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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was veterans.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for West Nova (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 63% of the vote.

Statements in the House

A.F. Theriault & Son October 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, A.F. Theriault & Son is the largest family-run boatyard in Nova Scotia, employing 225 people in the municipality of Clare.

This shipyard is an industry leader in Atlantic Canada, building state-of-the-art vessels, such as Halifax's new passenger ferries and high-speed unmanned hammerhead craft that are used in navy training exercises in Canada and around the world. Such accomplishments have played a major role in the sustainability of our area's rural communities and have contributed greatly to the region's economic prosperity.

On October 20, I had the opportunity to join A.F. Theriault & Son employees and the entire community in celebrating this company's 80th anniversary.

Please join me in congratulating A.F. Theriault & Son on this historic year of their 80th anniversary, and wishing them 80 more years of success.

National Parks October 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Canada's century old national park system is unlike any other in the world, yet in 2014 the Conservative government cut funding to parks by over $29 million.

My favourite national park, Kejimkujik, is in my riding of West Nova. This beautiful park was once used for year-round hiking, camping and skiing. Can the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change tell me and my constituents what is being done to improve our national parks and ensure year-round access?

Mental Illness Awareness Week October 2nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, we know that mental illness touches us all, some more personally than others. Taking care of our mental health starts from a young age, and teachers and counsellors play an important role in the healthy development of our children and youth.

I stand in the House today to recognize someone who has bravely shared her story of recovery from mental illness and has dedicated seven years to the rural communities of Long and Brier Islands in my riding of West Nova. Julie Keddy is a teacher and school counsellor who supports youth living with mental illness. She is in Ottawa today with the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health to raise awareness of their important task and the challenges ahead.

Julie has been recognized as one of this year's faces of mental illness. I congratulate her for the courage to share her story and for her dedication to our communities and our youth.

I thank Julie and encourage the great job she has been doing.

Nova Scotia June 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, as Canadians plan their summer holidays, I extend a warm invitation to visit Nova Scotia and discover all that we have to offer. In western Nova Scotia there is so much to enjoy. If one is a history buff, visit Port Royal, the oldest permanent European settlement in Canada, or visit the historic Cape Forchu lighthouse near Yarmouth.

If one is an outdoor adventurist, they can explore Kejimkujik National Park, see North America's darkest skies, or embark on a whale watching excursion off Brier Island in the beautiful Bay of Fundy.

If one wishes to explore one's Acadian roots, one can take part in the world's oldest Acadian festival in Baie Sainte-Marie or travel back in time to the 19th century at the Historic Acadian Village of Nova Scotia in Lower West Pubnico.

Or perhaps one would like to stroll through the Annapolis Valley's apple orchards, sip on award-winning Nova Scotian wines, and dine on the world's finest seafood. Whether one visits for the history, the scenery, or the food, one will experience hospitality that is second to none in beautiful Nova Scotia.

Criminal Code June 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I note that my friend across the way mentioned judicial vacancies as one thing that needs to be dealt with. I agree that it is a work in progress. We have seen, though, many appointments made by the justice minister over the last number of months, over the last year, at least. There are more federally appointed judges than in any year previously. We now see appointments to the court that take into account a number of things, such as its inclusive nature, with minorities being represented on the court, more women appointed to the bench, and people with disabilities. Those vacancies are being filled.

I note that there are more federally appointed judges now in Alberta. I know that my friend represents a riding in Alberta. I know there are more federally appointed judges now in Alberta than there were at any time during the previous Conservative government. I wonder if my friend could tell us how many times he complained about the number of judicial vacancies in Alberta when the last government was in office.

Criminal Code June 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend and certainly appreciate his comments. There are many measures in this bill that deal with efficiencies in the system and that would ensure that people are treated fairly, whether the accused or victims of crime, in the criminal justice system.

I appreciate what he is saying with regard to dealing with racialized minorities or people who may be overrepresented in our criminal justice system. This bill does several of those things. Just in the short time I have, I can say that this government has restored the court challenges program, which will certainly allow people access to the courts. We have also increased funding for legal aid that will allow these people to get proper representation in our courts.

