House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

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

Corrections and Conditional Release Act March 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, needle exchange programs have been shown, in many environments, to improve safety and improve the health of the users. A needle exchange program does not introduce additional needles to the program. These people already have needles that have been smuggled in and they reuse them, which can transmit infectious diseases. These needles are exchanged for clean ones, which will make for a safer environment.

As well, part of the enhancements of the bill will include body scanners to make it much less likely that such needles would be smuggled into the prison in the first place. Therefore, the needle exchange program would improve the safety of inmates and the safety of staff.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act March 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I agree completely. People often talk about the revolving door of the prison system and there is a revolving door. However, there are those who think that the answer to that is longer and harsher punishments. In fact, the evidence is clear that longer sentences and harsh conditions during incarceration actually increase the likelihood that an inmate will reoffend.

Furthermore, during my visit to Stony Mountain penitentiary, north of Winnipeg, it became clear that there are large numbers of inadequately treated people with mental health issues, who are essentially being warehoused in our correctional system because they do not have the adequate treatment in the community and, therefore, offend. This is a valuable way to ensure that these people receive the care and rehabilitation they need. They will actually be less likely to reoffend and this will improve public safety.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act March 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, there were a number of stakeholders consulted on this, including Corrections Canada law enforcement officials. There was plenty of opportunity for input at the committee stage for increasing opportunities for consultation.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act March 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg North.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to rise at third reading of Bill C-83. This important piece of legislation proposes significant reforms to Canada's correctional system. These changes would make our federal correctional institutions safer places for staff and inmates alike, and that in turn would contribute to greater safety for people in our communities.

Under Bill C-83, administrative segregation would be eliminated and a new correctional intervention model would be established through the implementation of structured intervention units, SIUs, which would serve to address the safety and security risks of offenders who are at any given time too dangerous or disruptive to be managed in the mainstream inmate population. When those offenders need to be separated for safety reasons, they would be placed in an SIU. While they are there, they would continue to have access to the interventions and programming they need to make progress on their correctional plan and improve their likelihood of rehabilitation.

The goal is to help offenders reintegrate into the mainstream inmate population as quickly as possible. That has been the main goal of Bill C-83 from the very beginning and remains so today in the bill's current form. We have arrived at a very solid, concise and thorough piece of legislation that was very strong to begin with. That is a testament to a robust, democratic and healthy legislative process, including thoughtful discussion in this chamber and careful scrutiny and informative testimony at committee. That process led to a number of amendments that have strengthened this bill.

Many of those amendments focus on additional measures to ensure that the SIUs would operate as intended. For example, amendments were made to specify that daily time outside an SIU cell must be offered between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and that opportunities to interact through human contact must not be mediated or interposed by physical barriers.

Other amendments are about enhancing oversight and transparency when it comes to SIU placement decisions. However, today I would like to focus on one amendment in particular, proposed by the member for Oakville North—Burlington, which would introduce a new independent external decision-making function.

Under Bill C-83, independent external decision-makers would review an inmate's placement in an SIU if it falls under any one of three specific circumstances.

The first circumstance is if an inmate has not received or taken advantage of the opportunity to spend a minimum of four hours a day outside of their cell or two hours of interaction with others or five consecutive days or 15 cumulative days over a 30-day period. The second is if an inmate has been confined to an SIU for 90 consecutive days. The third is if a health care committee of senior officials from the Correctional Service of Canada has made the determination to maintain an inmate in an SIU contrary to the recommendations of a registered health professional.

This process would ensure that decisions to maintain an inmate in an SIU would be subject to scrutiny and ongoing assessment at specific time periods through a mechanism that would operate at arm's length from the Correctional Service of Canada.

Reviews conducted by independent external decision-makers would create additional external monitoring of inmates who are placed in SIUs. This would include vulnerable inmates, such as those who are not participating in programming or interventions or receiving meaningful human contact. It would also support transparency around decisions to maintain vulnerable inmates in an SIU. In all cases, the external decision-maker would be authorized to order the inmate to be released from the SIU entirely.

In addition, when it has been recommended by a registered health care professional, the external decision-maker could order the modification of the inmate's conditions of confinement in the SIU. The proposed addition of the independent external decision-maker's response was one of the main points raised at the committee stage by various witnesses. More specifically, concerns were raised that inmates in an SIU could still be subjected to indeterminate and prolonged confinement. The introduction of an additional external review mechanism addresses these concerns and would help keep our correctional system safe, lawful and accountable.

Another issue that was raised by witnesses at committee, including those representing front-line staff in federal correctional institutions, involved whether additional resources would be made available to support the implementation of the bill.

