House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was chair.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Mississauga—Erindale (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Justice November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as the member will know, the last time an all-parliamentary process was used in the selection of a Supreme Court justice, there was a serious breach of confidentiality, and we are continuing to review the process for future appointments.

A former Liberal justice minister said that “...a high degree of confidentiality is required for the process to function properly”.

Do members know who said that? It was the member when he was minister of justice.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first, with respect to the child pornography offences, there is a growing understanding that the child is actually re-victimized each and every time that image is distributed or viewed over the Internet. There is the offence of assaulting the child; there is the offence of making the record of that assault in the first place; and then the offence of it getting distributed many times. There is an increasing understanding at the bar and in the courts that the child is actually being re-victimized a number of times and, therefore, that this requires, and demands, that sentences for each of those offences be served consecutively, rather than concurrently.

He is right that everyone here abhors sentence discounts for multiple child sex offenders with multiple child sex victims, but, unfortunately, these things have been happening in our courts. There is a famous case with respect to an individual who committed offences against young men over a number of years at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. That is a case in point. There is also the case of Graham James, the hockey coach, who sexually exploited many young men over many years in Manitoba and other places. In each of those cases, the offender did not get consecutive sentences for each of those victims. Bill CC-26 would require that the court consider consecutive sentences in each of those kinds of cases.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, certainly by keeping the offender in jail longer, we protect children more significantly. That is one reason we do it.

Obviously we are trying to address the fact that there has been increase, year over year, in these types of offences. Part of it may be because there is better reporting and the fact our government has been investing in child advocacy centres across Canada to assist with that reporting and make it easier for child sexual assault victims to report offences against them.

The mandatory minimum penalties are designed to ensure that anyone who would commit a sexual offence against a child would spend time in jail, an appropriate time in jail, and the longer they are in jail, even if it is a few more days, those are a few more days of protection for the children in that community from that child sexual offender.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend is right that more needs to be done. Simply increasing penalties is not the whole answer to the problem, but we must make a very strong statement of our abhorrence as a society of those who would commit these kinds of offences against children. That is what Bill C-26 is attempting to do.

The member will also know that there are a number of provisions, which I outlined in my speech, about prohibition orders, probation orders, and peace bonds that could be applied to known child sexual offenders to protect children.

As I mentioned, we are also creating a special high-risk child sex offender registry that will be made available to the public through the Internet. This will be designed in conjunction with the advice of the RCMP and the provincial and territorial attorneys general to ensure it is done in a way that will actually give Canadians the information they need, so that they will know if a sexual offender is in the community and what steps they can take to ensure that their children are safe.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the second reading of Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act. However, I must say that although I fully support this bill, I do so with sadness, because like every member of this House, I wish it were not necessary, but unfortunately it is.

We discussed earlier the statistics from Juristat, which describe the problem. Over 3,900 sexual violations against children were reported to police in 2012, which was an increase of 3% from 2011, and the same increase was seen from 2010 to 2011. There were approximately 33,000 sex offenders on the National Sex Offender Registry, of which approximately 22,000 had a conviction for a child sex offence as of October 2013.

This is very unfortunate. It is the one type of crime in Canada that continues to increase year by year.

I was told by Karyn Kennedy, the executive director of the Boost child advocacy centre in Toronto, an agency that is doing fantastic work to assist child and youth victims of sexual offences, that they cannot keep up with the demand. They opened a centre a year ago expecting to have about 1,400 cases in that year, and they had almost double that number during that period.

It is an endemic problem. It may be fuelled in part by the availability of the Internet and the ease of luring and abusing children over the Internet. Unfortunately, it is a heinous crime that is being perpetrated against the most vulnerable people in our society, and we must all take action to do whatever we can to reduce and eliminate it.

This bill reflects the ongoing efforts of the government to protect our children from sexual exploitation. My remarks today will focus on the bill's proposals to ensure that the sentences imposed for child sexual offences adequately reflect the appropriate level of denunciation and deterrence.

