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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was land.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Reform MP for Prince Albert (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code February 3rd, 1998

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of our police officers. Across the country and for many years they have been calling for the reforms offered by Bill C-211. In fact, the police wrote this bill, the government not being able to develop a concept as simple and as common sense as this one. They had to do the work for them. Why did they do it? To keep Canadians safer. I am proud to do my part to see that police officers are given the authority to arrest parolees caught in violation of release conditions.

Specifically Bill C-211 seeks to amend the Criminal Code to create a hybrid offence of breach of parole or conditions of release. As a result, existing Criminal Code section 495 would allow peace officers to arrest without warrant an offender who is found to be in breach of his or her parole or release conditions. This bill would also grant arresting peace officers the authority to detain an individual charged with such an offence in order to allow the National Parole Board time to consent to or to oppose the continuation of his parole freedom.

As a new parliamentarian and a trusting Canadian citizen I was shocked to discover that this gap in law existed at all. Like most people I know, I would have presumed that a person on parole had such a privilege only as long as he was living within the conditions set at the time of his release. I would have also presumed that breaking those rules immediately removed privilege of parole. But that is not the case.

Chief of police Ian Russell said last month there is no power of arrest for a police officer who finds a person in violation of his parole. Ian Russell is the new police chief for the Ontario community of LaSalle. His comment appeared in the Windsor Star of January 17, 1998. Mr. Russell is a veteran of this war to amend the Criminal Code and has illustrated the problem clearly with the following story:

A convicted wife beater is released from jail but a condition of his parole is he stay at least 1,000 metres from the home of his victim. Nevertheless he goes to her home and stands on the public sidewalk. The frantic victim calls the police.

Officers arrive but the man is not trespassing. His behaviour cannot be called stalking. But he is violating the parole.

Can the police arrest him and remove the apparent threat. Not unless, as Russell explains, the convicted wife beater breaks another law on the spot. Because he is only in violation of a condition of his parole the wife beater could remain there until a police officer went to the parole officer and submitted a report or contacted the parole officer to ascertain whether he would issue a warrant to suspend the parole. Then and only then, armed with the warrant, can the police officer return to try and fine the parolee, arrest him and return him to custody.

The parole officer has no way of assessing an imminent risk and must rely on the peace officer's assessment anyway. The step of contacting a parole officer is pointless and potentially risky. This makes no sense. In the time it takes to contact a parole officer and convince him of the need to arrest the violator, he can leave the scene and repeat the whole business over and over again.

As Russell points out, if the violator has decided he will end up back in jail anyway he may return to do something “really worthwhile”.

What is achieved in this scenario? Nothing except for the protection of the privileges of the former inmate. I point out that a conditional release is a privilege. It must be earned on the inside, monitored on the outside and be capable of being enforced without needless bureaucratic red tape. That is why I stand in support of Bill C-211.

It seems only natural and only right that the safety of law-abiding Canadians should come before the privileges of a convicted criminal who has not even completely repaid his debt to society. I prefer to think of this as closing a loophole and not the reinterpretation of fundamental rights in this country. Bill C-211 is intended to return the balance of rights to law-abiding Canadians. That is those who expect our police officers to protect Canadians and their families from known dangers.

This bill has a three part upside which should make it particularly easy for members from all sides of this House to throw their support behind it.

First, the bill's only purpose is to help police protect society. That makes it non-partisan and nearly controversy free. Why would we as elected members of Parliament not help police do their jobs?

Second, it requires no money. How often can we say that about a piece of helpful legislation?

Finally, it confers no inappropriate powers on police. In fact, it clarifies a power most people would say should already exist. I can only restate that it is unacceptable for police themselves to be handcuffed by the inefficiencies of a pointless warrant process.

I am fully aware of the mine field we walk through known as the charter of rights and freedoms, or should I call it the challenges to the charter, which test the patience of regular Canadians such as me. One of the only criticisms of this bill is that without proof that present system imposes unreasonable time constraints on the police, broader police powers to arrest parolees who have committed no new offence would be unlikely to withstand a charter challenge.

