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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was money.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Edmonton—Sherwood Park (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 64% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Unborn Victims of Crime Act December 13th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely correct. It is an issue about women, criminal attacks against pregnant women and sanctions being available for those criminal acts against the unborn child as well as the attacks on the mother.

I also want to point out that the general public understands the necessity for this kind of legislation. In a recent Environics poll it was shown that 72% of Canadians support such legislation. That is tremendously high. I would venture to say that is well above the support of any political party in this country right now. Canadians support it.

There are a couple of other things that are amazing. Women supported it at a higher level, which is not surprising I guess, but what I found surprising is that among the youth ages up to 30, the support was up at 79%. I think that is a feather in the hat of our youth. They think about these things and they realize that this is a very important issue and one to be clearly differentiated.

I want to assure the member that yes, this is a very important issue. It has widespread support. Definitely, to vote for it is to vote for what is right.

Unborn Victims of Crime Act December 13th, 2007

moved that Bill C-484, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (injuring or causing the death of an unborn child while committing an offence), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I have been waiting for this moment for over 14 years. Those members who have been in the House frequently have heard me say, during private members' business, that I have never been drawn. That was true until now, just as I am about ready to leave the place.

I am very honoured to have this extraordinary privilege of bringing forward a very important piece of legislation. It is especially important because it will be the last piece of legislation debated here in this fall term.

I want to begin by putting forward some background. I have to do this on a very personal and somewhat emotional basis because what we are dealing with here is crime. We are dealing with vicious criminal attacks against pregnant women and we are dealing specifically with addressing the issue of grief for the families who are left behind. Grief is always extremely sad.

I remember some five years ago when my father died. He was almost 91 and everybody said that he had a good life. However, I still distinctly remember how sad I was. He had been my dad all my life and now he was gone and it seemed so brief. There was sadness but it was somewhat softened by the fact that indeed he had had a good long life.

Just a couple of months ago, my wife's only brother passed away. The grief was also great there. He was a younger man. He succumbed to cancer but there had been a little warning because his fight with cancer extended about three years. As he was gradually losing this battle, people in the family were being prepared to deal with that grief. When he finally passed away on September 1 of this year, there was both relief, because he was no longer suffering, but also grief.

We also had a very sad event in January of this year when my first niece passed away. The grief there was notched up from the previous two that I mentioned because Sherry died suddenly. She started her life on Friday morning, as normally as we did this morning, but she had an aneurysm and died instantly, totally unexpectedly. She was only 47. She left her loving husband, her children and the rest of the family. There was tremendous grief. I cannot express the sadness that a family goes through when dealing with such a death.

Then there was a very bad accident this past summer in British Columbia on Canada's Highway No. 1. Some distant relatives of ours were travelling along the road and as they were going along a gravel truck came around the corner. He was going too fast for that corner. The pup trailer that he was pulling, which was also full of gravel, lost its position and rolled onto the car an instantly killed a young man in his late twenties.

There is an added notch to the grief there because, like my niece, the death was sudden but there was another element and that is that it was due to the truck driver's carelessness. The family is anguished. Why did the truck driver not pay attention? Why did he not drive properly?

There is the normal grief of the loss of a loved one but now there is also that element of grief that is added because it could have been prevented.

The reason I mention those examples is because this bill is about helping the families of people who have been murdered, and that is a whole compounding of grief yet again. Unlike the accident, where it was somebody's negligence, the truck driver, I do not think, could ever be accused of saying that he was going to go out and kill someone today with his truck. It was an accident. It was a misjudgment. It was not planned.

However, when a family experiences the murder of a loved one, we have another level of emotion and grief and that is a level of anger. Why would someone deliberately kill my loved one and take away that life so unnecessarily?

Bill C-484 deals with the death as a result of a criminal act against a pregnant mother. Now the grief for the family is compounded yet again, because not only have they suffered the maximum level of grief by having their loved one murdered, but they are also suffering the loss of that wanted and anticipated child, that nephew, niece or grandchild. In a very real sense, they are suffering and grieving a loss under the most egregious of circumstances and the loss of the unborn child. This is what my bill addresses.

I will try to build a case here for support of this bill from all people, regardless of their views on other issues. I want to ensure we all know what the bill deals with. It deals specifically with the death or injury of a mother and/or her unborn child, where that mother has made the choice to have that child. It is a wanted child, an anticipated child.

I can tell members from my own experience, I am getting old but my memory is still good, I remember when my wife and I were having babies. It was almost as much fun as having grandchildren. In each case, when the anticipated birth was there, everyone got excited. This is very personal, but my wife used to invite me to put my hand on her abdomen to feel the movement of that baby. I think we have all experienced that.

When that is happening, both the mother and the father, and other members of the family, especially little brothers or sisters, are building an emotional attachment to a wanted child. They are anticipating its birth and welcoming it into the family. My bill deals specifically with when that desire, that decision is taken away from that family, from that mother against her will, against her choice, not of her choosing, without her consent and, in this bill, always in a criminal way, because charges will only be laid if the individual was committing an act of crime against the child's mother.

