House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was ensure.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Independent MP for Whitby (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, during my colleague's speech, he talked about knowledgeable leaders in this House. The person sitting right in front of him, the member for St. Albert—Edmonton, is a lawyer. I would think he would have confidence in lawyers and their ability to handle justice across Canada.

The member also said that Canadians expect that people will receive due punishment for their crimes. To be clear, we are not removing the ability for prosecution lawyers, such as the member sitting in front of my hon. colleague, to look at an offence and decide the seriousness of that offence, and to then decide whether it is to be a summary conviction or whether it should be indictable. We are not taking that away.

We are not reducing sentencing for serious crimes. We are giving the prosecution, much like many of my hon. colleagues' friends and colleagues, the ability to decide, which we know they will do in a just and effective way in order to look at who is before them, and give them the right punishment.

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I want to allow my colleague to go back to the comments of the member for Kitchener—Conestoga. He said, and I do not think he was trying to mislead the House, that this piece legislation would reduce the sentences for a number of different offences.

Again, we would not be taking away the ability of the Crown, the prosecution, to classify whether an offence would go to summary or indictment. The Crown would still have the opportunity to look at a case and see whether that offence was serious enough to have life or a couple of years. I would love to give my hon. colleague the opportunity to correct the possible mistake my hon. colleague made.

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I would start by saying that I do not purport to be a lawyer or to speak for members of the Canadian Bar Association in the way they speak among themselves about this particular reform.

The proposals in Bill C-75 would restrict the availability of preliminary inquiries to only those offences carrying the maximum penalty of life in prison, with the intended effect of reducing the time it takes for cases to reach trial.

Among other things, this looks at the witnesses and the revictimization of individuals who, at the inquiry and again at trial, have to go through their testimony and some of the very difficult circumstances of what happened to them. That can be a very painful and excruciating process.

When we look at limiting those to offences that carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, we are ensuring that we take into consideration some of the issues my colleague is talking about with regard to having the witnesses there to testify to those very serious offences.

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, to reiterate, summary cases have fewer procedural aspects. They move much more quickly through the system. They do not need as many procedures, and they increase the efficiency within our justice system.

However, I would like to talk specifically about hybridization and to look at, for example, an issue that the hon. colleague has brought up before in this House, which is making incidents such as kidnapping a hybrid offence.

I have three kids. When we look at kidnapping, it could either be someone who stands outside of a school luring kids into their van and saying, “I am going to take you away and kidnap you,” or it could be a custody case in which a child says, “I don't want to live with mom anymore. I am going to run away and go stay with dad,” and mom calls the police. Both of these fall under the same classification, which is kidnapping.

However, those two cases are not the same. The Crown has the ability within that context to look at those two cases of kidnapping and classify which is the more serious offence that requires a lifetime in prison, and which requires two years or less.

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Before I begin, I would like to thank the Minister of Justice and the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for their work on this legislation, which is now at report stage. It really would address some of the issues of delay in our court system. It would reinforce and strengthen our criminal justice system to ensure that victims would be looked after in a way that would protect them, our communities and society and. At the same time, it looks at the inequities within the system.

Before I go any further, I will quote Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer in the United States. I have read his book Just Mercy and one line reads, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” I started with that quote because I want lay some context.

I have listened to hon. opposition members speak to the bill. I want to re-emphasize that our objective is not to re-victimize innocent people, but to ensure they are adequately protected. We know there are inequities in the system and the bill looks to improve the efficiency of and equity within the system.

There have been many reports, and it is not just me saying this, about the over-incarceration of our indigenous and black populations within federal institutions across the country. Irrespective of where we are, we see this happening.

I am not a lawyer and this is not my background, but in looking at the legislation, I want people in Whitby to know and understand what the legislation would do to strengthen our criminal justice system, the Criminal Code and increase efficiencies. By doing both, it would increase efficiency.

Bill C-75 proposes to do a few things: modernize and streamline our bail system, including by legislating a principle of restraint to reduce the imposition of unnecessary conditions and with the intended effect of reducing the overrepresentation of indigenous and marginalized Canadians in our criminal justice system. Essentially, when bail conditions are imposed, the proposal is to look at the situation of the individuals in front of the judge and come up with reasonable conditions that would prevent them from re-entering the criminal justice system. By doing that, we would ensure it would not be a revolving door in and out of prison. We want people to be rehabilitated and stay out of the system, but there has to be a thoughtful process throughout the whole judicial system to ensure that happens.

A second proposal is to change the way our system deals with administration of justice offences, including by creating new judicial referral hearings as an alternative to a new criminal charge, with the goal of reducing the burden of administrative justice charges and increasing court efficiency. If an alcoholic is in front of a judge and one of the conditions imposed by the judge is that the person not drink, that is a little unreasonable. Why not have one of the conditions be that the individual seeks treatment? That is a better alternative than telling that person not to drink. Allow individuals to seek treatment and make it part of their conditions so they do not come back before the court. It would prevent that revolving door and increase efficiency.

