House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was may.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Scarborough—Rouge River (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 59% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Croatia April 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I welcome two distinguished guests from the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Mladen Vedrish and Mr. Rodesh.

Mr. Vedrish is a member of the Croatian House of Representatives and president of the Croatian Chamber of Economy. Mr. Rodesh is a member of the Upper House. They are in Canada today to help promote stronger cultural and economic ties between our two countries. Specifically they are here to discuss the potential for business relations between Canada and Croatia and investment opportunities in Croatia.

They will be meeting with members of the Canadian business community and the newly established Canada-Croatia Chamber of Commerce.

The government has taken a leadership role in developing trade relations with new markets. Croatia is a new and promising market that I know Canadians will want to participate in.

I am sure all members join me in wishing Mr. Vedrish and Mr. Rodesh much success in their endeavour to promote business relations between our two countries.

Firearms Act March 28th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of the justice minister's bill on gun control.

I speak as a member who was in the last Parliament which on two occasions dealt with firearms legislation. At that time there was a large body of support for the initiative in principle. The process of finally adopting it did bring about some minor modifications which most people in Parliament believed improved the bill.

In any event, I want to be clearly on record as supporting the justice minister's initiative in principle. I am committed to working with other colleagues in the House to improve the bill where possible and to reframe it so that at the end of the day we have the best possible mix of statute, regulation and administration for the benefit of the public as a whole and gun owners as a group.

Before I go further into my remarks, I want to make two quick points.

The government and I hope, the House have reached a point where we are prepared to say that in relation to firearms, everything is in. We are not going to have a statute that covers just some firearms and not others. Everything is going to be recognized as being part of the system or however we choose to deal with this. All firearms are seen to be part of the system.

Some members opposite and I believe some members on the government benches are very sensitive to the issue of this statute criminalizing individuals who but for this statute would not be criminals. In saying that, we are referring to people who own firearms now who might fail, either advertently or inadvertently, to fulfil a provision in the new act and thereby would be subject to criminal sanction.

At first blush, I am sympathetic to that position. Thousands of Canadians do not spend very much time worrying about criminal law because they are law-abiding citizens. By passing this statute we will impose upon them a standard where for a certain period of time they are going to have to think about it. They are going to have to do something or not do something, comply or not comply. It is going to bring them belly up to provisions in this statute which create criminal sanction.

I am sensitive to that but I want to point out there are already provisions in the Criminal Code where otherwise law-abiding citizens who own firearms are subject to criminal sanction. In existing law, if an otherwise legal owner of a firearm breaks a provision of the code dealing with regulation of restricted or prohibited firearms, or improper use of other non-prohibited, non-restricted firearms, they are subject to criminal sanction.

I make those two points. Everything is in. I am sensitive to the issue of criminalization, but I am not so sure there is not a way to do it which is rational, fair, just, and in compliance with the charter and common sense.

With those two things out of the way I want to address three or four segments of the bill.

First and perhaps most important is the issue of registration. This bill would impose on Canadians an obligation to register every firearm. There may be the odd exception here or there, but generally everything is in. Every firearm is going to be registered. If it does not have a serial number, it will have to have some markings or characteristics by which it can be identified.

The concept of registration has been thought out rationally. I do not think it was a political initiative. No one is trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes. Rational individuals, including the justice minister, have decided that registration will produce certain benefits for Canadians. It will not get rid of disease and it will not balance the budget. There are many things it will not do. However, registration will have a positive effect in the enforcement of prohibition orders.

Most rational people will understand that, if they are cognizant of what happens when the police are asked to deal with the allegation of an illegal firearm at a residence. It is all too easy for those who occupy the residence to say: "That is not my firearm; it is her firearm," or "it is my kid's; it belongs to my 19-year old".

If there is a functioning registration system, ultimately the owner of that firearm will be registered. There will not be much doubt about who the owner is. Maybe it is the kid; maybe it is the spouse. In any event the uncertainty will not be there and enforcement will be enhanced.

Second, those who deal with the trafficking of firearms believe, although I do not have any statistical evidence, that it will assist in combating smuggling. The fact that domestically owned firearms are registered and in the system allows for the ability to then identify firearms which are not in the system. The good guns are separated from the illegal guns. That will help authorities in dealing with smuggling. Otherwise they often do not know whether it is a smuggled gun. They just do not know the derivation of the firearm.