To ensure that our federal correctional system has the resources it needs to successfully implement the changes proposed in Bill C-83, the government announced a total of $448 million in funding for corrections in last year's fall economic statement. That includes approximately $297 million over six years to implement the proposed SIUs, funding that, in the words of the Minister of Public Safety would ensure that Correctional Service Canada “has people with the right skill sets in the right places at the right times”.

Canada's federal correctional system is already in a class of its own. Operating in a challenging environment, it does a remarkable job of fulfilling its objectives of holding guilty parties to account, while fostering their rehabilitation. An important part of that rehabilitation process is making sure that offenders, including those who must be separated, are able to take part in reintegration programming in order to make progress against the objectives set out in their correctional plan.

That programming is essential to a successful transition to the mainstream inmate population, and after that, to the community at the end of a sentence. The bill would improve the way that works. In doing so, it would help bring about safer institutions for staff and inmates, in the short term. In the long run, it would mean fewer repeat offenders, fewer victims and safer communities for all.

Getting the bill to where it is today has been a truly collaborative effort. I have been impressed and heartened by the careful attention and constructive input given to the bill from all parties and all corners. I would like to thank hon. members for the roles they have played throughout that entire process so far. The result is improved legislation that, if passed, I am confident will lead to a better, safer and more effective correctional system.

For all these reasons, I will be voting in favour of Bill C-83 at third reading and I encourage all my hon. colleagues to join me in doing the same.

Petitions March 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise on behalf of the 8,743 Canadians who signed my petition to address violence against health care workers.

The petition calls upon the Minister of Health to develop a pan-Canadian prevention strategy to address growing incidents of violence against health care workers to ensure that all health care settings across our country are safe.

For too long, violence was often considered part of the job. During my time in the emergency room, I was assaulted on two occasions, and thousands of nurses, doctors, paramedics and support staff continue to face much worse on a regular basis

It is time for violence in the workplace to end and for real action to address this serious issue. I want to thank Linda Silas of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and Darlene Jackson of the Manitoba Nurses Union for their tireless efforts on behalf of health care workers. It has been a privilege to work with both of them on this petition and on the health committee's upcoming study on this issue.

Military Family Resource Centre in Winnipeg February 25th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, last week, I had the honour to attend the Military Family Resource Centre's annual yellow ribbon fundraising gala to celebrate and support the important work it is doing for military families in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg's Military Family Resource Centre is a pillar of our military community, providing resources, support and programming to military families, and making a difference in the lives of hundreds of men, women and children. Its hard work and dedication has helped build a community where families at 17 Wing are welcomed and supported.

I want to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to organize the successful fundraising gala. Their efforts help support the incredible work being done on behalf of families in our community.

It is an honour to support this organization, and I thank it for everything it has done and will continue to do for our community.

Infrastructure February 21st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, Canadian highways play a key role in moving our economy forward. In fact, they are vital to rural and remote communities specifically. Good condition of these roads allows Canadians and goods to move more efficiently across the country and help our economy continue to grow. This is particularly crucial in my home province of Manitoba, as trade is an important part of our diversified economy.

Could the Minister of Rural Economic Development update the House on what investments are being made for the highway network of Manitoba?

Indigenous Languages Act February 7th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, although this question seems off-topic, I feel I must respond to something that was part of the hon. member's speech. She referred to what has happened with our former justice minister, who is now the veterans affairs minister. The member referred to the minister having been thrown under the bus.

I would think that all members of the House would have more respect for our veterans than to consider a transfer to the ministry of veterans affairs as being thrown under the bus.

Elections Modernization Act December 13th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons that change was made to the identification requirements of the so-called Fair Elections Act was to prevent people with insufficient identification voting fraudulently in elections.

I would like to ask the hon. member this. Has there been any documented instance in Canadian history of any significant voter fraud that has had any influence on an election?

Volunteerism December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour two constituents, Rusty and his human companion, George Ames, for their amazing work at the St. Boniface Hospital. Rusty, the fluffy, glasses-wearing therapy dog, and George have been a fixture at the hospital for nearly a decade, volunteering their time comforting both patients and staff.

Last year the pair received the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal for their dedication, and recently, the hospital unveiled a portrait the doctors commissioned in their honour. As one of the doctors at St. Boniface said, “I think that a happy, good-natured, loving dog makes a big difference to alleviate some of that stress and help you remember that there's a lot of goodness in the world.”

At 15 years of age, Rusty is still going strong and is helping people in all walks of life get through stressful and difficult times.

I thank George for his dedication to helping bring moments of cheer into people's lives, and to Rusty I say, “Good boy.”