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  • His favourite word was terms.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Brampton West (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Pope John Paul II Day Act November 16th, 2010

moved that Bill C-573, An Act to establish Pope John Paul II Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, you may recall these words spoken on October 16, 1978:

Dear brothers and sisters, we are still grieved after the death of our most beloved John Paul I. And now the eminent cardinals have called a new bishop of Rome. They have called him from a far country... far, but always near through the communion of faith and in the Christian tradition. (...) I don't know if I can make myself clear in your ... in our Italian language. If I make a mistake, you will correct me.

Those were the first words spoken by the new pope, Pope John Paul II, formerly Karol Wojtyla, the first Slavic pope in the history of the Roman Catholic church and a pope that reigned for 27 years, one of the longest reigns ever.

I am very honoured to speak to my private member's bill, which is an act to establish Pope John Paul II Day. In essence, it seeks that every April 2, the anniversary of his death, be a day of memory for Pope John Paul II from this point forward in Canadian history. This would not be a formal legal statutory holiday but simply a day of memory.

I have indicated before, and I mean this very sincerely, that I am very moved to introduce this bill, being a proud first generation Polish Canadian and practising Roman Catholic. Words cannot express the significance and importance of Pope John Paul II to the Polish community in particular around the world and in Canada.

There are over one million Polish Canadians in Canada. When Pope John Paul II was elected as pope we celebrated and cried, and when he died we mourned, but in between those dates, the Polish community watched his every move with pride and a sense of destiny.

It must also be remembered that Pope John Paul II is not simply an ordinary pope of the Roman Catholic church. He has now been given the title “venerable” by Pope Bénédict XVI, which is a step toward sainthood, a process which it is anticipated will be completed within one to two years.

Beyond his Polish and Roman Catholic faith, Pope John Paul II, now known as venerable, was a world statesperson. He was one of the architects of the defeat of communism. He must be remembered not only for his religious ties and role but for his worldwide historical influence. In terms of his role in the fall of communism, I have some quotes.

Canadian reporter Eric Margolis described going into the central committee's headquarters in Moscow after the election of Pope John Paul II this way:

I was the first Western journalist inside the KGB headquarters in 1990. The generals told me that the Vatican and the Pope above all was regarded as their number one, most dangerous enemy in the world.

They recognized even then that he would play a significant role in terms of being anti-communist, possibly leading toward the downfall of communism in the Soviet Union.

Former priest and writer James Carroll asked this question:

What is the greatest, most unexpected event of the 20th century?

Isn't it that the Soviet Empire was brought down non-violently? Isn't John Paul II's story part of it?

That really is a rhetorical question and the answer obviously is yes. If we think about it from the perspective of our generation which grew up with the Soviet Union, communism, détente and the threat of nuclear annihilation. There was the constant threat and worry as children about this potential fight between the west and the Soviet Union.

Quite unbelievably the Soviet Union fell without one bullet being fired. John Paul's 1979 trip to Poland is described as “the fulcrum of revolution which led to the collapse of communism”. Timothy Ash put it this way:

Without the pope, no solidarity. Without solidarity, no Gorbachev. Without Gorbachev, no fall of communism.

In fact, Mikhail Gorbachev said, “It would have been impossible without the pope”. He credits Pope John Paul II for being the key factor in the fall of the Soviet Union.

In addition, I would like Canadians to understand exactly the scourge of communism. Here we read about it. Here we had the threat of nuclear war, but for the people who actually lived it, it was a new life when communism fell.

In my own family, my father grew up in Communist Poland before he managed to come to Canada. My uncle and his family told me stories of their escape from Poland, about going across the border and being shot at by the police. I remember my father sending money in envelopes to his family in Poland from Canada. They were very small amounts of money relatively speaking for us, but they were fortunes for people over there. However, they could not really use the money to buy things because they did not have things to buy in the same way as we do here.

This defeat of communism must always be remembered, and the role of Pope John Paul II in that defeat must be honoured and remembered. The yearning of freedom for Poland is where it started and it spread to the other eastern bloc countries. It began in 1979 with Pope John Paul II going to Poland and standing up to the Communist regime.

There is another major accomplishment of Pope John Paul II. Nobody will agree with everything that any leader does, which is to be expected, but he did bridge the divide between the Roman Catholic church and other religions. I would like to quote people who are not Roman Catholic to prove that point.

