House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was firearms.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Cape Breton—The Sydneys (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 76% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments. It is significant that we as members of Parliament represent constituents. We are the voice of the constituents in our particular ridings. We cannot assume that anyone else is going to speak for them because we are the people they have chosen.

While there are individual concerns, Canadians from coast to coast to coast realize their individual concerns must blend with the concerns of all Canadians. The number of constituencies really develops and relates to a larger whole which is the country itself. The strength of Canada is the people of Canada acting together.

There are individual concerns and national concerns. By looking at each member for whom they have voted in this light, the people have chosen the members they feel will represent these concerns nationally and locally. The idea, of course, is when we get here we should honour the commitment and honour the reasons constituents have voted for us. We should do as they had assumed we would do and not fall back into a position of disinterest or cronyism, and continue to relate as we stated in the campaign when we looked for their votes.

Supply February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on reading this motion I have some difficulty with it, quite frankly. It seems we are trying to structure members of Parliament to the extent that they do not have the leeway to do the job they must do.

Petitions are a very important part of the democratic procedure. There is no question about it. They are the voice of the people through their members of Parliament. They are asking members of Parliament to put a particular point across. Through the petition they are stating how they want this advocacy in Parliament to take place.

That is fine and that is as it should be. There is time allotted in the daily procedure of the House of Commons to put forward petitions. The petitions are accepted by the House of Commons and a reply is sent to the petitioners.

If we take that further and say that instead of doing that or in addition to doing that we should take the subject matter of each petition and debate it in each session, we are in effect structuring the actual work of the House of Commons. We are dictating what the House of Commons determines as the most important subject matter with which it will deal.

That is not the actual form of democracy that most people in the country want to see in the Chamber. They want to see their concerns put forward. They are instructing members of Parliament to deal with their concerns. Through petitions they are saying they want these matters brought before the House of Commons as they are under the proper procedure dealing with petitions at the present time.

If we start getting into the question of debating each subject matter, how do we determine what subject matter we are going to debate? If we are debating all subject matters how long do we debate each point? How long do we give to each question? If we are saying we are going to choose certain areas of subject matter to debate which ones do we choose? Certainly we can pick private members' bills that are coming before the House, but those bills are put forward by individual members of Parliament. Here we are talking about the people of Canada giving us feedback on their concerns. How can we say that some motions or some subject matter will be debated and others will not?

I do not think this is going to work. I say to the people of Canada, through your petitions your concerns are reaching all members of the House of Commons. I also want to say there has been very good work on behalf of Canadians in getting these petitions together. A tremendous amount of work has been done in bringing these concerns to the House of Commons.

I want to deal with the point made by the member for Edmonton Southwest with respect to serial killer cards. He says that the subject matter of the petition prohibiting the importation, distribution, sale and manufacture of serial killer cards is an example of such petitions.

We have heard a good deal on this subject. There have been many petitions on this subject. I am certain the Department of Justice is studying this area very carefully in the hope of bringing forward some legislation to deal with this. However, this is not an easy subject because of the charter representation section 2 of the charter deals with freedom of speech and this is a question here. We must however deal with the concerns with respect to the importation, distribution, sale and manufacture of such materials and that is being examined now. It is offensive to think people are making money from that sort of material.

We are aware of petitions such as the ones of Mrs. Debbie Mahaffy. She was able to get together 500,000 signatures on a petition. Léna Cléroux of Rockland, Ontario presented a petition with 14,000 signatures. The hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell who spoke just a few minutes ago collected 50,000 signatures on a petition to ban serial killer board games. He has introduced a private member's bill on this subject.

The matter is being dealt with. The petitions have worked. The advocacy of the citizens of this country to their members of Parliament has worked. If this subject matter is debated again, what are we going to achieve? The government knows this is a concern. All members of the House of Commons know it is a concern. What is needed now is to ask questions from time to time during question period and before the Standing Committee on Justice as to how this matter is proceeding and how the Minister of Justice and the government are dealing with it. That is how we must deal with it.

Another matter is the Young Offenders Act. There are concerns about the Young Offenders Act. The Liberal Party recognized that during the election campaign and mentioned it in the red book. It was given a prominent place in our position paper on justice released on April 22, 1993 which indicated that changes are needed to the Young Offenders Act, that there have to be tougher sentences for violent crime and that we have to recog-


nize that there were violent offences with which we had to deal more strongly. We have to look into that whole question.

