House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was chair.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Prince Edward—Hastings (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Accountability of Foundations February 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and this government have buried over $7 billion in government foundations. This money is beyond the reach of the Auditor General. In fact, it is beyond the scope of the Access to Information Act.

Foundations are failing the most basic fundamental rules of accountability. They are not subject to the scrutiny of Parliament. This is the fourth time the Auditor General has raised the issue of foundations, and four times the government has failed to act.

Where is the government's commitment to transparency and accountability as promised? Parliament voted this past Tuesday 161 to 114 in support of our motion, which called on the government to ensure that the Auditor General has the authority to audit and to investigate foundations.

Canadians have spoken. Parliament has now spoken. If the government truly believes in financial accountability and responsibility, it will honour the will of Parliament and put an end to these abhorrent financial practices.

Petitions February 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to table a petition on behalf of the fine people of Prince Edward--Hastings whom have signed the document. The petitioners request that Parliament redefine marriage in federal law as being a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Criminal Code February 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the member's comments are constructive comments. I believe that the bill by itself is not just the sole answer.

I compliment the member for bringing forward other suggestions to complement and corroborate this initiative. That in itself is not just the only one. There are a number of situations where if we were to deal obviously with the root cause, then we would never have the violent circumstances. That is of course a very broad brush and a very broad scope. It is something that we should continue to look into and evolve.

We seem to have reached a point in society where the pendulum has swung too far. We must put in some form of a wake-up call to grab the attention of society and say that we have gone overboard and that it is not acceptable. We cannot tolerate that kind of abuse. Society demands better.

As a matter of fact, I have had other suggestions that want the bill to go further. We have had a number of suggestions from interested groups and organizations that wanted to include all weapons. I am saying that is fine, but that opens up other arguments and other concerns. Do we then consider a religious dagger a weapon? There are a number of other concerns that are brought into this.

Therefore, for now, let us keep the focus narrow. Let us deliver the desired results with a very clear message. If we muddle this message, it is not going to get through. For example, when we did impaired driving, we did not muddy it. We kept it very clear and very simple. In most cases that is how we have to communicate with the electorate. We have to communicate with the offenders. We have to hit them literally between the eyeballs on this and drive the message home.

Are we open for positive suggestions to reinforce, corroborate and assist? Should this necessarily be a stand alone initiative? Absolute not. I think you and I are both on the same path, my good friend.

Criminal Code February 14th, 2005

moved that Bill C-215, an act to amend the Criminal Code (consecutive sentence for use of firearm in commission of offence), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and proud to rise in support of Bill C-215, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the consecutive sentence for use of a firearm in commission of indictable offences.

The purpose of this enactment is to require that a sentence for the commission of certain serious offences be supplemented if a firearm is used. The additional sentence is to be served consecutively to the other sentence and is to be a further minimum punishment of five years imprisonment if the firearm is not discharged, 10 years if it is discharged and 15 years if it is discharged and as a result a person, other than an accomplice, is caused bodily harm.

The offences affected are those specified in the following sections: using a firearm in the commission of the offence or using an imitation firearm in the commission of the offence; and the offences being murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, assault causing bodily harm with intent, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, hostage taking, extortion and robbery.

The bill I am bringing forward today is not about incarceration but it is about sending a very clear message. It is a message about protecting society by providing an effective deterrent against serious indictable offences involving guns.

The precedent of mandatory minimum sentences has worked extremely well as an effective deterrent in cases of impaired driving. Many of us in the House will remember a number of years ago when one was stopped for an impaired driving charge and the person would perhaps receive a penalty of a three month suspension and maybe a $200 fine. Unfortunately, that did little to stem the abuse of impaired driving.

Consequently, a minimum mandatory was established of a one year suspension and a $1,000 fine. All of a sudden we started to achieve results. The message was a clear deterrent and that message was do not drink and drive.

We have a precedent, therefore, and it is in these types of sentences that it can work. I truly believe a clear message of deterrence must be applied to criminals who use firearms while committing an indictable offence, and that message being that if a person uses a gun in the commission of an offence he or she will pay a severe price.