Third, the obligation to register will increase the propensity of the gun owner to comply with the existing legislation. He or she will see themselves as part of the registered gun owning public with a commensurate obligation to take care of their firearm properly.

At the moment a lot of orphaned firearms are sitting in basements and attics. All of us know where they are. They are in a little box up in the rafters, or on top of the furnace. In so many houses across this country that is where these little orphaned guns are.

Registration is required so that the people who know the guns are there will pull them out. They will get rid of them. They will give them away or turn them in. They will disable them, or whatever they are going to do. At the end of the day, the guns will be registered. They will know they have an obligation to make sure the firearm is safely stored and that it is not an orphan.

I think the same thing happens with motor vehicles, aircraft, and other things that we register. In any event, I do not know if that is going to happen for sure. In a rational way I can see the linkage. I am prepared to take the risk of imposing obligations on the gun owning public.

Last but not least, it is obvious that a firearm with a serial number and a registered owner is much easier to trace than a firearm with a serial number and no registered owner. That is simple logic.

I accept that registration is going to have some positive benefits and to be sure, there are costs. As colleagues have pointed out, there could be huge costs. As I read them, the costs will be more than manageable. The costs are bearable by the gun owning public. We can find an efficient and effective way to use new technology to do it.

I accept that there is a grandfather clause which will be to the benefit of many gun owning Canadians. I note that the House of Commons steering committee of the justice committee was meeting this morning to make plans to deal with the initiatives of the public in dealing with this. Many MPs will take part in that process to try to make the bill better.

I believe that my riding of Scarborough-Rouge River has Canada's only handgun manufacturer. That manufacturer does about $25 million worth of business a year. Ninety-nine per cent of the product is exported into markets all over the world.

The firearm has been purchased by the Federal Bureau of Investigation hostage release team. It is a quality firearm. We have quality firearms here in this country. We make them here. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that this bill and the regulations do not impair the ability of my constituent business to continue to do $25 million worth of business in Toronto and Montreal which is a significant export.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, 1995 March 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have a few brief comments on the matter raised by hon. members opposite.

I listened carefully to the remarks of the mover, a colleague with whom I have worked on a number of parliamentary matters. I have to give him great credit for working very well in the parliamentary committee system and making a significant contribution there and in the House.

I listened carefully to the remarks of my colleague from Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup. On the issues of providing a minimum number of seats in Parliament to the province of Quebec and of capping the number of members elected in total to Parliament, I think members opposite would find a fair bit of support on the government benches, at least for the capping.

I can only speak for myself. If the Constitution is capable of providing a floor for the province of Prince Edward Island for a particular reason-whatever it was at the time-I do not see why the people of Canada would not be prepared to discuss a floor for the province of Quebec for whatever reasons exist at a particular point in time. I can see what the reasons are, as can members opposite.

Conceptually I do not have a problem with capping or with floors if that is what the political discussions yield. However, those discussions, those changes are constitutional as my colleague from Kingston and the Islands has pointed out.

We are not going to be able to wag the dog with its tail here. Capping of the House of Commons and providing a floor to a particular province or region is a constitutional matter which we are incapable of addressing in this bill.

The Speaker has already ruled that the motion is not out of order. We could legislate. However, given the remarks of my colleague from Kingston and the Islands, I am not too sure that adopting this provision would have the result intended. It might skew the interpretation of the Constitution.

I wanted to signal to my colleagues opposite that I hear, I understand and I am not unsympathetic to the concept. However, I believe it is constitutional. It is odd and I find it odd. I know members opposite will understand that it is peculiar to say the least that members opposite would be looking for changes in a Constitution they have indicated they wish to abandon within a few months.

That regrettably points out perhaps an Achilles' heel, perhaps a weakness in the perspective of the Bloc, which makes a contribution to the problem. We do not always agree; many times we do not. However, to the citizens in the province of Quebec, I think it is fair to say that the only way we will get constitutional resolutions to the many issues that may confront Canada is to get back into that envelope of discussion. That is in the hands of the Prime Minister and the premiers. It is a matter they do not want to address now.

At the present time we have to deal with redistribution the way it is. I want the record to show those remarks.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, 1995 March 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I want to address two items in connection with the amendment proposed by the Reform Party in relation to setting the variance from quota that would be used for the creation of new riding boundaries in the forthcoming redistribution.

