House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was grandparents.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Mission—Coquitlam (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 1993, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code September 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. for his question.

Yes, I did make that statement. I do think that all people who commit crimes must pay for those crimes and must be incarcerated. However if the occasion should arise, and I say if the occasion should arise, that in our institutions we are overcrowded then the logical thing would be to look for avenues to relieve that overcrowding. Logically we would then find a way for non-violent offenders to spend time in another way. Within the community would be an excellent way to do it but only if we find we do not have places in the prisons for them.

Criminal Code September 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member from Surrey-White Rock-South Langley and the other members of our caucus will be on during the time allotted for 20 minutes.

It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to address some remarks on Bill C-41 that deals with sentencing in our criminal justice system. The Minister of Justice is to be congratulated for bringing the bill forward at this time and for his other attempts to deal with young offenders and with restrictions on firearms.

While we may not always agree with the minister's proposals on this side of the House, there is no question that he is giving us food for thought. I cannot help but think that if the current Minister of Finance was working this hard on behalf of the Canadian people the deficit would be well under control.

In any event, we are here to address the various aspects of Bill C-41. I would like in my remarks today to address some of the positive aspects of the bill and then deal with some of the deficiencies-at least deficiencies as I see them-that hopefully can be cured when the bill is dealt with in committee.

As my colleagues have pointed out, one of the most important, positive elements of the bill is that for the first time a statute will contain a statement of the purpose and principles of sentencing.

There is nothing new in this statement, but it does codify the existing law and will provide explicit direction to judges in our criminal courts on the principles that must be applied in each individual case. While this is a positive aspect to Bill C-41, there are a number of negatives that I hope will be addressed in committee.

When I talk to my constituents about the criminal justice system the comments I hear most often concern the lack of predictability about sentencing. This lack of predictability can range from comments on different lengths of sentences being imposed for similar crimes, to comments that sometimes express outrage at the short amount of time some criminals have to spend in prison.

People feel that like crimes should be treated alike. That is, if a white collar criminal steals through breach of trust he or she should receive the same sentence as any other person convicted of theft. I know that in some cases white collar criminals do receive stiffer sentences than others, but because of the way our system operates most of the sentence is served on the street and not in prison.

White collar criminals should spend their sentences in prison. This is the deterrent aspect of sentencing: accountability or being held responsible for our actions. Our criminal justice system must send a clear message to all who are contemplating the commission of a crime that if you do the crime then you must do the time. It is time spent in incarceration with no special treatment.

The second issue raised by constituents deals with the length of time served in incarceration. We are all aware of anecdotal evidence of people being sentenced to long prison terms and then in a very short time they are back on the street. Our system seems to be full of opportunities for criminals to manipulate it so they do not spend nearly as much time in jail as the judge or those who are victims originally believed the convicted person would spend in jail.

Bill C-41 addresses this issue to some extent by allowing victims to make representations at early parole hearings.

Why should we put victims through this trauma? Indeed, why should there be early parole hearings at all? When a person has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, what is wrong with that person serving at least seven or eight of that 10 years before looking at parole or other means to put the person back on the street?

This raises a question. Should offenders of violent crimes be paroled at all? Should their sentences be reduced? Today more than ever before we are made aware of the anger of all Canadians when offenders of violent crimes are out on day passes or paroled at a very early date or receive a reduced sentence and a violent crime is the result. One death from the hands of a violent

offender who should not be out on the streets of our country before his or her sentence is up is one death too many.

The people of Canada want to see some measure of certainty in the system and this bill does not provide it for them.

Another point that I take issue with is the aggravating factor of hate in relation to the sentencing for some crimes. We in the Reform Party believe that we are all created equal. No group should have more rights than others. It makes no sense to me to grade severity of punishment on the basis that the victim belongs to a protected class. Can it be any worse to kill or wound a person of a protected group than to kill or maim someone who is not in a protected group? I do not think so. If a crime is committed, the criminal should be punished and the public should know that if you commit crime x then you get y years. Maybe that is too simple for our seemingly complex society today but it is the way we see things on this side of the House.