Let me be absolutely clear. This proposed amendment is about sending a message. It is about sending a message to our criminal society. It is the message that the safety and security of society must be addressed. We need to send this message not only to those who commit the crimes that they will be punished but we also have to send this message to those who have experienced these crimes as a victim, that we take their protection seriously and that we will take all measures necessary to ensure that their rights and their safety are respected.

Over this past while I have met with many organizations, municipal and interest groups. As a matter of fact, just lately I met personally with the Canadian Professional Police Association that represents over 54,000 members in this country. I have also met with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Both of those associations fully endorse the proposed bill.

I have with me today a written endorsement from these defenders of justice. I will take the liberty of informing my colleagues of their sentiments.

The first one is a written endorsement from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. It reads:

Letter of Endorsement

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is pleased to support Bill C-215, an act to amend the Criminal Code (consecutive sentence for use of firearm in commission of offence), standing in the name of...MP Prince Edward-Hastings.

The Association feels this is an appropriate, serious response to occurrences of violent crime. We support the underlying principles of this legislation.

The letter is signed by Edgar MacLeod, President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

As well, I have an endorsement from the Canadian Professional Police Association. It reads:

CPPA Support to Bill C-215

The Canadian Professional Police Association endorses the principle of creating tougher penalties for the commission of serious offences when they are supplemented with the use of a firearm.

We believe that private members' Bill C-215 provides an effective deterrent against violent gun crimes and applaud the member for Prince Edward—Hastings for introducing it.

The Canadian Professional Police Association, which represents 54,000 police personnel members in every province from across the country believes, however, that, “provisions contained in Bill C-215 should apply to serious offences when they are supplemented with the use of a firearm as well as any other type of weapon”.

As we can see, there are groups and organizations that want the bill to extend into a further reach. I believe the bill is worthy of debate and going to a committee for examination to see if some of these other recommendations from the third party sources could possibly have an effect.

Judicially there are also concerns of the glaring inconsistencies of sentencing and literally the virtual ritual of plea bargaining resulting in the absence of a consistent message of deterrence being sent to the criminal element. If sentences for gun crimes continue to be arbitrarily decided without consistency, then criminals will continue to behave without fear of consequence.

As a former police officer a number of years ago, I have felt firsthand what many victims have been shockingly exposed to, and that is looking down the barrel of a gun from the wrong end. While many of us know what it is like to fire a gun, how many in the House know what it is like to have a gun pointed at them, to stare down the barrel of a gun and have one's life pass by literally in a millisecond?

I can assure members that the half-inch bore of a gun looks like a cannon before the victim's eyes. I would also like to separate the fiction of the entertainment world's perception of firearms from the reality of the real pain and the real suffering.

In the nostalgic days of Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral, the portrayal of gunslingers where they would supposedly shoot at 80 paces and hit the gun out of an adversary's hand was absolutely and totally ridiculous and fictitious of course. Anyone who has any familiarity with handguns, unless they are in the hands of an expert marksman in a controlled setting, would know that the reality is that handguns are absolutely not accurate in the hands of someone who is in an uncontrolled situation with spray patterns literally emerging from side to side.

For instance, if I had a handgun in my hand right now and at point of origin I would just simply wave it, in a non-threatening way of course toward any of my colleagues in the House, literally six-inches at origin, every one of my colleagues from one side of the House to the other would be in danger of being hit by, obviously a weapon. Handguns are totally unreliable and many innocent victims, under circumstances like this, are either killed, disabled or injured as a criminal in an uncontrolled situation is generally in a state of anxiety and has little care, regard or concern for others.