We know that children are far more likely to be victims of sexual crimes than are adults. It is worrisome to see that the trend is increasing. One of the factors contributing to this trend in recent years has been the Internet, which has expanded the reach of sexual predators to the globe with a click of a button.

The justice committee heard considerable evidence of the use of the Internet to lure, exploit, and sexually bully children during its study of Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act. The proposed reforms to our Criminal Code and our new investigative powers in that bill are necessary to protect children, as are the provisions in the bill before us.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is an impressive organization that has, since 2004, received support from the federal government as part of the national strategy to protect children from sexual exploitation on the Internet. It delivers programs to increase the personal safety of children and reduce their risk of sexual exploitation. These programs include education and prevention, research, and the coordination of national efforts on child protection with the private sector, government, and law enforcement.

It also operates, Canada's national 24/7 tip line for reporting online child sexual exploitation. As noted on its website, between September 2002 and June 2010, received 39,783 reports of online child sexual exploitation, 90% of which were for child pornography offences. These numbers paint a horrifying picture that clearly demonstrates that we must do more to stop child sexual exploitation, including by online predators. The proposed amendments contained in this bill would assist in achieving this objective by ensuring that sentences handed down would properly denounce and deter all forms of child sexual exploitation.

Bill C-26 proposes to increase the mandatory minimum penalty for nine existing child sexual offences as well as increase the maximum penalties for 16 existing child sexual offences. For example, the maximum penalty for section 171.1 of the Criminal Code, making sexually explicit material available to a child for the purpose of facilitating the sexual abuse of the child, would increase from two years of imprisonment on indictment to 14 years of imprisonment, with a corresponding increase in the mandatory minimum penalty from 90 days to six months imprisonment.

The offences of making child pornography, subsection 163.1(2), and distributing child pornography, subsection 163.1(3) of the Criminal Code would be converted from hybrid offences to indictable offences, and the maximum penalties would increase from 10 to 14 years.

As well, the maximum penalties on indictment for luring a child on the Internet, section 172.1 of the code, and for an agreement or arrangement to commit a sexual offence against a child through the use of telecommunications, section 172.2 of the code, will increase from 10 to 14 years of imprisonment. These are serious crimes, and this bill will ensure that they receive serious penalties.

This bill goes further to ensure that the objective of these amendments, to impose penalties that properly reflect the seriousness of the offence, is not defeated through sentence discounts for offenders sentenced at the same time for multiple child sexual offences.

Courts have, over time, developed rules to assist sentencing judges in the determination of whether sentences should be served concurrently, at the same time, or consecutively, that is, served one after the other. The general rule is that offences committed as part of the same transaction or same event should be served concurrently. For instance, an offender who sexually abuses a child and also makes a permanent record of that abuse by making child pornography should in theory be ordered to serve two sentences concurrently. Where an offender is sentenced at the same time for offences that are not committed as part of the same transaction, those sentences are normally served consecutively.

However, sometimes it happens that an offender is sentenced at the same time for sexual offences committed against different children, that is, committed as separate events. There have been a number of notorious serial child sex offenders whose crimes have come to light in much later years and were then tried together. Those offenders sometimes get a sentence discount through sentences that are imposed concurrent to each other rather than consecutively. Such an approach, in my view, sends a message, in the case of multiple victims, that not every victim counts. That is unfortunate.

Increasingly, however, sentencing courts are recognizing that consecutive sentences are warranted in certain cases of child sexual exploitation. These situations include, for example, where the offender has sexually abused a child, made child pornographic recordings of that abuse, and then disseminated those images worldwide via the Internet.

Imposing consecutive sentences in these circumstances, as some courts have already done, recognizes the reality that once such images are distributed, they will forever be available on the Internet and that the child depicted in those images will be revictimized every time the images are viewed.

