Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was reform.

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

Lost her last election, in 1997, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply May 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I believe what I said was that prior to the passage of the original bill there had been arguments on both sides as to whether the age should be 10, 12, 14 or some other age. The consensus was that 12 would more adequately meet the needs. Therefore I cannot answer directly the member's question of precisely how many supported 10 years, if I understood the member's question properly.

On the tragic situation in England with children of that age involved in a brutal murder of a baby, I would like to be able to tell the hon. member that simply by cranking up the Young Offenders Act we can prevent that kind of thing but that simply is not true. It is not possible for that sort of abhorrent behaviour to be legislated away.

What we must keep foremost in our minds is the dual aspect of our juvenile justice system which is to have a system that will protect people from repeat offenders and at the same time to look at the underlying causes of the kinds of behaviour we saw in the tragic British case. Only by dealing with it as a complete package can we provide any solutions to these kinds of things.

Supply May 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Pierrefonds-Dollard.

I rise today to respond to the motion under debate respecting the Young Offenders Act. The government is very much aware of Canadians' concerns respecting youth crime.

During the election we campaigned on the need for reform of the Young Offenders Act. Since the election the Minister of Justice has indicated on several occasions his desire to proceed expeditiously to respond to some of the key concerns in this area with an amending bill in the very near future.

In addition, the minister has also indicated his commitment to a review of the entire act. This will be undertaken by the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs over the course of the coming year.

I am a member of the justice committee and I am particularly pleased to be part of the committee that will be doing the review of the Young Offenders Act. The act is now 10 years old. As it happens I had just finished law school at the University of Saskatchewan when the Young Offenders Act was introduced. Our class was among the first to do a very detailed study of what was then a new act so I am pleased to be part of the group that will be reviewing the act after 10 years of practice.

One aspect of the committee will be to listen to the viewpoints of all Canadians, to listen to the concerns that are certainly very real.

The Young Offenders Act creates a separate system of justice for young people. It has a unique spirit and philosophy which seeks both the protection of society and takes into account the special needs of youthful offenders.

The Young Offenders Act provides for a balance between the imperatives of assuring public protection and meeting the needs of our young people who run afoul of the law. We should not forget that the interests of society do include the objective of rehabilitation of young people as well as for the protection of society itself.

The interests of society also dictate that we should allow young people to mature and, as the hon. member just mentioned, to learn from their mistakes and that is a need for a separate juvenile justice system. We believe that the protection of society entails two obligations: preventing young people from committing criminal offences and helping young people who commit crimes to become law-abiding citizens again.

As a parent I subscribe to the principle that young people are responsible for their actions. I am also cognizant of the fact however that young people are not on an equal footing with adults in terms of their degree of responsibility and if they were I would probably not need to be a parent.

Owing to their state of dependence and the level of development and maturity of young people they have special needs. These needs include counselling and support as well as supervision, discipline and guidance. The adequacy of the Young Offenders Act for youth involved in very serious offences however has become a major public issue in Canada.

From a public perspective there is a strong lobby for increased sentences in the belief that they would offer enhanced protection to the public, provide general deterrents and reaffirm fundamental norms regarding the sanctity of life and societal repudiation of the crime of murder. Canadians must have confidence in the laws designed to protect them.

One of the major concerns of the public relates to minimum age of criminal responsibility which under the present legislation is 12. Many would like to see it lowered to 10. Under the

previous legislation, the juvenile delinquents act, the minimum age of criminal responsibility was seven years of age.

Support for lowering the age to 10 is not new. In the consultations and debates leading up to the passage of the Young Offenders Act, some observers made much the same argument we are hearing now, that we should have a lower age of 10. Others suggested it should be as high as 14. The age of 12 finally received broad support in the belief that, generally speaking children under 12 would not have the knowledge and experience to appreciate fully the nature and consequences of their actions, nor would they be able to participate meaningfully in the proceedings against them. These capacities of course are fundamental to a fair and just criminal prosecution.