Criminal Code June 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I too, from having worked as a lawyer in the system and oftentimes in provincial courts, know that the burden on the court resources dealing with administration of justice offences is overwhelming. In fact, in many instances, at least half of the docket on any given day in provincial court is filled with these offences that could be dealt with in another way that would certainly not put the safety of the public at any risk and would hold the accused accountable, while actually allowing the court resources to be spent properly on the subject matter that brought the accused to court in the first place.

Canadians expect that we will deal with serious offences before the courts in a timely fashion. The measures in this bill to deal with the administration of justice offences will not only properly respond in some way to the Jordan decision, which we are all coming to terms with in the criminal justice system, but also make our system fairer for all involved.

Criminal Code June 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her excellent question and observation that this bill does include provisions that would certainly help reduce the overrepresentation in our criminal justice system of marginalized and racialized communities, which we have to come to terms with in our country.

The very important measures in this bill to deal with bail provisions, which currently have many people in the system being held awaiting trial on administration of justice offences, and which contribute to stigmatization of certain groups in our communities, will go a long way in helping to reduce the overrepresentation in our system.

We also know that in our criminal justice system today, we have Gladue reports that are used in sentencing, which should be taken into account properly to ensure that we reduce the overrepresentation of indigenous people in our prisons in this country.

I thank my hon. friend for her question, and I look forward to studying this while bearing that in mind at the committee.

Criminal Code June 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on this important bill, Bill C-75. I will be spending my time discussing those aspects of the bill that were previously introduced in Bill C-39. These changes seek to make our criminal law clearer and more accessible, revising or repealing certain Criminal Code provisions that have been found unconstitutional and thus are no longer enforceable. These are important changes, because they would help to ensure that the law as written would reflect the law as applied. This would promote efficiency in the criminal justice system by eliminating confusion and errors. Some might say that these kinds of changes are unnecessary and that the concerns motivating them are more theoretical than practical. However, this is simply not the case.

The Travis Vader trial serves as a recent and concrete example of the repercussions the continued presence of invalid provisions in the Criminal Code can have. We recall that the case involved the prosecution of Mr. Vader for two counts of first degree murder in respect of Lyle and Marie McCann. In finding Mr. Vader guilty of second degree murder, the trial judge relied upon an unenforceable, previously struck down provision of the Criminal Code. The trial judge's mistaken reliance on an invalid provision was quickly noticed, and shortly thereafter, two convictions of manslaughter were substituted for the second degree murder convictions.

I have the deepest sympathies for Mr. Bret McCann and his family, who have endured the loss of loved ones, the stress of a criminal trial, and the trauma that ensued from the mistaken reliance on dead laws. I want to thank him for his continued advocacy in this area. I also wish to acknowledge my colleague, the member for St. Albert—Edmonton, with whom I serve on the justice committee, who has advocated for the removal of these zombie laws from our Criminal Code and has said that this should be something that crosses all political lines and that he expects will be supported by all sides of this House.

What are these specific changes in Bill C-75? The bill would repeal provisions related to the offence of murder, the abortion offence, the spreading of false news, the loitering part of the vagrancy offence, two evidentiary requirements found in the impaired-driving regime, and a provision that prevented judges from giving enhanced credit for time served in custody prior to sentencing. It also proposes to repeal the prohibition against anal intercourse.

In the time available to me, it will not be possible for me to comprehensively discuss each of these amendments, but I would like to highlight a few of them, starting with the provisions mistakenly relied upon in the Vader trial that I referenced a moment ago.

The Criminal Code defines and classifies murder as either first degree or second degree. In either case, a murder conviction is punishable by a mandatory penalty of life imprisonment and it is accompanied by the highest level of social stigma. In 1990, building on a previous decision from 1987, the Supreme Court of Canada held, in R. v. Martineau, that in order to respect the charter, a murder conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of subjective foresight of death. In other words, the accused intended to cause death or intended to cause bodily harm knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, death would actually ensue.