I heard Tuesday in this House that if a crime is perpetrated as a result of hate against the individual, there should be a harsher sentence, a stronger sentence. As I understand the example given, it was a member of the gay community who was brutally beaten causing death.

I ask the House to consider the senseless death of a 31-year old Coquitlam man, I believe it was Mr. Niven, who outside a convenience store was brutally kicked and beaten to death just recently. Is there any difference in the savagery of such a crime? Can we really state that one is worse than the other?

Does one deserve a harsher penalty than the other? Has not in each case a man been brutally beaten to death? Is one life worth less than another? I sincerely hope not. Is not all life precious and of equal value? I sincerely hope so.

We are also concerned that this bill allows provinces to establish alternative measures programs. Again, such a system while in theory its goals may be laudable will create unevenness in the system. Some crimes in some provinces will be treated differently than similar crimes in other provinces. Again, there is enough uncertainty in the system. Let us not introduce more uncertainty.

One glaring omission from this bill is that when a crime is committed and a firearm is used, a longer sentence should be automatically required. The Minister of Justice talked about this in relation to gun control. So have those who are lobbying for stronger restrictions on the use of firearms.

At this point, I want to refer to the recent report released August 25, 1994 by the Correctional Service of Canada. After it had completed its investigation report into the escapes from Ferndale Minimum Security, which happens to be in my riding, two prisoners, Timothy Denis Cronin and Michael Kelly Roberts, walked away from the institution May 3.

They were subsequently picked up in Salem, Oregon and charged with the murder of an American, all within the short time they had been free. Both men had been convicted of violent offences, each having used a firearm in criminal offences for which they were convicted. Why were these two inmates in a minimum security institution?

One of Robert's psychologists in 1979 stressed that Roberts should remain in a maximum security institution.

These are the findings of the investigation: "The board concluded that, notwithstanding the best judgments of staff and the advice of psychologists and psychiatrists in the cases of Roberts and Cronin, their placement in a minimum security institution was inappropriate and in one case was based partly on an assessment tool being incorrectly applied".

I am pleased that the error was admitted to and recommendations made to try to prevent such happenings in the future. I quote statement number eight of the report: "The Correctional Service of Canada should adopt an approach which incorporates both intensive supervision and clinical service for new arrivals and higher risk cases in minimum security".

This is the action plan: "No offender who is generally of high risk should be in minimum security". I wish it had ended there. It went on to say: "However, it must be recognized that some offenders who are suitable for minimum security require more attention than others".

I find problems with that. Upon reviewing the percentage of the types of crimes committed by the inmates of Ferndale I found that 43.8 per cent of the inmates in Ferndale institution are still there and they are violent offenders. I would presume as murder or violent death formed over 29 per cent of these offences that many of these crimes would involve a weapon, more than likely a gun.

Who will be the next high risk offender to walk away from Ferndale? When will we start to put the rights of law-abiding citizens ahead of the rights of criminals? Again I stress that if one more high risk inmate walks away from Ferndale minimum security prison in Mission, as they can easily do, and another death of an innocent victim is the result we are paying too high a price.

This bill would have been the ideal place to put in a provision which requires longer, harsher sentences for crimes committed with a firearm. This is perhaps the only restriction on the use of firearms which directly affects those who use firearms the most, criminals. It is high time we addressed this part of the gun control issue. I hope the government will make the bill stronger.

In closing I believe it is time that we had a comprehensive bill dealing with sentencing and, as I have said, this is a good start. In the months to come I look forward to receiving other initiatives from the Minister of Justice, perhaps in the areas of appointment of judges and proposals to reduce the tremendously high cost of our legal system. These will have to wait for another day.

