House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was going.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Chatham-Kent—Leamington (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

DNA Identification Act November 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak before the House and my hon. colleagues about this issue brought forward by the hon. member for Burlington.

Let me begin by telling the House that the addition of a missing persons index to the National DNA Data Bank would be beneficial on two fronts. On the one hand, it would help law enforcement agencies solve missing persons cases with solid scientific proof. On the other, it would enable officials to make positive matches with missing persons, thereby providing the families of missing loved ones with closure and relief.

In the time that has been allotted to me today, I will address the motion of the hon. member. I would first like to note that this government fully understands the principles of the motion. The government recognizes the valuable and expanding role of DNA as a tool for law enforcement.

DNA analysis is a powerful tool. It is unparalleled in terms of its ability to identify an individual. As members probably know, with the exception of identical twins, each person's DNA is unique to them.

We believe that it is a worthwhile endeavour to further investigate how to use DNA technology more effectively to assist in the identification of found human remains and to bring relief to the families of missing persons.

In fact, the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is leading the significant work to establish a DNA missing persons index. Federal officials are working with their counterparts in each of the provinces and territories.

It is important that we understand first how DNA is now used in the criminal system before we can contemplate adding the humanitarian aspect of a missing persons index to that system, as proposed in this bill. The use of forensic DNA analysis to solve crime has shown itself to be of enormous benefit to public safety in Canada. The use of DNA is one of the most valid and reliable investigative tools known in law enforcement today.

Since the National DNA Data Bank came into existence in June 2000, thousands of DNA profiles from convicted offenders have been processed and added to it. Also added are the profiles received from crime scenes across the country. Police from across Canada have been trained on how to properly collect DNA samples from a crime scene. It is from these samples that profiles are obtained.

As I have said, the DNA Data Bank is an extremely valuable tool and its value can be seen very clearly in these statistics. In its first year of use, 2000, the data bank scored 25 hits. It linked DNA evidence found at crime scenes to other investigations or to DNA profiles of convicted offenders. However, from April 2005 to April 2006, that number had increased to 2,323 hits in a year.

During its six years of operation, over 130,000 DNA profiles have been entered into the data bank. What is the final result? As of this past summer, the data bank has assisted in over 5,800 criminal cases in Canada.

Clearly it is undeniable that DNA technology is an important part of law enforcement in Canada and is being used quite successfully by our law enforcement agencies across the country.

The government continues to consult on the principles behind the proposed legislation and must investigate the matter further. What needs to be determined is whether the resources of the National DNA Data Bank should be used not only to help protect the safety of Canadians by solving serious crimes, but also for compassionate and humanitarian reasons.

The hon. member proposes that a new index be added to the data bank that would hold DNA samples of missing persons and unidentified human remains. He also proposes that the new samples should be cross-checked both against each other and also against the existing criminal samples maintained by the data bank in an effort to identify human remains.

Using the National DNA Data Bank in this way might offer the potential to bring comfort to Canadian families whose loved ones have disappeared and who have waited for years for news of a missing person. It is understandable how using the data bank in this way could be seen to offer the potential to comfort those families whose loved ones have disappeared. The thought that we might have a tool that could bring a sense of closure to these families compels us to consider this idea.

However, concerns have been raised with the way this bill is currently drafted. For instance, jurisdictional issues are raised because both the identification of found remains and the police response to missing persons reports are provincial responsibilities. Therefore, the federal government's right to legislate in this area is not entirely agreed upon by all parties.

It is a fact that the federal government and the RCMP commissioner have no jurisdiction to impose duties upon the provincial laboratories, police and coroners.

Also, Canadian charter rights would be infringed upon if the uploading of the DNA profile to the National DNA Data Bank was made without the consent of the person in question. This government is committed to ensuring that the privacy of Canadians will always be respected.

This proposal as it now stands could constitute an unreasonable search and seizure. Therefore, it could be argued that any evidence derived from the match between the crime scene index of the National DNA Data Bank and the missing persons index could be inadmissible in court.

Moreover, there is concern that relatives who are asked to provide their own bodily substances for DNA analysis may be reluctant to do so if it exposes them to the potential of a criminal investigation.

Finally, as with all new government incentives, there would be added costs to running the National DNA Data Bank. Until decisions are made about the design and exact parameters of this project, it is not possible to accurately estimate costs and precisely profile expenditures.

The existing National DNA Data Bank and forensic laboratories operate as efficient public safety programs. It is important that the inclusion of a missing persons index add to its value and not draw on the data bank's or the forensic laboratories' existing resources used for current criminal investigations.