Another concern of the public relates to the maximum age of criminal responsibility, the upper end of the scale under the Young Offenders Act. It has been suggested to lower to 16 years the maximum age under the Young Offenders Act. The issue surrounding the maximum age also received a great deal of attention in the debates that preceded the passage of the Young Offenders Act in 1982. The inclusion of 16 and 17-year olds in the juvenile system was done in the belief that it was in the best interests of youth and Canadian society that young persons be dealt with in this manner.

For the vast majority of young offenders, particularly those committing less serious offences, the current age limit allows them the time to mature away from the influence of older, more hardened adult offenders. I think this is the point that was being made by the member from Edmonton.

The government is committed to a juvenile justice system which will effectively seek to provide protection for our communities, to hold young people responsible for their illegal acts, but also to take into account any special needs a youth may have which are pertinent to the youth's offending behaviour and therefore relevant to the goal of rehabilitation.

The issues of minimum and maximum ages are very important to the operation of the act and Canadians' belief in it. Consequently this issue will be looked at in the context of the broad based review of the juvenile justice system. This will allow all views on the issue to be examined in the context of an overall examination of the act.

Another public concern has to do with the publication of the name of the young offender. It has been suggested that the name of the young person who has committed or who is alleged to have committed an indictable offence where this youth has been previously convicted on at least two separate occasions be published. There is scope under the current Young Offenders Act to allow for the details of an offence or a trial to be reported. Broad coverage of the youth justice system, the trends, the profiles of youth and successful programs is permitted under the present act.

It is important however to distinguish between perception and reality. The current emphasis, particularly in the media on extreme or exceptional cases, creates a distorted picture of juvenile crime and its treatment by the justice system. In view of that it is important to understand that there are a number of reasons that support the prohibition on publication of information serving to identify young accused, including such things as the protection of innocent siblings of offenders from shame and possible ostracism, encouragement to youth to comply with a disposition and to remain free from further involvement in crime, prevention of barriers arising that may stand in the way of a youth becoming more positively involved in a community, including employment and educational opportunities.

We must also remember the families of young offenders are often part of the rehabilitation process and the prohibition on publication may enhance their capacity to move forward positively for the benefit of the youth, the family and the community.

In the context of public safety the publication of a youth's identity may foster an illusion of public safety. The media however can only offer selective publicity rather than full reporting of all cases to a limited segment of the population.

Balanced against this however is the protection of society. The Minister of Justice has indicated in his response to the throne speech that he is in favour of a greater sharing of information about convicted young offenders with those who need to know for reasons of safety. He has also indicated that he intends to include provisions related to information sharing in the June bill.

I would like to comment quickly on an important election proposal to increase the maximum penalty available in youth court for first and second degree murder. Again the Minister of Justice has indicated he is committed to increased sentences for certain violent crimes, including murder.

In the June bill, the Minister of Justice will develop his proposals in a way that will seek to improve the juvenile justice system and to promote more effective and efficient measures to help young offenders while providing protection for the public.

In many cases the criminal behaviour of youths appearing before the youth courts constitutes an isolated and often not very serious act. For a much smaller percentage of youth however, their criminal behaviour is part of a pattern of more serious difficulties. It is essential to understand the special needs of these youths if their interests and indeed the long term interests of society are to be met.

Canada's Young Offenders Act has received international recognition by the United Nations as a model for juvenile

justice. It clearly takes a bold step by delineating the parameters of criminal law for youth and permitting resort to criminal law sanctions only for behaviour which is clearly criminal.

In doing so however, it has firmly entrenched the recognition that adolescents are to be distinguished from adults because their needs are distinct and therefore warrant a distinct response. This distinction must not however detract from the principle that society is entitled to protection from the criminal activity of youth.

Canadian courts have interpreted interests of society to mean both protection of the public and rehabilitation of offenders. This dual interpretation places a very heavy onus on the juvenile justice system to deliver on both fronts. The magnitude of this task is best illustrated when youths are involved in violent crimes or chronic reoffending. These classes of offenders reveal the multidimensional nature of the challenge facing those involved in the juvenile justice system and the challenge that lies ahead of us.

Winnipeg Rotary Club May 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to offer my congratulations to

two students representing Saskatoon at the Rotary model United Nations in Winnipeg on May 5, 6 and 7.

