House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was offence.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Surrey North (B.C.)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Competition Act May 11th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments to speak to Bill C-273, An Act to amend the Competition Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (right to repair).

This government takes private members' business seriously. In the case of Bill C-273, the spirit of the bill is in the right place and, for this reason, the government wishes to support it. The government will, however, be seeking amendments should the bill progress to committee stage.

Before I get into the details of some of the reasons that the government will be seeking amendments, I would like to acknowledge the work that the member for Windsor West has done on this bill.

I also would like to highlight some areas in which, I think, all parliamentarians can agree.

First, I am sure that all members of Parliament are concerned with the recent economic challenges and the effects of these challenges on Canadians and Canadian businesses. The government has acted quickly in addressing these concerns through the Budget Implementation Act.

Second, members opposite must recognize the government's commitment to protecting Canadians and businesses from crime, abuse and economic uncertainty through its ambitious legislative agenda. In these times of economic uncertainty, it is important for the government to act in a manner that directly addresses what is most important to people's lives and economic security.

Third, all members of the House were elected to represent our constituents' interests to the best of our ability. This does not mean that parliamentarians will always agree but I would hope that members opposite will accept my remarks today in that spirit.

Finally, I am sure that all members believe in supporting a competitive economy that benefits businesses and consumers. The government has been working hard to support Canadian businesses to be stable and more efficient.

Let us be clear on one thing: healthy competition is the best way of empowering consumers and that is what the Competition Act sets out to do.

When companies compete with one another for a consumer's dollar, it opens the door to lower prices, better services and wider product selection, all of which benefit consumers.

There are many who believe a voluntary system rather than a legislated approach to aftermarket issues would satisfy the needs of the Canadian aftermarket auto repair industry. There are benefits to establishing a voluntary system, aside from the obvious benefit of keeping government out of regulating how businesses run their affairs. A voluntary system would, for example, have the flexibility to evolve over time so it addresses changes in technology as they arise, which is one of the root causes of the aftermarket concerns.

With that in mind, in April of this year, the Minister of Industry sent a strongly worded letter to all automakers calling on them to develop a voluntary accord here in Canada. I am pleased to say that there has been progress. Representatives of the vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket industries met last month to begin discussions on the development of a voluntary accord. Most parties have signed on to a process and timeframe to draft this agreement.

One of the signatories is the National Automotive Trades Association, or NATA. NATA represents a large portion of the aftermarket repair shops across the country. It had this to say in a recent letter to its members and to the public:

NATA has publicly stated that in absence of a voluntary agreement it would participate in the legislative process. Now that we have a commitment from the Canadian auto manufacturers, we do not believe legislation is necessary.

I would like to more directly address some of the government's concerns with this private member's bill. The bill seeks to amend the Competition Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. I will be focusing my comments today on concerns raised by amending the Competition Act in the way that the bill proposes.

As members opposite know, the Competition Act is framework legislation, the enforcement of which has wide-ranging implications for the Canadian economy.

Even before the recent improvements contained in the Budget Implementation Act, the Competition Act was generally considered to be effective legislation.

Consultations on changes to the act have taken years to complete and have assisted the competition policy review panel in its assessment of Canada's competition and investment policies. This government has acted on the recommendations of the panel to ensure that the Competition Bureau has the tools it needs to continue to be effective in the years to come.

As all members of the House know, Bill C-273 proposes an amendment to section 75, refusal to deal, of the Competition Act by adding to the definition of product, for the purpose of that section, technical information that is required by a person in order to provide a service to a customer.

The member opposite may believe that this small change to the Competition Act will help to address the issues in the auto repair sector but this is not the case. This amendment to the Competition Act is problematic in at least two significant ways.

First, the amendment could have serious, unintended consequences. Bill C-273 has not been drafted in a way that applies only to the automotive industry to strictly address the right to repair issue. The proposed change to the definition of product could impact on all industries and all relevant bureau investigations under section 75. Such an amendment could raise questions regarding safety issues or intellectual property rights, which could cause other concerns that I do not intend to address today.