Another proposal is to strengthen the way our criminal justice system responds to intimate partner violence, including enhancing the reverse onus at bail for repeat offenders. If charged with an offence, it is not up to the prosecution but rather to the defendant to present evidence for why he or she should be released. This makes it harder for the person to reoffend, and it protects the victim. It should be up to the individual to tell the court why he or she will not offend again. It should not be up to the prosecution to do that. It broadens the definition of intimate partner violence to include dating partners and former partners, and it increases the maximum sentence for intimate partner violence.

Another reform is the reform to jury selection processes. This legislation proposes reform by including the abolition of peremptory challenges, reinforcing the power of judges to stand aside certain jurors in order to increase the diversity of the jury selection. That does not mean the person will not have the opportunity to be a juror; it just means that in order to increase the diversity of the jurors who are selected as a jury of our peers, they should reflect those who are living in the community. That component allows for judges to have the authority to do that. Jurors cannot be removed without reason. They cannot be indiscriminately removed; there has to be a reason for that. This also helps to allow and increase equity within our system.

This piece of legislation also restricts the availability of preliminary inquiries to only those offences carrying the maximum penalty of life imprisonment, with the intended effect of reducing the time it takes for each case to go to trial. We know that the introduction of this proposal will allow us to understand what victims go through. We are not revictimizing witnesses by having them testify at the peremptory and also at the trial. It increases efficiency while also, as I mentioned earlier, ensuring that the victim is not further victimized within the system.

I want to talk about the hybridized offences, and a few people may want an explanation as to what this is. There are three ways in which we can convict. There are summary convictions, indictable offences and hybrid offences. The fact that we are increasing the number of hybrid offences does not mean the Crown does not have the ability to decide the appropriate sentence or look at the seriousness of the offence.

My hon. colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton has brought this up a number of times. He is a civil litigator, and during his speech he said we cannot just leave it up to the Crown somewhere in some building to have the ability to indiscriminately sentence. I am sure he has faith in the ability of his colleagues, and I would hope he would know that these lawyers take their job very seriously. Not taking away their ability to decide the seriousness of a crime means they can still go in either direction, whether people are given a fine, or two years, or two years to life. That possibility is still available to our attorneys.

This is certainly not what it is doing. It is not being soft on crime. In addition to these proposals, our Minister of Justice has made significant numbers of appointments. Last year there were over 100 appointments to the bench. We are currently at 235. We are on track this year to keep that number going.

We have the most diversity on the bench. We have judges who look like Canadians. That combination of appointments, plus the proposals in here, increases the equity in our system, and it increases the efficiency of our system.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, we know that as businesses grow and start to scale up, it becomes very risky and very scary for them. Before getting into politics, I was an entrepreneur, so I share the concerns of my colleague on this.

The IP strategy we announced on World IP Day includes comprehensive education and awareness, so that as businesses look for ways to expand and export to new markets, they are aware of what is available to protect their intellectual property.

I quoted some businesses in my riding of Whitby. They understand that a strong IP strategy and a strong focus on IP can help companies not only grow but become great players in a global market. That is what this strategy would enable businesses across Canada, in Whitby and I am sure in Northumberland—Peterborough South to do.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of this government taking substantial action on pay equity. We have heard the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour speak about this issue. She has been having consultations across the country to ensure that we get this correct.

One dollar does not equal 88¢, and for equity-seeking groups, the disparity between men and women with respect to pay is much larger.

For over four decades, women have been waiting for this. We want to make sure that we get this right and have equal pay for equal work.

There are many pages in this BIA related to pay equity. I would invite my hon. colleague to look at them.

This is not about putting pay equity in place for the sake of doing it. It is about putting it in place to ensure that we get it right.

Women have waited a very long time. Equity-seeking groups have waited a long time to ensure that we have this. This government is moving on it and we are going to get it absolutely correct.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the privilege to speak in the House today about the legislative reforms to intellectual property that accompany this particular piece of legislation.

I would note that I will be splitting my time with the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook this afternoon.

Our government unveiled Canada's first national IP strategy earlier this year, on April 26, World IP Day, after two years' worth of consultations. I know this is not exactly the most rivetting topic to consider this afternoon, but it is really important for businesses, and particularly businesses in Whitby. As a member of the INDU committee, the industry committee, I think it is really important to highlight some of these initiatives in the second BIA.

The objective of Canada's IP strategy is to help Canadian entrepreneurs better understand and protect intellectual property in order to strategically access and grow to scale. Business leaders from my riding of Whitby understand the importance of a strategy.