The effect of this ruling is twofold. First, it means that the entirety of section 230 is unenforceable, the provision at issue in the Vader trial. Section 230 indicates that culpable homicide is murder where it occurred during the commission of other offences, such as robbery, even in cases where the offender did not intend to kill the victim.

Second, it means that part of subsection 229(c) is of no force and effect. Its says that it is murder when a person, while pursuing another unlawful object, “does anything that he knows or ought to know is likely to cause death, and thereby causes the death” of another person. The phrase “or ought to know” is an objective standard that is determined based on what a reasonable person, standing in the accused's place, would have known and not on what the accused actually knew. Therefore, it could allow a conviction for murder even if the accused did not know that his or her actions were likely to cause death. The phrase “or ought to know” was read out of subsection 229(c) by the Supreme Court of Canada, but its continued presence in the Criminal Code has caused delays, inefficiencies, and injustice to the accused where, for instance, a jury is not clearly informed that it should ignore it when determining an accused person's guilt. This can also lead to a waste of judicial resources where such an omission forms the basis for an appeal.

Bill C-75's proposed amendment would make clear that a conviction for murder cannot rest on anything less than an intent to kill, or an intent to cause bodily harm knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, death would actually ensue. Bill C-75 would also repeal section 159 of the Criminal Code, an unfortunate vestige of a bygone era in which society passed moral judgment on non-harmful consensual sexual preferences through the criminal law, a section of the Criminal Code that has been declared unconstitutional by several appellate courts because it discriminates on the basis of age, marital status, and sexual orientation.

Additional changes will clarify that historical sexual offences can only be used if the conduct at issue would be prohibited by existing sexual offences if committed today. This approach protects both equality rights and victims of sexual offending, regardless of when the offence occurred. Bill C-75 would also repeal section 181 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits the spreading of false news. This is an extremely old offence, dating back to 13th century in England, and at that time it was targeted at conduct that was meant to sow discord between the population and the king, and is out of place in today's society. In Regina v. Zundel in 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down this offence because it found that it unjustifiably violated freedom of expression, pursuant to paragraph 2(b) of the charter. The court held that the offence lacked a clear and important societal objective that could justify its extremely broad scope.

As we are proposing to repeal this unenforceable offence, some might have questions about whether our criminal laws should target false news in some way. These questions would be understandable, particularly given recent discussions of the spreading of fake news, for example, and concerns about the use of fake news to promote hate against particular groups. In this respect, it is worth noting that the Criminal Code already contains a robust set of hate propaganda offences and other hate crime-related provisions that can be relied upon in appropriate cases.

Bill C-75 would also repeal section 287 of the Criminal Code, the abortion offence, which prohibited the procurement of a miscarriage and was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court almost 30 years ago. It is high time that this invalid provision be removed from our Criminal Code, in part so that women across Canada will not face the additional and unnecessary burden of figuring out what the criminal law currently prohibits at a time when they may be facing one of the most difficult decisions of their lives.

The Supreme Court of Canada's guidance on this point was clear. It stated, “Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a foetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman's body and thus an infringement of security of the person.” I agree, and wish to applaud the Minister of Justice for proposing the removal of this long outdated and unenforceable provision from the Criminal Code.

As I said earlier, these changes and others that I have not been able to discuss in detail tonight are about promoting clarity in the law. All Canadians should be able to turn to the law as written as a reliable and trustworthy indication of the actual state of the law. These changes are consistent with the objectives of other amendments contained in Bill C-75, in that they will make our system more efficient and accessible. These changes are all about respect for the charter, and I urge members of Parliament to support the passage of this bill at second reading so it can go to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which I am proud to be a member of, so that it can be fully examined, studied, and be given thoughtful consideration.

Criminal Code June 5th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the member just stated something that I do not believe is accurate, and I just want to get his comment on it.

The bill deals with many things that actually would increase efficiencies in the justice system. One very important one is dealing with the administration of justice offences, which clog up a great deal of time in our courts and do not focus the resources of the court on dealing with the actual serious offence, the subject that brought an offender to court.

I wonder if my friend would at least agree that the administration of justice provisions in this bill would help increase efficiencies, and that it has nothing to do with the sentencing he was just talking about.