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

Justice November 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, a member of the Reform Party says no rush. I want to disagree with him. There is a rush.

The Minister of Justice has asked for the recodification to include the area to which the hon. member refers. She mentioned dialogue and studies. What Canadians do want are good laws. They want good laws that are going to serve the needs of Canadian society and that is what this government is going to bring forward.

Justice November 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, I think to the hon. member for Beaver River, this is a great concern to the Minister of Justice and there is going to be something done about this.

The whole question of extreme and excessive drunkenness is being included in the recodification of the Criminal Code. The report on that recodification is now before the Minister of Justice and he will be expressing his position on the contents of this recodification very shortly.

Young Offenders Act November 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, there is no punishment or sanction in the world that is going to compensate for the loss of a child.

The Reform Party is asking for justice and that is what it is getting from this government. Bill C-37, with amendments to the Young Offenders Act, is in committee at the present time. We have stated that we will be proceeding with a 10-year review of the Young Offenders Act.

We need consultation and dialogue to get the right law. If we were not dialoguing and consulting, there would be another complaint from the Reform Party.

Young Offenders Act November 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest to the hon. member that granted some young offenders cannot be rehabilitated, but most can. It is a very worthwhile exercise to seek the rehabilitation of young offenders because they are not going to serve their sentences forever. They are going to be back in society and it is in the interests of society that they be rehabilitated.

Justice October 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's offer for assistance but it is very difficult to make an amendment to something that the justice department is working on and has not yet presented to the House.

Justice October 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as I stated before, this is a very serious question. The Minister of Justice is concerned with it. He is taking it very seriously. The department is working on it very carefully.

It is not possible to make new laws in a few days. Good laws are going to take a little while but I can assure the House that this will not take any longer than absolutely necessary.

Patrick Kelly October 5th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is a little late. There has already been a press release issued. The Minister of Justice has appointed a special counsel to look into the Kelly case, both what has transpired and what will transpire. The investigation will continue through the department.

Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms October 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the government has said it will be bringing before this House further changes to Canada's gun control legislation some time before Christmas. This is a difficult challenge for all of us. I am sure that members on all sides of the House will agree with me that we must work together to find ways to make this legislation clear and effective but also fair.

The Minister of Justice recently said that the first and most important obligation of the government must be to protect the lives and safety of all Canadians. I agree with him. Safe homes and safe streets are at the very centre of a stable, peaceful and prosperous society.

It has been said that this is an issue which divides urban and rural Canadians. I do not agree. There is no question that attitudes differ but the reality does not. If firearms are used to commit a crime does it matter whether the crime takes place in the city or in the country? A crime is a crime. It is a problem for all Canadians, not just those who live in our large cities.

I am convinced however that we can find ways to effectively control firearms without jeopardizing the enjoyment of those for whom the shooting sports are an important source of recreation.

Recently hundreds of firearm owners rallied here in Ottawa. They were saying to the government: "Do not blame us". They feel that the government is making them pay for firearms crimes they did not commit.

My colleagues and I do not blame the many Canadians who own and use firearms responsibly and safely. The government does not blame responsible shooters, nor is it punishing them for the crimes of others. What it is doing and what it must continue to do is to develop legislation that responds to the needs of all Canadians.

We need to find ways to control access to firearms without imposing excessive or unproductive regulatory burdens on their owners. We need to find ways to punish and deter those who might otherwise be tempted to misuse a firearm and to endanger others. Deterrence does not always work but we must make absolutely sure that we get as much effective deterrence from the law and its administration as we can.

There are people in this country who believe that everyone should have the right to bear arms. I am not one of them. I believe that principle is foreign to Canada and it is something which most Canadians would not support. Ownership of a gun is a privilege which must be earned and carefully maintained by training, education and responsible use.

I also believe that it is a privilege that should not be infringed without justification. In restricting access to firearms we might inconvenience law abiding Canadians. If we do we must be sure that we act in the interests of the safety of all Canadians and that measures adopted by this House will not forget that privilege and those who have earned the enjoyment of it.

Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms October 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest proposes the name of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms be changed to include a reference to Canadian charter of rights, freedoms and responsibilities.

It is an interesting proposal but I do not think it is one with which I could agree for various reasons. In 1982 Canada's Constitution was amended to include the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Although the charter came into force in 1982 the rights and freedoms it contains are not new. The charter is part of a human rights tradition which Canada shares with other countries like France, England and the United States.

