House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Calgary Nose Hill (Alberta)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we have chosen not to do that. We believe, in the case of the provocation defence, that where an individual, a Canadian, is threatened, has been criminally assaulted and takes measures to protect himself or herself, this is a reasonable course of action in those cases.

The member will remember that the government passed an act to give lawful protection to people who are threatened, for example, by a home invasion where they may be beaten or tied up and somehow find a way to overpower their attackers, perhaps causing the death of the attacker. Any reasonable society feels that kind of provocation, when it is met with force, sometimes has to be found lawful.

However, in the case of simply an insult or something that another person finds offensive, that is not a legitimate use of the defence, and that is why we are moving to change that.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak on Bill S-7. This bill contains measures to better protect women and girls in our country.

With this bill, our government is fulfilling a commitment made in the Speech from the Throne in October 2013. That commitment is to ensure that early and forced marriage and other harmful cultural practices, such as polygamist marriages and so-called honour-based violence, do not take place on Canadian soil. We see these activities as absolutely incompatible with Canadian values.

Today I would like to speak to the bill's proposed amendment to the provocation defence. I would like to address a number of misconceptions that have been expressed during debate on this bill.

A person who is found to have committed murder can raise the defence of provocation. They can raise, as a defence, that they killed the victim in the “heat of passion” brought on by “a wrongful act or insult” from the victim. The provocation, they can claim, would be sufficient to cause an ordinary person to lose self-control.

Much has been made of the fact that the defence has failed where it has been raised in the context of honour killings. While this may be the case to date, there is nothing preventing a court from accepting it in the future, and we would like to make sure that does not happen.

The defence has already been raised in at least three honour-killing prosecutions in Canada. The alleged provoking conduct in these cases was real or perceived marital infidelity and other conduct by the victim that the offender perceived as disrespectful or defiant toward them or their families. The particular three claims I mentioned failed owing to the inadequacy of supporting evidence in these cases.

The proposed amendment in Bill S-7 would modernize the defence. Under the bill, the defence of provocation would only be available to an accused found guilty of murder where the conduct of the victim that provoked the accused to kill amounted to a criminal offence with a maximum sentence of at least five years. In other words, it would be a serious offence. The reform would limit the defence so that it would no longer excuse murder where the provoking conduct of the victim was lawful.

In the Senate debates on this bill, some suggested that the defence of provocation is a long-standing and sound principle of criminal law that is operating in conformity with Canadian values and should not be changed. It was also suggested that the proposed reform would limit the defence to match.

Therefore, the question for us as legislators is whether modern Canadian values do in fact support showing compassion and leniency to those who kill in response to something they find insulting or offensive. I do not believe they do.

It is a different matter if the provoking behaviour is objectively serious and unacceptable, such as criminal conduct. The defence would still be permitted when the provocation was a physical assault or threat or some other serious form of criminality.

I think it is very important to understand the history of the provocation defence. We should also look at countries that share our common law tradition and at their experiences with this defence.

Historically, the defence of provocation emerged in the common law around the 16th century. Initially it was limited to certain categories of conduct, all related to men defending their honour, such as a spontaneous fight or an arranged duel. This also included what a man might do on finding another man committing adultery with his wife.

In the early common law, let us remember that a man's wife was his legal property. The initial provocation defence reflected this social and legal reality of the day, namely that adultery was “the highest invasion of property”, as per the Mawgridge case in 1707.

Therefore, a man who killed in response to adultery was considered less blameworthy. It may surprise some members to learn that in the history of our own common-law tradition the provocation defence was the original honour defence.

However, at some point in its history, the honour-related basis for provocation was replaced with the idea that the law should make some allowance for “human frailty”, where a person is provoked beyond the ability to exercise self-control. The specific categories of provoking conduct were eliminated and the provocation defence was made available more generally and broadly. The defence would succeed where a person killed after having lost self-control as a result of any kind of wrongful act or insult by the victim, so long as an ordinary person could also have been provoked to lose his or her self-control in the same circumstances even though not necessarily to the point of killing. This is the form of the provocation defence that was incorporated into Canadian law in the 1800s, and it remains unchanged today.

However, the use of this defence in the cases of so-called honour killings flies in the face of freedom of expression, a cornerstone of a free and democratic society. In order to protect freedom of expression, there is no room to make allowances for intentional killings on the basis of insult or offence. Allowing the provocation defence to be invoked in response to mere insults or offensive conduct is inconsistent with core Canadian values of freedom of expression, liberty and gender equality.

Both internationally and domestically, the provocation defence has been the subject of similar criticisms from a range of quarters in recent years. The Supreme Court of Canada has referred to these criticisms in some of its rulings, stating that only Parliament can address these concerns.

Many point out that the historic origins of the defence still operate to excuse male proprietary or possessory claims over women. This is clearly at odds with our modern values of gender equality and personal autonomy and freedom.