In October 2003, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement congratulating Pope John Paul II on entering his 25th year of the papacy and essentially complimenting him for his role in bridging the divide between the Jewish faith and the Roman Catholic church. Immediately after Pope John Paul II's death, the same Anti-Defamation League issued a statement that Pope John Paul II had revolutionized Catholic-Jewish relations saying that “more change for the better took place in his 27-year papacy than in the nearly 2,000 years before”.

There are many other examples of his attempts to bridge with other faith communities. In terms of the Muslim community, Pope John Paul himself, when he was in Casablanca on August 19, 1985, during his journey to Morocco, said:

Christians and Muslims, we have many things in common, as believers and as human beings. We live in the same world, marked by many signs of hope, but also by multiple signs of anguish. For us, Abraham is a very model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness. We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection.

He reached out to the Muslim community during the time he was pope. He reached out of course to the Jewish community. Pope John Paul II said to the Jewish community when he was at the great synagogue in Rome on April 13, 1986:

The Jewish religion is not ‘extrinsic’ to us, but in a certain way is ‘intrinsic’ to our own religion. With Judaism therefore we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.

He reached out to many other communities as well. On October 27, 1993 in Assisi he held a meeting of over 120 religious leaders from around the world, from different religions and Christian denominations, to try to foster some unity and respect among various religions and sects.

He did more during the time he was Pope to bridge the divide between the Roman Catholic church and to show respect for other religions and other faith communities than, I would argue, any other pope in history.

Pope John Paul II as a person, as a man, was a remarkable world leader. He was known as the travelling pope. He visited 129 countries and he attracted some of the largest crowds in human history, such as over five million people in Manila in 1995. He came to Canada on more than one occasion. When he came to Toronto in 2002, over 800,000 people came out to meet him and to pray with him.

When Pope John Paul II passed away, there were numerous quotes.

Everybody will remember Lech Walesa as the hero and the leader of the solidarity movement in Poland. In referring to Pope John Paul II, he said that without him “there would be no end of communism or at least much later and the end would have been bloody”.

Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan called the pope a “tireless advocate of peace”, while German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose own country was long held under the oppressive forces of communism, said,“Pope John Paul II wrote history. By his efforts and through his impressive personality, he changed our world.

Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav said that the pope “bravely put an end to historic injustice by officially rejecting prejudices and accusations against Jews”.

On his death, he was honoured with one of the largest funerals in human history. What we are really talking about here is the people of Canada providing some respect, honour and memory for Pope John Paul II. We have done it before. For example, we granted honorary Canadian citizenship to the Dalai Lama.

The Americans honoured Pope John Paul II. In 2004 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honour the United States awards to anyone.

In Ontario this bill passed first reading and perhaps even second reading. There was a similar bill to get an honour for Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately it died on prorogation. We are attempting to bring this honour to Pope John Paul II across Canada.

When Pope John Paul II died, the outpouring of grief and his funeral itself showed how strongly he was respected both as a religious leader but equally important as a world leader. At his funeral, his requiem mass on April 8, 2005 was said to have set world records for both attendance and the number of heads of state present at a funeral. It was the single largest gathering of heads of state in history, surpassing the funerals of Winston Churchill and other world leaders, such as Tito. Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, and more than 14 leaders of other world religions were in attendance.

Many people say it is also likely to have been the largest single pilgrimage of Christianity in history. More than four million people from around the world came to Rome for the requiem mass.

This man must always be remembered and respected for many different reasons. I ask my colleagues to help me bestow this honour upon him in a non-partisan way, and to make April 2, the anniversary of his death, a day of memory each year.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act October 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is the point exactly. The point is that because the government will not, in a respectful and friendly way, stand up to our American neighbours, we are creating the precedent to put Canadians at risk because of the legislation that may be in force now or in the future in terms of foreign countries.

The hon. parliamentary secretary made a point that I wish to address further. He suggested that in some way this is going to help security. I will again ask a question that he did not answer. How is it that he believes this legislation is necessary? Have they not done enough to protect Canadians through the security measures that we have in Canada? That is the true question.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act October 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have respect for my hon. colleague, but when I ask him to have the Conservative government describe how this legislation would protect Canadians, I do not think the most logical argument is that a number of years ago some member of Parliament stepped on a doll. I suggest that is window-dressing and rhetoric as opposed to answering the question.