In England the Magna Carta in 1215 was an early written attempt to formulate individual rights. The revolutions in France and the former British colonies also ended with attempts to set out in writing the rights which individuals possess vis-à-vis the power of the state. Individuals, it was decided, could not be deprived of these rights by the ruler or in a democracy or by an elected body representing the will of the majority. The government was not to circumvent the rights of the individual.

The French called their document le déclaration des droits, des langues et des citoyens. The Americans named theirs The Bill of Rights. We would later call ours, of course, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

These constitutional documents represent attempts to draft statements of rights at a national level. At the international level, the League of Nations and the United Nations began to grapple with human rights prior to, during and after World War II. The international movement to develop universal human rights standards gained momentum following World War II as a result of the atrocities committed during that terrible war.

In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the universal declaration of human rights while the European convention for the protection of human rights and the fundamental freedoms was adopted in 1950.

In Canada, following World War II, provinces began to enact legislation to prohibit various forms of discrimination such as the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights, eventually leading to the present day forms of human rights legislation. At the same time and throughout the 1950s as Canada's self-image as a country began to develop, proposals were made for a Canadian bill of rights.

A joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons considered the proposal in 1947 and again in 1950. Ten years later the Canadian Bill of Rights received royal assent. A federal statute, the Bill of Rights applied in areas of federal jurisdiction but it was not considered a constitutional document.

In the 1960s and 1970s the law making process at the United Nations similarly resulted in the signing and ratification of the

international covenant on civil and political rights and the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights.

In Canada another period of constitutional negotiation was beginning with the adoption of the enriched charter of human rights as one focus of discussion.

I am not going to review the history of the charter's adoption. There are many who are familiar with it. Suffice it to say that amending the Constitution is not an easy process. Every provision, including its topic, was carefully scrutinized by the government, by the special joint committee of the House of Commons and the Senate on the Constitution and later by provincial first ministers.

In the end, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms became part of the Constitution by virtue of the Constitution Act of 1982. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is and aspires to be a statement by Canadians about the rights and freedoms which we as Canadians deeply value in our democratic society.

Toward this end the charter protects a broad range of rights including, for example, equality rights and the right of freedom of expression.

Many charter rights derive from or have their equivalent in those universal standards of human rights which I have mentioned earlier. There is a broad tradition of rights and striving for rights and the documentation of rights.

Rights do not, however, come without responsibilities, nor are they absolute. All human rights amendments recognize this fact. Section 1 of the charter states that an individual's rights and freedoms are subject to certain reasonable limits. In determining what constitutes reasonable limits in a free and democratic society, governments and the courts balance the rights of individuals with the interests of society. This very process ensures that responsibilities along with rights are recognized by our courts. It is not necessary to change the title of this charter to emphasize the integral relationship between the individual's rights and his or her responsibility to the rest of society.

Perhaps more important, as I stated earlier, changing the title of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would require a constitutional amendment. This is because part I of the Constitution Act of 1982 sets out the provisions of the charter and section 34 of part I establishes the charter's title. The charter's title is thus part of the Constitution and can only be amended using the amendment procedures in part V of the Constitution Act of 1982.

The procedures in part V include the general amending formula in section 38 of the 1982 act. Section 38 permits amendment of the Constitution on the consent of the Senate, the House of Commons and the legislative assemblies of at least two-thirds of the provinces having at least 50 per cent of the population of all the provinces. As we have seen in the past, obtaining such consent or agreement is difficult. The Prime Minister has indicated that the government has no plans to reopen discussion on amending the Constitution in the foreseeable future. I think this also extends to changing the title of the charter.

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1994 October 4th, 1994

Yes. In fact, Mr. Chairman, we feel just the opposite. This is going to aid the general deterrence because it is going to need a more speedy process of justice and we are going to be able to bring the accused before the courts more quickly.

Also, at the present time a lot of cases where there is more than $1,000 stolen are still brought before the provincial court judges, because it may be a question of proof. How do you know he or she stole goods in the amount of, say, $3,500? We know he or she stole something so we will proceed with the theft under $1,000, or the theft of this particular item, when in fact more was taken. However no one really wants to bother adding to that because they feel that getting it through the provincial court system will be faster, that there will be competency and that justice will be served.

Also, right now with theft, it is the violation of theft. Break and enter is a violation of an individual, not only materially but also a violation psychologically. Anyone who has had their home robbed or any of their possessions stolen feels they have been violated. It does not matter what was taken because that violation is there. The fact is that the feeling of the public against theft is very strong and they want these people brought to justice and punished. In the opinion of the Department of Justice this process can be achieved through these changes, and in fact will be enhanced through these changes.