I am in agreement that the charter should protect our individual rights and freedoms. As a member of the Reform Party I am committed to this philosophy and support our victims bill of rights. It is the ridiculousness of criminals using these very rights and freedoms they have themselves betrayed to shield themselves from punishment or to endanger innocent citizens that I disagree with.

Is it just me or are not convicted criminals supposed to lose some rights as punishment for their crimes? Would not completely fulfilling the conditions of one's parole be required before those rights are fully returned?

In the unlikely event of such a charter challenge I would hope common sense would prevail. I would also hope that the consistent and persistent request for such amendments to the Criminal Code by our police community, in addition to concerned, law-abiding citizens, would be taken seriously as proof that such a need exists.

After all, if we consider our peace officers to be professionals, we owe them a fair hearing of what they say they need and we owe them the tools they need to do their jobs.

Reconsider for a moment the scenario earlier where the hypothetical police officer was called by a victim of wife beating when her husband violated his parole by coming within 1,000 metres of her. Because he could do nothing the officer's time was wasted and the woman's danger persisted.

Remember, in order to protect her that police officer would have had to track down the parole officer, submit a report and have a warrant issued. Imagine what all this costs in terms of time, in terms of money and in lost opportunity to protect the person in need. With the chances of catching the offender at slim to none, any cost is too high.

Here we offer police officers, at their sincere urging, a no cost solution with a potential for quicker, more effective response to real life situations such as this. As for the price of peace of mind, simply imagine your own loved one in any kind of catch-22 situation like the ones these police officers deal with every day and notice how invaluable it really is.

Even if the requirements of Bill C-211 did cost money, we would be remiss in not passing this piece of legislation.

On the issue of prudence, what could be more reasonable than extending to peace officers the powers they need to do their jobs?

Ian Russell again says this best: “All we are asking is that the officer have the authority to apprehend and secure the inmate or parolee, take him to a facility, and forthwith contact the duty officer to see whether or not the arrest will continue via a parole suspension”.

This is reasonable and necessary. It is no more and no less than what is needed. It is similar to the method with which those who violate their probation conditions are treated. Police across the country say it will work and I agree.

I will conclude with one more example. In 1988 a psychopathic pedophile named Joseph Fredericks raped and murdered 11 year old Christopher Stephenson. Joseph Fredericks was on parole at the time and a condition of his parole was that he stay away from children. No peace officer saw them but what would an officer's options have been had he seen them? Arrest Fredericks? He has not committed a crime by being with Christopher. Take down the particulars and report to a parole officer and request a warrant? Would that protect him? Not likely. How about arresting 11 year old Christopher under the Child Welfare Act as a child in need of protection? Arrest a child?

In this case none of the above happened. Christopher Stephenson was murdered by Fredericks who was caught and returned to prison where he was slain by a fellow inmate. This is unacceptable.

I appeal to this House to put a high priority on this amendment to the Criminal Code and to equip our police departments with all the tools they need to deal with breaches of parole.

Aboriginal Affairs December 2nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the job of the auditor general is to drag skeletons out of the closet and there is one right here. A consultant's report prepared by a first nations reserve in Ontario estimated the cost of repairing a water treatment plant at $26,000. When the Canadian taxpayers got the bill it was for $2.3 million.

Given that the final cost of this project is about 100 times the original estimate, my question to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is why did she go to the expense of replacement rather than sticking with the original plans which were adequate for the purposes?

Equality November 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, Liberals it seems believe in nothing and therefore can stand for absolutely everything.

Let us take equality. Liberals say that everyone in Canada is equal. Their vision of equality however is summed up in George Orwell's novel Animal Farm where he wrote that all animals are created equal, only some are created more equal than others. This represents the Liberal vision for Canada.

Equality is linked with unity and I suggest that Liberals start thinking about the benefits of true equality.

Yesterday a majority of Canadian premiers added an official aboriginal position to the Calgary declaration on national unity.

