Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was offence.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Northumberland—Quinte West (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Justice April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member looks at the record, he will find that we have more mandatory minimum sentences relating to gun use and gun crime than any other area within our law. That is already in place. We have to work with many tools within our arsenal in order to deal with crime. Mandatory minimums are there, but we also need to put resources with our police. We need to ensure the police have all the tools necessary to meet the needs of our communities.

Justice April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member really should do a little research. If he did the research, he would find that mandatory minimum penalties do not generally work.

If we look at the experience in the United States, we will see that it now is removing so many of its mandatory minimum sentences simply because the courts and the lawyers in the system have found ways around them and they really have not become effective as deterrents.

Liberal Party of Canada April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I think what that hon. member said is inappropriate in terms of what this party stands for. Clearly this party is a multicultural party. Let us look at the people who are assembled here today. Clearly we do not represent anything other than a very representative and immigration friendly party. That hon. member ought to go back and take a look at this party and its record.

Liberal Party of Canada April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, clearly the hon. member was in the House and heard the response of the minister yesterday. It was very clear and unequivocal as it related to the individual involved. Quite frankly, I do not believe that anything more needs to be said on that matter.

Message from the Senate March 23rd, 2005

Madam Speaker, it is quite clear that different provinces and territories are entitled to and will take different positions on this issue, as they do with many others.

The bottom line is that the government has no intention of intruding into matters of provincial jurisdiction. Frankly, I am quite shocked to hear the member opposite suggest that we should be forcing a sister government to do anything that is within its exclusive power to decide for itself even where we may respectfully disagree with its approach.

As I mentioned, I am concerned that the specific cases, such as civil marriage officials, are being taken out of context and used to alarm religious groups into believing that Bill C-38 should not proceed because the government cannot assure religious freedom. That is simply not the case.

The Supreme Court has clearly supported the position of the government that the charter continues to protect freedom of religious officials and groups who oppose same sex marriage.

Civil marriage officials already have the potential for conflicts with their religious beliefs. For example, in situations where the marriage involves a divorced person, first cousins or interfaith couples, each of which is forbidden by some religious beliefs, in these situations a solution has been found before. I am confident that our provincial and territorial colleagues will find one now.

Message from the Senate March 23rd, 2005

Madam Speaker, the member first asked this question on December 3 last year, just as the government was anticipating the release of the decision from the Supreme Court of Canada on the marriage reference.

I would like to remind the House that the government takes the issue of religious freedom very seriously. Indeed, as the House will recall, the Government of Canada was very concerned that the granting of equality to same sex couples should not come at the expense of other charter protected guaranteed rights and freedoms, such as the freedom of religion. It was for that reason that the government chose to refer its proposed legislation to the Supreme Court of Canada before tabling it in Parliament, so that our opinion that the bill would not affect religious freedom could be confirmed by the highest court in the land.

The Supreme Court released its decision on December 9 of last year and confirmed that the charter already protects the religious freedom of all Canadians. In its ruling, the Supreme Court made some of the strongest statements ever on the nature and importance of religious freedom in Canada. Specifically, the court clearly ruled that: religious officials are protected by the charter from being compelled to perform any religious or civil marriage that would be contrary to their religious beliefs; and religious institutions are protected from being forced to provide their sacred spaces.

The Supreme Court was categorical: the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms already protects the freedom of religion. The charter protects churches and synagogues, mosques and temples from being obliged to perform marriages contrary to their beliefs.

This protection is clearly echoed in the draft bill to extend civil marriage to same sex couples. Indeed, the crystal clear assurances of religious freedom are one of the major reasons that I personally support Bill C-38.

At the same time, I am concerned that some may be seeking to unduly alarm Canadians by confusing the question of civil commissioners with that of religious officials performing marriages. The two issues are qualitatively different. Religious officials are protected by the charter from doing anything that would be against their religious beliefs. Civil marriage officials are provincial or territorial employees or appointees hired to perform a service that the provinces and territories are required under the law to provide to all without discrimination.

As provincial employees, civil marriage officials are not within federal jurisdiction but would fall within provincial or territorial jurisdiction. As I understand that there is currently a case on this issue before the provincial human rights body, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on that specific situation in Manitoba.