The model United Nations, as the name suggests, permits secondary students to simulate the debate and negotiation skills that are the hallmark of the actual United Nations. Over 200 students from across Canada and the United States participated in this year's event.

Miss Nancy Lees of Saskatoon and my son, Paul, currently in Ottawa for the week, were Saskatoon delegates representing the country of Iraq. I am pleased to announce they received the award for best prepared delegation at the closing ceremonies last Saturday night. Well done, Saskatoon.

One of the best ways to encourage our young people to be full participants in our democratic system is to provide them with opportunities to take part in these simulations: model parliaments, model legislatures and so on.

Hats off to the Winnipeg Rotary Club for hosting this worthwhile event.

Supply May 5th, 1994

Madam Speaker, one key objective of the government in introducing these programs is to maintain knowledge in intensive industries and the high technology employment which is part of it. This, of course, is also an objective of our efforts to assist in the conversion of the Quebec defence industry.

While many of the approaches which I have just outlined would be applicable to the Quebec defence industry, I believe it would be a mistake to try to impose, for example, a U.S. style solution to the Quebec situation.

A number of quite marked differences exist in terms of defence industry conversion between Quebec and the United States and even other parts of the world, like Europe.

Basically, the Quebec defence industry conversion is unique and different from any other. A fair number of defence industries in Quebec would be more appropriately referred to as aerospace and defence industries. I say this because, unlike many of its international competitors, the Quebec defence industry has already diversified its production considerably. It is producing a wide range of commercial and defence products.

Quebec's industry is unique in another important respect, one in which we should all take pride. Quebec's aerospace and defence sector sells a large proportion of its products and services in world markets. To do this successfully it must, and in fact do, produce world class products at competitive prices.

Like the rest of the Canadian aerospace and defence industry, Quebec firms focus on high technology market niches. They export subsystems and components sold primarily to aerospace and defence prime contractors in countries around the world.

This is a remarkable achievement. A country as small as Canada ranks sixth in the world in total aerospace and defence sales, with between 70 and 80 per cent of all production exported to other countries.

We should be proud of these companies and of the workers in these dynamic industries who make this significant contribution to the economies of Quebec and Canada.

As my comments indicate, Quebec's aerospace and defence industries are in many ways different from their counterparts in other areas of the world. I realize that many aerospace and defence firms face uncertain prospects in the years that lie ahead. But I am also confident that based on their past track record Quebec's aerospace and defence industries can and will rise to this challenge.

I hope I have demonstrated today the importance of recognizing how unique the Quebec aerospace and defence industries are. By building on their relative strength in relation with the majority of industries in the rest of the world, Quebec industries are well on the way to diversifying their production and converting their technologies.

As mentioned recently in the budget, the federal government intends to change the Defence Industry Productivity Program (DIPP) in support of changes in the Quebec aerospace and defence industry. I have good hope that all the support provided by both the federal and the provincial governments to the Quebec aerospace and defence industry will foster conditions favourable to the pursuit of changes.

As I said earlier, given the unique circumstances of Quebec, it may not be appropriate to consider applying in that case

solutions used in the United States or in Europe. We all recognize that product diversification in the defence industry presents multiple difficulties. As indicated earlier today, this is no small task and there is no quick fix.

But this does not mean that problems cannot be resolved. They can and will continue to be resolved. Major efforts are already being made by the private sector, efforts which are proving successful in the Quebec aerospace and defence industry.

The government will continue to be a full partner in these efforts to ensure that this industry continues to deal successfully with the challenges and the opportunities which will come to Quebec in the future.

Supply May 5th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this topic which is so important to a large number of Quebecers. I would like to thank the hon. member opposite for focusing attention on the future of the defence industry. It is an industry which over the years has provided much employment in the province of Quebec and will continue to do so.

The future prosperity of the defence industry is vital to the future prosperity of Quebec. As a vibrant part of Canada and North America, Quebec and its industry can keep pace with global change and technological advancement.

I applaud the interest of the member in raising this question and I would like to speak for a few minutes on this important matter.

The Quebec defence industry is made up of many small companies and fewer than 20 medium to large ones, the vast majority of sales being made by the latter.