Jason Atkins, the CEO of 360insights, a great company in Whitby, has said that “IP is a critical component for businesses to scale, especially to a global level. If we want to create well-paid jobs in our country, we need to look at businesses with a global lens and leverage IP to compete globally.”

Also, Isaac Wanzama, founder and strategic senior strategist at geekspeak Commerce in Whitby, has said that “Intellectual property is the lifeblood of any innovation ecosystem, that is certainly true in Canada. As entrepreneurs, if we aren’t protecting the investments that we are make in our tech research, whether AI or genetics, then we’re not only doing a disservice to our businesses but to the Canadian economy as a whole. But, it’s not always that we don’t want to, often it’s because the process is difficult to understand and even if you can understand it, very expensive. Canada’s new IP Strategy, which aims to educate, simplify and reduce associated costs for startups and innovative businesses is a welcomed announcement.”

Innovative businesses in my riding are clearly excited about our government's plan. The IP strategy sets out to help businesses get the information and confidence they need to grow their businesses and take risks. It will help spur Canadian innovation and boost Canadian presence in the global marketplace through three key areas. It will increase IP literacy through IP awareness and educational programs, offer strategic IP tools for growth, and implement legislative amendments to strengthen Canada's IP system.

Today, I want to focus my remarks on the specific initiatives that will help improve IP awareness and education among Canadian businesses and innovators.

Along with a strong and effective IP framework in place, Canadian businesses must also, first and foremost, recognize and understand the importance of IP use in order to succeed in a global marketplace. They need to be able to understand how to protect their IP and use it effectively.

The statistics on Canadian businesses' IP awareness and use, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, are of concern. We know that small and medium-sized companies with IP in Canada are 64% more likely to be high growth companies and four times more likely to export, yet only 10% even hold some form of formal IP. Further, 83% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses have indicated that IP was not relevant to their business when citing the reasons for not seeking IP rights. This is why, along with the other legislative changes we are bringing forward, we are also expanding our efforts in IP literacy.

The IP strategy is built on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office's IP awareness and education efforts that are already in place across the innovation ecosystem to ensure that innovators, entrepreneurs, businesses and creators recognize the value of IP.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office, CIPO, will continue to build on current learning tools and resources, and also develop new educational resources to better equip innovators and businesses with the knowledge they need to succeed.

The CIPO has a team of IP advisers located across Canada who work directly with companies and innovators to deliver seminars and participate in innovation and business-related events, such as StartupCanada's Canadian export challenge.

Over the last year, the CIPO has delivered 150 seminars across the country, reaching over 1,900 participants through its IP awareness and education program.

The CIPO will be increasing the number of its initiatives over the next year, which will include hosting up to 60 seminars on advanced topics, such as IP commercialization and strategy and enforcement, and is increasing accessibility to these sessions by offering webcasts and developing e-learning modules.

Our government will also conduct a survey to better understand how Canadians understand and use IP, including groups that have been traditionally less likely to use IP, such as indigenous entrepreneurs and women. The results of the survey will help us meet the needs of under-represented groups and help ensure that our efforts to support innovation are inclusive of all parts of our society.

In addition to CIPO's outreach efforts to businesses, our government will create a new team of IP experts to ensure that IP is considered across federal government programs. Program officers will have access to expert knowledge and capacity to address IP issues and help guide recipients to improve their IP knowledge and savvy.

The IP strategy also sets out funding for IP legal clinics to help businesses understand their IP needs, facilitating access to IP professionals for advice, while also enabling students to learn more about intellectual property.

A strong and robust IP strategy is a key driver for getting companies to grow in scale, create better jobs and spur innovation. We must ensure that all the proper elements are in place for Canadian companies and innovators to grow and that they have an environment where they can innovate and develop.

This consists of an effective education and awareness program and strategic tools, which are necessary components to legislative amendments tabled in the budget implementation act. This will help Canada to become a more strategic user of intellectual property to fuel innovation and economic growth.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the question I am about to ask does not have to do with the BIA, and I apologize for that, but it does have to do with the speech by my hon. colleague, in which he referenced Haiti and the difference between it and the Dominican Republic. I would like to invite my hon. colleague to possibly sit down with me and have a fulsome discussion about the history of Haiti, which was destroyed by a revolution. Payment of reparations for 150 years caused a lot of destruction there, as well as three decades of American occupation, which atrophied its institutions, and large repayments to France. If he knows not what he talks about, he probably should not bring it up in the House.

Elections Modernization Act October 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to this debate for quite some time and hearing the opposition talk about time allocation and the issue with having the Chief Electoral Officer in place at a particular time.

I am hoping that my colleague from Oakville could speak to this and remind hon. members and all Canadians that we used 87% of the recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer. We heard witnesses' testimony that amounted to over 100 hours of study of this legislation, where Bill C-23, the unfair elections act, only had less than 50 hours.

I am wondering if my colleague could speak to the dedication that we have put into this piece of legislation.