The Minister of Justice has stated he will be dealing with the recommendations of the red book and of the position paper. As a second part he has stated that the whole subject of the Young Offenders Act will be studied carefully with the full intention of bringing forward a more comprehensive bill before the House to deal with the concerns.

Once again the concerns of the Canadians through their petitions and through their members of Parliament have been brought to the attention of the government, regardless of whether it is this government or the former one. The subject matter is being studied.

What remains is the government's determination to act upon the information and the concerns brought forward by the people of Canada. The government is doing just that. It is doing it very quickly and intensively. This is a serious question as are the serial killer cards. These two problems must be dealt with and the government is dealing with them.

There are other concerns which are not mentioned in the motion. What do we do with these? Certainly the third one is one which the member's party has taken a great interest in. That is the recall of members of Parliament. Certainly there are going to be petitions on this. There are petitions on a great many subjects, but how do we deal with those? How do we deal with a government that is mindful of that concern?

Members of the Reform Party have stated they want the capacity to be able to recall members of Parliament. The government has said it does not think that is advisable. Does anyone think that if we were to debate this question that the answer would be any different because it was the subject matter of a petition?

What has happened is that through petitions, through the advocacy of the Reform Party questions, this matter has been transposed to the consideration of the government, just as with the other two cases. However, it is different from the cases of serial board games and serial killer cards and amendments to the Young Offenders Act. The government takes those issues very seriously and recognizes the concerns of Canadians. It is going to deal with those two issues, but on the third issue the government has said no. That is it, no. The fact of the matter is that the consideration has been given.

This House has to be able to deal with the concerns of Canadians who are not sending in petitions. We have to be able to look to what we as members of Parliament envision this country is going to need and the urgent matters which come up. We must also be able to anticipate how we as members of Parliament can make this a better country in the days ahead.

We have to have the freedom to bring forward bills and concerns which this country must have addressed. These concerns are brought forward in committees represented by all parties of the House giving them due consideration. Certainly the government has the majority to be able to finally determine what is to be brought forward and this is the way it should be. There has to be a mechanism to break a deadlock as far as this is concerned. This is why it is the government and why it was elected to govern.

I want all members to know that the concerns of Canadians are being addressed by this House. Three of the concerns which the hon. member has mentioned are being dealt with. One has already been dealt with and two are being given very important consideration.

We have a tremendous concern about the country's financial situation. With the deficit as it presently stands and the debt as it is, are we to debate that issue with equal time along with all the other subject matter because it is the subject of a petition? It takes away the scope of government and members of this House to determine what needs the most attention at any particular time.

People elect members of Parliament to do the job. If we are going to say as some members evidently are that the people do not trust their members of Parliament to make the right decisions and therefore they are going to shackle them any way they possibly can to follow a narrow structured course then we are only compounding the problem.

The problem may be that members of Parliament and politicians are not as highly thought of as we in this House and those in other legislative bodies would like. The fact of the matter is it is up to us to change that and only through our actions can we change that. If we do not the results will be derogatory for those who do not convince the electorate that we want to change it and that we are actually moving to change it.

It really comes down to members of Parliament acting in the interests of Canadians, acting as they see fit, as they have heard their constituents telling them they should act. Members of Parliament are the voice of the people. That voice must remain with members of Parliament to do as they see fit.

Criminal Code February 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good point. We cannot at this point deal with problems outside the Canadian jurisdiction.

I would like to make one point that I think is very important. When Canada extended its boundaries to the 200 mile limit we were able to take in all of the Grand Banks off the east coast of Canada, particularly the east coast of Newfoundland, except for two little parts which we call the nose and tail of the Grand Banks.

However, because of the nature of the terrain of the Grand Banks the fish conjugate on the Grand Banks. Once one goes past the Grand Banks into deeper water it is a different situation altogether.

We would like to assure that when fish leave the major part of the Grand Banks, which is in Canadian waters, and go to the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, some of them will gradually come back.

What is happening is that foreign vessels are on the nose and tail outside Canadian waters in great numbers. Very few of the fish that go out there are coming back. The fish that go out there do not come back into Canadian waters. We feel we are losing a great deal of our fisheries resource.

The member for Gaspé said that we should not tell other countries what kind of fish they should catch. If France wants to catch a small cod then it should be able to do that. However, it is not that simple. The fact is that if one catches a small cod then that cod does not grow up to be a big cod.

Where does one stop on small cod? If one can catch small cod then why can one not catch all the small cod that go outside the Canadian jurisdiction? It really is a very serious question. There have to be rules and regulations on the catching of small and juvenile fish.