When the member speaks about a previous government's bill, once again, that is window-dressing and rhetoric, since it is the Conservative government's bill, Bill C-42. This bill seeks to put these onerous restrictions on the privacy of Canadians by letting the Americans know all about these people on the flight, even the ones who are flying just across Canada.

For him to suggest somehow that his rational, logical argument in favour of the bill is doll stamping or that some years before somebody introduced some other bill, which is not the one we are discussing, that is not a rational response.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act October 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am in favour of all security measures that protect Canadians and any airline traveller. The point of this conversation today is whether this bill is logical and whether it actually protects anybody.

When it comes to her question, we do not know, but that possibility exists. If this information goes to the Americans, they are allowed to use it for whatever they wish. They are no blocks in terms of how we can control that. If they provide that information to a foreign country or once the precedent has been established by the Conservative government to essentially give other countries whatever information they want on Canadians, and they do that with other countries that may be a risk, yes, that potential for putting Canadians at risk is certainly there.

I use the example in particular, because I deal with constituents of mine who came to Canada as refugees. If people become a refugee in Canada and they actually get to stay in Canada under that, there is some problem because they have been at risk in some way in their host country. If they wish to go back and visit family members, or go to neighbouring countries, or whatever it may be, or they have family members who remain, even if they are not going there, in some way we do not wish to harm either those individuals who are now Canadians or their families, so the risk exists. In a free and democratic society, we always have limits, but those limits need to be based on reason. We cannot simply provide limits to the protections and freedoms of Canadians because the Americans or another country say so. We need to do it based on logic.

In these particular circumstances, I am still waiting for the explanation from the Conservative government as to how these amendments to the statute would actually protect Canadians as opposed to simply just giving in to our American friends.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act October 19th, 2010

I hear the parliamentary secretary saying “it's their land”. It is not their land. A flight between Toronto and Vancouver never lands on foreign soil. It is always under the jurisdiction of the Canadian government.

Let me get back to the precedent. Once we give our American friends whatever they want, even when it is not logical, what if other countries then ask? England is our good friend too. What about other countries that perhaps are not so reputable? Where are we going to draw the line? Who are we going to insult? Are we going to have diplomatic incidents or visa restrictions imposed on Canadians like what happened with Mexicans? How is the government going to guard Canadians from future foreign and diplomatic problems? The government will have less discretion to simply say no to this kind of request when it says yes to whatever the Americans ask for.

I would like members to look at the name of the act once again. It is called the strengthening aviation security act. I would ask the Conservative government to explain how this act and the amendments in particular would strengthen the protection of Canadians and protect Canada's sovereignty.

We are members of Parliament in Canada. We are not American senators or members of the House of Representatives. We have an obligation to Canadians to sometimes say no to our very good friends when they overreach.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act October 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to Bill C-42 today. I would like to start with an analysis of the title: strengthening aviation security act. My question, given that this is how the government has entitled it, is how does this strengthen Canadian aviation security? How does it strengthen Canada? How does it strengthen the safety of Canadians going on such flights? My suggestion is that it does not in any way.

First of all, under the existing law we can already have airlines disclose the information of persons travelling on planes when they are landing in foreign countries. That is perfectly reasonable. Every sovereign state has the right to know who is coming into their country. I would expect no different for Canadians or any other country.

The government is now essentially trying to amend it so that if flights are going over a foreign jurisdiction, and let us be clear that we are talking about the United States and this is why we are having this discussion at all, if flights are going over the United States, even if they are not landing in the United States, private information on Canadians will have to be disclosed. How does it strengthen Canadians or in any way live up to the descriptive “strengthening aviation security act”? How does it strengthen aviation security for the benefit of Canadians to disclose this information when the flights are not landing in a foreign jurisdiction, period, and they are not landing in Canada? How is it even logical to say that this is strengthening protections for Canadians?

I would like to take a particular example in terms of our sovereignty. It is one thing to say in the circumstance of flights going over the United States and landing in some other foreign jurisdiction that information has to be disclosed. It does not strengthen anything for Canadians and it is still problematic, but that example needs to be compared specifically to the example of a flight leaving Toronto and landing in Vancouver. So if a flight goes over the United States to go from one Canadian jurisdiction to another Canadian jurisdiction, there are multiple concerns.