This is a very specific, focused bill. It deals with no other issues. It deals with this issue, the unborn victim of a crime.

I want to give a few examples. One of the most well-known cases for this happened in the United States when Laci and Conner Peterson were killed in California. California is a state that has had for many years an act similar to this. As a result, Scott, who was convicted of the crime, was in fact charged and convicted of two crimes. There were two offences to which he was found guilty.

Another case that comes to mind was in a city that is real close to my riding. It happened in Edmonton in 2005 and it is the case of Liana White, a young pregnant mother. She was a mother because she already had a three year old daughter, Ashley. Liana was stabbed to death by her husband, Michael. He was later convicted of the crime of assault and murder of the mother but there were no charges for the death of the unborn child. At the time, Liana was four months pregnant. The family grieved over the fact that the child was not recognized.

Another example is of Olivia Talbot in Edmonton, a tremendously sad case. She was a 19 year old girl who had some youthful troubles but she was working her way out of it and making progress. She was seven months pregnant when a childhood friend shot her. He first shot her three times in the abdomen. His target was the unborn child. He then went ahead and shot her twice in the head to make sure that she also was dead.

Can members imagine the family's grief? Olivia's mother, Mary, has been and is on a crusade to this very day and probably will be for years until a bill such as this is enacted. She said that it grieved them tremendously because Olivia was seven months pregnant and they were anticipating the birth and the welcoming of the new child. The mother was, as I said, making huge progress and putting the troubles of her past behind her, and then suddenly she is brutally murdered and her unborn child with her.

I am appealing to my fellow colleagues in the House of Commons to support this bill because we are dealing explicitly with cases where women have been injured or killed and their unborn children, who they wanted to bring to term and to give life, have been taken away from them. In a way, somebody else forcibly made the decision for them and the woman's choice was totally negated.

I can think of another case in Surrey. I will not go into all of these in detail because it would take too long. We have the case of a 38 year old mother in Surrey who was four months pregnant. She disappeared. The police looked for her. A week or so later they found her charred body. She had been burned, killed by her husband because she was pregnant.

We just heard a very sad story recently in Toronto about the case of Aysun Sesen, a 25-year-old who was seven months pregnant. She was killed by her boyfriend. He killed her by repeatedly stabbing her in the abdomen with a knife until both she and the child were dead.

This is what my bill is about. It is about a woman being the victim of the most egregious crime, her own death and the death of her child.

I think, if I dare do this, the biggest case was in the United States, the case of Tracy Marciniak. She was only about a week or so away from the baby's due date. She was pummeled in the abdomen until her child was killed but she survived. The only charge laid against the father was assault. The life was not recognized.

What I am saying is that this bill, which I hope all members have read, provides for a separate offence in the death or injury of an unborn child.

I want to assure all members present that those issues about constitutionality and some of the things that were raised in the previous debate on this issue when my colleague from Vegreville—Wainwright raised it, have all been addressed. As I said at the beginning, we threaded the needle on the wording. People who have other concerns do not need to worry. This was all done. I have had the legal opinions of a noted constitutional lawyer. I simply urge all members to support this bill because it is right.

I urge all members to vote on what the bill says, not on what it does not say. I urge every member of the House to take the time to read and study the four-page missive I have sent to every member of Parliament where all of those issues are addressed in detail. I thank the members for their support.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007 December 7th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but think back to an argument which I have made frequently since my days on the finance committee and a statement which I hear so often from the NDP members, one that I think I need to challenge. That is, when they use the phrase “tax cuts”, are they talking about the reduction of the tax rates or are they talking about the amount of money in absolute value that is collected?

In economics there is a thing called the Laffer curve, which I have read about, named after the Professor Laffer who discovered it. That is, there is a relationship, and I wish we could use graphs and props here, such that if one's tax rate is zero, one's income will be zero. If one's tax rate is 100%, one's income will be zero, because everybody is either going to do nothing or go to some other country to do it. Somewhere in between, there is a place where one can maximize the income.

In regard to a reduction of corporate taxes, the fact of the matter is, and I am convinced of it, that if we reduce the rate of taxation, if we add in all of the economic activity that it generates, the total amount of revenue gained by the government actually increases at a certain stage. The question is, of course, where is that particular point?

I believe that our tax rates in Canada are eminently fair for the most part, but in the case of tax cuts, when we talk about reducing the rates for businesses in this country, I think that we actually gain at the present level. In regard to reducing them from 21% to 19% to 17%, in that range a reduction of tax rates actually increases the total amount of revenue, which would of course give the government more money to spend on government programs and social programs, which I think the NDP and I would agree with. They are necessary things to do.

I would like the member's comment on what I have just said.

