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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was terms.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Instruction to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (violence against women) June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this has been well promoted in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie. I did not go outside of the riding. This is a Sault Ste. Marie-based initiative, simply because of the statistics I saw.

I took the liberty of issuing a press release when the motion was tabled, and then I visited all of the social service agencies in Sault Ste. Marie to get their feedback. I have overwhelming support from the agencies in the riding of Sault Ste. Marie for this initiative. I cannot wait for the committee to get started.

Instruction to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (violence against women) June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, what I do not want to do is tie the hands of the status of women committee. I really want the members of the committee to have a free reign to look at those best programs. Ultimately, when all is said and done, it could be something that says we need an advertising campaign to speak to this and that we need to be dealing with our young men and young boys. It could be a recommendation that we need to develop a framework that includes the provinces, that brings into place the education systems and perhaps a curriculum which the committee might consider adopting that speaks to these programs.

I do not want to tie the hands of the status of women committee. I really want the committee to have free reign. I am very confident that the members of the committee will do an unbelievable job in bringing forward really great recommendations that I know I will support.

Instruction to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (violence against women) June 6th, 2014

moved:

That the Standing Committee on the Status of Women be instructed to undertake a study on the subject of best practices in education and social programs in Canada that prevent violence against women, and report its findings to the House within one year of the study's initiation.

Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to rise today to introduce Motion No. 504. I highlight that the key word in the motion is “prevention”. I am really pleased, Mr. Speaker, that you are here today to hear this speech because I know you share my value system. I am very pleased also that I have family members, friends, and staff here to hear this very important motion.

The motion was initiated in part because I became aware of the annual domestic violence statistics in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie. The results were astounding, considering our population of 75,000. These types of statistics are consistent Canada wide.

In 2010, Sault Ste. Marie Police Services recorded 1,178 domestic incidents, of which 258 had criminal charges laid. The Ontario Provincial Police investigated an additional 402 domestic incidents in Algoma, which resulted in 119 criminal charges being laid. Combined, that results in over one criminal charge per day. These are reported cases. I can only imagine the number of incidents that go unreported.

The majority of domestic violence incidents are violence against women. On top of that, the victim witness assistance program opened 371 case files specific to partner assault, which represents 72% of its case load. Women in Crisis provided emergency shelter to 456 women and children. Let me reiterate that this is all in a one-year period. These trends repeat year after year.

Additional research presented more statistics that are unacceptable to me as a male. I have been fortunate to be married for 32 years and to raise two sons, both of whom are in healthy relationships with their girlfriends. When I read about these statistics I am deeply disturbed as I do not believe domestic violence by men against women and girls should be tolerated, nor do my sons. They have never experienced domestic violence in my household.

These statistics come from a report completed by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, released February 2013. They are based upon an internationally accepted definition of violence against women by the UN in 1993 as being:

...any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

It should also be noted these statistics are based primarily on those acts that constitute crimes under the Criminal Code.

In 2011, the five most common violent offences committed against women were common assault, uttering threats, serious assault, sexual assault, and criminal harassment. Women were eleven times more likely than men to be a victim of sexual offences and three times more likely to be a victim of criminal harassment or stalking.

Overall, men were responsible for 83% of police reported violence committed against women. Most commonly, the accused was the woman's intimate partner, at 45%; followed by acquaintances or friends, at 27%; strangers, 16%; and non-spousal family members, at 12%. This contrasts with violent crimes against men, where intimate partners are among the least common perpetrators at 12%.

Intimate partner violence, which was nearly four times higher for women, was characterized by physical assault and the use of physical force, rather than weapons. About half of female victims of intimate partner violence suffered some type of injury.

As mentioned in the UN definition, there are many forms of violence including physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse and neglect.

Physical abuse is obvious and includes such things as pushing, hitting, slapping, pinching, or punching, to name but a few. Sexual abuse can include sexual touching, or sexual activity without consent, or forcing someone to commit unsafe or humiliating sex acts.

Emotional abuse happens when a person uses words or actions to control, frighten, or isolate someone, or to take away their self-respect. It can include such things as constant yelling or criticism or keeping someone from seeing family or friends.

Financial abuse happens when someone uses money or property to control or exploit someone else, and can include such things as withholding or limiting money in order to control someone.

Neglect occurs when a family member who has a duty to care for someone fails to provide them with basic needs.

Many men and women alike do not even recognize that some of these are even forms of violence. I believe that if best practices and prevention are implemented at appropriate stages in an individual's life, domestic violence can be dramatically reduced. I believe this because I am familiar with some of the rehabilitation programs delivered to incarcerated individuals, and they actually change these individuals' lives to the point that they do not reoffend once released.

Certainly, if we can rehabilitate those who have already offended, then we can also reduce the possibility of offending in the first place by providing preventative tools.