We have to try to negotiate.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is in Brussels right now, negotiating with other countries to try to reach an agreement on the section concerning the fisheries.

If the minister is not successful then he will be developing other means of discussing this. He has stated to the House and to the country that this is a very serious question and he wants to find a resolution to it one way or the other. Negotiation is the preference.

Criminal Code February 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, there are under consideration right now by the minister of fisheries quite comprehensive provisions relating to the fishery on the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence which is going to have quite a sufficient effect on the fishery, its future and how we are going to deal with its problems.

We are trying to deal with the foreign vessels fleeing the jurisdiction without getting into actual protection in other areas of the fishery.

Because of the nature and the complicated aspect of the fishery considerations that the minister is now pondering and the time it is going to take to put the final package together, that will come a little later.

I hope the hon. member can understand that we do not want to take a part of this away from the minister of fisheries because it is going to be a part of the whole package we expect.

Criminal Code February 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all hon. members who agreed to partake in the debate today on Bill C-8. I would like to deal with some of the concerns as I understand the bill and to express my opinions as they relate to the legislation.

First of all I would like to discuss some of the questions that were brought forward regarding the fleeing felon legislation, in particular police officers and criminals.

After that, I would like to talk about fishing off the coasts of our country.

The member for Delta said that we really have to be concerned more with the safety of the police officers. This legislation is not meant to do everything in the criminal field to deal with all of our concerns.

The member for Wild Rose said it is unfortunate that the first piece of legislation the justice department brings forward deals with reducing the power of the police.

First, it does not reduce the power of the police. Second, the reason this legislation is coming forward now is because of the negotiation and consultation that has taken place over the past two years by this government and the preceding government. There was a lot of dialogue, going back to 1992. The consideration of this subject matter has gone on. The Department of

Justice now feels that the time has come to put this legislation before the House of Commons. I think to delay it further would be totally unnecessary.

It does not take away from the powers of the police. What we have is legislation that is overly broad in the Criminal Code. The current provision does not direct police officers to consider the danger posed by the escape of the suspect before using deadly force to attempt to prevent the escape.

It appears from the literal reading of subsection 25(4) that deadly force can be used to stop a suspect from avoiding arrest even though the suspect poses no risk of physical harm to anyone, including the police officer, provided of course that the escape cannot be prevented by reasonable means in a less violent matter.

What we are saying here is that we are not risking the life of the police officer. We are not going to risk the life of anybody for whom the police officer has the role of protection. If it is felt that anyone's life or safety is threatened or grievous harm could come to that person, deadly force would be used. There are certain crimes which by their very nature would not pose a threat to the police officer or to the public if that suspect escaped. There would be other means of arresting that suspect.

We are not letting anyone go. We are not endangering anyone's life. We are saying that the law as it is now is so broad that the police can use deadly force for any offence that they wish. That is not in the interest of society and, from the discussions I have had with the police, it is not in the interest of the police. Every time somebody who is suspected of a crime is shot, people automatically say: "Ah ha, the police are gun happy. They just shot somebody for no reason at all". That is often not the case at all. Maybe now and then, in a very isolated incident, a policeman or policewoman uses his or her firearm unnecessarily. Very seldom will a police officer even draw his or her firearm unnecessarily.

I would be the last one to say that we are changing this legislation because police officers are using this section in the Criminal Code unnecessarily. They are not. They are being very responsible about the use of their firearms. There is no question about that.

This law has been in the Criminal Code in this fashion for a long time and we feel the time has come to change it. We are not in any way trying to reduce the effect and the force of the police.

The situation is that we have consulted with police officers in this regard. They feel that this provision in the Criminal Code should be changed. We also say that any doubt whatsoever is going to be given to the police officer. This is very clear in the provision as it relates to penitentiaries.

It was stated by the member for Scarborough earlier today that only certain guards in penitentiaries are armed. The fact is they are armed for a reason. If there is an escape from a federal institution-not a provincial or municipal institution because it is not felt that escapees from there are going to pose the same threat as from a federal institution-the guard cannot by the very nature of the institution take the time to find out if this is one of the more hardened criminals or one of the less dangerous criminals. Because there are hardened criminals in that institution, the guard has the right to use his or her firearm.

We have to look at this legislation. We have to look at it not from the point of view of changing it because the law has already been changed by the court decision. On April 26, 1993, the current subsection 25(4) of the code was ruled to be an unconstitutional violation of a suspect's section 7 charter right to life and security of the person. This was decided by the Ontario court in the case of R. versus Lines.