Many people quote statistics and refer to them as numbers, and of course, cold hard numbers they are. In reality, when firearms are involved in these statistics, literally every one is a human tragedy. I would like to draw the attention of my hon. colleagues to the following statistics which clearly demonstrate the scope of human pain and suffering that is not always just physical but on many occasions, scars a person psychologically for the rest of their life. On July 28, 2004 Statistics Canada released its annual report on robberies which stated:

The rate of robberies rose 5%, the first gain since 1996. This included a 10% increase in robberies committed with a firearm. Of the more than 28,000 robberies in 2003, 14% involved a firearm, 38% were committed with a weapon other than a firearm, and nearly half were committed without a weapon.

Over 2,300 robberies that took place in 2003 were committed with a firearm. Of the 161 firearm homicides in 2003, 109 were committed with handguns. Other violent crimes are increasing as well. Attempted murder and aggravated assault were both up 4% and assault with a weapon was up 1% in 2003.

Many people will say that is only 1%, 2%, 3% or 4%, but let me put that into perspective. Over the past 25 years, violent crime has gone up 66%. That is simply not acceptable. The status quo is not working. As these statistics clearly show, violent crime is all too prevalent in Canada.

There are serious problems, particularly in our urban cores with gangs, violence in clubs, and convenience store and gas bar robberies. I would like to draw the attention of all of my hon. colleagues in the House, but particularly those from the metro-Toronto area and those from our urban cores, to yesterday's headline in the Toronto Star which read, “Toronto's Deadly Weekend”. I would like to take the liberty to read from that paper which stated:

Deadliest weekend: 3 dead, 5 injured...a woman fatally shot Friday evening...Two other victims were rushed to Sunnybrook hospital, where they are being treated for gunshot wounds. A woman was shot dead and her husband injured by gunfire...Investigators say a man was shot in the back after a fight broke out on the dance floor, and a woman hit in the thigh.

All of that happened on the same day in one of our major cities. The paper went on to report:

--a student standing in a covered bus shelter...was hit in the arm by gunfire about 1 p.m. Friday.

Those stories all came out of one newspaper.

Walking back to my apartment last night I happened to pick up Sunday's Ottawa Citizen and what did I find in there as well but a story about another person being shot on Friday night in the city of Ottawa. I can probably assume from these kind of activities that if I pick up a newspaper from a major metropolitan area, I will see similar kinds of activities and reporting.

We cannot simply stand by and watch our communities deteriorate further. While respecting the rights of criminals, we must stop this escalation of violent crime. We must turn the corner of this page. We fully understand and respect the fact that criminals have rights, but society has rights as well. We have the right to live without fear of injury or death. I believe that in failing to act to prevent crimes like those that happened last weekend in Toronto, we are failing in our duty as members of Parliament.

Parliament is a body of lawmakers. My hon. colleagues sitting in the House with me today have responsibilities. We have the responsibility to protect the vulnerable in our society. We have the responsibility to provide the tools for our law enforcement agencies. We must follow-through with that responsibility. We must send a clear message of deterrence, protection and prevention.

I believe that we have a duty in this place to support Bill C-215. It is a positive initiative to deal with gun crimes against society. I look forward to comments from my colleagues in the House.

9/11 Memorial February 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the efforts of Mr. Paul Shier, a constituent of mine from the village of Tweed.

Like so many people around the world, Paul was deeply disturbed over the events of 9/11. While many expressed shock, anger, regret and sympathy, Paul was moved to create a lasting Canadian memorial.

With over 1,000 man hours of labour and talent, Paul created a massive 200 pound soapstone carving that truly captures the heroic efforts of the emergency personnel and the suffering of so many.

On March 6 and 7 of this year, Mr. Shier will travel to New York City to donate his tribute to the victims of 9/11. The statue will be displayed in the atrium of Bellevue Hospital, a few blocks away from ground zero.

Please join me today in congratulating the efforts and the commitment of Mr. Shier, and the thousands of other Canadians who have clearly demonstrated our solidarity with our American neighbours by standing with them in memory of that fateful day.

National Defence December 14th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, our military men and women place their lives on the line every day for this country. I believe they deserve a more truthful answer than that.

Not only has the government neglected to recruit the 5,000 new troops which it promised in the last election, but it has no plans to house them, no capacity to train them, and no equipment to provide them. Our military men and women cannot wait five more years.