I note, as my colleague from Kingston and the Islands has already noted, the 25 per cent maximum variance has already been found to be charter compliant. It is a measuring stick that fits within our charter. At the end of the day it is the charter which governs how our electoral redistributions will take place. That is the foundation on which our democratic rights and privileges are built.

In relation to the actual population numbers I draw to the attention of colleagues the possibility that during this debate some of us are focusing on existing population numbers when we look at the variance from quota that existed over 10 years ago when the boundaries were last redistributed around 1987.

When some members ask whether the current variance in a particular riding of close to 25 per cent is democratic, I point out that a lot of these statistics did not exist 15 years ago. When the boundaries were created 15 years ago many of these ridings were much closer to population quota. Subsequent growth has caused the populations to increase or decrease and depart from the quota. We have to be careful in discussing that because it is not fair to say that because a riding is 23 per cent above quota now that is what would be the case if the electoral boundaries commissions were to reshape the boundary now.

The electoral boundaries commissions will be expected to follow very close to quota when they do their work. That is how they operate. I have been through the process once back in the eighties.

The change to the statute at committee involving the deletion of what was called the schedule was done for some pretty calculated reasons. I know they were good reasons. I debated it at committee. By deleting the schedule we have not rid the ability of particular ridings to continue to exist outside the 25 per cent variance.

However, we have circumscribed fairly precisely the basis on which they could be outside the 25 per cent variance. The circumstance must be extraordinary. I leave the definition of that to the electoral boundaries commissions. The riding must be geographically isolated or not readily accessible to the rest of the province. If the electoral boundaries commission is to permit a riding to exist, not just varying from the quota but outside the 25 per cent variance, they must give cogent reasons.

If some democrats from the Reform Party or the Liberal Party or the Bloc Quebecois believe that being outside the variance does not comply with the charter there can always be access to judicial interpretation.

We have made a reasonable compromise. We have put in place a reasonable mechanism to address what is truly an incredible variety of electoral circumstances in Canada.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1995-96 March 24th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out one item of reference in the hon. member's remarks and then ask him a question.

I suppose it was primarily rhetorical in his remarks but he did refer to a deceitful budget. I am sure he and his colleagues recognize that a budget is a budget is a budget. Canadians can add and subtract. They can assess the wording in the statements of the Minister of Finance, the positions of the government and the Prime Minister and at the end of the day Canadians will make up their minds.

I do not think Canadians believe that they have been seduced or have been dealt with deceitfully in any way or that they even see deceit as part of the intent of the government. I hope the hon. member will accept the comment that the deceit referred to by him is purely rhetorical and not helpful in analysing the budget. He is certainly entitled to his views.

In an economy like Canada's when the measured overspending in the economy runs up to $25 billion or even up to $40 billion, a material proportion of overspending, if we were to simply stop or reduce the federal spending by approximately 20 or 25 per cent, if the overspending was that great, there would be a serious negative macroeconomic impact. This would put the country again in recession and would defeat the kind of economic growth that permits the country to build its way out of the recession and the overspending at the same time. Would the member not agree?

Communications Security Establishment March 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is our hope that the motion we will pass here today will prove to be a benchmark in terms of parliamentary accountability.

Under the rubric that nobody in this Parliament does anything by themselves, I want to note a number of members who played a part in developing this matter to the present. Among them are colleagues of ours on the national security subcommittee: the member for Bellechasse, from the Bloc Quebecois; from the Reform Party, the hon. member for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley; on the Liberal side, the member for Scarborough West, the member for Windsor-St. Clair and the member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

I also acknowledge the co-operation and participation of the Minister of National Defence and his parliamentary secretary, the member for Bonavista-Trinity-Conception. There is also the fact that the Prime Minister was not disinterested in this issue and I acknowledge his role.

I acknowledge members of the last Parliament, the national security subcommittee and in particular its chair, Mr. Blaine Thacker of Lethbridge, and various other parties, journalists both print and electronic, and other soldiers on the issue. They have worked hard to bring us to the present. Hopefully they will continue to work in this area. I thank my colleagues in the House for their support today.

(Motion as amended agreed to.)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Communications Security Establishment March 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in relation to this motion there has been significant consultation back and forth across the House. I think you would find the consent of the House to make the following amendments.

I believe we will have the consent of the hon. member for Bellechasse for the withdrawal of his existing amendment proposed in connection with this motion; second, that the motion be restated to clarify intent and to incorporate the intent of the amendment made by the hon. member for Bellechasse.

