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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was know.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on private member's Bill C-612, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons). I would like to thank the member for Ahuntsic for this initiative, which seeks to deter people from committing these crimes and to ensure that those who profit from them are punished accordingly. I believe that we all agree that these objectives deserve our support. In fact, thanks to the hard work of the Conservative member for Kildonan—St. Paul, there is now a minimum sentence in the Criminal Code for those found guilty of trafficking in persons under the age of 18, an initiative that was supported by all opposition parties except the Bloc. It is a shame for this party and a sad day for Quebec's children.

Although we support the good intentions of the bill, I believe that, in its current form, it could prevent the desired objectives from being attained. I will spend my time pointing out some of the problems with the bill, but I will do so in a constructive manner and in the hope of making it as sound and effective as possible. In my opinion, changes need to be made to fill in the gaps in current criminal law and provide sufficient legal clarification so that such changes are useful to police and prosecutors. In the end, it would allow the member to attain her objectives of deterring and punishing this crime.

Human trafficking is a problem that comes up often. It garners a lot of attention from the public, media, police and legislators across the country and around the world. I believe that this interest stems from the fundamental human concern we have for one another and from the fact that we all recognize that no one should be treated as merchandise that can be bought and sold for profit. It is a form of modern slavery. Despite the attention that this crime garners, we are only just starting to comprehend the nature and scope of this crime in Canada and abroad. We do know, however, that women and children are disproportionately victimized by this crime.

According to the United Nations, in 2009, 66% and 13% of the victims were women and girls, respectively, compared with 12% for men and 9% for boys. The United Nations estimates that more than 700,000 people are victims of human trafficking every year. And this crime is clearly very profitable. The United Nations estimates that this crime nets nearly $32 billion each year for the offenders.

Police investigations and prosecutions in Canada provide us with useful, albeit incomplete, information about human trafficking. These cases have demonstrated that the majority of victims were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. But there are also cases of trafficking for forced labour. Most of the victims were women and the majority of these human trafficking cases took place here in Canada.

In December 2010, RCMP statistics showed that there were at least 36 cases involving human trafficking before our courts. That is an encouraging number because it shows that the criminal justice system is becoming more comfortable with the relatively new offences involving human trafficking.

In light of this, we must ensure that we do not inadvertently make our laws less effective. I am concerned that certain proposals that have been put forth could do just that. And in that context, I would like to speak to the content of this bill.

First, it would grant the extraterritorial power to bring legal action in Canada against Canadians or permanent residents who commit offences related to adult trafficking abroad. This seems logical to me and I know that extending jurisdiction in this matter is encouraged under the relevant international law. In fact, other countries have taken measures in this regard, including the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.

I believe—and I am asking members to think about this—that this type of amendment should have been extended to offences involving the trafficking of children, which fall under section 279.011 of the Criminal Code. This offence was enacted last year further to private member's Bill C-268, which was introduced and sponsored by the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul. The addition of a human trafficking offence involving both adults and children would allow us to ensure that Canadian laws and, of course, this bill, are consistent, as well as to take legal action no matter what the age of the victim.

I also support the bill's proposal to the effect that human trafficking offences should result in the reversal of the onus of proof in cases related to proceeds of crime. The existing regime limits this possibility to serious offences involving organized crime and other serious drug offences that are directly related to organized crime. We know that members of organized crime groups also participate in human trafficking. This amendment would target financial incentives and make this type of crime less appealing to criminal organizations.

This bill also proposes a “presumption” that appears to be an attempt to make prosecution easier. In cases involving adults, this presumption would require the court to find that the accused is exploiting a victim if he lives with a person who is exploited or is habitually in the company of or harbours a person who is exploited.

Presumptions help prosecutors prove an element of the offence by establishing a fact. However, as it is written, I do not think that the presumption achieves its goal. That said, I think that the goal could be achieved if the proposal could be amended to ensure that it produces the desired results and that it is compatible with the existing presumptions in the Criminal Code. I urge hon. members to think about the need to make such amendments to the bill.

Furthermore, I am concerned about a number of amendments this bill proposes to section 212 of the Criminal Code, which is commonly known as the procuring provision. Two amendments are proposed. The first would require that individuals found guilty of this offence must serve their sentences consecutively to any other punishment they have received. The second would apply reverse onus to this offence in cases related to the proceeds of crime.

As the House surely knows, our government is currently defending the constitutional validity of certain provisions regarding prostitution. Therefore, I think it would be ill-advised to make more amendments to these provisions before a ruling is made.

I would like to tell the member that I am absolutely willing to work with her to strengthen this bill in order to hold traffickers responsible for their horrendous crimes.

However, I am outraged that the Bloc has introduced this bill, since it knows that it wants to defeat the government. This is a case of opportunism. That party is trying to pretend that it defends victims, when all it does is defend the rights of criminals.

Petitions March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Canadians, I am presenting a petition calling on Parliament to take the necessary measures to eliminate child pornography from the Internet and to prevent the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.

Justice March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question.