In general terms, however, if any additional specific protections for religious freedom are desired in the terms of civic marriage officials, commercial provision of services, hall rentals, et cetera, they must be made by the provinces and territories.

Even here, at a recent FPT meeting, the attorneys general of two of the most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, both said that they had experienced no problems with religious freedom despite thousands of same sex marriage ceremonies.

Many provinces and territories already have amended their laws to add specific protections for religious freedom. In a recent FPT meeting, the Minister of Justice encouraged the provinces and territories to ensure, as the federal government is doing, religious freedom is protected in all their laws.

Civil Marriage Act March 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I would like to review some facts with the hon. member regarding this matter.

The truth is that temporary resident permits are issued in a transparent manner that requires the Government of Canada to provide the House with just what we were mentioning, full disclosure every year.

Today's system is eminently preferable to the discretionary entry system that we had before the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which did not require any such disclosure.

The Government of Canada is firmly committed to providing Canadians with all transparency that such an important program demands. That is what we have done.

The hon. member for York West has also asked the Ethics Commissioner to report to the House on whether she adhered to the principles of fairness, transparency and compassion which are so clearly the cornerstones of this program.

The Ethics Commissioner is now doing his job and I suggest that the hon. member should let him do it.

Civil Marriage Act March 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, the hon. member will know from a previous response to this type of question that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration tables a report to the House of Commons by November 1 of each year with the information on the number of temporary resident permits that are issued in Canada at ports of entry and visa offices abroad.

The vast majority of permits are issued by officers with delegated authority to make decisions without any ministerial involvement. They are done on a case by case basis.

The preliminary numbers for last year show that 13,575 permits were issued. Such permits are issued to foreign nationals rather than to members of Parliament. Therefore there is no breakdown on a riding by riding basis.

The hon. member will also know that the hon. member for York West did a great deal more than simply ask the Ethics Commissioner for confidential advice. The Ethics Commissioner in fact has been given a mandate to examine how permits were issued and whether there has been any abuse of that power. This is what the hon. member for York West asked the Ethics Commissioner to report on to the House.

In response to the member's question about why it has taken so long, I have been advised that there has been an illness that has delayed the process of this work. The final report will be forthcoming.

I believe in the interim that Canadians are prepared to put their faith in the rule of law and in the time honoured principle that someone in this great country is innocent until proven guilty. Canada of course has been built on these principles and they are principles which we should always continue to pursue.

Justice March 10th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we are aware that crystal meth is becoming a scourge within our communities.

Recently the view has been expressed that the current classification of methamphetamines in our drug legislation results in a maximum penalty for possession and trafficking that is not proportionate to the potential harm that can be caused by this drug. Accordingly, Health Canada is examining this and will make recommendations as to whether this designation should be changed.

Supply March 10th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I believe the parliamentary secretary's question is very relevant today. I think he characterizes the way in which one is dealing in a very positive way with simple possession and the possession of up to three plants.

I would like to concentrate a little more on the other side. Today we are dealing with organized crime. We are dealing with ways to combat it. In particular, when we say within our justice system that we have to deter crime, what does it take to deter this sort of activity, particularly grow ops?

Clearly, as everyone has said, the application of sentences to date does not seem to deter the type of activity that we have seen in the past. This is becoming a great problem for all of us. These “grow ops” are found throughout our country. Even in my small community in southern Ontario we also have this problem. It is not unique to big city areas or only Quebec or British Columbia.

From our perspective, what we find helpful is the fact that in this revised law being brought forward we are going to, first of all, double the penalties that will be applicable to most grow ops. As a matter of fact, most grow ops would fall into the category of more than 50 plants. Under the current legislation the penalty is seven years in that case. It is going to be doubled to 14 years.

Second, we have changed the perspective as to how judges are going to have to look at many of these operations, especially when they are in residential areas, where there are aggravating circumstances. These aggravating circumstances have been enumerated. This now would put the judge in a position where if there is not a period of incarceration the judge is going to have to justify why there is not.

I think that this once again is going to bring to the attention of the judiciary how seriously we see this grow op situation within our country and how important it is that all factors be seriously taken into consideration and appropriate and proportional sentences be given to this type of activity, not only to punish the offender but in fact to deter others from considering entering into this area of organized crime.