All these companies, small and large alike, have seen their defence sales dwindle over the past few years. In light of the falling business activity on the defence markets, it is reasonable to assume that this trend could well persist.

European markets for defence sales have dropped remarkably, leading to a loss of 150,000 jobs over the last three years. That is 10 per cent of the workforce in the aerospace and defence sector.

In America, the experience is similar, with large reductions in military procurement matched by significant job losses, more than 3,000 in the last three years. Both European and American industries have been faced with a serious industrial adjustment problem.

In various countries, government has responded in various ways. It is tempting to look to solutions such as those proposed in the United States for the problems facing Quebec's aerospace and defence industry.

I believe we can learn from others. I am confident that some of the lessons we might learn from others in defence industrial conversion are universally acceptable. For example, there are a number of internal and external obstacles to diversification and defence conversion.

These include a narrow client base, lack of experience in export and commercial markets, over-engineered products and small product runs. External obstacles include shrinking global defence markets, difficulty in attracting capital and market protectionism among others.

The various approaches adopted world-wide by governments to deal with their defence industrial conversion problem all address these common elements but the approaches are often tailored to the particular circumstances unique to their particular defence industries.

As a general rule, none of these programs envisage getting out of military markets. Instead the first goal of diversification is normally to retain a viable industrial base. Many governments have approached this question as a regional or community issue focusing their support accordingly.

Many have formed committees involving all of the stakeholders concerned including government, trade unions and industry. The so-called dual use technologies, commercial and military, are often a criterion for government R and D support.

One key objective of all these programs is to maintain knowledge, intensive industries and the high quality, high technology employment which is part of it.

Home Loan Insurance Program April 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak about the federal government's first home loan insurance program.

In a surge of activity, over 33,000 homes were purchased by first time buyers in the first quarter of 1994. The high level of activity is a result of consumers taking advantage of almost ideal home buying conditions.

The home loan insurance program is good news. It will help Canadians realize their dream of purchasing a first home. As important, it will stimulate the economy. Almost 60,000 person years of direct employment have been created.

Mr. Speaker, this initiative was successful and it cost Canadian taxpayers nothing.

Kudos to the minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing and to the other members of this government who so ardently supported this program.

Curling Championships April 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, members will remember that on March 8, International Women's Day, I rose in this House to pay tribute to the accomplishments of the four Saskatchewan women making up the Sandra Peterson rink on winning the Scott Tournament of Hearts which all good Canadians, at least from the cold parts, will know as the national women's curling championship.

I am pleased to report to this House that once again the Peterson rink has distinguished itself by winning the Women's World Curling Championship in Obersdorf.

Lest members conclude that only the women of Saskatchewan can curl, I would add that the Canadian men's rink also became world champions this weekend, skipped to victory by former Saskatoonian Mr. Rick Folk.

Francophone Communities Outside Quebec April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

There are several francophone communities outside Quebec. For instance, in my riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt, the francophones in Saint-Isidore-de-Bellevue have worked very hard to have their own school boards.

Can the minister tell me if the francophones of Saskatchewan and across Canada can count on this government to protect their language and culture?

Co-Operative Housing April 14th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today on behalf of the Government of Canada to speak to this motion.

I am pleased to have an opportunity to stress the commitment of this government in the area of housing. This government acknowledges the right to adequate and affordable housing for all Canadians, not only in Quebec but all over Canada. This is a most important commitment for this government.

I am sure every single member in this House thinks housing is important for our quality of life and for the prosperity of our communities.

Our government intends to keep contributing to housing and working hand in hand with its various partners so that as many Canadians as possible can find adequate and affordable housing.

This government also strongly supports social housing and keeps its promises but it has to consider the present fiscal situation.

Our approach balances the need to pursue fiscal restraint with the need to recognize and respond to the social needs of the more vulnerable members of our society.

The federal government is committed to a national co-ordinated approach to ensure that Canadians are well housed. The federal government has maintained its commitment of approximately $2 billion in annual expenditures on social housing assistance. Through this funding we are able to provide support to some 659,000 low income households across the country. These include singles, families, seniors, persons with disabilities, aboriginals and fellow citizens who are unable to meet their basic housing needs on their own.

