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

Atlantic Canada February 22nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice shares the hon. member's concern and commitment to addressing the serious problem of family violence.

Recent examples of the justice minister's commitment include Bill C-42 which was proclaimed on February 15, 1995 and amended the Criminal Code peace bond provisions to help prevent acts of family violence before they occur. These amendments will allow police and others to apply on behalf of persons at risk of harm for a peace bond. They will also enable the court to specify the conditions that can be imposed as part of the peace bond including, for example, prohibiting the husband from being at or near the family home or from communicating with his wife.

These amendments also make the breach of a peace bond more serious by making it punishable on indictment and liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of two years instead of the previous summary conviction maximum of six months.

Another example is Bill C-41 introduced on June 13, 1994 which proposes sentencing reforms and would make the abuse of a position of trust or authority in the commission of an offence an aggravating factor in sentencing.

On February 14, 1995 the Minister of Justice tabled Bill C-68 which proposes significant reforms to control firearms. We know for instance from the Statistics Canada spousal homicide survey that between 1974 and 1992 a married woman was nine times as likely to be killed by her spouse as by a stranger and that 42 per cent of women killed by their spouses during this period

were killed with guns. These firearms' proposals will provide a clear and effective response to prevent such use of firearms.

The Minister of Justice also acknowledges the importance and value of consulting with Canadians. Public consultations provide the government with invaluable insight into various issues.

A recent example of the value of such consultations is the June 1994 national consultation with women's organizations on violence against women issues which included family violence. This national consultation was co-hosted by the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for the Status of Women.

These existing efforts to address family violence by the federal government will help to protect women, children and seniors who are the primary victims of family violence. The individual efforts of members such as the hon. member's public forums will clearly contribute to the national capacity to better understand and respond to family violence.

Young Offenders Act February 10th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 5 is the substantive amendment I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks.

This issue revolves around the obligation of police to advise young persons before taking a statement of the possibility of the youth being dealt with as an adult.

Bill C-37 proposed an amendment to require police to so warn a youth where applicable. The language in the bill has been criticized for being vague and for possibly resulting in the exclusion of statements that would otherwise be admissible.

The effect of this motion is to rely on the common law principles articulated by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R v. ET, 1993. This option will allow the courts to examine the specific circumstances under which the statement was given to determine the relevance of the warning relating to the possibility of transfer.

Proceeding in this way will also allow broader study of this and other evidentiary issues in the broader review of the youth justice system and the Young Offenders Act.

Motion No. 6 is technical in nature. Its effect is to clarify that the requirement for a waiver to be signed by the young person applies only to a written waiver and not to a videotaped waiver.

One of the reasons for amending Bill C-37 to allow for videotape waivers is that some youth are willing to waive their rights to consult counsel and/or an adult and to make a statement but are unwilling to sign the waiver. Currently the Young Offenders Act does not provide for oral waivers.

Motion No. 7 is technical in nature and intended to clarify an ambiguity. Bill C-37 provides in subparagraph 56(5.1)(c) for the situation where a youth misrepresents his or her age and then subsequently seeks to rely on the evidentiary safeguards for youth provided in section 56.

The bill would permit a judge to rule a statement admissible under specified circumstances even where the normal safeguards required for admissibility of statements have not been met. One of the circumstances is that the statement would be admissible in common law and under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The additional clause in subparagraph (c) which states "and its admission would be appropriate" is vague and is seen as unnecessary.

Young Offenders Act February 10th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the three motions which have been grouped together are consequential in nature.

Motion No. 2 flows from the creation in Bill C-37 of two additional repositories. One is the special records repository which is referred to in clause 32, page 25, proposed section

45(2), and the other is the fingerprint repository which is referred to in clause 32, page 27, proposed section 45(3).

These two repositories will permit the RCMP to store records for additional periods of time. The provisions however require a more limited access than the general repository of the RCMP. The amendment will clarify the point in time at which the records may be transferred from the general repository to the special repositories. The existing scheme already requires a crime free period of behaviour before a youth's record may be subject to destruction.