As members know, our Conservative government understands the regions of Quebec and takes action on their behalf. That is why we introduced Bill S-10 to impose minimum penalties for individuals who sell drugs to our children near school grounds.

Unfortunately, the leader of the Bloc and his leftist urban elite are against that. They would rather see criminals out on our streets. Fortunately, our Conservative government shares the values of Quebeckers in all the regions. Our government continues to defend them and not to defend the rights of criminals, as the Bloc is doing.

Bloc Québécois March 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the hypocrisy displayed by the Bloc Québécois is appalling. The Bloc leader himself is the founding father of the tactic he is criticizing us for using.

Here is just one example: on July 15, 2004, before we were elected, the Bloc Québécois transferred $17,071.20 to the candidate for Québec. Just a few hours later, on July 16, 2004, that same candidate transferred $17,071.20 to the Bloc Québécois. What a coincidence. The money came in, then it went out.

Basically, the Bloc Québécois leader is trying desperately to trigger an election. While our economy is slowly recovering and Quebeckers in all regions are thinking about job creation and the economy, the Bloc leader wants an election at all costs.

Fortunately, the Quebec Conservatives are here to represent all regions of Quebec, not just Plateau Mont-Royal.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I will respond to the hon. member's question through you as follows. First, a request was made by the Conservative Party. We won our case before the Federal Court, Trial Division. We lost our case before the Federal Court of Appeal. The score is currently one to one. The parties have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

I would like to point out that Elections Canada lost the first round. It did not lose the second round; it lost the first. There was a hearing that lasted several days. As a result, it cannot be said today that Elections Canada suddenly changed.

Nevertheless, here is what Elections Canada did, for example. It is another point. Elections Canada filed criminal charges against representatives of the Conservative Party.

I would like to point out that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I will not hold a trial here since these people are not even here to defend themselves.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, through you, I would like to tell my colleague that, first of all, I did not understand his question, and second of all, he spoke about things that did not really have to do with his own motion.

Why did Elections Canada not take action against the six Liberal MPs who missed the 18-month refund deadline? A backbench member of Parliament would get a slap on the wrist. There are six on the Liberal side who did not get a slap on the wrist. That is what he should answer for.

Why did Elections Canada not take action against those six Liberal members and why, now, are they accusing us of making in and out transfers, something that they themselves did? They made just as many. It is still legal and we will prove in court that it is.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion on electoral financing and accountability moved by the hon. member for Beauséjour.

Today I would like to explain to Canadians, and to this House, the falsehoods presented in this motion, according to which our democratic principles were allegedly attacked by the current government during the financing of the election campaign.

First, I would like to take a moment to present the facts. There is currently an administrative dispute between the Conservative Party and Elections Canada. The issue is whether expenses should be considered national or local. This type of transfer is common practice among the parties and is entirely legal.

It is in no way an attack against democracy, and this type of unjustified accusation is not only irresponsible, but also a waste of precious time in the House of Commons when Parliament could be debating issues that are truly important to Canadians, like the economy.

On the contrary, the motion moved by the hon. member for Beauséjour has to do with a dispute over the administrative interpretation of the fact that Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. What is more, the false and misleading accusations by the hon. member for Beauséjour are somewhat surprising, coming from the Liberal Party, which still owes $40 million plus interest following the sponsorship scandal. Taxpayers' hard-earned money was redirected to the Liberals' coffers.

In fact, it is this Conservative government that strengthened democracy in Canada by making accountability and transparency a priority. Our actions show Canadians that we are working in their interests.

More specifically, I would like to focus on our accomplishments with regard to electoral administration and financing. I would also like to underscore the major reforms in the Federal Accountability Act, which our government passed to put an end to the long-standing corrupt practices of the previous government.

Among other major improvements, the Federal Accountability Act prohibits political contributions by corporations, unions and associations and reduces the influence of big money within our electoral system by changing the individual contribution limit from $5,000 to $1,100.

By eliminating the anti-democratic influence that the wealthy could potentially exert, these reforms guarantee that our democratic system treats all Canadians equally. We are ensuring that the voices of all Canadians are heard.

Our government is the one that eliminated the influence of big money, not the one that was caught trying to claim some of that big money. The elimination of the influence of money in the government and the substantial amendments made to the lobbying regulations are perhaps the most significant changes that our government has made, and they illustrate our government's priorities and character.

In addition to key reforms to restore the fairness of the political financing system, our government also took measures to reduce the possibility of electoral fraud. Before we made these key changes, an individual could vote, no questions asked, if his or her name was on the voters list. Identification was not required unless an election agent, the candidate or the candidate's representatives had reason to doubt the person's identity or his or her right to vote. In order to address this shortcoming, our government took steps to require voters to present a piece of ID and proof of residence.

Our commitment to a fair election process is perfectly illustrated by the changes we made to protect law-abiding Canadians who work hard to prevent potential voter fraud. These types of measures protect the integrity of our electoral system by ensuring that the person requesting a ballot is actually the person who is entitled to it.

