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Conservative MP for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies (B.C.)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 53% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Criminal Code May 20th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I will clarify one thing. I finished with talking about a free vote from the government. That was my conclusion. The opposite side talks about open and accountable government and a new way of doing business here in Ottawa. I question whether free votes are really occurring on the other side, just by the numbers that oppose any government legislation. Usually on our side we have anywhere from one to 15 honest free votes in the House. I would challenge the other side to have a free vote on this on their side—
Criminal Code May 20th, 2016
Madam Speaker, absolutely, as I referred to, an amendment was put forward by one of our colleagues, with respect to proposed subsections (7.1) and (7.2). Some of these positions are not protected, as the member stated. We are talking about not just medical practitioners, but we are talking about pharmacists and any kind of health institution that would allow this act to be performed within it, faith-based health care providers.
It is a wide-open door as to who can be drawn into this situation. Without sufficient protections, I am deeply concerned that all of these groups will be wrapped up into this legislation and be forced to do something against their beliefs.
Criminal Code May 20th, 2016
Madam Speaker, it is simply two different situations.
We have a law that was sufficient all the way up until last year when the Supreme Court decided that it was not. That was the premise at the start of my conversation.
The following three points were made, that if the government is going to proceed without going through the notwithstanding clause process, then we would go through the rest.
I will just inform the member across the way that on a plane ride home from Ottawa to Vancouver, I sat next to a Supreme Court justice of the appellate court. I asked how we could have a check on them. Canadians have a check on us through elections and feedback letters. He said that there is a mechanism to check on them, and it is called the notwithstanding clause.
Clearly that is our way to check the courts, and to have our say in that body. We need to seriously consider it in this matter.
Criminal Code May 20th, 2016
Madam Speaker, as I sit here and look up in the gallery, I notice some of our finest young Air Cadets who have just walked in, and I would like to acknowledge them today.
I will talk about four issues that I have with the process and with the current legislation. I would like to bring up the notwithstanding clause, compelling, deeming, and a free vote.
I will start with the notwithstanding clause.
I think a lot of us, especially on this side, are a little frustrated that the Supreme Court struck down the law of the land and basically said that it was not adequate to deal with this particular issue. I would argue that this House represents over 30 million Canadians. We are the ones who make the laws in this country. I think we need to remind the courts of that.
Certainly, the courts are challenged to uphold the laws that we write in this place, but when I see the wringing of hands on the other side that we are down to a deadline which is so imminent, I would like to remind those members that we are the body that makes the laws, not the Supreme Court.
I would also like to talk about “compelling”. I will read an amendment proposed by a colleague of mine:
(7.1) It is recognized that the medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or other health care institution care provider, or any such institution, is free to refuse to provide direct or indirect medical assistance in dying.
It sounds pretty practical to me. It goes on:
(7.2) No medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or other healthcare institution care provider, or any such institution, shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of medical assistance in dying....
I guess what I am getting at is compelling one to cause someone else to die. This was brought up to us by a member of this chamber who is a physician. The member said that the physician is not the individual who would actually perform the action, that often it would be a nurse or some other medical staff who would have to perform the actual act taking a life. This is where I get really concerned.
I was talking with somebody while walking up to the Hill yesterday about my argument on Bill C-14 and the compelling side of things. He was actually supportive of making physicians and nurses perform the action of ending someone's life, regardless of what their moral beliefs are, regardless of what their religion is, etc., and that deeply concerns me.
As my hon. colleague in the NDP just mentioned, without bringing this issue to the Supreme Court, if we are going to put in amendments without getting the court's sign-off, my concern is that some practitioner who refused to enact an order to put somebody out of their misery and end their life would have to go before the Supreme Court. The practitioner would have to go through the legal expense and all that grief just to stand up for his or her beliefs, because the legislation does not adequately protect those individuals. It is a huge concern for me and my constituents.
I have talked about deeming before in this place, but I do not think I did a good job the first time in explaining what “deeming” really is and what it gets to.
This is on pages 12 and 13 of Bill C-14, and it is in relation to the Pension Act. I will read the actual clause:
(4) For the purposes of this Act, if a member of the forces receives medical assistance in dying, that member is deemed to have died as a result of the illness, disease or disability for which they were determined to be eligible to receive that assistance, in accordance with paragraph 241.2(3)(a) of the Criminal Code.
On the following page, there is clause 7, which references members of the forces, and it is very similar in what it is expressing.