Therefore, the amendment would read as follows. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word "should" and by substituting the following:

Establish an independent external mechanism to review the operations of the Communications Security Establishment, CSE, similar to the role played by the Security Intelligence Review Committee for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and table a report annually in the House.

Croatia February 20th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the Canada, Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina parliamentary group is pleased to be hosting a visit by a parliamentary delegation from the Republic of Croatia.

Members of the delegation include Dr. Zarko Domljan, Vice President of the Croatian House of Representatives; Dr. Franjo Greguric, former Prime Minister and member of the House of Representatives; Mr. Ivica Racan, Leader of the Social Democratic Party and member of the House of Representatives.

Over recent years Canadians have learned a great deal about Croatia. Last spring three colleagues from this House visited Croatia to learn about and assess developments there in the economy, administration and politics.

We are glad that Drs. Domljan and Greguric and Mr. Racan could be with us here this week. It is through these exchanges that legislators learn and share the thoughts and ideas which will guide our democracies to the common global goals of peace, security and prosperity.

Young Offenders Act February 10th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I want to make two or three comments.

I have listened to the remarks of members opposite. All of it is well-meaning. Some of it borders on the rhetorical but I understand where they are coming from. I do not find any of this a new issue. I think we can make some headway in this Parliament.

As we know, the amendments being proposed to the Young Offenders Act and the amendments we are debating today do principally three things in response to the election commitments of the government in the last election. The government has moved to expedite the transfer of 16 and 17-year-olds to adult court when they are accused of committing the more serious crimes. We have again proposed lengthening the sentence for homicides committed by young offenders. This is the third time Parliament has done this. Last, we have taken steps to deal with the sharing of information between agencies, police, educators and so on involving young offenders.

Underlying all of this is the recognition that the way to reduce crime among young offenders, and I suppose throughout the rest of society, is through crime prevention techniques. Once the crime is committed the issue is done. The crime has been committed. We all recognize that. We have commenced a national crime prevention council in the hope that we can engender the kinds of crime prevention techniques, ideas and concepts and put them into place.

Having failed hypothetically with crime prevention techniques to prevent a hypothetical young offender from committing a crime, and having arrested the young fellow, we are then faced with a societal intervention. We have decided as a Parliament, as government policy, that we will not simply take a young offender and drop him into the slammer for a couple of years.

We want an intervention that is appropriate to the circumstances so that the young offender does not commit a crime again. There are several ways to go about it. We have heard different suggestions across the floor of the House and there is plenty to read about it in the media. We want to intervene so it does not happen again. The intervention must be prompt.

I have noted even in the amendments that we propose now and in the existing structures of the Young Offenders Act there is too much potential for delay of that intervention. The secret in applying the justice system to the needs of that young offender so that the young offender will stay straight is that society intervenes promptly in an appropriate way.

Even the youth transfer provisions to the adult court involve procedures. The intervention of the state following the offence of a young offender that takes a year or six months is absolutely useless. Could we please stop and take note that if a 16 or 16 and a half year old commits a crime and we wait a year before we are able to convict and intervene we have wasted a whole year. That young offender is 17 and a half years old. He or she is almost an adult. We have blown the entire window of opportunity to intervene.

We also have to remember that the interventions are not done by the federal government. Interventions following the commission of crimes by young offenders are by provincial jurisdictions. Young offenders are dealt with by provincial procedures following conviction.

This House edicts that there will be an appropriate and a timely intervention by a provincial government. We cannot do it. We have to negotiate it. We have to have the provinces on side. This is a fairly complex undertaking in a country like this. These jurisdictions have been successfully dealt with in the past and we can continue to make progress.

It is important to remember as we consider these amendments to this act that the government is committed to reviewing the entire operation of the Young Offenders Act, even the amendments that we are dealing with today, in a review which will probably take a number of months but which will be intensive. I know that review has the commitment of all members. We intend to do a very good job of producing a report that will

indicate the directions for reform if any. I am sure there will be reform proposals. I am certain of it.

This House and the justice minister may be able to make further proposals with provincial counterparts in the weeks to follow.

Committees Of The House February 9th, 1995

Madam Speaker, I would ask the hon. member whether his home province of Saskatchewan would be willing to give up seats to accommodate the proposed cap that his colleague put forward.

I hear otherwise. It might be worth a look and when it comes up I will be on side and in favour of ending the unending growth of the House of Commons.