Petitions September 21st, 1994

The second petition is presented on behalf of Canadian grandparents asking Parliament to amend the Divorce Act to assure grandparents of continuous access to grandchildren and to inquire as to the health, education and welfare of their grandchildren.

It is the hope of this member that all members of the House will support our grandparents and realize the needs of our grandchildren have got to be addressed. By addressing their needs we also address the needs of grandparents.

Petitions September 21st, 1994

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I would like to present petitions on behalf of my constituents to request Parliament not to amend the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include the undefined phrase sexual orientation.

Team Canada September 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate all the members of Team Canada who competed in the recent Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia. Their performance was the best ever with our team winning a total of 40 gold, 42 silver and 46 bronze.

I would like to point out that their performance gives an indication of the many years of dedication and training which these athletes have devoted to their sport. In particular, special mention goes to Corinna Wolfe who competed in the women's high jump and lives in Mission. I congratulate her on her entry to the games and her strong performance.

As well, I would like to give special recognition to Chris Wilson of wrestling fame. Chris, who lives in Coquitlam, also of my riding, won a gold in the 68 kilogram category in wrestling, an outstanding performance.

Non-Confidence Motions June 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to sum up today. This is my first experience with having a motion drawn in a private members' situation and I am honoured that it was deemed to be a votable one.

I and members of the Reform have really enjoyed debating this issue that is so dear to our hearts with other members in the House. I respectfully urge all members to support Motion 89, for this is why we are here in the House, to democratically make change. Nothing is stagnant. I am not asking to make change for the sake of change, but relaxation of the confidence convention will result in a more accountable and workable House of Commons. I urge everyone to support us on this motion.

Non-Confidence Motions June 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to point out to the hon. member from the Bloc that my motion today has nothing to do with any wonderful or brilliant ideas I might have as a member of this House.

What we are talking about today is representing our constituents in this House. Those are the people we were elected to represent and we are responsible to them.

I appreciate the opportunity to begin the debate in the last hour of Motion No. 89 which advocates the relaxation of the confidence convention and, flowing from that, freer voting as party members of this House.

I have listened with interest to those who have spoken in the debate in this place and I have also listened attentively to witnesses who have come before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs who have addressed the issue of freer votes.

There are those who argue against the motion of dissent being exhibited through freer voting by the attempt to change the basic premise upon which this motion is founded in order to argue against it. For example, the member for Vancouver Quadra explained that we are not all here as independents elected on our own. I agree. We in the Reform Party realize this fact. We do not want to reduce the House of Commons to chaos and we do not believe that the timely expression of dissent by a few members would do so.

The opinion of those involved in the writing of the McGrath report in 1985 and those who sat on the House management committee in 1993 was that dissent should be allowed to be expressed without fear of retaliation by the leadership of the political party concerned. They thought it would make this House a healthier place where members on occasion would not have to vote the party line on all legislative matters.

It might help members better represent their constituents and it may also allow those constituents to feel that their views were being directly represented on the floor of the House of Commons.

Speaking of representing the views of constituents, I want to thank the member for Hamilton West for referring to this matter in his speech on this motion. He stated, referring to me: "The hon. member opposite is sadly mistaken if she thinks I or anyone else on this side of the House can be blindly led. If I supported a government objective that went against any of my well known principles I would be laughed out of this House, out of this job".

However, at the end of his speech he wavered from this bold statement when he said: "It is not the individual vote, it is the collective. It is the understanding of what we believe to be in the best interest of our constituents, of our riding, of our province and of our country".

I am not sure but I believe this second phrase contradicts the earlier bold one in which the member stated he would support his constituents' points of view against any attempt to be led around by the nose by his party.

I also want to assure my friend from St. Boniface that by the adoption of this motion the kinds of judgments we have to make as members of Parliament will not be automatically replaced by views advanced by constituents. It is the belief of the Reform Party that matters will come along in the life of a Parliament which were not addressed either directly or indirectly during the previous election. There is no prior party position on these matters.