Is this just another example of a broken Liberal promise? Why does the Prime Minister not increase the defence budget today?

Firearms Program December 9th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, taxpayer money is just simply too precious to be wasted on the $1 billion gun registry boondoggle. Two current Liberal ministers and numerous other Liberal members are on record as joining the majority of Canadians in calling for the elimination of this ineffective program. We have an opportunity this evening to put an end to this abuse.

I ask the Prime Minister this. Will his government follow the lead of the Conservative Party and hold a true free vote so all members can represent their constituents, and finally scrap this wasteful, ineffective gun registry?

National Defence November 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week this government raised the rental prices on military housing by up to $100 a month. Often these housing units are substandard.

While spending $100 million for luxury jets for ministers, this government is forcing our military to rely on programs such as the one at CFB Trenton, where the Christmastime adopt a family program provides a few holiday offerings for those struggling to make ends meet. Why is the Minister of National Defence playing Scrooge by raising the rent for our hard-working military personnel at what should be such a joyous time of year?

Economic Development October 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, one day prior to the writ $10 million was announced for community futures development corporations in eastern Ontario. After the election, nothing happened until my party made inquiries into the funding.

Yet on Monday, within hours of our queries, the government finally came through with the money. It appears it is up to the opposition to remind government of its funding for local projects.

Prior to the election the former member in my riding of Prince Edward—Hastings also announced up to $10 million, this time in environmental funding for the cleanup of the waterfront in the city of Belleville. Much like the EODF project, information has been scarce, but I look forward to holding the government accountable to its promises.

I would like assurances from the government that those much needed economic programs are distributed fairly and in good faith so that all of eastern Ontario can benefit from these investments. Projects like these benefit entire communities and, therefore, I hope that partisan influence does not play a role.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on our motion concerning the state of the government's defence policies.

My riding of Prince Edward—Hastings is adjacent to 8 Wing CFB Trenton, one of Canada's largest and busiest air force bases. Many military personnel and employees of the base reside in my riding. I compliment them on their fine work and on being a source of pride for the Quinte region.

Approximately 3,500 military and civilian personnel are employed by 8 Wing CFB Trenton. It is a key component of the local economy. It serves many functions for the Department of National Defence.

Most personnel and equipment used in peacekeeping efforts such as Bosnia and Kosovo pass through the air base. Search and rescue missions are provided by 8 Wing's Squadron 424 covering over one million square kilometres in central Canada. The equipment warehouse for the disaster assistance response team called DART is also maintained by 8 Wing CFB Trenton.

In my response to the throne speech, I referred to a visit by the Liberal chair of the Senate committee on defence, Mr. Colin Kenny, to CFB Trenton in June 2002. In his report he outlined the shocking neglect of the base by the Liberal government. He stated:

We came away with the impression that there is a shortage of personnel, a shortage of equipment, a shortage of spare parts and there are issues involved with (staff) retention that involve more than just salary.

The senator was told on that day that only half of 8 Wing Trenton's 20 aircraft were capable of flying due to a barrage of problems attributed primarily to underfunding. The aircraft technicians simply did not have the spare parts necessary to keep planes in the air.

In a follow-up interview, the senator from Rideau stated that not much had changed. He stated, “These problems are happening at all 15 bases we visited. It's not a question of a lazy base commander, they're all getting the short stick. There are shortages all over the place and not just for planes. Uniforms, ships, housing, training facilities are in dire need”.

One year later in June 2003, the then defence minister came to Belleville for a Liberal fundraiser. At that time he dismissed any suggestion that his government had done a deplorable job of equipping our military, yet he readily admitted it in an interview with the Belleville Intelligencer . He said, “We had difficulties with buying spare parts and not having enough money to buy new equipment”. This is just about as blatant a contradiction as honestly I have ever heard.

We can talk with anyone at Canada's largest transport base today and nothing has changed. Our military is still trying to make do with insufficient funding, obsolete equipment and a government that continually acts like an ostrich or passes the buck.

