Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was grain.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Brandon—Souris (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 18% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Food Safety March 25th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, statements have been made recently by the U.K. government concerning a possible link between the consumption of BSE infected beef and serious diseases in humans.

Could the minister of agriculture outline the measures he took to protect the safety of Canadian beef, consumers and producers?

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act March 25th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to speak in support of this motion being referred to the Standing Committee on Transport.

As my colleague opposite mentioned, not necessarily today but also in committee, air navigation technology is changing rapidly. I have just returned from New Zealand and I met some members of Canadian companies on that tour that are involved in the transition of the New Zealand navigation system. It is attempting to privatize but also to upgrade navigation technology.

My report to the hon. member and to this House would be that things are going very well. We have agreed to stay in touch and hopefully we will get some reports on this side of the Pacific on what and how that is all unfolding.

This is a very important bill, putting into place a crucial element of the government's overall strategy to modernize Canada's navigation and transportation system. It comes at a time when governments around the world are getting out of the business of providing services and concentrating instead on setting policy and enforcing safety. That has to be of paramount concern to all of us in this House.

It also comes at a time when governments are recognizing that they can no longer meet all of the needs of modern air navigation. Many user groups, such as the Air Transport Association of Canada, the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association and the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, have all said that the current government operated air navigation system does not meet the needs of the aviation community and its expanding role.

There is no doubt that the time for a government operated civil air navigation system has passed. Once there was a need for governments to be involved in every aspect of air transportation. The present system had its beginnings in wartime when in 1944 member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, signed the Chicago convention. Article 28 of that convention called on all members to provide airports, radio services,

meteorological services and other air navigation facilities to facilitate international air navigation.

In Canada, the Department of Transport, known today as Transport Canada, assumed responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the principal airports and the non-military air navigation system. For over 50 years the department met the responsibility of developing aviation facilities and, in particular, providing air navigation services to civil aviation.

Starting in the seventies and continuing today, governments in the developed world began to reconsider their involvement in providing services that could be better provided by the private sector. As a consequence, many government began to reduce their involvement in various sectors both as regulators and as owners.

With government downsizing and public sector restraint in full swing both here and in other countries, there is no longer any justification for a government operated air navigation system, just as there is little justification for governments to own railroads or airports. The aviation sector is mature. It no longer needs extensive government involvement to grow and prosper.

Canada has undertaken its review of the role of government in the aviation industry. As a result the federal government has eliminated much of the economic regulation of commercial aviation. It has divested itself of ownership in the airline industry and in the aircraft manufacturing industry and is moving away from operating airports.

The government's review of the air navigation system showed a number of reasons to change: the present system is not flexible enough to respond to changes in demand, and greater efficiency, lower costs and increased accountability are needed.

Safety, once seen as the justification for state control and management of air navigation systems, is now viewed as an integral part of managing the system. This, combined with the increasing fiscal pressures on governments, has led to the conclusion in Canada and around the globe that the system can be run along commercial lines, subject to appropriate government regulation.

Consequently, the government has acted decisively to alter its role in providing air navigation services. The current bill provides the legal means to transfer Canada's civil air navigation system from Transport Canada to Nav Canada, a private non-profit corporation, for $1.5 billion.

Canada, in its leadership role in the aviation industry, is at the forefront of many changes. Many countries, such as New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Austria, Portugal, Germany and Great Britain have already commercialized their air navigation systems. This bold move has been carefully planned and developed to meet Canada's unique needs in aviation requirements. The separation of government will provide the commercial freedom necessary to meet customer needs and increase system efficiency.

The challenge however is to be able to maintain a functional system in the remote parts of Canada that are lacking in some of the resources required to keep a safety component very reliable.

Nav Canada, as a user oriented corporation, will be able to respond efficiently to the needs of the system with effective government regulation and maintain the high, established level of safety. Transport Canada is sharing the experience gained in this project with other countries, departments and agencies. Its experience will serve as a model both nationally and internationally. The commercialization of the air navigation system is a key element of the government's comprehensive strategy to modernize and prepare for the next century.