We have a charter decision in which the court said that if somebody has committed a crime and is fleeing, they can be shot. This very provision puts the life and the rights of the criminal in danger. I do not think anyone in this House would say that even suspects do not have rights under the charter. Every Canadian has rights under the charter.

We do not want to see criminals escape. I agree with the member for Delta that it seems to be more involved now to test the determination of the police to make the arrest, and more and more people are thumbing their noses at the authority of the police. That in itself does not warrant the person being shot. We have to keep that in mind. We have to look first of all to the fact that public safety is our most important consideration. We have to look too at the role of the police officer. As I see by this legislation, the police officer is not having his or her role interfered with or handicapped in any way.

I agree with members opposite that if that were the case then I too would have to look at this legislation in another light altogether. Because this is not the case, we have to make this change.

What happens if, although it has not gone to the Supreme Court of Canada, this provision of the Criminal Code is designated as being unconstitutional in accordance with section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Once that happens, effectively the provision is null and void.

What we will have here is a provision which is ineffective if we do not make a change. By not making the change we are hindering the operation of the police because they do not have any guideline now. The existing guidelines have been determined to be contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We have an obligation now to make this change, to take away the

grey area, and to explicitly say in constitutionally acceptable terms what it is the police can do. That is all we are doing here.

I think we owe it to the police and to society to do this.

Something else is really important here too. The member for Gaspé, for example, says that he wants to move an amendment to the bill. It is a good idea because the standing committee will sit soon, maybe next week. It will be appropriate to present amendments in committee, and I would like to assure the hon. member here that his amendment will be considered and I thank him for his interest.

I do not promise that his amendment will be adopted, but it will receive our consideration.

It is a really serious situation, as the last speaker for the Bloc Quebecois said. We have a serious situation with the fisheries off Canada's Atlantic coast.

In Atlantic Canada now, we have more than 45,000 unemployed people. It is really serious and it is bad for the people of Atlantic Canada as well as for Quebecers, because there is really no more fishing now. We have a feeling that fishermen off the coast of other countries have the same problem. It is really necessary to have something, so that we can tell fishermen in Quebec and Atlantic Canada that there will be laws and regulations which will be applied in their interest.

We have to do something to tell the people we know there is a problem with foreign overfishing. We are not changing the laws here. We are not bringing forward something that does not exist right now. We are putting this into what we are considering in Bill C-8.

We are saying that we are not going to bring forward confrontation with foreign vessels. That is not the intention. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans outlined in detail the process we go through in confronting a foreign vessel. It is very detailed. Every chance is given for the master of the vessel to bring the vessel to a stop or to turn it around. Sufficient time is given for the crew to vacate a certain part of the vessel so that what has to be done will be done without endangering the lives of the crew of the vessel.

If something is not done then we are telling the foreign fishing vessels to come in and overfish and make a clean getaway. That is not the message we want to send. It is getting far too serious for that right now.

We do not want confrontation and it has not been done to date but we have to do something to enforce the fishing rules in our jurisdiction.

The last speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, has a great deal of experience and he was an admiral in the Canadian navy. He will give us some indication of how this can be done and how the Canadian government and the authorities would confront a foreign vessel.

I want to thank the members of the House for their participation. We welcome all their considerations in committee. We welcome any suggestions they may have. We want to have a good hearing on this. We want to call some witnesses. We are not going to call an unlimited number of witnesses but we want to get good witnesses who can make a contribution. The minister will appear to answer some questions that members of the committee may have. We want to take this to committee so we can begin this study.

I feel that there is a good reason for this legislation and we are going to aid the enforcement of our fisheries laws and regulations. We are going to give to the police officers a good provision that is constitutionally correct under which they can act. We are going to do this without hurting or inhibiting the security of the Canadian people.

I think what we are doing with this legislation is in the interest of all Canadians.

Justice February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address that question by saying this is a very serious situation which needs a great deal of study.

As the hon. member can appreciate, it is not the role of government to interfere in decisions of the court but we learn from the decisions of the courts. That gives us the information needed to formulate the policy we want to bring forward to Canadians to honour the commitments made in the red book.

I assure the hon. member that this subject is being studied very carefully. Hopefully it will be reflected in policy by the government in the not too distant future.

Speech From The Throne January 28th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak on the speech from the throne. I feel it is perhaps one of the most important we have had in this century.

The previous government was able to postpone major decisions, things that needed to be done to bring this country to the point where it could reach its true potential. The people recognized that it had failed them. That is why it has only two members in the House of Commons at the present time. We can never forget that the people want good government. They want responsible government and they want their members of Parliament to give them the Canada that they envision.

