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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was medical.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Health June 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, both as a member of Parliament and a physician, I have heard from constituents, patients and many others about the high cost of prescription drugs. Canadians are proud of their universal public health care system, but we know that nearly one million Canadians have to give up essentials like food to pay for their medication. That is why I am heartened to see our government taking action on this critical issue.

Could the Minister of Health update the House on our work to make prescription drugs affordable for more Canadians?

Equal Opportunities West May 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, Equal Opportunities West is an amazing organization in Winnipeg that promotes an inclusive community where people with disabilities are treated with respect and dignity. It does incredible work in our community and I am proud to support it.

I am also pleased to share that I will hosting my third annual Community BBQ and e-waste drive in support of Equal Opportunities West. Last year, we beat our previous record and helped divert almost 20,000 kilograms of e-waste from landfills, and we are looking forward to topping that this year.

I encourage everyone in Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley to stop by on June 8, drop off their e-waste, pick up a hot dog and say hello to the amazing staff, volunteers and participants of Equal Opportunities West.

Manito Ahbee Festival May 15th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to all participating and attending the 14th annual Manito Ahbee Festival in Winnipeg.

The Manito Ahbee Festival brings people together from across Canada and from around the world to experience the very best in indigenous music, art and culture in an effort to unify, educate and inspire.

The festival will start today with the lighting of the sacred fire at the Oodena Circle at the Forks and includes a friendship dance to welcome everyone attending. This wonderful celebration offers all Canadians the opportunity to honour and develop a deeper understanding of indigenous culture and heritage and to celebrate its importance in Canada's multicultural mosaic.

We thank all the organizers for their hard work and dedication to making this event a success.

I would also like to extend my best wishes for an enjoyable and memorable festival for all.

Public Safety May 6th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, we are all indebted to the amazing individuals who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe in my constituency and across the country. Can the minister responsible for western economic diversification update this House on our government's work to celebrate emergency service workers and to stimulate new business growth and economic opportunities for Winnipeg?

Criminal Records Act May 6th, 2019

Madam Speaker, first, as I said in my previous answer, it is because the fees put in place by the previous government for a pardon are excessive and are a barrier for people who want a productive life. Second, the fees probably cost the taxpayers more in decreased productivity, as those who still have criminal records cannot become productive members of society.

Criminal Records Act May 6th, 2019

Madam Speaker, right now the costs of our current regime are astronomical. When people are unable to get proper employment, they often will be living in poverty and they become involved in the justice system, all things that in themselves have tremendous costs to society. These costs would will no longer be borne by our society.

Second, with regard to the cost to the government as a result of the waived fee that the member talks about, we must remember that this astronomical cost for applying for a pardon was instituted by the previous government. I would argue that such a fee for any pardon is extreme, and I would like to see that cost severely reduced in the future, if not cancelled altogether.

Criminal Records Act May 6th, 2019

Madam Speaker, in regard to completing one's sentence, the main point of that is administrative. There are administrative challenges to removing a record in the midst of a proceeding, and this has never been done before. The barrier this could create is mostly theoretical because, as we know, the penalties for the actual offences have been short. It is very unlikely that there is anyone right now sitting in a jail cell for simple possession of cannabis, so the practical downside is likely insignificant.

Criminal Records Act May 6th, 2019

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise at the second reading of Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.

During the last election, we committed to legalizing and regulating cannabis, and legislation doing exactly that took effect last fall. As a member of the Standing Committee on Health, I am proud to have been part of the committee's review of the Cannabis Act. We now have a regulated system that keeps cannabis out of the hands of youth and profits out of the hands of criminals.

At that time, the government signalled that it would turn its attention to dealing with the criminal records created under the old regime. We now have before us Bill C-93, legislation that would make it easier for individuals who have been previously convicted only of simple possession of cannabis to have their records cleared.

Bill C-93 proposes an expedited process for receiving a pardon, which is also known as a record suspension. The usual $631 application fee would be waived, as would the usual waiting period, which can be as long as 10 years. The bill would reduce barriers to full participation in society for these individuals. It would allow them greater access to job opportunities, educational programs, housing and even the ability to simply volunteer in their communities. It would make things more fair. It would enhance public safety by allowing people to reintegrate into society. It would fulfill an important commitment to Canadians in delivering on this new regime.

This is the first time in history that both the application fee and wait period for a pardon would be waived. This unprecedented measure is a strong statement, recognizing that convictions for simple possession of cannabis have resulted in hardship for many Canadians and that certain populations, including members of black and indigenous communities, have been disproportionately affected.