Now if the Liberal government believes in equality and national unity, I invite it to take a stand here and ensure that grassroots aboriginals, not just the leadership, have a say in the Calgary declaration.

Mr. Speaker, I ask you: would not true equality be a tremendous unifying principle for such a great country?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act October 28th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of points with respect to the hon. member's speech. He claimed that the aboriginals have claimed up to half the territory of the Northwest Territories. This rather ambitious claim could have been dealt with in two ways, through the courts or through negotiation.

In the years following that claim, governments have decided not to use the courts as a method of resolving these claim disputes. When a dispute arises if one partner feels he is in an advantageous position it is very unlikely that he will be willing to go to court. He obviously wants to negotiate.

He lauded the past Conservative government for negotiating away large tracts of land and many rights and benefits not on the basis of long term residency in the Northwest Territories but on the basis of race. Could the member comment on whether he believes this is the way to go?

He talked about first rights of refusal on many activities. Is that the correct way to go? He knows that when one group obtains rights it is usually at the expense of another group. I would like him to clarify some of these things for me, especially the issue of adjudication or negotiation.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act October 28th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first opportunity to speak in the House, I would like to congratulate you and your colleagues on your election. I am from that part of Canada lying between the Pacific salmon dispute and the Atlantic groundfish strategy called Saskatchewan. Since this is my first opportunity to speak in the House, I do want to thank the people of Prince Albert for the trust they have placed in me.

Prince Albert has been called Canada's most illustrious constituency. This is because of its history of having elected three of Canada's previous prime ministers. I contend, however, that Prince Albert remains Canada's most illustrious constituency for more reasons than that.

The Saskatchewan River runs through my constituency. Historically it was a major trade route for the fur trade. Today it provides hydro-electric generation and recreation areas enjoyed by people from across Canada and around the world.

The constituency has a progressive and innovative farming community which, by the way, has a strong interest in the Canadian Wheat Board legislation which passed quickly before this House.

We have forestry. We have diamond exploration. We have small towns and the city of Prince Albert. We have pioneers and visionary business people. We have it all. We are Canada's most illustrious constituency and I am proud to represent it.

One other thing I would like to mention this morning is that I am proud to wear the red poppy that commemorates the sacrifice by so many Canadians in defending our nation, its democracy and its freedoms. I trust that we will be worthy of their sacrifices which were supreme.

Having said that I will now turn to the business at hand which is the consideration of Bill C-6, the Mackenzie Valley resource management act.

The stated purpose of the bill is to provide for an integrated system of land and water management in the Mackenzie Valley and to establish certain boards for that purpose. The bill is enabling legislation which implements obligations between the federal government and the Gwich'in, the Sahtu Dene and Metis.

Those agreements, proclaimed September 22, 1992 and June 23, 1994, called for an integrated system of land and water management to apply to the Mackenzie Valley through the creation of certain boards.

The Gwich'in claim was negotiated, debated and proclaimed during the 34th Parliament by the Tory administration. The Sahtu Dene and Metis land claim, Bill C-16, was debated in the spring of 1994 and was opposed by the Reform Party due to the excessive size of the land claim agreement. Its provisions called for a settlement area of about 108,200 square miles or about 280,200 square kilometres which comprised roughly 27% of the entire Mackenzie Valley.

To put this in perspective, the land area alone included in the agreement was roughly five times the area of the entire province of Nova Scotia. It was for the benefit of only 1,755 persons, of whom only 982 are adults. Taken on a per person basis, the claims average about 61 square miles each and the economic cost of the agreements was in the order of $130 million.

The Reform Party opposed Bill C-16 because there was no legal rationale for this fee simple conveyance. A new bureaucracy was created and, furthermore, the commitment to self-government made really no sense given the small and highly dispersed population.

The Reform Party's position respecting land settlement claims is clear. It supports honouring treaties according to their original intent and according to court decisions. The agreements made in that legislation and those which this legislation enables were negotiated rather than subjected to court decisions.