For these reasons, Bill C-26 proposes to codify this growing practice by requiring courts that are sentencing an offender at the same time for child pornography and child sexual abuse to impose consecutive sentences for these offences.

The bill would also require a sentencing court to consider imposing consecutive sentences on an offender who is sentenced at the same time for sexual offences against multiple child victims; that is, the sentence imposed for child sexual offences committed against one child would be served consecutive, meaning one after the other, to the sentence imposed for sexual offences committed against another child.

Those are all important and welcome steps to ensure that all child sexual offenders are held fully accountable for their crimes. This bill will treat each victim equally and with dignity. This bill will end volume discounts for serial child sexual offenders.

This bill will also look beyond the sentence and seek to enhance community safety where the offender is released into the community under a prohibition order, under section 161; a probation order, under section 731; or a peace bond, under 810.1 of the Criminal Code.

A sentencing court must consider imposing a prohibition order on an offender convicted of a child sexual assault offence. Probation orders, under section 731, can be imposed on offenders who are sentenced to less than two years' imprisonment. Peace bonds can be imposed where there is a reasonable fear that the person will commit a child sexual offence, which is under section 810.1 of the Criminal Code.

Many experts tell us that most, if not all, child sexual offenders can never be rehabilitated, that once they have this problem, this issue, this proclivity, there is really nothing that can be done to ensure that they do not have that proclivity in the future. There are people, unfortunately, in our society who must always be under some kind of probation order or watch and must be listed on an offender registry so that Canadians can keep their children safe.

All of these orders can impose conditions restricting the offender's contact with children and use of the Internet or other digital networks with a view to preventing the offender from committing a child sexual offence.

The Criminal Code currently provides for a maximum penalty on indictment of two years' imprisonment for breaches of the supervision orders. Given that they are crucial in protecting our children from sexual offenders, including from recidivists, the bill proposes to increase the penalty for a breach of these orders to a maximum term of imprisonment on indictment of four years.

The bill also proposes to impose consistent penalties for breaches of these orders when prosecuted summarily. There have been many cases, unfortunately, of child sexual offenders who, on release and on some form of probation, then committed a second, third, or fourth subsequent offence, and that is problem we are trying to address with these provisions in Bill C-26.

Currently, breaches of peace bonds and prohibition orders are both punished on summary conviction by a maximum fine of $5,000 or six months' imprisonment, or both. Yet breaches of probation orders are punishable on summary conviction by a maximum fine of $2,000 or 18 months' imprisonment, or both.

To ensure the harmonization of the penalties for breaches of these supervision orders, the bill would provide that the maximum penalty on summary conviction for breaches would be 18 months' imprisonment or $5,000, or both.

The last element I wish to touch upon is the amendment to the proposed Canada Evidence Act. The Canada Evidence Act provides that the spouse of a person accused of most offences can neither testify for the prosecution nor be forced to testify against the spouse. However, there are exceptions to this rule for most child sexual offences, but not, unfortunately, in the case of child pornography offences.

In child pornography cases, the evidence of the accused's spouse may be required to prove the guilt of the accused. That is why the amendments proposed in this bill would make the spouse competent and compellable to testify for the prosecution in cases of child pornography.

There are a number of other provisions that I think are very important in the bill that I would like everyone listening to know about. The bill would also establish a publicly accessible database of high-risk child sexual offenders who have been the subject of a public notification in a provincial or territorial jurisdiction. It would assist in ensuring the safety of our communities.

In addition, the bill would provide for legislation to enable information-sharing, on certain registered sex offenders, between officials responsible for the National Sex Offender Registry and those with the Canada Border Services Agency so that foreign nations may be notified when these types of offenders are travelling to other jurisdictions.

Finally, Bill C-26 would require registered sex offenders to provide more information regarding their travel abroad. We want to protect not only children in Canada but children around the world, and unfortunately, there are those in our society who would leave our borders to find victims around the world. Canada will live up to its international obligation to protect children around the world by ensuring that high-risk child sexual offenders notify the Canada Border Services Agency when they intend to travel abroad.