My deep concern is that when a forces member or a veteran is somehow in tough times financially, it may become an option for the person as a way to get his or her family out of a financial burden by making the ultimate decision and ending his or her life. The fact is that it is not an option today, but this will make it an option in the future. This deeply concerns me.
Then, what of life insurance and what of other documents that relate to illness? What of those? Are they going to be similarly worded, that this would somehow encourage a member or a veteran to take that path?
Last, I would like to talk about free votes. On this side, we were asked about this a lot after the last Parliament. We were asked about how many free votes Conservatives had, and how many free votes the other parties had. When we were on that side, there were over 200 free votes, almost too many to count. We were actually given the true choice to make up our minds in this place. I think for the Liberals at that time they had around 20 free votes, roughly, because there were a few who stood to oppose different things. For the NDP, there was one.
What causes me more concern is that some of these motions have already been voted on in this House. All we have seen on the other side is one to zero in opposition of a particular motion. It concerns me that free votes are not really occurring, and that those members are being whipped into supporting a particular motion.
I say that in a challenging way. I do not say that as a way to say that the government needs to stay there. I think it is a challenge to the Liberals especially across the way to really hold free votes on this. We know there is a bunch of members on the other side with different issues of conscience with this bill. I would challenge the government to really stick to its principles of open and accountable government, sunny ways, etc., with this particular bill.
As my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George has said, this is going to be the defining piece of legislation that comes out of this Parliament. What it is going to look like in the future is going to affect us, our kids, their kids, and well into the future. It needs to be done right.
As a member from the NDP said, we need to make sure that this law is going to hold up in the Supreme Court. It would be wise to have a conversation with the Supreme Court about this particular legislation, with the amendments, and have the court come back and tell us what would hold up and what would not hold up. Short of that, this is just a simple exercise which is taking up a bunch of time, and the legislation will need to be changed all over again.
That is all I have to say. We put together some amendments. I have mentioned a few of my colleague's amendments. There is nothing strange in our amendments. There is nothing that is beyond what is expected by the Canadian public. They are about freedom of choice, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and all the rest of it.
Ultimately, we want Canadians to be free to make that decision, but we also do not want medical practitioners to be forced into making a decision that goes completely against those freedoms. I will end with this. I referred earlier to a medical practitioner in this place, and to a very compassionate argument about being forced into the position of possibly having to end someone's life against that physician's will. I do not want to see any medical doctor, nurse, anybody have to perform that action when they do not want to do it because of their beliefs.
It is a slippery slope, as many have said. I am deeply concerned about it. I hope the government side will think long and hard about pushing this legislation through without due process.
Criminal Code May 16th, 2016
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to be the seconder of the bill put forward by the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. I commend him for bringing this legislation forward.
Bill C-230 addresses a long-time concern of law-abiding firearms owners in Canada. I support this legislation for three main reasons: it is simple, effective, and most important, just plain common sense.
First, on simplicity, the bill does not attempt to make any sort of wide-sweeping broad reforms as mentioned by the government and the other opposition party. Bill C-230 does not propose to reinvent the wheel when it comes to firearms regulation. It contains three simple clauses that would accomplish a targeted goal: ensuring consistency and transparency for law-abiding firearms owners in Canada.
Second, the bill provides an effective definition of the term “variant” that ensures that firearms that are classified as a variant of another firearm share similar mechanical components and are derived from the original prohibited firearm. The proposed definition states that a variant is defined as a firearm that shares the same unmodified frame or receiver of another firearm. This is an effective definition that would provide greater clarity for law-abiding gun owners and would ensure that decisions surrounding variants will be based on this fundamental definition rather than an inconsistent interpretation of an undefined and vague term.
Third, this legislation is a common-sense reform that would simply bridge the gap between legislation and regulations to ensure greater clarity for gun owners.
The term “variant” is used extensively when it comes to the regulatory framework surrounding firearms, but does not have any kind of legal definition in the Criminal Code or the Firearms Act. For example, the term “variant” is used 99 times in the regulations that govern firearms classifications. A term that is used this extensively in the regulations warrants a formal definition in the legislation. Furthermore, a recent access to information request stated that as of October 16, 2015, there were approximately 4,030 firearms that had been identified as prohibited, restricted, or non-restricted variants. Again, a term that impacts this many firearms deserves to have a clear definition to ensure that it is applied uniformly in all decisions.
I want to take a few moments to present an example of an issue that was created by the term “variant” being undefined.
The recent controversy surrounding the reclassification under variants of the Swiss Arms Classic Green rifle, of which I was an owner, is a prime example of the negative consequences that can arise from inconsistent interpretation of this undefined term.