It is our belief that if a member wishes to dissent from the position eventually taken by the member's political party, the member should be able to do so without fear of retribution at the hands of the party leadership.

We are not advocating, as was expressed by the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, that everything be a free vote. I listened to the hon. member when he spoke in this House on May 25 and I appreciate the fact that confidence was taken out of the standing orders of the House of Commons as a result of the first report of the McGrath committee.

However, what I do not believe the member realizes is the fact it was removed made little difference. The attitudinal change on the part of the member so strongly advocated by McGrath has not taken place.

By comparison with Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, Canada's political parties are the most tightly controlled by their respective leadership. In Australia and New Zealand, while voting against the party line is tolerated, the influence of the private member is greatest when there is a labour government. In that situation the caucus elects members to sit in cabinet and the Prime Minister allocates the portfolios.

As I have said before, this situation leads to constant interaction between leadership and backbench members wherein the views of backbench members have great influence on public policy. Is that not what we want?

In order to be elected by caucus to serve in cabinet one must have the support of those who will not be in cabinet. To be re-elected to cabinet one surely must have demonstrated a willingness to listen to the concerns of caucus members and adjust legislation accordingly. This would result in increased influence over public policy being placed in the hands of backbenchers. That is a good sign.

However, it is in Britain where in recent times backbench independence has been asserted with members voting against the party line and in some cases defeating government legislation.

Professor Philip Norton, an academic on freer votes in Britain, explains that this phenomenon of cross-party voting led to a growing awareness of what could be achieved by such action and a recognition that the consequences expected from government defeats such as resignation or punishment by the leadership did not materialize. They did not perceive it as a threat.

This produced a change of attitude of many MPs as the old differential attitude was replaced by a participatory attitude. Backbenchers became involved in and were influencing government policy. This situation continues today in Britain.

Finally, I want to refer to the evidence given by Professor Robert Jackson when he appeared before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs a few weeks ago. He does not believe in freer voting by members and he is a strident critic of the McGrath report, a report that is really accepted by members in this House. His main concern was that freer voting would result in chaos, with the government virtually unable to govern. This is absurd.

We are only advocating limited dissent expressed from time to time without fear of repercussions from the leadership. We in the Reform Party want to see the House express itself positively on this motion and therefore we accept the amendment advanced by the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.

However, in recognition of the fact that freer voting or the expression of dissent from the party line rarely occurs in this place I wish to make a further amendment.

I move, seconded by my friend from Calgary West, that the amendment be amended by adding immediately following the word "continue" the word "increasingly" so that the motion as amended would read:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should continue increasingly to permit members of the House of Commons to fully represent their constituents' views on the government's legislative program and spending plans by adopting the position that the defeat of any government measure, including a spending measure, shall not automatically mean the defeat of the government unless followed by the adoption of a formal motion.

Petitions June 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like again today to add more petitions on behalf of Canadian grandparents who ask Parliament to amend the Divorce Act to ensure the right of access of grandparents to their grandchildren.

It is the hope of this member that all members of the House will support our grandparents and bring about the necessary changes to protect both the grandchildren and the grandparents.

Petitions June 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I would like to present petitions on behalf of my constituents to request Parliament to not amend the human rights code, Canadian Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include the undefined phrase sexual orientation.

Grandparent's Day Act June 15th, 1994

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-259, an act respecting a national grandparent's day.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Calgary Southeast for seconding my motion.

I am pleased to table a bill whose purpose is to recognize Canadian grandparents by establishing a national grandparent's day.

It is appropriate in this Year of the Family, 1994, to pay tribute to our grandparents who have laid the foundation of our family structure and future well-being, to encourage all Canadians, particularly children and grandchildren, to remember and appreciate their grandparents and to honour all grandparents in acknowledgement of their contribution to Canadian society.

I recommend the second Sunday in September to be declared national grandparent's day.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)