The heinous nature of sexual crimes committed against children, especially the online sexual exploitation of children, requires all of us in this chamber to support the proposed amendments contained in the bill. I was gratified to hear a few moments ago that my friends in the NDP will be supporting the bill to go to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for study. I look forward to working with them at the justice committee to study the bill and ensure that it addresses the needs of the children we are trying to protect in Canada.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, when listening to my friend's speech over the last few minutes, I believe that when he quoted the Minister of Justice, he made reference to what I consider a shocking increase in child sexual offences over the last number of years. It is the only crime in Canada that is increasing in the number of offences every year.

My recollection was that the Minister of Justice quoted the figure of 6% over two years, which comes from Juristat, but the member said, “You know, it is not as high as you might think.” Perhaps the member could clarify if he said that. That is what I heard, but the acoustics are not very good in this chamber.

I find that statement shocking and outrageous. I would suggest that the member speak to any worker at a child advocacy centre across Canada. There is one in Toronto called Boost. It is run by a person by the name of Karyn Kennedy. She has said that the number of clients her organization sees every year is rising exponentially and that it is a real epidemic that has to be faced. Perhaps he could address those issues.

Taxation November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, did you know that our Conservative government has cut taxes not once, not twice, but a whopping 180 times? We are now in a position to deliver even further tax relief to Canadian families.

Thanks to our family tax cut, every family with children in Canada will stand to benefit. That includes the increase and expansion of the enhanced universal child care benefit to nearly $2,000 per year for every child under six and $720 per year for every child between 6 and 17, as well as the family tax cut.

The vast majority of benefits will flow to low and middle-income families.

While we are giving back relief directly to families the Liberals want to take that money away.

Canadians can trust our Conservative government to lower their taxes. We will not hike taxes like the tax and spend Liberals.

Taxation November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, under our family tax cut, all families with children will receive more money in their pockets, which is where it belongs. The vast majority will go to low- and middle-income families. A single parent with two children earning $30,000 would receive over $1,500 per year, a single parent with two kids making $50,000 would see over $900 in relief and benefits, and a two-income family with kids whose mom earns $48,000 and dad earns $12,000 would receive a benefit of over $1,100. That is a whopping 36% of their federal tax bill.

Our plan also includes increasing the universal child care benefit so that parents will soon receive a benefit of $160 per month for each child under six.

Our Conservative government is fulfilling its promise to balance the federal budget, and we are proud to be in a position to fulfill our promise to help Canadian families balance theirs.

Municipal Elections in Mississauga October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate all of the winners and each of the participants in yesterday's municipal elections in Mississauga. For the first time in 36 years, Mississauga is going to have a new mayor and a new voice directing our city.

I would like to convey my sincerest congratulations to mayor-elect Bonnie Crombie on her election victory. I would also like to congratulate Steve Mahoney on running a formidable campaign. I look forward to working with mayor-elect Bonnie Crombie on issues of importance to the people of Mississauga, including promoting jobs, safe communities, growth and long-term prosperity.

I would also like to thank outgoing mayor Hazel McCallion for her years of service and her tremendous contributions to our city and to Canada.

Committees of the House October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Liberal justice critic for his speech and for his good work at the committee on this particular study.

I wonder if he could give the House a bit of a flavour of some of the testimony we heard from witnesses.

There were a few issues brought up about the lack of sufficient French-language, legally trained, court document translators in the province of Saskatchewan, and the time it takes to find a judge who speaks in the other official language, whatever the majority language was in a particular province. In some provinces, and Yukon springs to mind, sometimes it took a bit of time to find a francophone judge to take a trial in that province and to preside over preliminary hearings. We also heard some testimony from one particular practitioner about the delay in finding access to anglophone judges and services in some smaller communities in Quebec.

I wonder if the hon. member could comment on that and just give us a flavour of some of the other testimony that the committee heard.