For my part today, I would like to delve a little deeper into the nuts and bolts of the legislation. To begin with, Bill C-93 proposes to amend the Criminal Records Act. It would waive the fee, waiting period and certain subjective criteria for people convicted only of simple possession of cannabis under one of three acts: the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; the Narcotic Control Act, which existed until the 1990s; and the National Defence Act.

Eligibility would not be based on the amount possessed but rather on the purpose. People would be eligible if possession were for personal use only. People would not be eligible if there were any trafficking or production involved. In order to qualify for the waived wait period, an applicant would have to demonstrate to the Parole Board of Canada some basic facts: first, that the substance they possessed was cannabis; second, that their sentence was completed; and third, that the conviction was only for possession for personal use. To do so, applicants would provide standard police and court documents. The Parole Board would be available to help people through the process by email or phone.

As a way of further expediting the process, the decision to grant a pardon would not be discretionary. Usually, a Parole Board member assesses pardon applications to decide whether an applicant has been of good conduct and whether a pardon would give them some measurable benefit. Discretion based on subjective criteria would not apply here. Instead, the Parole Board would be required to issue a pardon, as long as people are eligible and have completed their sentences. There would be nothing else to consider. The application would therefore be processed much more quickly by Parole Board staff.

Once a pardon is ordered, the Parole Board would notify the RCMP to have the records sequestered in the national repository of criminal records. Once that is done, the RCMP would notify other federal agencies, and the Parole Board would alert provincial, territorial and municipal partners. For instance, it would mean that a criminal record check by a prospective employer or landlord would come up empty. As well, the records could only be disclosed or reinstated in exceptional circumstances. In practice, for cannabis possession, the only likely scenario in which anyone would ever see a record again would be if they commit a new criminal offence.

Bill C-93 would fulfill our commitment to creating a simplified process for people with convictions for cannabis possession to shed their criminal records, along with the associated burdens and stigma.

Work is also continuing on broader pardons reform, informed by consultations held by the Parole Board and Public Safety Canada as well as a recent study by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

That study, initiated by the member for Saint John—Rothesay, led to thoughtful and unanimous recommendations calling for pardons to become more accessible, not just for cannabis possession but across the board. I am glad that Parliament has been seized with that issue and I look forward to progress on that front.

For the moment, though, we have an opportunity to move forward right now with the targeted recourse in Bill C-93. As I have noted, this further enhances public safety by reducing the barriers to reintegration associated with a criminal record.

Many Canadians are stuck with a criminal record for activity that is no longer considered a crime. It is about time we make things fairer for those Canadians who have been living crime-free. That is why I offer my full support to Bill C-93. I encourage all my colleagues to do the right thing and join me in making sure this bill moves forward.

Homelessness Among Veterans May 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, homelessness in our veteran community is unacceptable in Canada. One homeless veteran is one too many.

I am a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, and the well-being of the brave women and men who put their lives on the line for our nation is a top priority for me and our government. This is why I introduced a motion last year at the committee to study homelessness in our veteran community.

After working collaboratively with colleagues from all sides on this study, I am proud to share that this week our committee tabled our report, entitled “Moving Towards Ending Homelessness Among Veterans”. In our report, we submitted 10 concrete recommendations to address homelessness in our veteran community. Currently, there are 3,000 to 5,000 veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Canada. This is a problem that can be solved, and the time to act is now.

I want to thank all the witnesses who appeared before our committee and shared their personal and powerful stories. They were prepared to lay down their lives for our country, and we are prepared to fulfill our sacred obligation to them.

Motorcycle safety Awareness Month May 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, today marks the beginning of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As a motorcyclist, I regularly ride my Triumph Bonneville down Portage Avenue and take part in Ride For Dad, an event in support of prostate cancer research. However, as an emergency room physician, I am also familiar with the tragedies that come with motorcycle collisions. Many of these collisions can be prevented, and we can all help.

This month we are reminded of how we can do our part in helping to keep the 700,000 Canadian motorcycle riders safe. I am proud that our government is committed to taking steps to ensure that all Canadian road users always ride safe, but we must all do our part. Let us remember to encourage riders to wear the proper protective gear and to encourage motorcycle riders and automobile drivers to always look twice and check blind spots before switching lanes.

I want to thank the organizations that advocate for road safety every day, such as the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada. Through advocacy around Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we are reminded this month, and every month, to ride safe.