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

Protection Of Personal Information Obtained By Certain Corporations Act December 12th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Burnaby-Kingsway has not said anything which I would contest with respect to me or Minister of Justice. It is still the intention of the Minister of Justice to allow this debate.

The hon. member has requested that the Minister of Justice advise the House when members will have the opportunity to review the issue of physician assisted suicide, including the provisions of section 241 of the Criminal Code.

Both the hon. member and the Minister of Justice have referred to the important work undertaken by the special committee on euthanasia and assisted suicide which tabled its report in June of last year. The terms of reference provided that it examine and report on the legal, social and ethical issues regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The report is lengthy and contains recommendations concerning palliative care, pain control, sedation practices, withholding and withdrawal of life sustaining treatment, advanced directives, assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Of the recommendations presented in the report, there are a number of legal implications unanimously agreed on by committee members. This was not the case with respect to their recommendations concerning assisted suicide.

While the senators were unanimous in their view that counselling suicide, subsection 241(a), should remain an offence, they were not unanimous in respect of the provision of subsection 241(b). As the Minister of Justice has indicated, there was difficulty in achieving consensus with respect to some of the most fundamental questions that arose in the course of the committee's study.

Specifically, with respect to the issue of assisted suicide, a majority of the committee recommended that subsection 241(b) of-

Petitions December 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring forward a petition from a great number of people in southern Ontario who are opposed to the approval of synthetic bovine growth hormone, the drug injected into cows to increase milk production.

They say there have not been sufficient studies to warrant this process, that there is a great risk to the health of people, not to mention the damage to the cows themselves. Australia, New Zealand, and the European Community have refused to approve BGH.

The petitioners want Parliament to take steps to keep BGH out of Canada through legislating a moratorium or stoppage of BGH use and sale until the year 2000 and to examine the outstanding health and economic questions through an independent and transparent review.

Supply November 22nd, 1995

We have to be able to say what we are working on. It is important that as part of the answer it be perceived that the government is working toward further solutions. A lot of the areas relate to provincial jurisdiction such as maintenance orders and matters of family law.

Also, we have done things with regard to the Young Offenders Act. We have said that with respect to young offenders we are making more information available. We have said there will be access to victims and they can present statements. We have said that we will allow people to use information from criminal cases in civil cases. We have done an awful lot, and the member should recognize that.

Supply November 22nd, 1995

Madam Speaker, the hon. member says he does not want to hear about things the government is working on.

Supply November 22nd, 1995

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Brandon-Souris.

The hon. member for Fraser Valley West has made some interesting allegations which I do not think are quite fair. The government has done a great deal in the areas the member mentioned with respect to victim impact statements. Recent amendments to the Young Offenders Act require victim impact statements. Under section 745, statements from victims are permitted and encouraged. The judges are to request statements from not only the victims or the families of the victims in this case but friends and neighbours of the victims.

The parole board now has to seek out statements from victims. It must give victims an indication of when someone is to be released who may endanger that person. That was not the case before but it has recently been the case. To my knowledge it is being implemented by the parole board.

There are improvements being made, in particular in the areas the member mentioned.

The assertion that there has been no attention paid to the role of victims is not quite fair. I wonder whether this assertion is not based on confusion about the purposes and principles being applied in criminal justice interventions.

Surprisingly, until recently no such statement existed in the Criminal Code. This situation was at odds with the degree of attention that we pay in Parliament to matters relating to tax,

international trade and unemployment insurance. It is at the stage of sentencing that the criminal justice system most consciously and visibly expresses its denunciation of behaviour; its attempts to deter or incapacitate people from further wrongdoing or when it orders reparation or redress for harm done or sets in place measures to bring about the rehabilitation of offenders.

Parliament's role to date in this process has been too often limited to setting maximum penalties for specific offences rather than dealing with the policy objectives of the sentencing process. It was clearly time Parliament put its collective mind to describing the kind of criminal justice system it wants to forge for Canadians.

This occasion was given to us in the sentencing bill, Bill C-41, introduced by the Minister of Justice. Of all the representation we receive, the most heart rending, as all members would agree, is the representation from victims. Victims of crimes often feel their immediate emotional, financial and physical needs are not being addressed.

The criminal justice system may appear at times to be overly concerned about the court process and the punishment of the offender and insufficiently concerned about victim needs.

Parliament has had the opportunity in this session to debate an important bill touching several aspects of the way victims are treated within the criminal justice system. With the sentencing bill, Bill C-41, Parliament had for the first time an opportunity to address the purpose and principles of criminal sentencing. The bill brought together the purpose and principles of sentencing, procedure and evidence and the various sanctions the courts may impose in a form that represents the collective view of Parliament and which touches on many issues of vital importance to victims.