Treatment programs provided in prisons include such things as life without violence, criminal thinking distortions, and substance abuse. These programs are intensive in nature and generally involve 12 hours per week over a 20-week period in a classroom-type setting. Significant one-on-one counselling also occurs. The rate of recidivism is reduced significantly in comparison to those who have no rehabilitation services provided.

However, the issue is one of why individuals end up in the correctional system in the first place. A majority of the inmates feel that had this programming occurred much earlier in life, they would not have ended up in prison. Quotes such as “Where was this when I was 10 years old?” are common.

As a government and as a society, we are dealing retroactively with violence. We are told how to behave in society; however, we are not provided with the skills to do so. The skills I am referring to are such things as assertiveness training, conflict resolution, anger management, communication, healthy relations, and the ability to weigh and balance consequences, to name a few. Ultimately, this knowledge would assist in steering our children away from high-risk behaviour. Providing these programs would also help identify those individuals who need additional supports that are not currently in place.

There is so much more proactive intervention that can be done to minimize the chance of our children becoming violent offenders. We need to break the cycle.

I am not suggesting for one moment that we have done nothing as a government. We have made great strides to address this important issue, and this motion, if accepted, will build upon those initiatives. As a matter of fact, since 2007 more than $69 million has been invested in projects designed specifically to end violence against women and girls, and I expect my colleagues will expand on these initiatives later on.

All members of society are affected by family violence. There can be long-term impacts of violence on victims' physical and emotional health that can result in their inability to work, loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities, and limited ability to care for themselves or their children. Children may suffer long-term emotional, behavioural, and developmental problems that can even lead them to be violent later in life.

The financial consequences and the effects stretch far beyond the victims' family, friends, and communities. There are social costs. A considerable amount of Canadian resources are directed to address this issue, including health care costs and the cost to the justice system, to employers, to businesses, and to social and community services.

A study by the Department of Justice, “An Estimation of the Economic Impact of Spousal Violence in Canada, 2009”, estimates the impact of spousal violence to be about $7.4 billion per year. This includes $6 billion in costs to victims. Those costs are associated with victims seeking medical attention, lost wages, damaged and destroyed property and the intangibles of pain and suffering. It also includes $890 million in costs to third parties, including social service operating costs and losses to employers. This also includes about $545 million in costs borne by the justice system.

It is so unfortunate that social programs have to exist for groups of children that have witnessed forms of abuse or violence against their mothers or female caregivers, or programs that teach safety planning for women who are abused, or programs that educate on how people can identify and help women at risk of abuse, or programs that are specialized for individuals who have been physically violent and/or emotionally abusive or controlling toward a spouse or intimate partner. These are all designed for violence that has already occurred.

Let us find the best programs that prevent violence in the first place.

I realize that if everyone had these programs, domestic violence would not be eliminated, as there are many root causes of domestic violence. Addressing causes is certainly one way of reducing domestic violence. Applying best preventative practices is absolutely another way.

Through this motion, I am simply asking the status of women committee to explore best practices that prevent violence against women. Decisions will then be required to determine what next steps might be to implement those programs. I look forward to the unanimous support of my motion and, more important, the recommendations that will come forward from the status of women committee.

I wish every person had this very rare opportunity to initiate legislation that could be profoundly meaningful to so many. I am deeply honoured to be standing here today and so grateful to my constituents for placing their faith in me. I would like to dedicate this motion to my wife, who inspired it and who works so hard on the rehabilitation side of corrections.

Natural Resources June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know the importance of natural resource development. This is why they trust our government's responsible resource development plan to create jobs and grow the economy while strengthening environmental protection. The natural resources sector supports 1.8 million jobs and contributes nearly 20% to our GDP.

Can the Minister of Natural Resources update this House on action our government is taking to build upon this success?

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, you were obviously distracted by the member for Timmins—James Bay, so you probably did not hear the question in terms of its relevance. I would suggest that those two questions were every bit as irrelevant as the question that came from across the aisle. They do not warrant a response. They are not at all specific to the bill that we are talking about.

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak to what the member for Durham might have said or not said as I was not in the House, but I can speak to what the member opposite says or does not say in the House. Quite frankly, I do not often believe some of the things that come out of his mouth, so until I have an opportunity to review what the member for Durham may or may not have said, obviously I cannot comment.

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to let you know that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for West Nova, who is also the outstanding chair of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.

As the son of a veteran who spent 36 distinguished years in the Canadian Armed Forces, I can say it truly is a privilege to join the debate today and to express my pride in the generations of men and women who have served our great country. These include my mother, both of my sisters, and my brother-in-law. Among those and my father, there are over 80 years of direct immediate family experience in the Canadian Armed Forces. I am just absolutely so honoured and privileged to have been part of that. I did not join myself, but I think about them every day and I care deeply about our Canadian Armed Forces.