First of all, once again, how does this strengthen the safety of Canadians? It is not logical. It is not reasonable. It just makes no sense. Second, how is it that the Conservative government is willing to give up sovereignty, willing to give up privacy concerns, when there is a flight originating specifically, as this example indicates, in Toronto and landing in Vancouver and never landing in the United States? Please explain how that in any way strengthens the safety of Canadians.

Also, this is not even logical. How does that strengthen the safety of Americans?

Canadians need to know that the Conservatives are willing to give up our sovereignty. A flight from Toronto going to Vancouver never leaves the grasp of Canadian jurisdiction. At all times that flight will be governed by Canadian law. Those passengers will never get onto foreign soil. It is Canada--Canada, going over the United States, yet in those circumstances the Conservative government is willing to give up our sovereignty by giving private information about those passengers to a foreign government when those passengers will never set foot on foreign soil. How is that logical? It is not logical. We all know it is not logical.

The only thing that seems obvious is twofold. One, the Conservatives are not very good negotiators when it comes to foreign relations, and I will give a couple of examples that we have all been speaking about already. But two, for whatever reason, although they can be tough on Canadians and have no problem with not helping people through EI and various benefits, and when it comes to social and economic issues in Canada they have no problem being tough there, how can they not be tough when it comes to a foreign country, and particularly in this instance, the Americans? What are they afraid of?

We are a partner in Afghanistan. We are the Americans' largest trading partner. They trade 25% to one third, depending on the current statistics, to Canada. We trade 80% to the Americans. We are their largest exporter of oil and energy.

The Americans need us just as much as we need them. Why do we have to be afraid of them? If there is a reasonable request, as with any friend, we negotiate, we say yes and we work it out. However, when the request is not reasonable, we say no, we give our reasons and be respectful.

Once again, how does it strengthen and protect Americans to give information when the flights are going from Canada or to Canada or from Canada to a foreign jurisdiction? The only thing I can think of is perhaps, in addition to other concerns, the Americans do not trust the Conservative government, despite the fact that it has spent a lot of money, some people say billions, on screening mechanisms and other initiatives. Does that not work? It is not good enough? Does the government admit that they are not working, that the initiatives are broken, or that it has not spent enough money or it has not drafted legislation or regulations properly?

Why does this have to take place? Why do the Americans not trust the Conservative government to ensure that persons boarding Canadian flights will not be a risk? If the government's position is that the Americans should trust us, then, by definition and logically, its position should be they are overstepping their reach and we should simply say no in these circumstances.

On foreign affairs, I would like to know what specific negotiations have taken place between the Conservative government and the American officials on their request of Canada and Canadians. Why can the Conservative government not convince the Americans that the steps it has taken to increase airline security in Canada are good enough? Why does this private information need to be disclosed? Maybe the Americans cannot be convinced or maybe the steps are not good enough. It is the government's onus to tell us why the security measures in Canada are not good enough that we would need to then disclose to a foreign jurisdiction this private information. Frankly, Canadians deserve better.

We have the recent example of losing Camp Mirage. We have the case of the security council seat. When I was in my riding of Brampton West over the break week, I received a lot of calls from people who were both upset and embarrassed that we had lost that security council seat because of, as many commentators have written, the foreign policy of Canada was no longer Canadian. Our foreign policy is not what the world expects and has become used to, a progressive and involved one. What we have is a American republican foreign policy, which does not bode us well in the international scene.

In addition to the weakened sovereignty and to the fact that the amendment to the statute is not logical, we have other concerns.

At the transport committee on May 11, as has been mentioned earlier, the assistant privacy commissioner, Chantal Bernier, stated that, the United States would retain this information for as long as 7 days to 99 years. She also added:

—our understanding is that information collected can be disclosed and used for purposes other than aviation security, such as for law enforcement and immigration purposes.

Once the Americans have the information, they will use it for whatever they so choose.

Let us look at why this is a concern. What if the Americans decide they are providing information to other countries? Not all countries are equal, but the Americans are our good friends, and that is fine. However, what about other countries across the world to which Canadians would not want their personal information disclosed? What if we have Canadians who have been naturalized, who have come from foreign countries, who were refugees, who were persecuted, who were in some way hurt, whose families were hurt, who have families remaining in those countries that could be subject to blackmail or harm?

Once this information is out and the Americans have it and they choose to disclose it to a third country, Canadians could be at risk and for no logical or rational purpose. The fact that the Conservative government wishes to disclose this personal information in those circumstances could be harmful to Canadians who have come from other countries, specifically refugees who have been naturalized. This is a serious concern.