For all these reasons, the government must take the time it needs to further its study of this issue before going forward. The work that remains now continues to be dealt with by the already established federal, provincial and territorial missing persons index working group.

In conclusion, the detailed issues that need to be considered before moving forward with this bill may seem minor compared to the enormous suffering of a family whose loved one is missing. But we cannot move forward before ensuring that the method proposed will be effective and workable for all jurisdictions, will not infringe on the privacy rights of Canadians and will withstand possible future charter challenges.

If we put something in place that will simply not work, then we are not looking after the best interests of Canadians. No one is denying that the proposed bill has merit, but amendments to the bill must be made before we can adopt a firm position.

As it stands, I believe that it is important for federal, provincial and territorial officials to continue their work on this matter and to find an acceptable solution to possibly allow the National DNA Data Bank to serve a humanitarian purpose as well as a criminal investigative purpose.

Until it can move ahead on this process, the government needs to reserve any further judgment on the bill presented by the hon. member.

DNA Identification Act November 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I think that if you were to seek you would find unanimous consent from my colleagues in the House for the following: I ask on behalf of the member for Burlington, the sponsor of this bill, for this item to be designated to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Access to Information October 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, just a few weeks ago the opposition Liberals were smearing the reputations of public servants and members of the Prime Minister's staff, accusing them of having deliberately broken the law by leaking the names of access to information requesters.

However, an inquiry into the matter by the access to information, privacy and ethics committee has revealed that no laws were violated and no names were leaked.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister demand an apology from the official opposition for having recklessly smeared the reputations of public servants and misleading Canadians?

Divorce Act October 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this bill. I would like to congratulate the member for Lethbridge for this excellent amendment to the act and I commend him for this being his third private member's bill that involves children. We can see that children are very near and dear to his heart, as they are to mine.

I heard a previous member say that she has been married for 30 years. My wife and I have been married for 31 years and this year the last two of our eight children were married so we are very well acquainted with marriage. However, we also recognize that sometimes in life things do not go the way we planned and divorce is a sad reality.

I am thankful and proud that the member for Lethbridge saw a flaw in the act and saw an opportunity to correct it. It is to this that I rise today to speak to this private member's bill, Bill C-252, an act to amend the Divorce Act which would allow access to the spouse, the divorced parent, who is terminally ill or in critical condition.

We cannot imagine what that would be like. I was speaking to one of my colleagues just a minute ago and we were talking about past experiences. When my father passed away about 12 years ago I remember my whole family being around him and I remember that precious time we had together. I think my father also enjoyed having his children around him. It is hard to think that in this day and age that access could be denied. I believe that providing divorced parents who are terminally ill or in critical condition access to their child or children is important for several reasons.

First, we ensure that a spouse who is terminally ill or in critical condition has access to a child or children during his or her time of suffering. Let us think about how important it would be for a divorced parent, who is lying in a hospital bed or at home suffering, to have the presence of their child or children.

Second, we protect the child or children by considering access if it is in the best interests of the child or children of the marriage. The second part of this is the child. I am glad the member saw fit and, in his wisdom, took it upon himself to ensure that we always remember that it is in the best interests of the children as well.

Third, we allow the child or children to be involved in the overall process of dealing with the impending loss of their parent and the grieving that follows.

Again, we had opportunity to speak as colleagues just a few minutes ago and one of my colleagues was telling us about how his wife, who is an adopted child, had the opportunity to see her adoptive mother on her deathbed but who does not have that opportunity with her birth mother. Of course this is a different matter and it is something that we may want to introduce in another bill, but it strikes home to the reality of closure. If we offer that closure to the child or the children, it is in the best interest of the child and it is a good thing.

After listening to all those who have spoken on this matter, I was pleased to hear that we all agree that this is a bill that must move forward. As parliamentarians, we should be considering ways to allow families to continue to function after a breakdown. Again, these are good things. These are things that the people who elect us to this great House expect us to do.

This amendment should be supported because it demonstrates an understanding toward the strain on the spouses when a divorced parent is terminally ill or in critical condition and the responsibility to involve the child or children in the lives of their parents. Again, that bond that we share with our parents is something that is never broken.

Here again we are moving in a direction which is going to ensure that those things continue on for future generations. If Parliament accepts this amendment to the Divorce Act, it will give parents who divorce the legally entrenched avenues necessary to have access to their child or children only if access does not run contrary to the best interests of the child or children involved.