The commercialization of the air navigation system will provide many important benefits: first, for taxpayers, by making a $1.5 billion contribution to reducing the federal deficit. This was the amount that the previous speaker mentioned. Second, for the industry, by maintaining safety while increasing the system's ability to respond to changing demands and new technologies; third, for users, by providing more efficient and cost effective operations; fourth, for the system's employees, by offering them the opportunity to continue to contribute to a new and challenging work environment; and fifth, for Nav Canada, by setting the stage for it to operate one of the world's best run and safest air navigation systems.

I ask that all members support the motion to refer the bill to the Standing Committee on Transport before second reading. This initiative has already been the subject of extensive consultation across the country, as well as internationally. It is in the interests of all Canadians that we move forward with due speed.

Petitions March 22nd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of the people of my riding of Brandon-Souris.

A number of constituents from Waskada, Deloraine, Goodlands and area pray that Parliament enact legislation providing for a referendum to accept or reject constitutional amendments.

Health March 22nd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the minister of agriculture and the federal department of agriculture for their leadership in protecting Canadians from the mad cow disease. I recall the criticism of the opposition parties in 1994 that thought Ottawa was being far too tough on the ban of importation of cattle from Great Britain. The government stood firm and took the necessary precautions and today Canadians can be thankful for that leadership.

This is a good example of the benefits of having a federal department of agriculture that can withstand local criticism and protect the long term well-being of the cattle industry and the public health of Canadians. It is also an example of good government that restores the faith of Canadians in federal institutions.

Ciau Basketball Champions March 21st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the best university basketball team in the country, the Brandon University Bobcats.

Coach Jerry Hemmings' team out ran, out jumped and out scored its opponents last weekend at the CIAU championships in Halifax. On the way to its fourth national championship in 10 years, Brandon had to get past excellent teams from the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta. The Bobcats rose to this occasion.

Tournament MVP and all Canadian Keith Vassell took his team to new heights as he led them toward the championship. In the final it was Jason Scott, the home grown athlete who elevated his game to shut down Alberta's top scorer.

The constituents of Brandon-Souris are proud of the team's accomplishments. Way to go Bobcats. Congratulations on yet another outstanding season.

Balkans December 4th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I heard reference to the initiatives put forward by the Mulroney government when it sent troops to the Middle East a few years ago. I wonder whether in fact he preferred that approach to the approach being taken by our side whereby we are involving all sides of the House before any action actually occurs.

Supply November 22nd, 1995

I will be equally brief, Madam Speaker.

It would be out of my league to give a long list of things. I will give one example. I am only going back to my high school principal days where we actually had to bring together the victim and the perpetrator, going eyeball to eyeball. It was necessary for that to take place in our community with youth victims.

Supply November 22nd, 1995

Madam Speaker, I will respond in this fashion. The approach of the government has been to take under advisement the recommendations that are forthcoming from various groups.

It is a very important process to get that information to the attention of the government. I would think, as my colleague mentioned in his speech, that it is the most heart rending experience as a member of the House to hear some of the concerns that have been raised by these groups.

Let us not cherry pick and only look at the extreme circumstances. I am not alleging that the member is doing that but there are those who look only at the worst case scenario and use that as the reason for passing extreme kinds of legislation.

We have to look at both sides of the issue and the government is doing that.

Supply November 22nd, 1995

Madam Speaker, I have found the exchange very interesting this afternoon. Like other members, I have been working with young people all my working life. I sense that this is very pertinent in terms of where we are now, where we are going and where we have been.

I had the privilege of attending the conference in Cairo in May of this year on the treatment of prisoners. This brought together 143 countries from around the globe, representing all cultures and all components of society. The feeling I came away with, and which was articulated directly by some European countries, was that they expect to have no prisons in due course. They are working toward that objective in terms of treatment of offenders. They are putting in place other strategies. They sense and we agree that there will be resulting benefits. I am sure the articulation by the justice department and my colleague will also do that.

We have some pilot projects taking place in the country right now. In Manitoba there is a victim services program, which commenced about five years ago. It offers assistance, psychological and in some cases financial. More important, it offers counselling services for people who have been victimized by various parties in society.

I do not subscribe to the lock them up and throw away the key approach, as some members do, in pursuit of increasing public safety. This is more likely to increase public risk when prisoners finish their sentences and return to the community. Evidence from the United States in those states that have instituted very simplistic and punitive based treatment such as California shows there was a rise in crime rate, not a decrease. I suggest to parties that subscribe to those views that maybe there should be a re-examination of the data as well.