We also took measures to improve the administration of the election process. For example, when we required voters to present ID at the polls, we also made other changes to improve the accuracy of the National Register of Electors.

Clearly our government is committed to an open, transparent and accountable democratic process, and its actions continue to improve Canada's reputation as one of the most respected democracies in the world.

While we have achieved a great deal over the past five years, there is still considerable work to be done to ensure that Canada remains a world leader in democracy. We continue to take action to strengthen the Federal Accountability Act, making the most of our principles of transparency and accountability. While we have taken steps to ensure that politicians are not influenced by those with deep pockets who give too much money, our legislation still allows those people to lend too much money. In order to stop that practice, we introduced the Political Loans Accountability Act to impose new requirements concerning transparency and tighter restrictions on lending practices.

While there are limits on contributions, there are no limits on the amount an individual can lend, and this government wants to fix that. Under the Political Loans Accountability Act, parties and candidates would have to apply for a loan from a financial institution for any amount beyond the annual contribution limit and pay commercial interest rates, just as ordinary citizens must do. This is something the Liberal Party clearly cannot understand.

Lastly, the bill would prevent candidates from walking away from the repayment of the loan, a practice that the Liberals continue to use, which illustrates their contempt for the rules. Some four years after the 2006 Liberal leadership race, six Liberal members still had not paid back their loans, despite an 18-month extension, according to a National Post article on January 5, 2010. What did Elections Canada do?

If the Liberals want to talk about attacks on democracy, I would like to ask the members for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Parkdale—High Park, Willowdale, Vancouver Centre and Eglinton—Lawrence to explain to Canadians why they explicitly violated Elections Canada's financing rules despite the generous extension Elections Canada granted them.

Do they believe they are above the rules? If there was any wrongdoing, it was committed by the Liberal members who did not obey Elections Canada's rules regarding campaign loans. That is an indisputable fact. What did Elections Canada do?

Our government is proud of its unmatched commitment to accountability and transparency. Be it through the Federal Accountability Act, through legislation to improve the electoral process or through tougher rules on political loans, this government is committed to giving Canadians an accountable democratic process. Our record speaks for itself. If the Liberals want to talk about democracy, I would love to join in the debate. The root of the word democracy is “power of the people”. And by people, I mean Canadians—the parents who work hard and whose priorities include the economy, high-quality jobs and the promise of a bright future that is filled with hope for our children.

Instead of using an opposition day to talk about creating jobs for Canadians or about measures to ensure that our economy is stronger than ever, the Liberals are wasting their time making irresponsible, reckless and, most importantly, false allegations about the Canadian government.

The member for Beauséjour should focus on creating jobs in the aerospace industry and supporting the investments made by our government in businesses in his riding instead of acting as a pawn for the Liberal leader, who is pushing his own agenda. We all know that he is not interested in Canadians. He is only thinking about himself.

Even Robin Sears, the former NDP campaign director, told CTV News Channel on February 25, 2011, that it was time to get back to the issues that matter to Canadians. Canadians are worried about the economy, as is our government. It is unfortunate that the Liberals are only worried about themselves.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the Bloc Québécois member a question.

Jean-Paul Marchand was a candidate. He lost the election in 2000. He was sued by the Bloc Québécois, which had used such a scheme. Mr. Marchand testified before Justice Godbout, a Superior Court judge. The ruling was handed down on November 21, 2003, in which it states:

Mr. Marchand concluded that the real purpose of this personal commitment was to fund the Bloc Québécois with public money and not to reimburse election expenses, as provided for by the Act.

Mr. Marchand's actual expenses were $22,276.37. He had agreed to spend $66,565. He made up fake expenses to claim rebates from the public coffers. There was no complaint to Elections Canada. Elections Canada did not intervene.

Can the member explain why Elections Canada did not intervene?

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. In 2003, a court handed down a ruling against a certain Jean-Paul Marchand, a Bloc Québécois candidate. He lost the election, and here is what the judge had to say in the November 21, 2003 ruling:

Mr. Marchand concluded that the real purpose of this personal commitment was to fund the Bloc Québécois with public money and not to reimburse election expenses, as provided for by the Act.

Mr. Marchand had filed legitimate expenses. The Bloc demanded that he spend more and then took him to court because he had not claimed enough expenses. Elections Canada did nothing. Can the Bloc member, who is also his party's organizer, tell us why the judge said this?

In this case, the reason why the candidate made a personal commitment to the Bloc Québécois “to fund the shortfall” was possibly for financing purposes.

Can he tell us why Elections Canada—

Anti-drug Strategy February 28th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, our priority is to fight crime and ensure the safety of our children in all regions of Quebec. Unfortunately, this priority is not shared by the Bloc and the leftist urban elite from the Plateau. That is why they voted against our Bill S-10.

This Conservative bill would ensure minimum sentences for criminals such as the one in Val-d'Or who sells drugs near schools. We hope that the Bloc will finally stop listening to its leftist urban elite friends from the Plateau and will listen to families in all regions who are asking for minimum sentences for the drug dealers who threaten our children.