In addition to the foregoing, the Reform Party's policy further states that settlement of land claims will be negotiated publicly and all settlements will outline specific terms, be final and conclude within a specific timeframe and be affordable to Canada and the provinces. I believe that the agreements on which this bill rests fail the test of finality and affordability and as such have serious consequences for Bill C-6, which is currently under discussion.

Lastly, in setting the background, the Reform Party supports the right of individuals entitled to reside on settlement lands to choose to hold their entitlement privately or in common. Nothing in the agreement gives the people any individual rights over the land in question. All rights are held in common.

This is a context in which the bill is drafted and for our party's consideration of it.

As a new member there is a lot to learn and, like most members, I suppose there is far more teaching than there is learning at times. As this is the first piece of legislation for which I have prepared, I was not sure where to begin. I found out, though, that the office of the minister transmits the pertinent information to the office of the critic who in this instance forwarded it to my office for review in preparation for the debate.

Included in the material is a list of the organizations with whom the minister has consulted in drafting and reviewing the proposed legislation. I found in the material several one page letters. Some congratulated the minister on the initiative and some were non-committal in tone, but they all expressed a hope that the proposed legislation would be useful in pulling together some of the loose threads in the regulatory and approval processes.

I submit that will be a vain hope as we look further through the legislation.

One letter which came to my attention later and did not come through the office of the minister was not so very complimentary. It was submitted by an organization by the name of the Northwest Territories Chamber of Mines which has an interesting motto, especially in the context of the debate over debt, spending and taxes “digging Canada out of debt”. I would think that any organization or for that matter any person committed to digging this country out of the debt hole in which it finds itself is worthy of serious attention.

I do not believe these people have been consulted in the preparation of the legislation and certainly I feel that is a serious deficiency. They believe “that the sheer complexity of the new regime will overload the capacity of northerners to deal effectively with resource management issues”.

This House must listen to the concerns of all those outside the land claims process and take immediate steps to review the legacy of a former administration which was out to right every wrong, whether real or perceived. Canadian taxpayers will be burdened for years to come because of their policies. Job creation will suffer and resource development may be slowed down and investors will begin to look elsewhere for investment opportunities as the cost of doing business in Canada's north increases as a result of Bill C-6 and similar legislation.

Legislation of this nature is the reason for many mining development hold-ups such as Voisey's Bay. We know the importance of development in the north due to the unemployment figures in the north.

Resource companies, we know, must conduct their affairs in an environmentally sound manner. There is a necessity for regulatory regimes and they must ensure compliance with the regulations developed for the common good. Those facts are not in dispute.

What is also not in dispute is the need for rules which are capable of clear interpretation, fair and equal in their application. The standards set by regulators must be high but must also be capable of being achieved. The decisions rendered must be timely and arbitrariness must be minimized. The process should be unified so as to minimize cost and uncertainty for those to whom the system applies.

Finally, it should provide for predictability both in the cost of compliance and in the likelihood of approval being granted after review of the application. The system as it exists today is both complex and cumbersome and achieves none of the goals previously set out.

The express goal of the new legislation is that it would address the flaws in the current system, but instead it delivers the same uncertainties and adds yet another layer of bureaucracy with poorly defined jurisdictions. The net result of the legislation as it stands would be to substantially increase uncertainties and cost to development while failing to deliver benefits to the environment or to the stakeholders identified in the agreements.

Among the many concerns this bill has raised among stakeholders are the potential for interference in the staking of mineral claims, change in the status of leases and land use permits, new powers to boards to suspend permits and leases, poorly defined terms for new rights for compensation, unfair enforcement policy, poorly defined jurisdictions which have the potential for serious delays in even beginning a review of an application to develop a promising area.

The proposed legislation does not address, apart from a numerical formula, how members of the committee are to be selected, although one of the letters supplied to my office mentions beginning the process of training members of the various boards and panels before the proposed legislation was even introduced in the House. That letter was received in the office of the minister in the spring of 1996.