This issue goes all the way back to 2001 when the RCMP determined, based on documentation provided by an importer and the manufacturer, that Swiss Arms Classic Green rifles were semi-automatic variants of the Swiss Arms SG 540. Therefore, they were considered non-restricted or restricted, depending on the length of the barrel of the individual rifle. As a result, these firearms were allowed to be imported and sold in Canada. They were not prohibited firearms. However, in 2014, following a complaint about Swiss Arms rifles, the RCMP determined the rifles and their variants to be descendants of the Swiss Arms SG 550 and therefore were deemed prohibited firearms in Canada.
This was an arbitrary reclassification that made a long-time legal firearm owner, a firearm that I used to own, illegal overnight. With the stroke of a pen, law-abiding owners of Swiss Arms Classic Green rifles found themselves in illegal possession of a legal firearm. The decision eliminated the ability of Swiss Arms owners to obtain a licence to transfer and acquire these firearms, limited the locations where they could be possessed, and imposed enhanced storage and handling obligations by the owners. Furthermore, as I previously stated, it immediately criminalized law-abiding owners of Swiss Arms rifles who found themselves in unlawful possession of a firearm and at the risk of prosecution for unauthorized possession of a firearm under section 91 of the Criminal Code, and again, as the member stated, overnight.
Members may recall that when this decision was made in 2014, the Conservative government reacted strongly to protect law-abiding firearms owners.
The government brought in an amnesty to ensure that Swiss Arms owners would not be prosecuted for owning their once-legal firearms. Furthermore, the government then brought in Bill C-42, the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, which enacted a number of important measures to reduce the red tape for firearms, as well as measures that allow the Governor in Council to respond to arbitrary classification decisions, such as the Swiss Arms decision.
Bill C-42 was a very important piece of legislation for firearms owners in Canada. Likewise, Bill C-230, is yet another responsible measure to protect law-abiding gun owners from arbitrary and inconsistent interpretation.
If Bill C-230 had been in place when the decision on the Swiss Arms rifles was made, the RCMP would have had to demonstrate that the rifles in fact shared the same unmodified frame or receiver as the SG 550 and were prohibited on this basis.
To wrap up, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for introducing this legislation. As I stated in the questions, it is not a partisan issue; it is a clarity issue. There is quite clearly a disconnect between the legislation and the regulations that Bill C-230 is looking to bridge.
This is an important bill for legal firearms owners. I look forward to seeing it pass at second reading, although it looks like there is some opposition. I hope there is some serious second consideration by the parties across the way and beside us to have a real strong second look at this strong legislation.
Criminal Code May 16th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for that particular input with respect to his private member's bill.
Being a firearms owner myself, I understand the legislation that the member is supporting and trying to put forward. It brings clarity to the bill, and I think that is why parties from across the way can be supportive of it. It is not just necessarily a pro firearms bill; it is pro clarity.
How does the member see this as a cross-partisan issue where all parties can be supportive of his motion?
Petitions May 13th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I am honoured today to present this particular petition. It is record setting. It is the highest recorded e-petition that we have had in Canada so far, at 25,249 individuals who signed the petition. I would also like to honour the person who started this petition, Mr. Marc Bennett, who is a firearms advocate.
The petition states, in part:
We, the undersigned, Lawful Firearm Owners of Canada, request (or call upon) the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to Re-classify the Armalite Rifle--15 back to non-restricted status so we can once again use this rifle to lawfully participate in the Canadian cultural practices of hunting.
Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1 May 6th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for recognizing my community, which is under an evacuation order as we speak. I thank him for his concerns.
The member mentioned concerns about the fitness and arts tax credits and I have received many emails from people concerned about this loss of revenue sources for families. Some families may not be able to put their kids in sports, such as hockey, rugby, or baseball. In the arts, I think of piano or guitar lessons, or just name it. Some of the budgets of these folks are so tight that now they are on the bubble and they may not be able to put their kids in sports or music.
I would like the member to comment on what the future of Canada could hold with the loss of these burgeoning athletes and musicians.
Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I think the member is referring to the Carter decision. What we have seen are problematic issues with the current bill. It has gone far past what the Carter decision said it would wish to see.
Again, I implore the government to consider rethinking this bill, maybe splitting it into different issues, so it addresses conscience rights and compelling somebody to do something they do not want to do.
Canadians care deeply about this issue. I hope the government takes our discussions back to committee, and approves some amendments at the very least.