What about the precedent that this would create? The Americans are our good friends, but if we give them everything they want just because they ask—

Pope John Paul II Act October 1st, 2010

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-573, An Act to establish Pope John Paul II Day.

Madam Speaker, today I have the honour of introducing my private member's bill that I have entitled, “an act to establish Pope John Paul II Day”.

I am particularly moved to introduce the bill, being a proud first generation Polish Canadian and practising Roman Catholic. However, it must be remembered that the impact of this man, who has been granted the title “Venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI and is on his way to sainthood, goes well beyond his Polish roots or Roman Catholic faith.

Pope John Paul II is universally recognized as a leading figure in world history and a principle force behind the ending of communism in Eastern Europe. He bridged divides between the Roman Catholic Church and other religions. He visited 129 countries and attracted some of the largest crowds in history, such as over 5 million people in Manila in 1995 and over 800,000 in Toronto in 2002.

I will be asking for the support of my colleagues to designate each April 2, the anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death, as Pope John Paul II day across Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Polish Community June 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I am a proud first generation Polish Canadian.

On June 13, I was honoured to welcome to both my riding of Brampton West and the church of St. Eugene de Mazenod, His Eminence Jozef Cardinal Glemp of Poland, His Grace Thomas Collins, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Mayor Susan Fennell, my Liberal colleagues the MP for Etobicoke Centre and former MP Jesse Flis, and other dignitaries.

We celebrated the laying of the cornerstone at the building site of our new church. This cornerstone is an actual piece of St. Peter's tomb in Rome and was blessed by Pope John Paul II, adding to the significance of the occasion.

I would like to express my congratulations and thanks to everyone involved in making the building of this church, of which I am a proud member, a success.

Special recognition must go to Father Provincial Janusz Blazejak and the Pastor of St. Eugene de Mazenod, Father Adam Filas. Without their dedication, this project would never have happened.

I would also like to wish both Father Adam Filas and Father Andrzej Sowa, the Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, congratulations on the 20th anniversary of their ordination, which also took place this past Sunday.

Petitions June 10th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, bonjour, Sat Sri Akal, Namast.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, this petition was supposed to be presented yesterday when hundreds of Canadians travelled to Ottawa to remember the thousands of Sikhs killed in India in November of 1984. However, prior to the hearing of petitions, the Conservatives brought a procedural motion and then voted in favour of skipping past petitions, so the tabling of this petition yesterday was blocked.

Today, one day late, I have the honour of presenting a petition signed by thousands of Canadians remembering the thousands of Sikhs killed in India over two days in November of 1984.

Members of Parliament are not allowed to endorse the contents of a petition, however, in tabling this petition, I do wish to offer a few personal words about this tragedy.

First, I would like to remember the victims and their families and offer my sincere condolences. This petition is truly about them.

Second, I would like to use this solemn occasion to reflect on Canadian ideals of justice and tolerance. We hold those values to our hearts as we remember and honour those who were victims of hatred.

The essence of this petition is the pursuit of justice, closure and reconciliation within a peaceful and united India.

Criminal Records Act Review May 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in terms of my friend's speech, she essentially focused on Bill C-23 but we are here today with respect to her Motion No. 514. I also will speak to Bill C-23 but I will read her motion first. It reads:

That the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security be instructed to undertake a review of the Criminal Records Act and report to the House within three months on how it could be strengthened to ensure that the National Parole Board puts the public's safety first in all its decisions.

There is one thing I do not think my friend mentioned, but I actually did speak with her beforehand and she was agreeable that the three months should be three months of sitting days. I just wanted to clarify that that is what we are discussing, not just any three months.

In terms of the motion, I support it.

I am on the public safety and national security committee, and the reason I wanted to clarify that it should be three months of sitting days is because there is just no way we could do it otherwise. Right now we are involved with a discussion of Bill C-391 on the gun registry, and we have far too many witnesses that we are going through, various victims' rights groups, police officers and mental health persons, all of whom want to come and testify to try to keep the gun registry. So there is just no way that we could do that in the short period of time that we have.

The motion is a good motion but it needs to be compared and contrasted to the reaction of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety once the Graham James story came out. When this story came out, there was an immediate reactive decision to overhaul the Criminal Records Act because of the story. My problem with the immediate reaction that they had was that there was no thorough and thoughtful suggestion or review of the pardon system whatsoever. It was just an immediate reaction to this news story.