Second, amending the Competition Act to address the right to repair issue is not necessary. This issue can already be reviewed under section 75 or section 79, abuse of dominance, of the Competition Act. In the case of section 75, refusal to deal, if a party could establish that the inability to obtain the technical information was the result of another's refusal to provide a product as currently defined would satisfy the other elements of section 75. They would be able to address those concerns under the act.

Either the Competition Bureau or the affected party could make an application to the Competition Tribunal for a remedy. Another way to address this is that the bureau could make an application to the Competition Tribunal for a remedy if a party could establish that the refusal to supply the technical information was an anti-competitive practice and could establish the other elements of section 79, abuse of dominance.

Given the avenues already existing under the Competition Act to review the right to repair issue in the appropriate case and given the unintended consequences that could result from the proposed change to the definition of product, the government will be seeking to remove this Competition Act amendment during the committee stage.

We look forward to more debate on this issue and I am sure t all members will act in the best interests of their constituents.

Criminal Code May 5th, 2009

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are working with the provinces on this. Everybody, all municipalities and all governments, have to work together to make this work. I do not think it will be one person or one party that will make a difference. It will be everybody working together.

Criminal Code May 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I think the opposition is with us on this. I think they realize we do have a definite problem in this country, and they are willing to work with the government to help forward our beliefs.

Criminal Code May 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I would say that the CPA does not speak for all police officers. A lot of it is for municipalities and others.

Criminal Code May 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, we have made a commitment to getting more police officers. One thing we are having trouble with is recruitment. There is a definite need for more police officers, all over the country.

Criminal Code May 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak in support of Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime).

Over six years ago, my late husband, Chuck Cadman, introduced legislation to address VIN tampering, auto theft and property crime. I am very pleased and I know many of my constituents in Surrey North are too, to see that this government is listening to common sense and working to protect our property and our communities.

Auto theft and other forms of property crime plague Canadian communities and make our streets unsafe. To address this serious problem, Bill C-26 proposes to create a new offence of motor vehicle theft, a new offence to address tampering with an automobile vehicle identification number, and new offences to address trafficking in property obtained by crime.

Trafficking in property obtained by crime is the marketing chain that processes the fruits of theft in other crimes like fraud. One form of trafficking in property obtained by crime is the movement of stolen automobiles and their parts. This is where organized crime is the most involved in auto theft, either through chop shops that dismantle stolen cars for parts, the act of altering a car's VIN number to hide its identity, or the sophisticated international rings that smuggle stolen high-end luxury cars from Canada to far-flung locations in Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe.

It is also important to note that organized car theft rings employ youth. In 2002, 40% of persons charged criminally for stealing a motor vehicle were between the ages of 12 and 17.

Transport Canada reports that organized vehicle theft groups recruit youth to steal cars in order to protect the upper levels of the theft ring. They rely on the legal system to be lenient with young offenders and when apprehended, these offenders are unable to identify other members of the ring because they work in isolation and are purposely not introduced to the other members of the organization.

Motor vehicle theft is an ideal recruitment tool for general involvement in organized criminal groups. Academic research shows that youth whose first offence is motor vehicle theft are most at risk of continuing on the criminal career path.

Section 354 of the Criminal Code, the general offence of possession of property obtained by crime, which carries a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment for property valued over $5,000, is the principal Criminal Code offence that is currently used to address trafficking in property obtained by crime. This possession offence does not adequately capture the full range of activities involved in trafficking.

The proposed offences would provide for a wide definition of trafficking that would include the selling, giving, transferring, transporting, importing, exporting, sending or delivering of goods, or offering to do any of the above, of property obtained by crime. As such, this new law would target all of the middlemen who move stolen property from the initial criminal act through to the ultimate consumer.

Both proposed offences have higher penalties than the existing offence of possession of property obtained by crime. If the value of the item trafficked exceeds $5,000, anyone convicted of this offence could face imprisonment of up to 14 years. If the value does not exceed $5,000, it would be what is known as a hybrid offence, and subject to imprisonment for up to five years on indictment, or up to six months on a summary conviction. This penalty would be consistent with the existing penalty scheme of the Criminal Code.

It is also worth noting that if any indictable offence is found to have been committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal organization, there is an additional offence that would also apply. It would be open to the prosecution to prove the additional element of a link to organized crime and obtain a separate conviction under section 467.12 of the Criminal Code. The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence for the crime in issue.