I also consider it an honour to serve on our Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, where I have gained an even greater appreciation of our government's efforts on behalf of veterans and their families. I would like to take this opportunity to thank colleagues on both sides of the House who sit on that committee. I believe genuinely that we all care very much, and collectively we are doing an incredibly good job on behalf of our veterans. I look forward to continuing to do so.

As some of my colleagues have already explained, our government is dedicated to caring for and supporting our men and women in uniform, past and present. As you know, our parliamentary committee is seized with two of the most pressing questions of the day: how can we make the new veterans charter even better; and how best can we state and demonstrate our commitment to Canada's veterans above all, and as well their families? I believe these two questions go to the core of what it means to serve those who have served our country so well.

The veterans hiring act would build on this. The measures before us would add important new levels of support for veterans and still-serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces by offering them greater access to jobs in the federal public service.

As we meet, both here and at committee, to discuss new measures and enhancements for veterans, I want to make it very clear to Canadians watching that they can also be proud of what we have already accomplished.

Since forming government, we have delivered for Canada's veterans by investing almost $5 billion in new funding to enhance veterans' benefits, programs, and services. As a result of this new funding, we have been able to implement the new veterans charter as a more modern and comprehensive way to care for and support those who are injured in the line of duty.

Through the new veterans charter, we are now providing full physical and psychosocial rehabilitation services, vocational rehabilitation and career transition services, both immediate and long-term financial support, health care benefits, and one-on-one case management services.

Through these programs, benefits, and services, we are able to provide world-class care for seriously injured veterans, we can provide up to $75,800 in training assistance for eligible veterans to start a new career, and we can provide a minimum pre-tax income of $42,426 a year for veterans who are unable to be suitably and gainfully employed as well as for those in Veterans Affairs Canada's rehabilitation program.

On top of those measures, we can help eligible veterans with shovelling snow from their laneways or cutting their grass, we can have health care professionals and case managers visit them in their homes, and we can assist them with the cost of travelling to their medical appointments.

I must say that Veterans Affairs has helped my mother out tremendously.

We do all of these things because we are determined to help injured and ill veterans make the best recoveries possible as quickly as possible, and we are committed to ensuring that all veterans experience a seamless transition to civilian life.

Ensuring veterans have access to meaningful employment is yet another way we are delivering on this. In recognition of their sacrifice to Canada, we are proposing changes that will give qualified veterans the highest level of consideration for jobs in the federal public service. That is why we want to give medically released veterans more opportunities to start new careers in the federal public service.

We would provide priority access for five years for those released from the Canadian Armed Forces because of a service-related injury or illness. This measure would move them to the front of the line for the public service jobs they are qualified to fill and perform. As well, all medically released veterans would see their existing priority entitlement period increased from two years to five years.

Our government is also helping Canada's honourably released veterans to access federal public service job opportunities by proposing two new measures.

First, still-serving military personnel who have at least three years of service would have access to internally advertised positions in the federal public service. This measure would allow them to continue to compete for these internal postings for a full five years after their release from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Second, we would establish a hiring preference for veterans over other eligible applicants for externally advertised hiring processes. This means they could be appointed, if qualified, over other qualified candidates. In the case of the hiring preference for eligible veterans, this new measure would last up to five years from the day they were released from the Armed Forces.

We are doing all of these things because we believe veterans and still-serving members deserve such consideration and because we believe Canada would also be the better for it. Without these changes, we would run the risk of losing the valuable contributions of highly qualified individuals when their military careers end. That is why we will work in close consultation with key partners such as the Public Service Commission, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and the Department of National Defence to create a fair and appropriate process. This process would allow Canada to continue to benefit from having invested in and supported veterans during their military careers, would ensure our federal workforce is enhanced and enriched by the valuable contributions that highly qualified veterans have to offer, and would at the same time permit eligible veterans to keep serving their country and to hone their experience and skills in a civilian capacity.

In short, these new measures demonstrate the value we place on the skills, the training, and the experience our men and women in uniform acquire in the Canadian Armed Forces. We do not want to lose that.

At the same time, Canada's veterans have done so much to help build our strong, free, and prosperous nation. These measures recognize that they have served Canada with courage and distinction and that they have been willing to sacrifice everything for a better tomorrow. We owe them the same.

I wish this program had been around when my sister and my brother-in-law left the Armed Forces. I am sure they could have benefited from it at that time. They are doing fine, do not get me wrong, but it is a good program. I encourage all members to support this important piece of legislation.

Business of Supply May 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, part of this motion speaks to providing secure and stable funding to the CBC. I am wondering if the member opposite could define what exactly “secure and stable funding” is. If I want to support a motion that would spend taxpayer dollars, I would like to understand exactly what the amount is of those taxpayer dollars.

Business of Supply May 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. member if she would please explain what exactly, in terms of a dollar figure, adequate and stable funding is in the mind of the member opposite.

Business of Supply May 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, with respect to this motion, if I am going to support it, I really would like to clearly understand your definition of adequate and stable funding. Can you give me a dollar value in terms of what that is?