I actually compliment my friend for putting something forward that is more thoughtful and thorough in terms of what she would like to see accomplished. I compliment her for standing up to what has occurred in her own party, because by her motion, she is actually recognizing that we need a full and proper discussion, not simply an immediate statute because of a news story.

In terms of the Bill C-23, it is important to remember that this issue was raised first in 2006 by the Conservative government because there was another news story with respect to convicted sex offender, Clark Noble. At that time, the public safety minister indicated that the government would review the need for possible changes to the pardon system because of the 2006 news story. Why were the changes that it is currently proposing not made or introduced back in 2006 in response to the first news story? If the changes had been made at that time properly, we would not be facing this exact situation with the new news story with respect to Graham James.

When my friend speaks of the law and order agenda and how the Conservatives are trying to solve a problem, to be honest about this, there must be recognition that this problem was already recognized in 2006 and ignored by the Conservative government. I applaud my friend for trying to fix the problem now that was ignored back in 2006.

In terms of Bill C-23, any pardon system must operate in the best interests of public safety, 100%, but that also means we have to figure out what that is, and that means having a proper study. I personally welcome the opportunity at the public safety committee to do that.

My friend went through what Bill C-23 seeks to accomplish in terms of changes. I will not repeat it but I will reiterate that based on all of these suggested changes, if they were so urgent and so important, why did we not hear about any of these in 2006 when this first review took place after the other news story? It was ignored. Who is at fault for this?

I want to point out some things in an article by Dan Gardner of the Ottawa Citizen.

What happened in 2006 was that the minister of public safety at the time studied the process, the policy and the facts and concluded that changes were warranted. For example, two Parole Board members, not one, would be involved in applications and, rather than relying on local police to bring forward information related to the applicant's conduct, the Parole Board would be required to get information the local police may have.

However, on the fundamental question, which is key for the Graham James news story that has now come out: Should sex offenders continue to be eligible for pardons?, the then minister of public safety considered the question and gave an affirmative answer. Why?

The current proposal in Bill C-23 suggests that sex offenders who have harmed children would not be eligible. I am in favour of that. I have actually spoken out many times against the Conservatives' law and order agenda saying that it was not tough enough. A lot of it is window dressing, in my respectful view. When the bill says that it would exclude sex offenders who have harmed children, I wonder why it is only children. What about all the other victims who have been hurt by sex offenders? Why is the government again ignoring all of those other victims?

When the Conservatives talk about a law and order agenda and about protecting victims, how are they doing it? They did not fix it in 2006 when they did study it and made some changes. Now all they are proposing deals with a sex offender who has harmed a child. What about all the other victims?

In order to come to a logical, reasoned analysis of what the best overall system is, because I do not want to prejudge it, there should be a proper study. That means experts, various persons interested in coming forward and victims groups appearing before the committee. I welcome that. The motion is good for that very reason. We need to have a thoughtful analysis so the Conservatives do not make another mistake like they made in 2006 when they made some changes but ignored some of the things that really mattered.

In terms of the 2006 story, there is an October 21, 2006 article by Timothy Appleby and Peter Cheney, called “[The Minister of Public Safety] calls for review after sex offender obtains pardon”, and it goes through this. The Conservatives did this the first time in 2006 but they did not get it right.

What happened because they did not get it right in 2006? I will describe exactly what happened because Canadians need to know. An article in the Globe and Mail by Daniel Leblanc dealing with criminal records states:

Nearly all the sex offenders who apply for pardons in Canada successfully wipe out their criminal records from public view, despite the Conservative government’s promise four years ago to make the system tougher.

Over the last two years, 1,554 sex offenders applied for a pardon with the National Parole Board; only 41 of them were rejected, leaving 1,513 without a trace of a criminal record, unless they apply to work with children or vulnerable individuals.

Because the government ignored this in 2006, 1,513 convicted sex offenders since that time have received these pardons. That was an intentional decision by the government.

I want to be fair. I want to quote somebody with respect to victims. Victims essentially say that Bill C-23 was a knee-jerk reaction. I would rather not see a knee-jerk reaction but rather a considered, thoughtful debate and evidence given before the public safety and national security committee. I intend to be strong on this but I also want to be reasoned and thoughtful with proper submissions.

I thank my friend across the way for having the courage to recognize that a problem has existed since 2006 when it was not fixed and for trying to fix it now.