Let me give some examples. Bill C-41, recently passed in the House, specifies that if an offence is motivated by bias, prejudice or hate it will be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing. The statement specifies that if an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or other similar factor, the court shall consider that the motivation be an aggravating factor.

Numerous recommendations have been made respecting breach of trust for offences involving violence against women and other vulnerable persons, including children.

A 1993 survey by Statistics Canada demonstrated that almost one-half of women reported experiencing violence during their lifetime by men known to them. In too many cases positions of trust were exploited, for example by parents against their children or by a physician against his or her patient.

In 1984 the Badgley committee called for the protection of children from persons they already know and may trust. Bill C-41 states that where there is evidence that the offender in committing an offence abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim, it shall also be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing.

All these changes respond to concerns raised by community groups, victims, and others about hate motivated violence and the plight of victims.

Bill C-41 took other important steps. The statement of purpose and principles specifically indicates that objectives for sentencing include the provision of reparations for harm done to victims or to the community and the promotion of a sense of responsibility in offenders in acknowledgement of the harm to victims and to the community. It goes further. Specific provision is made to ensure that any information provided by victims is considered during hearings held under section 745 of the Criminal Code.

A new set of measures respecting restitution, developed co-operatively with the federal government and our provincial colleagues, is set out in the bill. A priority for restitution is set out in the bill. If a court finds it appropriate to award both a fine and restitution, the priority shall go to restitution.

The House added a provision as well respecting restitution, stating that in the case of bodily harm or threat of bodily harm to an offender's spouse or child, the court may order restitution for expenses incurred by that person as a result of moving out of the offender's household, as well as for temporary housing, food, child care and transportation. Provision is made to ensure that restitution orders can be enforced by the civil courts.

The Criminal Code will specifically state that any restitution ordered by a criminal court will not limit the victim's right to sue for damages in the civil court.

The House of Commons participated in an important debate involving the status of victims in the criminal justice system. Significant changes were brought to our criminal law, aimed at improving the situations of victims in the system. The government and the House are concerned about victims and have demonstrated that concrete action at the legislative level is a priority of the government.

Johnny Miles October 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to offer birthday wishes to a great Canadian.

On October 30, Mr. Johnny Miles will be celebrating his 90th birthday. Mr. Miles is a two-time winner and the oldest surviving winner of the Boston Marathon.

As a native of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, and a current resident of Hamilton, Ontario, Mr. Miles has been a role model for generations of young athletes all across Canada.

He is a distinguished ambassador of Canadian amateur sport who has been honoured with the Order of Canada and inducted into the Nova Scotia and Canadian Sports Halls of Fame.

As a proud Canadian, Mr. Miles has said that nothing gives him greater pleasure than to do something for his country. We should all take pride in what this fine Canadian has achieved. I am sure my colleagues will want to join me in wishing him a very happy 90th birthday.

Law Commission Of Canada October 19th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to express my support for Bill C-106.

The legislation we are considering responds to the urgent need for a permanent body to advise the government on the improvement, modernization and reform of the laws of Canada. As this bill makes clear, there are many requirements to be met if this work is to succeed. We must have openness of process and the focusing of a multi-disciplined expertise on these issues.

Something else that is required is a close attention to the matter of costs by the commission both in its methods and in its goals. This was a concern expressed by the Reform Party. It is this aspect of the legislation I want to concentrate on today.

In the context of this bill, there are two aspects to the challenge of efficiency. One is the need for the commission itself to meet the test of cost effectiveness, both in its organizational architecture and in its approach. The other is the requirement that the commission's work contribute to the cost effectiveness of the Canadian legal system in general.

The structure of the commission supports these goals. Four of the five commissioners will serve on a part time basis. The members of the advisory council will serve without pay. So will the members of the temporary study panels that the commission will create to provide expert assistance on the specific issues of the day. Hon. members will also find that the administrative and the operational arrangements visualized in the bill reflect the concerns for costs.

The legislation steers the commission away from the pitfall of trying to do everything itself. As the preamble makes clear, it will promote partnerships with a wide range of interested groups and individuals, including the academic community.

The commission will save money by sharing services wherever practical. For instance, the previous commission maintained an in-house library. The new commission will make use of existing facilities. This approach is implicit in the administrative apparatus. The commission will be served by a secretariat of no more than eight people.

Unlike its predecessor body, the commission will not retain a significant body of full time researchers but will make greater use of contract help. There are several advantages to this arrangement. The most obvious is that one avoids having to hire an in-house expert specialist for every issue or alternatively, to expend time in bringing in-house staff up to speed on new agenda items.

Hon. members will also note that the bill designates the commission as a departmental corporation. This too impinges on cost effectiveness. It allows the commission to receive gifts, bequests and other donations from outside sources and to reimburse some costs through the sales of its publications.

