of sentencing totality is upheld. Fifth, the offender should not be imprisoned if other options are appropriate. Sixth, all reasonable alternatives should be considered. I mention this especially because of the aboriginal offenders.

There are a few features of this legislation on which I would like to focus. The use of alternatives for aboriginal offenders is a very important principle of this bill. In my province of Saskatchewan the aboriginal population is the fastest growing segment of society today. It also represents a disproportionate percentage of offenders incarcerated.

The courts in Saskatchewan have started to experiment with sentencing circles. A sentencing circle brings together elders of the community and also includes members of the non-native community and professionals such as lawyers and police officers.

The emphasis is not on retribution but rather on returning the community to its sense of harmony as defined by the aboriginal population.

Recently in Saskatoon an accused, a Saskatoon Metis, was sentenced in this manner. The sentencing circle was convened after this individual had robbed a gasoline station in my city. The sentencing circle met and decided that this individual must perform certain punishments to return its community harmony. He was instructed to do voluntary work for the gas station he had robbed, a certain number of hours of work or days, to volunteer at the Metis society and to admit his guilt to the community. Over and above this he was also sentenced to a penitentiary term of imprisonment.

The gas station owner was hesitant at first but has publicly said that he believes that justice has been served by the sentencing circle. This is an important part of criminal justice, the belief by members of the public at large that justice has been served, has been fulfilled.

We must resist the urge to incarcerate everyone who commits a crime. It costs more money to keep someone in jail for a year than it does to send a student to school.

Another important function of the bill is to provide for victims' impact statements at early parole hearings held under section 745 of the Criminal Code.

Section 745 is the section that allows for review of the mandatory life sentence without parole for 25 years to determine whether the person should be paroled after 15 years.

I have strong feelings on this issue. Constable Brian King, a constable in the RCMP, was killed in Saskatoon. Constable King was a personal friend of mine. He was ruthlessly killed in the line of duty in 1978. Last year the individual convicted of killing him made an application for early parole under section 745.

Imagine for a moment the frustration and sense of helplessness of his family as they were forced to sit in a courtroom in Saskatoon and hear witness after witness give evidence but were not allowed to say a word themselves to the court. They were not allowed to bring the victim's voice to confront the person who had done the wrong.

Death, thanks to the current provisions, has not only silenced Brian King, but it has also silenced the memories of his family in the courtrooms of the land. Is this justice?

Finally, I would like to say a few words in support of the restitution provisions of the bill. When a criminal is sent to jail, does the store owner he robbed feel better? Maybe he does. Does the sentence imposed upon the criminal help the store owner make ends meet at the end of the month? Restitution provides the opportunity to make criminals pay for their crimes.

The legislation makes allowances for restitution for people who unwittingly buy stolen property. Currently if one buys stolen property and it is confiscated by the police, one loses what one has paid for it. Now restitution can be ordered by the courts and innocent victims of crime will be compensated.

This bill shows that the Liberal government is committed to showing criminals that crime does not pay.

Food Distribution In Canada's North June 16th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I rise to address the House on the motion put forward by the hon. member for Saint-Jean.

As my hon. colleague has explained, the northern air stage program is critical to the good health of many thousands of people living in remote northern communities. It is also a federal initiative that is not well known to many Canadians or to their representatives in this House. I would like to take this opportunity to provide some background on the program so that hon. members can fully appreciate its importance.

The principal objective of the northern air stage program is to achieve food security in isolated northern communities. Food security is defined as a condition in which all people at all times have access to safe, nutritiously adequate and personally acceptable foods in a manner which maintains human dignity. Food security poses special challenges in northern Canada, where southern food is very expensive and retail competition is extremely limited.

There are also increasing pressures on traditional food sources as well as concern about contaminants in the food chain. Hunting itself is expensive, especially for people who are already in low-paying jobs or are receiving social assistance.

Under the northern air stage program the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development makes payments to Canada Post to subsidize the cost of providing air parcel service to communities that are not accessible by year round surface transportation. This payment covers between 50 and 60 per cent of the cost of sending these parcels, most of which are food items. This is why the program is more commonly referred to as the northern food mail program.

This program has become a vital element of the northern food distribution system. It ensures that supplies of nutritious, perishable food are delivered to about 45 Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories, northern Quebec and Labrador. It also serves about 60 isolated First Nation communities in the James Bay region of Quebec, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories, and about 20 mainly non-aboriginal communities in Labrador and the north shore region of Quebec. In total, some 86,000 Canadians depend on the program.

In 1989 the previous government announced that the food mail program would be phased out after more than two decades of existence. As might be expected, this announcement was met with a great deal of opposition both in the north and in the House, and the government decided instead to undertake a major review of the program.

As a result of this review steps have been taken to make the program more equitable in terms of the subsidization rates paid

for parcel delivery to communities in the Northwest Territories compared to the provinces.