Despite its importance as a key air transportation location, the Canadian Press in February this year reported that the Canadian Forces faced a $500 million shortfall and some air force personnel recommended closing CFB Trenton or other bases across the country within the next 10 years.

We can imagine how difficult it is to do an important military job when the person cannot be sure that he or she will have that job 5 or 10 years from now. Military positions are difficult enough without having to worry about job security.

I believe that CFB Trenton is the jewel in the crown of our air force bases across Canada. Under a Conservative government our valued military personnel, to whom we owe so much, would be treated with the respect and support they deserve and the motion before the House would do just that in its intention.

Underfunding for the military is an undisputed fact even among my hon. colleagues on the other side of the House. Yet the Prime Minister has the audacity to boast that he has fixed the crisis in defence. I would suggest that he talk with the fine folks at CFB Trenton and ask them personally whether the crisis is over. I have. Or for that matter, ask any of the thousands of people in my riding who live underneath the flight path of these dated military aircraft.

Last Saturday the Ottawa Sun reported that the government is looking to cut a further $700 million from the $13.2 billion budget. Yesterday the International Institute for Strategic Studies revealed Canada's funding of the military is near the bottom of 169 nations when it comes to spending as a percentage of GDP, trailing countries such as Croatia and Guinea. The list is embarrassing. This country and the government should be downright embarrassed that we spend only 1.2% of our GDP on the military.

There once was a time when Canada's military was capably supported. Proudly, a number of years ago we were a middle power which did not have to flex its might but could be counted on to carry its weight on the international scene. Canadians were proud of their role, like a Boy Scout's badge of honour. Yet as Chris Malette of the Belleville Intelligencer pointed out:

If you want our air force, navy and army to be the Boy Scouts, at least have the decency to give them an adequate pocket-knife.

We cannot complete peacekeeping missions if our helicopters cannot take off. We cannot live up to NATO commitments when our submarines have to be tugged into port, and of course not even with our own tug. We cannot transport troops, equipment or supplies without dependable, capable and safe air transportation.

Our C-130 Hercules, the backbone of our peacekeeping and disaster relief assistance programs, are up to 40 years old. Our men and women in the military deserve better. Particularly in light of the millions of dollars of taxpayers' money spent on Challenger jets so the Prime Minister and his brethren can crisscross our country, I say to myself, as do Canadians across this country, where are the government's priorities?

I would be remiss if I stood here and simply criticized the government without offering a few helpful suggestions.

Our defence critic, the member of Carleton--Mississippi Mills, a man of great military experience, has noted that national defence headquarters employs between 11,000 and 12,000 military and civilian personnel, which is equivalent in size to 14 infantry battalions, in a military that cannot afford the personnel to have 14 infantry battalions.

It is time that the government started treating our uniformed personnel as well as it treats the bureaucracy that supports them.

I would also suggest to the government that it update the defence policy which has remained stagnant since 1994. However, if the government remains true to the form that I saw in the House earlier today and since I have been here, I expect only more promises prior to the next election.

My colleagues and I have outlined reasons why we on this side of the House believe the military is in desperate need of greater funding. We do this because Canada does not live in a bubble. Robert Wright of the Canadian Association of Security and Intelligence Studies points out that Canada is still a terrorist target.

Osama bin Laden had publicly identified Canada as a country he believes his followers should attack. He ranked Canada as fifth out of seven countries, and every other country on that list has already been attacked. This is just not simply someone else's problem.

I am not an alarmist and I am not a fearmonger, but the terror threat is real. When the terror alert was raised, fighters were stationed at CFB Trenton so that they could reach our nuclear facility at Pickering within five to ten minutes, and Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe, a region of over 12 million people, shortly after that.

This is why I am committed to properly funding our military. It is not simply in the self-interests of Quinte's economy, employing 3,500 people or more, but more important so that our national security and our ability to contribute to the military and humanitarian efforts around the world is secured.

The government has a responsibility, a duty and an obligation to our military personnel. The military needs the money. It is as simple as that.