Given the difficulties presented by the deficit, this is a serious commitment that reflects the concern of the government for the plight of society's most vulnerable citizens.

Let me underline as well that these expenditures provide a powerful economic stimulus, generating considerable employment in communities across the country year after year.

As my colleagues know, we have taken immediate action to reinstate the residential rehabilitation assistance program. Again this is a program that helps low income Canadians meet their basic housing needs. RRAP grants are used to help people bring their homes up to minimum standards of health and safety.

The federal contribution of $100 million over two years will go a long way toward helping low income Canadians make basic repairs to their homes.

This significant commitment of resources will also generate a much needed economic stimulus by creating thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly in the construction industry, real estate, manufacturing and related services.

However, to meet the challenges we are faced with in the area of housing, we need more than mere financial assistance. We need a commitment from all levels of government and from all stakeholders in the housing sector.

With everyone's co-operation, we will be able to reach our goals. To meet the challenges, we must first create solid partnerships.

The minister responsible for housing has met with many of our partners in that area. In fact, he held two meetings with some associations in order to better understand the problems facing this sector and to invite them to suggest improvements in some areas. Given the current financial situation in Canada, all levels of government must co-operate more and focus their efforts on protecting the social fabric of this country, which greatly depends on the housing sector. We can reach this goal by helping Canadians find good, affordable housing of the right size.

We have a long tradition of partnership in the country. Federal and provincial governments have long worked together to create cost share and deliver social housing to needy Canadians.

In this era of fiscal restraint we no longer have the funding levels of the past. Just because our funds are limited it does not mean that our imaginations need to be limited or our efforts cut short. Partnership has brought us success in the past. It will help us to achieve further success today and in the future.

Federal-provincial relations with respect to social housing have long been defined by a set of principles. National standards are the cornerstone of these principles. Productive partnerships through which consensus is achieved have always been an important part of relations between the different levels of government. This must continue.

In an effort to consolidate partnership among levels of government the minister responsible for housing met with his federal, provincial and territorial colleagues last January. At that meeting all ministers agreed on the need to work together on behalf of those in need of social housing assistance. They also agreed to undertake a concerted effort to identify program efficiencies that will lead to savings and ultimately enable us to do more with our social housing budgets.

The federal government's commitment to housing for Canadians recognizes there are groups who have special needs to meet. We must strive to meet their needs.

Coming from Saskatchewan as I do, I cannot help but think of the aboriginal community. The plight of this particular sector of society needs to be addressed. CMHC has a long tradition of working in partnership with the aboriginal community to work out solutions to housing issues. The government is focusing its attention on supporting the native community in the goal of achieving greater self-sufficiency and control over their lives.

Another sector are the victims of family violence. As members of the House well know the rate of family violence continues to increase. It is my fervent hope the day will come when we no longer need to build and maintain shelters for women and children who are fleeing domestic violence.

In the meantime however the government will continue to address these issues in the best way it can by providing financial assistance for Project Haven and Project Next Step. These two programs provide emergency shelter and long term housing for victims of family violence and their children.

The government is well aware there is still much work to do to ensure all Canadians have access to decent, affordable housing. We believe we are on the right track and that we are taking positive steps and making a real difference in the lives of many Canadians. We are committed to working in partnership with housing groups and stakeholders in Canada to pursue our objective of providing decent, adequate and affordable housing for Canadians.

Women In Sport March 8th, 1994

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to address the House on International Women's Day on behalf of women in sport.

Saskatchewan's Sandra Peterson served as my inspiration. This past weekend Sandra's rink won the national women's curling championship, the Scott Tournament of Hearts, for the second consecutive year.

As the only female MP from Saskatchewan, it gives me great pleasure to extend my congratulations to Sandra Peterson, Jan Betker, Joan McCusker and Marcia Gudereit.

The Peterson victory made the front page of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix sports section in colour. Public recognition is crucial to the advancement of women in sport to provide self-validation for the individual and role models for our young girls, to enhance public funding and economic opportunities for women in professional sports.