The postage rates for shipments to the territories traditionally had been about three times as high as in the provinces. Important changes have been made also in how funding is applied. The lowest postage rates are provided now for nutritious, perishable food. Food of little nutritional value has been disqualified from funding.

As well, shipments of alcohol and tobacco products are not subsidized under this program. Merchants or individuals must use commercial air cargo service, winter roads, or seasonal marine service for the resupply of these items.

As a result of these changes Canada Post now charges 80 cents per kilogram plus 75 cents per parcel for nutritious, perishable food deliveries to all remote northern communities.

Non-perishable food and non-food items can be mailed to isolated communities in the northern parts of the provinces for $1 per kilogram plus 75 cents per parcel. In the territories the rate for these items has been maintained at $2.15 per kilogram plus 75 cents per parcel.

These changes have helped to reduce the prices of perishable food in the Northwest Territories. In some communities there has been a fairly significant reduction in the total cost of the basic northern food basket for a family of four.

In Pond Inlet, for example, the cost of this basket decreased by more than $30 between 1991 and 1993. Unfortunately there are many communities in which increases in the cost of non-perishable food have offset the reductions in the cost of perishables.

The lack of retail competition in many communities also continues to affect food prices. In Broughton Island where the local co-operative closed, leaving only one store in the community, the cost of the northern food basket actually increased by $40 between 1992 and 1993 despite the reduction in postal rates for perishables.

From a nutritional perspective, consumption of perishable food in Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories has increased significantly since the postage rates began to decline in October 1991.

In 1991-92 Canada Post shipped 758 tonnes of perishable food to the 10 communities in the Baffin region which traditionally have been on the food mail system. The following year when postage rates were further reduced these shipments increased by more than 35 per cent to 1,040 tonnes.

Despite this increased consumption, there is still a great deal of room for improvement. A government survey of isolated aboriginal communities taken in 1991 and 1993 shows that the per capita consumption of store-bought perishable food continues to be much lower in the north than in southern Canada.

As a result, the average intake of vitamin A and calcium is far below recommended levels and the average consumption of sugar in all communities is extremely high. This is obviously undermining the health of northern residents.

It is also evident that high food costs continue to be the major impediment to improved diets in the north. In the same survey I mentioned a moment ago, between 40 and 50 per cent of women reported that they were extremely concerned about not having enough money for food. In most communities, this was a greater concern than alcohol and drug abuse and family violence. The situation is obviously extremely difficult, but without the food mail program or some alternative, it could be much worse.

It is clear that some form of subsidization must continue for shipments of nutritious, perishable food items to isolated northern communities. The residents of these communities already have many problems to deal with: poverty, overcrowding, family violence, alcohol and substance abuse, cultural disruption, gambling and so on. Hunger and poor health brought on by an inadequate food supply should not be added to the list.

I want to reiterate that the government has already taken the action proposed by the hon. member for Saint-Jean. An interdepartmental committee is now developing the terms of reference for a fundamental review of the food mail program for the next year.

I would urge my hon. colleagues to support this important initiative. The food mail program costs each Canadian taxpayer an average of about one cent per week. This is a very small price to pay, considering the enormous impact the program has on the health and well-being of 86,000 Canadians.

Young Offenders Act June 16th, 1994

Madam Speaker, mention has been made of the negative effect of increasing the sentencing, that this will result in fewer individuals being transferred to adult court.

I remind the member that the onus is reversed. A person such as that is automatically in adult court and must be transferred down to youth court or the young offenders court in the case of serious offences such as murder.

As well there was mention made of the Aylmer incident yesterday but no mention whatsoever was made about the parents. What about those guns? How did they get into the hands? Were they in the hands of law abiding individuals? Were they in the hands of neighbours? How did they get into the hands of the children? Perhaps we should stop blaming the 10-year old and start blaming the adults who allow these guns to get into the hands of young people.

There is a lot of rhetoric about rehabilitation and productivity to society but no substance. Therefore, my question to the hon. member is what would he do? How would he change it? What specific items would he put into the act to deal with rehabilitation and to make this young person productive to society?

Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Internship Program June 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today I wish to thank the Foundation of Ukrainian Studies, the sponsor of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Internship Program.

Because of the hard work and financial support of this foundation, seven young students from Ukraine are now in Ottawa participating in the program. This is the third year of the program. If the demand for these industrious and personable interns is any indication, this program will continue for many years.

I have the privilege to share the time of Alex Lysenko, one of the interns. Alex will be travelling to my constituency in Saskatoon where I am sure everyone will mutually benefit from this exchange.

I am of Ukrainian heritage and many of my constituents are proud descendants of the hard working and stalwart pioneers from Ukraine.

This program is one that will ensure a close working relationship with the new Ukraine as it evolves into a strong and viable entity in the global community.

Petitions June 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions in the same form requesting that section 745 of the Criminal Code which allows a review of parole eligibility on first degree murder from 25 years to 15 years be repealed.