Freedom of Religion December 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful that my grandparents chose some 85 years ago to make Canada their new home. They left the former Soviet Union because of grievous persecution, mostly because of religious beliefs. Three of my grandfather's brothers were executed at midnight just because they tried to live out their firmly held convictions of the Christian faith.

Canada is a country where citizens can choose how to believe, where there is a healthy debate, and where no one is forced to believe a certain way at threat of persecution and death.

In Canada people of all faiths are encouraged to express their views and beliefs, and to use the language of their faith which is then accepted and tolerated by all.

At this Christmas season I am happy that I can express without fear my celebration of the birth of Jesus, the son of God. Christians celebrate with great enthusiasm this pivotal event of history.

I invite all Canadians to respond in the words of the well known Christmas Carol, “Oh come, let us adore Him!”

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007 December 3rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal in the member's speech that I would love to talk about and rebut but I have only one question because I am sure I will be limited in time.

My question is for the member and most of his NDP colleagues. Why are they so unabashedly opposed to reducing the debt?

If we stop to think about it, our debt is owed to people who have more money than they need, hence their ability to buy Canada savings bonds and make other investments in our country. When we have debt, money is transferred from the people who have less money, because everyone has to pay taxes, and it is transferred to those who already have so much.

I would think that the NDP would be very delighted to reduce the debt by huge amounts so that the amount of money that is transferred from the poor people in Canada to the rich people in Canada would be reduced. It seems to me that would be a logical conclusion.

Why is the member always whining about the fact that we are trying to reduce the debt that was given to us over many years of Liberal governments, starting with Trudeau?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007 November 30th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I was truly amused by this speech. It is a good way to start a Friday morning to have, shall we say, a jokester on the hustings here.

I do not know, but these Liberals keep talking about how they inherited a $35 billion debt. First of all, it was not a debt. It was a deficit. Every year the government was borrowing more money than it was taking in. It was spending and borrowing money and putting us further and further into debt.

I remember that in 1993 when we were campaigning I had a computer clock set up at some of the trade fairs. It showed how the debt was growing and how we were going to attack the debt.

It is true that the Conservative government under Mulroney for those nine years made only one error, that is, it did not sufficiently address the issue of the debt it had inherited from the Liberals. That debt came totally from the years of rampant spending and overspending by the Liberal government.

I did the math at the time and was able to prove not only to others but also to myself that this was correct. The debt had simply grown, with compound interest, to where it was so huge that it was growing at the rate of $1,000 per second. It was totally untenable for us to put that kind of debt load onto our young people and our next generation.

We fought against that. I am very proud to be able to say that we were part of changing the culture in this place so that we stopped that interminable borrowing. The member says the Liberals did it. Yes, that is true, in that the Liberal government finally succumbed to the pressure and to the reality that they could not sustain that kind of borrowing, but please, let us remember that the debt was a Liberal debt from 1970 or 1972 onward until it had grown into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Tackling Violent Crime Act November 27th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have a very curious question. The member proudly announced that he did not vote for the bill. That means he either voted against it or he abstained. He sat in his chair or he was not in the House at the time of the vote.

It is my understanding that most of the Liberals, including their leader, voted for it. Could the member please explain to us why the leader would lead his party to vote for a bill that according to him is unconstitutional and one which he could not support? He must be saying that his leader and his colleagues are all wrong.

Is that what the member is saying?

Tackling Violent Crime Act November 27th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, it has been a long tradition and part of the rules of this House that members do not speak in a derogatory fashion about other members, and the use of the individual's language with respect to our party is, because of the context in which it is used, derogatory.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you demand that he not use those offensive terms when speaking of our party.

Youth Criminal Justice Act November 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I mean no bad ideas about this, but I cannot resist asking a question of members of the Bloc, who are always saying they would like us to adopt the Quebec model. I just wonder about the facts. I do not believe that Quebec is crime free. I believe there are substantial problems in Quebec, at least there have been in the past, unless it has changed recently, with organized crime and with biker gangs just like in the rest of the country.

I would like to know why, in the member's opinion, the Quebec model is so superior when the results do not seem to show, to me at least, that things are substantially better.

Youth Criminal Justice Act November 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by simply correcting the record. It was not I, though I could have easily done it, but the member for Lethbridge who made the motion to which the hon. member referred.

I would like to counter some of the comments that have been made, particularly from the Bloc member but also from the member from time to time, though not as strenuously, and that is that we on the government side do not have concern for young people and how to prevent crime. That is a false statement. It is false and I want to set the record straight.

To give an example very quickly, one of the saddest visits I ever made was to the youth detention centre in Edmonton. It is incredibly sad to walk in there and see young people who have been found guilty of crimes, such as knifing fellow students in the school yard or using a weapon to commit crimes, maybe theft at a store or something. I have a great deal of compassion and concern for how we keep those kids out of there in the first place. If I ever had a chance to make a speech, I could enlarge on that.