The important question is what it will all cost. The government said as early as in the red book and has kept saying since that the commission will operate on a budget of $3 million a year, all of which will come from funds already voted. This is Spartan fare indeed considering that the previous law commission operated on approximately $5 million a year in its last operating year. Ten years ago it would not have been possible to tackle a task of this magnitude within these limits. What makes it possible today is the structure and the modus operandi outlined in the bill. What in turn makes that possible is new technology.

The bill before us recognizes the importance of that factor. The preamble incorporates as a guiding principle the requirement that the commission use new technology wherever appropriate in order to achieve, and I quote from the bill "efficiency in its operations and effectiveness in its results". The commission will do so in every phase of its operation.

For example, a large part of law reform is research, the painstaking gathering, sharing and storing of information. The use of modern information technology will make it easier and cheaper to do all of these things. The same technology will cut other costs down to size.

For example, law reform is envisaged in this legislation as a consultative process in which people from many fields and regions will present their viewpoints and reason together. In the days when that required a convergence of experts from all over Canada to one location, that activity alone would bite large holes into the operating budget. Today fortunately, we can achieve that meeting of minds at a much lower cost by making intelligent use of information technologies, for example through on-line networking, teleconferencing and video conferencing.

These new tools can also lighten the administrative load. The birth of a new organization no longer has to mean the making of a new multi-layered mini bureaucracy. On-line networking for example makes it possible for organizations to share personnel, pay and other services. The commission will take full advantage of these opportunities.

This bill is a mandate for the pursuit of efficiency, both in the internal workings of the commission and the interpretation of its mandate.

As the bill says, one function of the commission will be to recommend measures to make the legal system itself more efficient and economical. As the commission considers which of various options for reform to recommend, it will give full weight to the

element of costs, both the immediate ones and those associated with downstream economic and social impacts.

The importance of this part of the commission's role has influenced every aspect of its design. It is reflected, for example, in the emphasis in this bill on the multi-disciplinary approach to law reform, one that involves not only lawyers but also economists, scientists and other experts. Efficient solutions can only come when we see the problem in the whole context. This applies with full force to law reform.

The failure to take costs into effect leads to system overload. It weakens the administration and enforcement of the law. It undermines the confidence and credibility that sustains the law. Because the law touches on every aspect of our national life, it is detrimental to our national well-being if we do not take these cost factors into account.

Cost effectiveness, the quality of achieving a high ratio of output to input has achieved something of the status of a common cause. It is the recognized prerequisite to Canada's competitiveness on world markets. It is the key to the sustainability of the social programs which are this country's pride and its strength. It is vital to the efficiency of the legal system which has the infrastructure for everything else.

The cost effectiveness component will also allow us to bring together legal and other experts, scientists and scholars, through these technological advances to allow them to be part of improving the law in Canada. This is going to open up the whole process of law reform and the appreciation of the law in this country.

By spending less we are really going to be able to do more. Most of all, it is going to put us back in the lead of all western nations as a country that has a law reform commission or a law commission as it is in this case. In our modern society we have to have laws which are going to evolve with society. No law can be looked on as a law that will rest in its exact form for an indefinite period of time. We constantly must be looking at our laws and appraising the needs of society for changes in the laws.

If, as some members have said, this can be done through the Department of Justice, then of course we are blind to the context at which we must look at our law. We must look at our laws separate and apart from the Department of Justice so that recommendations can come to the department from outside. That is by far the healthiest way of approaching this.

Today in our society and in the world we must be conscious of the strength of the rule of law. People look to our laws and they look to our society. Part of our society is the fabric of our laws. When investment takes place it not only looks at the economic climate but it also looks at the stability of our system and the forthrightness of our laws.

This bill is going to do a great deal to enhance an already tremendous respect for the Canadian justice system throughout the world. I am very pleased we are dealing with this bill today.

Justice October 16th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Royer case, the Supreme Court of Canada has now been asked to look at it. As this case is before the supreme court it would be improper to comment on it.

This case is different from the Daviault case in that this is a crime of specific intent whereas the Daviault case was a crime of general intent.

The Minister of Justice is looking at the possibility of acting as an intervenor in this case if it goes before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Criminal Code October 16th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely correct that any one incident of this type is one too many. Women killed by abusive partners are an occurrence that happens too frequently.

As I mentioned in my first answer, the Minister of Justice is looking into the situation and are looking into electronic bracelets. We are working with the solicitor general and other departments to find a meaningful way of drastically reducing these types of tragedies.

Criminal Code October 16th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, although tragic events such as the ones the hon. member has referred to do not happen in great numbers, any one event like that is one too many.

The Minister of Justice is looking into the particular situation to see how the Department of Justice can perhaps help.