The scheme in Bill C-37 prolongs the period that records of certain offences will be detained as further precaution. In effect, the records from the general repository are moved to a more restricted repository once the young person has met specified conditions set out in section 45(1) as amended by clause 31 of Bill C-37. The time periods for retention in the general repository were amended in Bill C-37 to generally correspond with pardon periods applicable to adults.

Motion No. 3 flows from the Bill C-37 changes to the record provisions which allow for shorter retention periods for less serious offences and require longer retention for more serious offences. These retention periods will apply to the records of young offenders dealt with prior to the coming into force of Bill C-37.

The effect of the motion is to require young offenders who have received absolute or conditional discharges or have been found guilty of a summary conviction offence to apply for the destruction of their records if they wish the shorter time periods to be applied to them. The conditional discharges were not legislatively provided for in the Young Offenders Act but were introduced into Bill C-37. This motion includes conditional discharges as some judges ordered them.

This measure will allow eligible youth the benefit of early destruction of their records. It is also resource efficient and will avoid the necessity of a mutual case by case search through the existing data bank which could cost well in excess of one million dollars.

For a youth whose records will come into existence following implementation of Bill C-37, the process will be automated and no application by the young person will be required.

With respect to Motion No. 4, like the other two it is consequential in nature. It flows from the motion passed by the committee at the committee stage which removes aggravated assault from the list of offences which trigger presumptive transfers. The option of seeking to have a case involving this charge transferred to the adult court remains open to the crown or course.

The effect of section 45.02(2) is that records relating to murder and to any of the presumptive transfer offences may be kept indefinitely in a special repository of the RCMP.

Young Offenders Act February 10th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on Bill C-37 regarding the amendments that are before the House today.

As members are aware undoubtedly, numerous motions were passed by the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs following very lengthy testimony on Bill C-37. We had before the committee approximately 40 witnesses.

The government today has tabled further motions, eight to be exact, to which I would like to speak. Seven of these motions involve technical improvements to the bill and one addresses a more substantive issue.

These suggestions have arisen as a result of further review of the bill and from recent consultations with the provinces, the territories and youth justice professionals.

The Minister of Justice recently met with his counterparts, provincial and territorial, in Victoria, B.C. The provinces, as members know, administer large aspects of the Young Offenders Act. They requested changes that would be in their interests primarily in the administration of this act. We were most willing to comply because we want the act to work as well as it possibly can.

Motion No. 1 serves to clarify which provisions of the code will apply dealing with the preliminary inquiries where a youth is charged with murder and the matter is going to be dealt with in youth court.

The existing language of Bill C-37 speaks to proceedings being regulated by the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to juries and trials of indictable offences. The revised language is specific as to the relevant provisions of preliminary inquiries as well as the initiation and conduct of jury trials.

Fresh Water February 8th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the issue appears to stem from an interpretation of section 116 of the Criminal Code.

Through orders in council adopted pursuant to section 84 of the code, firearms may become prohibited or restricted.

It seems that in one case with which I am familiar, the case of Simmermon decided by the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, it was ruled that these orders in council must be subjected to the procedure provided by section 116(2) of the code.

According to the section regulations made pursuant to section 116(1) must be laid before each House of Parliament at least 30 sitting days before they are to become effective so that public hearings may be conducted. It appears that the court felt that orders in council made under the authority of section 84 of the Criminal Code are also regulations adopted pursuant to section 116(1).

I understand that it is the view of the Attorney General of Alberta that this is not the appropriate interpretation and that an appeal of that Alberta Queen's Bench decision has been launched.

I was pleased to note that the Minister of Justice in his reply to the hon. member observed quite correctly in my view that orders in council made under the provisions of section 84(1) of the Criminal Code do not fall within the ambit of section 116 of the code.

The minister made his position quite clear: "Although there is a judicial decision of the trial court which holds that it is necessary even under section 84 to lay the regulations before the House, that decision is under appeal to the appellate division of the court in Alberta. We have every confidence the judgment was wrong in that respect and that we will succeed in the appeal".

Given the case is before the courts it would obviously be inappropriate to comment further other than to reaffirm our confidence that the court of appeal will rule that the making of orders in council pursuant to section 84 of the Criminal Code is not governed by the regulation making power of section 116 of the code.