The signatories are from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario.

Supply June 2nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, we have reference to the red book again. I am very pleased that the members of the Reform Party are making such good use of the red book since I trust that it will go down in history as one of the finest productions that made in the political history of this country. It is nice to hear that they continue to refer to it. I am pleased they have referred to it.

When we make reference to the red book we see the new direction the hon. minister in charge of that department wants to take western diversification. The direction is not one of giving away money to businesses but one of helping businesses identify export markets, helping businesses arrange the financing, not giving them financing, and helping businesses compete on the international market.

In my province in western Canada we see industries are expanding and increasing their exports into countries like the United States in the areas of farm machinery in particular and of meat products. These are being expanded and we cannot ignore such businesses.

This will continue because our government intends to help business increase exports, not compete against each other unfairly in our country but compete on the international market.

Supply June 2nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

I would like to start by pointing out the blatant contradiction in the position of the Official Opposition. On the one hand the Bloc argues that federal intervention is ineffective for Quebec's economic development. On the other hand it criticizes the federal government for cutting back on the budgets of the regional agencies. It cannot continue to have it both ways. Liberals believe that federal programs from unemployment insurance, to health care, to community development, to education, to regional development can and do assist each and every region in Canada to grow and prosper.

From the perspective of western Canada it can be said that the concept of a regional economic development agency based to promote western interests is crucial in terms of diversifying the

economic base of western Canada in creating jobs, increasing our international trade and in obtaining a greater share of federal contracts.

Many people in western Canada have come to identify western diversification as the voice of the west in Ottawa, a department which has done a great deal to ensure that western Canada's interests are always taken into account in the national decision making process.

Western diversification assists western businesses to get equal access to major government contracts not by interfering in the process but by ensuring that there is fairness and equity involved in the awards, that the contracts go to the businesses with the best technology and the best people capable of providing a quality product.

I am sure members will all agree many of those high quality companies and people are based in the west, making a major contribution to the economic strength, not just of western Canada, but of the nation as a whole.

The western share of industrial and regional benefits from major federal procurement contracts has risen from just over 7 per cent in 1988 to just about 35 per cent today, representing some $1.7 billion.

I would also like to commend the Minister of Western Economic Diversification for the work he has done in bringing the western provinces together to the table to look at pan western initiatives which will prove of enormous benefit to the economy of the region and the nation as well. He has taken the lead in saying to the provinces that we should work together in the spirit of co-operation because the government recognizes that co-operation at all levels of government is essential to achieving and maintaining a strong economy not subject to the ebb and flow of international commodity prices, but one which is developed from the strength of the region's people, its skills, and its natural resources.

This kind of co-operation between governments does not create overlap but rather enables all levels to maximize the return on their investment of taxpayers' dollars.

As the member for Saskatoon-Dundurn I know first hand of the importance of diversifying the economic base of Saskatchewan. Biotechnology is now a flourishing industry in Saskatoon thanks in part to the assistance given by western diversification, the NRC and other federal programs that appreciate that Saskatoon has the necessary human skills as anywhere else in Canada. We are building a niche in agricultural biotechnology that is unsurpassed but it is only possible because of the partnerships that are being facilitated by the federal government.

Western diversification is also working closely with business, labour, educational and other institutions for the betterment of the economic well-being of western Canada and the nation as a whole. If western Canada is strong all of Canada benefits and the same holds true for Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic.

Repayable assistance for small and medium sized businesses by western diversification has helped more than 4,000 projects get off the ground and has created or maintained over 40,000 jobs.

I know that my colleagues from the Reform Party would rather wipe out this kind of assistance but as my government colleagues have already pointed out with many compelling examples from across the country, by helping some of those innovative entrepreneurs get their foot through the door opportunities that otherwise would be lost are instead being created.

Although working with business in this regard is still a major role I believe the department's advocacy role and its increasingly close ties with the provinces and municipalities are both key to the future strength of western Canada.

Our infrastructure program is a compelling example of the importance of such partnerships. Strategic initiatives such as information networks which ensure economic and business information are shared across the west. Other initiatives such as an agri-food initiative which will increase the export of value added food products and benefit farmers and food producers across western Canada and the rest of the nation can only be regarded as positive and proof indeed that western diversification is not only working as a concept but is making a very real, very positive contribution to the nation's economic strength.

The motion calls on the House to condemn ineffective regional development interventions. This Liberal government is working actively to improve and strengthen regional development initiatives across Canada. Indeed we were elected on our policies which include the following commitment in our red book:

We see strong regional economies as the building blocks of Canada. One of the most important ways of making this happen is to develop forums for economic co-operation, joint action and integrated development at the regional level.

This is the approach that we are embracing and promoting. I do not support the opposition motion, as I believe that our federal interventions in regional development are essential to strengthening the social and economic fabric of Canada today and in the future.