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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

Government Appointments June 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, prosecutions by the federal government take many forms.

The Criminal Code is a very large book. A lawyer can go a whole career and never have prosecutions under certain sections. It is extremely unreasonable not to allow a representative of the attorney general not to prosecute because he or she may not have had a previous case under that particular section.

Government Appointments June 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment on the case because it is possible the decision will be appealed.

The lawyer for the crown, the prosecutor, was an experienced litigator and had been a representative of the attorney general since 1986.

Government Appointments May 31st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is saying that because the Liberal Party was able to associate itself with very competent people during the election campaign and so many throughout Canada, as the popular vote would indicate, there will be quite a few of them who are Liberals.

That person is a Liberal certainly does not discount them from being a capable lawyer. If we were to discount all the capable lawyers who are Liberals we would have a difficult time in awarding contracts.

Government Appointments May 31st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to answer a question when we do not know what the case was and we do not know who the law firms were. All we know is there was work supplied by the Department of Justice.

Contracts by the Department of Justice are given very carefully with a great deal of forethought, and all the firms with which the Department of Justice does business are very competent in the field in which they are to be working.

Questions On The Order Paper May 11th, 1995

One of the primary objectives of the Young Offenders Act is to fashion dispositions which provide adequate public protection while maximizing the opportunities for the rehabilitation of young offenders. While Canadians may have different views on how this objective can be met, it seems clear that our fundamental goal is to ensure that as many youth as possible become fully participating and contributing members of our society as adults, in accordance with the values of our society.

The changes which the government has introduced to the act in Bill C-37, which is currently before the Senate, attempt to clarify the distinction between appropriate responses for non-violent versus violent offences. The bill further states that young persons who are not convicted of crimes involving serious offences can be held accountable for their actions through non-custodial dispositions. There is an opportunity, in our view, for greater use of more constructive dispositions such as compensation, restitution, and community service in situations where public safety is not at issue.

With regard to offences of violence, Bill C-37 is clear that public protection must be given priority in assessing the nature and length of dispositions appropriate for these offences. The maximum sentences for youth charged with murder who remain within the youth justice system have been lengthened to ensure that public confidence in the system is not undermined by responses which seem disproportionate to the gravity of the crime. Bill C-37 provides that 16 and 17-year old offenders charged with very serious offences, such as murder, manslaughter and aggravated sexual assault, will be presumed to be dealt with in adult court unless they can satisfy the court that the competing interests of public protection and their rehabilitation can be reconciled within the youth justice system.

A review of actual sentencing practices and the rate of recidivism is one criterion by which attainment of the objectives of the act can be measured. Are offenders charged with serious crimes of violence receiving sentences which provide adequate protection to the public while affording them opportunities for rehabilitation? We know that only 19 per cent of crime committed by young persons involves violence, Youth Court Statistics 1993-94, in Juristat , January 1995, Vol. 15, No. 3, p. 7. Some suggest, in fact, that young offenders are more likely to receive dispositions which are more onerous than adults.

Another criterion for assessing whether the objectives of the act have been realized is the degree of public confidence in the youth justice system. In part, this is also a public information issue as there appears to be some misconceptions about the nature and length of sentences given in respect of crimes involving youth. There are statistics which indicate that there appears to be a gradual increase in the use of custody in respect of young offender dispositions and that much of this custody is used in respect of property offenders. Not many Canadians appear to know how the youth system actually operates and how successful it has been. Public legal education is an important initiative with which the Department of Justice is involved in conjunction with other government departments.

In terms of the efforts the Department of Justice has made to evaluate the success of the act, this work is already under way. The Department of Justice, in collaboration with the provinces, set up a Federal-Provincial-Territorial Youth Justice Task Force to prepare a report by the fall for ministers and deputy ministers respecting various pertinent issues relevant to youth justice. Some of the issues being canvassed are appropriate mechanisms to deal with serious offenders, a determination of the interrelationship between the justice system and other services, such as health and child welfare, and the role of diversion in responding to criminal behaviour.

Informing all of this work is recognition of the need to formulate a scheme which is responsive to public conerns about the youth justice system, while at the same time maximizing opportunities for constructive responses to youth crime. That process will give us a very comprehensive assessment about the ability of the Young Offenders Act to meet its objectives.

The Department of Justice is also in constant contact with legal experts and practitioners in the youth justice system during the formulation of policy which affects young offenders. These inter-actions provide the department with ongoing feedback about the effectiveness of the Young Offenders Act.