The proposed trafficking offences would also respond to the concerns of stakeholders, such as the Insurance Bureau of Canada, that have long advocated for stronger enforcement to prevent the export of stolen vehicles.

Under the Customs Act, in order for the Canada Border Services Agency to apply the administrative powers of the Customs Act to the cross-border movement of property obtained by crime, such goods must first be classified somewhere in federal law as a prohibited good for the purpose of importation or exportation. This bill would supply that classification provision.

Today, CBSA officers are only authorized to examine and detain goods entering or exiting Canada in order to determine whether or not the importation or exportation complies with federal legislation controlling the movement of goods across our borders. The CBSA mandate does not include a broad law enforcement role and its officers thus have limited authority to deal with the movement of stolen property. The express prohibition provision in this bill would allow CBSA officers to examine and detain stolen goods, which could ultimately result in the police laying criminal charges.

With this proposed amendment, CBSA officers could identify targets, conduct examinations and detain these goods. They could then search law enforcement databases to determine whether the goods had been reported as stolen and refer the case to the police in appropriate cases.

There is no offence in the Criminal Code that directly prohibits the alteration, obliteration or removal of a VIN. The proposed amendment would make it an offence to wholly or partially alter, obliterate or remove a VIN on a motor vehicle. Under the new amendments, anyone convicted of tampering with a VIN could face imprisonment for a term of up to five years on indictment, or six months, or a fine of not more than $5,000, or both, on a summary conviction.

In order to ensure that honest activities such as automobile body repair, recycling and wrecking are not captured by the offence, there is an express exemption provision in the offence that would exclude its application to legitimate motor vehicle repairs or maintenance.

A conviction for this offence would more clearly and accurately document a person's involvement in an organized vehicle theft ring as part of the person's criminal record. This, in turn, would help police and Crown prosecutors to deal appropriately with these people in subsequent investigations and prosecutions.

Finally, the creation of a distinct offence of motor vehicle theft will send a strong message to auto thieves that the criminal justice system is serious about reducing auto theft rates and putting offenders in jail.

The proposed offence has a mandatory minimum penalty of six months' imprisonment for a third offence. This is a proportionate and reasonable penalty for an extremely serious problem in Canada.

I believe that the government has brought forward a strong piece of legislation that will be of great assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors.

I would urge all members of this House to support Bill C-26 and to send it to committee for further consideration. Our communities need this legislation and they need it now.

Justice May 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, as a member from British Columbia, I was curious to learn what the newly anointed Liberal leader had to say with respect to his party's crime fighting agenda, or lack thereof.

Surprisingly, I did not hear one mention of crime during the Liberal leader's speech, despite the fact that the convention was held in my province which has experienced a wave of gang activity, including dozens of homicides over the past few months.

Did the Minister of Justice hear anything encouraging from the Liberals to assist Canadians and victims?

Justice April 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, this week has been declared as National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.

Victims' rights is an issue that is very dear to me and was especially important to my late husband Chuck, who was well-known to many members here today. For years he and I criticized our justice system for focusing too much on the rights of criminals. All too often the victims felt they were victimized a second time by the justice system.

Could the minister advise the House of the significant efforts taken by our government to ensure that the victims of crime have a greater voice within the justice system?

Anti-Crime Legislation March 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the born-again crime fighters in the opposition just showed their true colours. Despite all the public posturing over the last few weeks coming from those opposite, the Liberal, NDP and Bloc facade was revealed.

This morning, all opposition members voted to delay debate on measures aimed at fighting organized crime and drugs. After pressure from this government, they finally decided to pass an organized crime bill at second reading. What about our other bill aimed to crack down on drugs in this country?

Justice March 25th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party of Canada campaigned on a promise to restrict courts from giving extra credit for pretrial custody. Our government believes that the credit for time served before the trial should be restricted.

At a federal, provincial and territorial meeting of justice ministers, the minister committed to working on this issue. If news reports are right, it looks like the minister will deliver on this promise.

Could the Minister of Justice confirm his intention to limit credit for time served?