Again, this is a good amendment, because we recognize that there are times when it is not in the best interests of children, but when it is, we want to be sure they have access. It will allow the court that considers giving access to the parent the right to determine by reference to the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of the child or children that access is in their best interests. The courts would have the ability through the law to determine what is good and what is right.

For these reasons I support this amendment, because due consideration has been given to these issues faced by families in these circumstances. This amendment has a balanced approach, one which I support, as it provides parents who are terminally ill or in critical condition access to their children, while also ensuring that such access is granted by the court according to the best interests of the child or children involved. That sums it up.

We all agree that we need to put through this bill, to go through due process, and we all agree that this bill should be enacted quickly. I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to this private member's bill.

Town Crier Champion October 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, as well as being proud of people like Fergie Jenkins, the baseball hall of famer who visited us two weeks ago, the people of Chatham-Kent—Essex are proud of citizens like George Sims, the award-winning town crier of the Municipality of Chatham--Kent.

George Sims, a long-time educator, has been retired from education since 1995. George has been an active volunteer in many community activities in Chatham-Kent—Essex and was selected as citizen of year in 1996. He received the Centennial Medal in 1967 and was also awarded the Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.

He was the North American town crier champion in 1998 and placed second many other times. Currently George is the Ontario town crier champion and placed second in the North American town crier championship of 2006.

I extend congratulations to George Sims on expressing his community involvement as an ambassador for the riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex and I welcome George to Ottawa.

Situation in Sudan October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Chair, I want to make a few comments on something the hon. member stated a minute ago. The doctrine of responsibility to protect is a lofty term, and we would all agree with that. It is in all our interests to fight evil and to stop those who would propagate that.

However, what assurance do we have that, should we engage in such an endeavour, we will not have the same response that we witnessed on May 17 when our troops were in Afghanistan and members opposite voted against that? How do we know, when we see our boys start coming home in body bags, that we will not see that same response?

Petitions October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Simcoe North, I would like to table a petition today with over 900 signatures supporting an evaluation by the government of the Trent-Severn Waterway as proposed in Private Member's Motion No. 161, which is currently before the House.

The petitioners are asking the government to consider the advisability of evaluating the future of the historic Trent-Severn Waterway and its potential to become a premier recreational asset; a world class destination for recreational boaters; a greater source of clean, renewable electric power; a facilitator of economic renewal to the communities along its 386 kilometre length; and a model of environmental sustainability.

Criminal Code June 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening with some interest, especially to the Liberal side talking about crime and prevention.

We keep hearing that the studies prove that mandatory minimums do not work. However, a study done by Thomas Gabor of the University of Ottawa states quite the opposite. I could quote some others. I could quote Solzhenitsyn, who also writes in one of his books, I believe The Gulag Archipelago, that severe punishment worked well within the Soviet system. I am not advocating the Soviet system but there is enough proof out there.

We are seeing a shift that seems to imply that we are looking now at strictly rehabilitation. Is prison not part of punishment too? Are we not recognizing that when people break the law they must pay the penalty?

My question is not necessarily for the hon. member but for members of the Liberal Party. Are we are not engaged in another process here, the process of when somebody breaks the law there is a result and a consequence to it?

CUPE Ontario June 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I condemn the recent decision by CUPE Ontario to boycott the state of Israel. In abruptly deciding to speak for its hundreds of thousands of members, on the Jewish Sabbath no less, CUPE Ontario has decided to take a one-sided, biased and wrong view on the Middle East conflict.

Israel is a modern, progressive society, with freedom for men and women, and tolerance for religions and all cultures. It is the Israeli people and the Israeli government that have been actively pursuing peace in the face of constant terror. Now they are forced to do so with the terror group Hamas that wishes to end Israel's existence.

The hypocrisy of CUPE Ontario is stunning, condemning Israel while in effect endorsing terrorism and terrorists who seek to restrict all freedom-loving people through violence.

I stand with Israel, and ask CUPE Ontario to rethink its decision and do the same.

Committees of the House June 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am very encouraged. I want to let the House know at this point that, although we are known for a lot of things in Chatham-Kent—Essex, very few people know that we have the largest freshwater fishery in the world. I say that without exception.

We too have some problems with our harbour. The good people of Wheatley, where our harbour is found, have a problem with dredging. I am encouraged by what I heard, but could the member tell me if I will be able to go back to the people of my riding and tell them that this spring they will be able to do dredging with a commitment from the government?