Current public discussion about the Young Offenders Act has also alerted law makers to the limitations of legislation. We are quite convinced that legislation alone will not eliminate youth crime. Poverty, unemployment, family violence, racism, illiteracy, alcoholism and drug abuse and many other factors may contribute to criminal acts by young people and adults alike. In this regard, Bill C-37 expressly recognizes that crime prevention is essential to the long term protection of society and requires addressing the underlying causes of crime by young persons. In turn, this mandates the need to develop multi-disciplinary approaches to identifying and effectively responding to children and young persons at risk of committing offending behaviour in the future.

Question No. 169-

Gun Control May 8th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, there is no intention on the part of the federal government to ram the bill through Parliament, nor is it the intention of the federal government to delay the bill unduly. It is taking a natural course through the House of Commons.

It is presently before the standing committee. We have witnesses and the witnesses are making excellent presentations. It is going as it was meant to go, and hopefully we will receive further good testimony from the witnesses, which we can review and perhaps make substantive amendments to the bill before it leaves committee.

Gun Control May 8th, 1995

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Questions On The Order Paper May 5th, 1995

No national data are available for question parts (a) through (e). Although it would be very useful for policy making purposes, police have no standard form for reporting this information. To provide national statistics under the present system would be administratively impractical.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has recommended the government establish a system for the registration of all guns because it will assist criminal investigations.

A universal registration system will also support the production of new national statistics. The architects of the system are addressing the feasibility of collecting data on the extent to which the system will assist law enforcement efforts.

Question No. 152-

Peacekeeping Act April 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce has asked about the government's intentions with respect to reforms of the Access to Information Act.

The act is now 12 years old and much has changed since the act was first adopted. At that time access to information was seen as innovative and statutory rights to government information was thought to be a bold step.

Now we are fully in the information age. Canadians are increasingly purchasing computers and equipping them with modems. They are on the eve of the convergence of the television with computers. Those who have a television will also have the mechanism by which to retrieve information from the world at large. The Internet has completely changed our earlier notions of what access to information means.

The Access to Information Act was studied by a parliamentary committee in 1987. The information commissioner issued extensive recommendations to reform the act on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. The information commissioner also released background information studies he had commissioned, including one on information technology and open government.

The federal government recently adopted a blueprint for improving government services using new technology. It has created the Information Highway Advisory Council which is scheduled to report to the Minister of Industry in the spring.

Federal and provincial governments are engaged in a variety of pilot projects designed to provide more government information and services electronically. In the United States the department of justice has issued a draft consultation paper on electronic access to government information.

These initiatives are making more government information available than has previously been the case. This information is being provided outside the Access to Information Act and therefore with less red tape, more quickly and at virtually no cost to citizens.

All commentators on the Access to Information Act agree that what is needed most of all is a change in attitude that results in more government information becoming routinely available without requiring citizens to request it under the expensive and sometimes slow process of the Access to Information Act.

Progress is being made. There is no question that the Access to Information Act needs reforms. The minister has promised that the government will come forward with reforms.

The Liberal Party has made open government a promise in the red book. The minister has indicated that the Department of Justice is at work identifying areas where reforms could be made. We need to take the minister at his word. Reforms are coming. While precise details and dates are not now available, these will unfold in due course.

Multiculturalism April 5th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the federal government in partnership with the provinces and territories has reached a national consensus on the directions Canada will take to address the challenge of climate change.

In a meeting in Toronto on February 20, energy and environment ministers from the federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to Canada's national action program on climate change. The Deputy Prime Minister tabled the action plan today at the first conference of the parties to the framework convention on climate change in Berlin.

The action program sets out the strategic directions Canada will follow to meet its commitment to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000. The action program is based on the principle of sustainable development as advocated by the Brundtland commission, an approach in which environmental, social and economic policies are fully integrated.

Consequently, the action program provides the opportunity for each jurisdiction in Canada to undertake actions appropriate to their circumstances. The program is a living document. The federal, provincial and territorial governments are committed to reviewing the program regularly to ensure that Canada's stabilization commitment is met.

Toward that end all ministers committed to review progress by late 1990 and agreed to continue developing options to close the 13 per cent stabilization gap that currently exists. The release today of Quebec's action plan on climate change is a noteworthy example of the action being taken by other jurisdictions in Canada.

The aim of this government as stated in the red book is to co-operatively work with provincial and urban governments to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energies.

Responding to the challenge of climate change represents a tremendous opportunity for Canadians to use their entrepreneurial spirit to forge ahead with creative and credible solutions, solutions that work for the environment and for our economy.