The bill does not specify what criteria will be used in determining who is eligible for appointment to the boards and panels, if any, nor does it specify the process for appointment.

The proposed legislation calls for the creation of separate boards in each settlement region with offices to be maintained in each. There is a mere suggestion in the bill that the boards could share technical facilities but there is no requirement to do so. This arrangement is likely to cause uneveness in the development of regulations and in their application. Developments crossing jurisdictional lines may be subject to several boards with the likelihood of different results from their review process.

The fears of developers as litigation will be required to resolve the disputes arising from lack of clarity in the proposed legislation were not put to rest in departmental briefings. The possibility of litigation is a major concern and need not have arisen had the government held extensive public hearings throughout the process of developing Bill C-6 rather than waiting until it had passed the point of no return.

Given the immense area of land to be administered and the possibility of duplication of technical resources with lower individual budgets and staffing as a result, the boards will be unable to perform adequate evaluation of projects stretching over those vast distances. This is particularly troubling in transitional times when everything must continue without interruption. We know that people's livelihoods depend on these things.

During the debate on Bill C-16, Reformers warned of the potential for the creation of a massive bureaucracy as a result of those agreements. Those fears have now been realized with the proposed boards and panels exercising broad powers over both claim and non-claim territory. Hunting, trapping, resource development, forestry and more will fall within their authority.

With a population of only 40,000 people, the western Arctic will be subject to a proliferation of administrative authorities. There is also no limitation of the board's authority within the settled claim areas.

For these reasons the Reform Party respectfully opposes this bill. Opposition to this bill should not be seen as opposition to the settlement of outstanding land claims with Canada's aboriginal people. As has been stated earlier, the Reform Party does support final affordable settlement of all outstanding claims. We believe that wider consultations are the answer to those negotiations.

Canada Co-Operatives Act October 22nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, on October 10 I asked a very specific question of the Minister of Health. The minister chose to answer a question that was not asked. Today I wish to put my question to the minister again and trust that the response will address the question asked.

In the report of auditor general some alarming facts were reported in the chapter on aboriginal health. In the years between 1986 and 1996 many accounts of prescription drug abuse were reported among aboriginal people. I was amazed to read that the Department of Health has known about this for 10 years.

For background I would like to review part of minister's response to a very specific question. He said:

It is true this problem has been known for 10 years. Throughout that time the health department has worked with provincial authorities and with the First Nations to address the problem.

By the end of this year, December 31, we will have in place technology across the country to help pharmacists detect abuse and reduce the problem the member refers to.

That is nice. Here are the facts of a real tragedy. The report of the auditor general shows that in one three-month period 15,000 aboriginal people went to three or more pharmacies, 1,600 obtained more than 15 drugs and over 700 people had 50 prescriptions or more.

For 10 years a very serious health problem, purported to have caused deaths, has been neglected by those charged with the responsibility for the care of Canada's aboriginals.

My question is not what wonderful things the government is going to do to solve the problem. My question is very clear and I would like a clear answer in response.

Has the minister identified those in his department responsible for overlooking this very serious matter for 10 years and what, if any, disciplinary actions or legal sanctions have been taken or are contemplated by his department?

Aboriginal Affairs October 10th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, chapter 13 of the auditor general's report reveals that the health department has known for 10 years that aboriginal people have been suffering prescription drug abuse that leads to death.

The department's veil of secrecy has been torn away and the minister cannot hide behind it any longer.

What specific action will the minister take to discipline those in his department who caused untold suffering to Canada's aboriginals?

Aboriginal Affairs October 10th, 1997

Will the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development admit to failing our aboriginal youth in this regard in its programs and begin developing some kind of a plan to end this human tragedy right now?

Aboriginal Affairs October 10th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general reported this week that aboriginal youth are killing themselves. Their suicide rate is five to eight times higher than that of the general population.

Will anyone in the government, as the minister is not in the House, admit to failing our aboriginal youth and begin—