We talk about unity. The single most important thing to provide unity in this country is good government. I predict that good government will hold this country together as nothing else will. If we can deliver what is in the speech from the throne, if members of this House can work together, then we can give to the people the government they want. We can also give back to ourselves and this House the prestige and the dignity that so befits this institution. Unfortunately this has not been the case in recent years. Largely it is because members of Parliament brought it on themselves.

We must look at what Canada needs. We need to deal with the debt and the deficit. Certainly when we have an economy that pays 35 cents of every dollar for no other purpose than paying the interest on the debt it must seem to Canadians of low and middle income, and indeed to Canadians who do not have any income, as an obscene use of funding. The people of this country, so many of whom are in need, are not having their needs addressed.

We must deal with the economy, but we must remember that we are here for the people of Canada. As stated in the speech from the throne says, we must look at providing a social system that meets the needs of the nineties. That is not to say we take away what Canadians need. It means that we look at our system, discover its needs and what Canadians need, how with our technological age we can better deliver the system and how we can generate, not only work but enthusiasm for Canadians in this decade.

Taking a life is a very serious thing. I want to say to this House that wasting a life may not seem as serious but it is very serious. That is what is happening to our young people who do not have jobs. They are going from one part-time job to another. In many cases this is the most they have to look forward to. This is a tragedy in the country that the United Nations said was the most beneficial and best country in the world in which to live.

We have a lot to do. We have a lot of self-searching to do. We must reduce the debt and the deficit but we must keep in mind the people of Canada.

In my area in Atlantic Canada there has been an absolute collapse of the ground fishery. All of us in this House are cognizant of the unemployment we suffered before this happened. However, add another 35,000 to 45,000 people who have lost their employment to that serious situation that existed before and it will give some idea of the devastation with which we are faced.

We cannot walk away from that. We cannot walk away from those people and their needs or from the aspirations of the youth of Atlantic Canada. We cannot walk away from the aboriginal people who are looking to this government and to this House of Commons to meet their needs. They have been asking for solutions for many years. We cannot abandon the people of Davis Inlet. We cannot abandon the people of northern Ontario who live in substandard housing.

The aboriginal people are a vital part of this country and we must work together to make sure that their living conditions and their future is something they can look forward to as we hope we will be looking forward to ours.

We cannot ignore the environment. We do not know what caused the devastating downturn in our ground fishery. It may very well be environmental conditions. It could be a melting of the polar ice cap which changed the temperature of the water.

These are the situations with which we are faced today. They have been postponed and then put on to us. However, we in this House cannot postpone them in turn because the time to deal with them is now. There is nowhere else to push these problems. We have to deal with them. We must again look to working on the deficit and the debt and also keep in mind that there are things with which we must deal now.

We must also look to the needs of people today with respect to crime prevention and safety on the streets of this country. This is a major concern.

I want to say that, until one evening, I did not realize how serious the fear was for women in this country who are walking on the streets. On that evening I worked until around 10 p.m. and then I walked down Sparks Street. I tried to cross Elgin Street before the light changed so I started to run. There was a lady ahead of me and she heard these running footsteps behind her. She turned around and I saw a look of stark terror on her face because she knew there was a man behind her who started to run.

The fact is that women in this country get off from work in the dark and take the bus at this time of year. When they get off the bus and every time they pass a tree or a hedge or another building they do not know who is behind those trees, hedges or buildings. Are the elevators safe in which they are going to travel? This has to be addressed.

We have to address the problems of the youth in this country and the youth crime that is so evidently displayed. We must deal with the criminals and the victims. We must start at the very beginning to address and anticipate what is causing crime in this country. The first part is dealing with the criminals and the second part is dealing with prevention. These two go hand in hand. These two are absolutely necessary. It has been said that for every $1 we spend on crime prevention we save $7 in incarceration and expense in our justice system.

These are formidable challenges for members of this House of Commons.

This is our opportunity to show Canadians that although we are faced with difficult decisions we can deal with them because as a unit, members from coast to coast to coast share a concern for Canada and its people.

We cannot talk about people in one region without talking about people in all of Canada. That is because the common thread in this country is the aspirations and present needs of these people and their children. These needs that seem to be unique to one neighbourhood have the same uniqueness in another. That means there is a common bond and there is no uniqueness. There is the common thread of personal safety and aspirations for their children. We all have the same joys and sorrows.

I therefore hope that all the representatives will have the same determination to put this country on the road to prosperity with the vision that Canadians hold for it.