Questions On The Order Paper February 7th, 1995

Federal/provincial/territorial ministers responsible for justice will be meeting with a delegation of ministers responsible for health in the latter part of January or early February, 1995. The report of a federal/provincial/territorial task force respecting dangerous offenders will be a topic of discussion on the agenda and the use of provincial mental health legislation to effect civil commitment will be an option among those discussions. The degree of consensus we can achieve at that meeting will largely determine the speed with which we can proceed.

Bill C-45 is currently before the House and contains amendments permitting the National Parole Board to detain persons with a high risk of offending against children until their warrant expiry date.

While legislative amendments and federal/provincial/territorial agreements/protocols will go some way to providing better tools to deal with offenders of this sort, it is doubtful that any failsafe mechanism can be found to eliminate all risk. Prudent attention to crime prevention behaviours will always be required by careful citizens.

Question No. 127-

Questions On The Order Paper February 6th, 1995

The Department of Justice does not hire private lawyers either on a standing or ad hoc basis to replace local provincial crown counsel. Agents of the Attorney General provide legal services that would otherwise be provided by Department of Justice lawyers but cannot be provided because of geographic location or workload pressures.

In those circumstances where it has been necessary to hire standing or ad hoc crown agents to conduct federal prosecutions, the prosecutions have been pursuant to such legislation as the Narcotic Control Act, the Food and Drug Act, the Income Tax Act, the Competition Act and the Fisheries Act. In 1992-93, the federal government paid crown agents $21.3 million for criminal prosecution work. As well, other work performed by crown agents on behalf of the federal government totalled $18.7 million. This means that the total cost of crown agent work for 1992-93 was $40 million.

As a result of these very significant costs, the Department of Justice began to look at alternate approaches in its provision of criminal prosecution services. One approach involves pilot projects that, where economically feasible, would replace crown agents currently performing prosecution responsibilities with respect to the Narcotic Control Act and the Food and Drug Act with in-house Department of Justice counsel. The first such project is currently under way in Toronto with two other sites under consideration. It is expected that these pilot projects will realize savings ranging from 15 to 20 per cent and serve as part of the department's commitment to the cost effective provision of government services to the public.

Questions On The Order Paper December 15th, 1994

Total amount of funding questioned by the auditors: $2,770,131


Core Program, 1993-1994 Canadian Heritage: $514,180 Total: $514,180

Tri-Partite Program, 1993-1994 Privy Council Office: $313,320 Saskatchewan Indian and Metis Affairs Secretariat: $313,320 Total: $626,640

Core Program, 1992-1993 Canadian Heritage: $601,311 Department of Justice: $50,000 Saskatchewan Indian and Metis Affairs Secretariat: $10,000 Total: $661,311

Tripartite Program, 1992-1993 Saskatchewan Indian and Metis Affairs Secretariat: $370,000 Department of Justice: $460,600 Saskatchewan Social Services: $71,000 Total: $901,600

Fur Trappers Meeting, 1992-1993 Saskatchewan Indian and Metis Affairs Secretariat: $10,000 Total: $10,000

Justice System Program, 1992-1993 Department of Justice: $56,400 Total $56,400

Question No. 82-

Violence Against Women December 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues recently stood in the House and admitted that she was beaten by a man.

A member of the Reform Party tried to connect this to the tragic situation five years ago in Montreal at l'École polytechnique by saying: "Let's not bring disrespect to that day by trying to use it for an inappropriate political agenda".

What is more appropriate than women saying in the House and across the country that abuse against women and children is not acceptable and they are not going to stand for it?

What better testimony to these 14 young women than the courage of the women of Canada in the support of abolishment of abuse against women? What is more appropriate than members standing individually and collectively to abolish violence against women in this country?

Petitions November 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to submit three petitions on behalf of my colleague, the hon. member for Cape Breton-Highlands-Canso. They relate to the devastation of the Atlantic groundfish industry caused by the seals and the fact that the seal industry has declined because of the European attitudes toward seals.

Now that the groundfish stocks have declined, they urge the government to recognize the opportunity presented by the huge seal populations and designate herds for use as viable entrepreneurial resources.