In the past decade, the legislatures of most jurisdictions with a common-law history similar to ours have acted to address some of these concerns. New Zealand and several Australian states have entirely abolished the defence. Most other Australian states have restricted the defence in some measure, as has the United Kingdom. Just last year, the Australian state of New South Wales reformed its provocation defence, including by limiting its scope to provoking conduct that would be a relatively serious criminal offence. This is the same approach proposed in Bill S-7.

Another question that was asked in the Senate was whether the proposed amendment would have the unintended consequence of taking a viable defence away from battered women who kill their abusers, but this is another misperception. In Canada, the provocation defence is rarely raised in these circumstances, but could still be raised if the woman was treated with criminal activity such as assaults or threats.

There are two primary objectives in this bill: the first to prevent the defence from being raised in the future before it is ever accepted by a court or a jury; and the second to modernize the defence more generally, so that it can no longer be used to excuse spousal homicides based on lawful conduct.

The time has come for Canada to bring our law of provocation out of the 17th century and align it with our modern values. Our women and girls deserve nothing less. I hope that all members will support this proposal and all of Bill S-7.

Public Safety March 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, I look forward to our study of the new anti-terrorism bill.

We must prevent threats to the safety of Canadians, while respecting the privacy of ordinary citizens. Naturally, we will hear a range of opinions about the proper balance. The goal is critical: to protect our country's freedoms and values. That is why the courts and the Security Intelligence Review Committee will carefully monitor the new tools under Bill C-51.

We will cautiously weigh the measures needed for Canada to remain a safe country, while also ensuring that innocent citizens are able to go about their lives without unwarranted intrusion.

Canada, like other democracies, is the target of jihadi terrorists. That is why our government will continue to take prudent measures to safeguard the nation's peace and security.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the government is deeply concerned about the treatment that women and girls in Canada have suffered because of some cultural practices that Canadian society and the Supreme Court of Canada reject. These include genital mutilation, and being forced into polygamous marriages and marriage at a very young age.

I would think that any reasonable, concerned, and decent Canadian would also want to protect women and girls in this country from those terrible fates. Yet, unbelievably, we see the opposition members, including young women over there, doing everything they can to attack this legislation, to disagree with it, to find reasons not to support it. I cannot believe this.

Could the parliamentary secretary explain why the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party in the House would not want to protect Canadian women in this way?

Business of Supply February 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this is a sad debate. I think there is an absence of logic here.

First of all, compensation, by definition, means there has to be a loss. However, the agreement has not even been signed yet. There cannot be any loss. Why would there be a demand that money be paid for compensation for loss under an agreement that has not even been signed?

The whole thing is illogical. It boggles the mind that the opposition would waste an entire day of this country's time on this kind of a debate.

As the member pointed out, why would the federal government give a huge benefit, almost half a billion dollars, to one province, when three others are involved in the very same industry and there is nothing for them? No government in its right mind would ever be so unfair and inequitable in an agreement.

I do not know why the opposition is even bringing these nonsensical arguments forward. I invite my friend to tell me what he thinks is behind this kind of a debate when it defies every rule of logic that any of us have ever learned.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, sadly, I get the impression that the Liberals are grasping at straws to try to rationalize not supporting this legislation. I hope I am wrong about that.

The member opposite, in a previous question, suggested that there was no point in incarcerating these criminals who engage in this activity because it does not stop them from repeating the offences anyway. I would like my friend to comment on that.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, there are many uncertainties when we are dealing with these kinds of situations so it is difficult to state with a lot of clarity what might happen down the road, especially when we are looking at some months down the road.

I wonder if the minister could assist the House and Canadians by outlining the reasons and interests of Canada that will be served by Canada joining our international partners in pushing back against ISIS and ISIL.

Islamic State September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, when ISIL began murdering thousands of innocent men, women, children, and religious minorities, it completely violated every value Canadians hold dear. When ISIL threatened Canadians because we do not share its twisted view of the world, our government remained resolute in its strong stand against such atrocities. We condemn these terrorists and their violation of human rights and human dignity.

Though other parties may feel the need to try to rationalize away the threats Canadians face in a dangerous world, our government has been firm and swift in its response, helping to deliver military supplies to Iraqi forces combatting ISIL and sending military advisers to support them.

Our government will not sit idle. We will stand with our allies in condemning the threat and will work with them to extinguish it.

Intergovernmental Relations April 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, all of us here who represent the great province of Alberta are proud of our government's solid partnership with Albertans. We have more than doubled the social transfer to collaborate on important programs, including those for children and post-secondary education. It is now at almost $1.5 billion.

The former Liberal government shortchanged Alberta in health care support. That has now been rectified to provide $3.7 billion this year under the health transfer.

Annual infrastructure funding to Alberta has increased by an average of 700%. In my city, it invested in projects such as the ring road and Calgary Transit. Albertans will also be relieved to know that the federal government is covering 90% of last June's devastating flood damage. Almost $2 billion has been set aside.

These are a few examples of the strong partnership with our federal government that benefits Albertans every single day.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 31st, 2014

That is not true.