My colleague from Durham put forward statistics in terms of the drop in crime rate. I think the information he provided to the House is very accurate. I too have viewed those stats.

The hon. member's concern for victims of crime is admirable, but I must say that I find the phrasing of the motion a bit unclear. He suggests that more needs to be done to protect the rights of the victim. He goes on to imply that one way to achieve this protection is to diminish the rights of the offender. There are several problems with this assertion.

First, we should ask whether there is a necessary trade-off between competing rights. Is justice better served by somehow reducing the rights of an accused person? The motion does not specify where rights are objectionable. The emergence of the victims rights movement in Canada is one of the most important criminal justice trends we have seen in the last 20 years. Yet I doubt that any victims organizations in Canada would advocate eliminating the right of an accused to a fair trial, the right to due process, the protection of habeas corpus or the protection of an accused against self-incrimination. Do I need to remind the House that there are rights guaranteed to all Canadians under sections 7, 10 and 11 of the charter of rights and freedoms?

I will not dwell on the matter of comparing the rights of the accused to the rights of the victim, but I do suggest that the motion misses the mark. I believe a more constructive approach, simply put, is to determine where and how the victim should be involved in the criminal justice process. The concept we should embrace is access to justice for the victim.

At what point in the criminal justice process does the victim deserve to have input? Should the victim have input into the police investigation, to the trial of the accused, at the sentencing stage or later at the parole decision making stage and finally when the offender is released from custody?

If we can provide the victim or the victim's family with the appropriate access to the criminal process in a timely fashion then maybe we can be a little less concerned about who has more rights.

Let us examine the progress that was made over the last two decades both in terms of the general recognition of the needs of victims and specific measures.

Much of the policy and the programs dealing with victims derived from a report by a federal task force on justice for victims of crime in the early 1980s which offered 79 recommendations to both levels of government for improving social, criminal justice and health responses to victims of crime.

In 1985 Canada co-sponsored the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime. This document soon became the basis for a unique Canadian statement of principles. This statement was endorsed by the federal government and the provinces and territories in 1988. It has provided a reference point for provinces to develop their own policy and legislation on victim's rights and most jurisdictions now have victims oriented legislation. It is important to note the provincial perspective since the provinces' responsibility for the administration of justice means that all access to justice issues are under federal control.

Progress continued during the 1980s and in 1988, Parliament passed Bill C-89 which amended the Criminal Code in several relevant areas. For example, the code now provides for protection of the identity of the victims and witnesses of sexual offences and extortion offences. The law also makes it easier for victims of property crimes to prove ownership and the value of stolen goods.

Perhaps most important, the law now provides for victim impact statements. Section 735 permits provinces to determine the form for victim impact statements in their jurisdiction. In effect, this provision creates flexibility by allowing police based victim witness service programs to generate victim impact statements or alternatively crown or court based services as appropriate.

In my view the victim impact statement is a crucial element in sentencing. It is appropriate that the Criminal Code not only provides for such formal statements but allows the court to consider any other evidence concerning any victim of the offence for the purpose of determining sentence.

The motion argues that there has been little recent progress in advancing victims rights. I would conclude the opposite. Bill C-41 passed recently by the House contains an amendment to the Criminal Code stating that the court shall consider the victim impact statement. This mandatory requirement consolidates the role of the victim impact statement in the sentencing process.

While we are on the subject, please note that the victim in this context is broadly defined so that where the victim himself or herself is deceased, any relative of that person or anyone who in law or in fact is responsible for the custody of that person, or for his or her care or support of that person can present the victim impact statement and it will be considered. This is a significant improvement.

There are other measures in Bill C-41 that will benefit victims and keep the focus and the impact of the crime on the victim. The new section 726.2 requires a court when imposing a sentence to state the terms of the sentence and the reasons for it and to enter those terms and reasons in the sentence.

I conclude at this time and welcome any questions.

Disaster Assistance November 9th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, last spring many communities in western Manitoba received a significant amount of damage due to flooding. People are concerned about receiving and recovering the appropriate costs resulting from the damage.

Could the minister responsible for emergency preparedness please explain how the disaster assistance agreement between the federal and provincial governments will help these people?