House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was aboriginal.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Kenora (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act October 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I also applaud my colleague for his first 20-minute speech and for doing so well under those circumstances.

My question comes out of the experience I have had on the privacy and ethics committee. My understanding of this is that there is a careful balance we have to take between having lawful access to communications and protecting one's privacy.

I heard something in the speech about a lawful access initiative, and I was wondering if the member could just expound on that a little more and give us comfort that this act gives the appropriate powers for monitoring, but at the same time protects our privacy.

Ending Conditional Sentences for Property and Other Serious Crimes Act October 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for recognizing the important contributions I make in this House.

Yes, the folks in the great Kenora riding take this issue, as they do all justice issues, very seriously. There is always a balance that we need to be aware of in terms of what we are trying to achieve.

However, as the discussion alluded to earlier, which I found quite interesting, what are the challenges with respect to the costs? The costs are of the crimes themselves. When we start talking about drug trafficking and human trafficking, the impact on families, on the health care system, rehabilitation treatment, and in those orders, it becomes very clear that there is a tremendous cost to the individual, to the family, to the neighbourhood, to the community, to the riding and to the region.

This bill, like many of our justice bills, would replace the cost of crime with doing time, time in jail for perpetrators of serious crimes. That is something I think most people, not just in the great Kenora riding, but Canadians throughout the country share as a concern.

Ending Conditional Sentences for Property and Other Serious Crimes Act October 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I did not practise a lot of criminal law. I have very little experience in that area but from my days in law school, from having several colleagues who practise in this area and from having a number of friends who are with the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police over the years working in communities, I share the concerns expressed earlier that we need to get tough on perpetrators of serious crimes, such as personal injury and degrees of theft which ruin, in many cases, people's lives. It is important that citizens and constituents of our respective ridings have assurances that people will not be out on house arrest for crimes that have significantly impacted a person, often a family, a neighbourhood or a community.

Ending Conditional Sentences for Property and Other Serious Crimes Act October 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, it is great to stand in the House once again on behalf of the constituents of the great Kenora riding. I am honoured to speak during second reading of Bill C-42, which proposes to limit the use of conditional sentencing for serious offences.

The Criminal Code allows for conditional sentences, also referred to as house arrest, to be imposed when the following conditions are met: the offence is not punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, the court imposes a sentence of less than two years, the court is convinced that the service of the sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community, and the court must be satisfied that the conditional sentence would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing.

Finally, the offence must meet the following criteria: it is not a serious personal injury offence under section 752; it is not a terrorism offence; and it is not a criminal organization offence, prosecuted by indictment and for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years or more.

Even if all the criteria are met, the sentencing judge may decide not to impose a conditional sentence. Bill C-42 aims to eliminate the reference to serious personal injury offences and end the use of conditional sentences for indictable offences for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 14 years to life. The same would apply for indictable offences for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years where these offences result in: bodily harm; involve the import, export, trafficking or production of drugs; or involve the use of a weapon.

Furthermore, in order to cover serious offences punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, Bill C-42 seeks to eliminate the use of conditional sentences for the following reasons: prison breach, luring a child, criminal harassment, sexual assault, kidnapping, trafficking in persons, theft over $5,000, breaking and entering a place other than a dwelling house, being unlawfully in a dwelling house with intent, and arson for fraudulent purposes. These are obviously very serious crimes that this government intends to get tough on.

I am well aware that my colleagues in the House might ask themselves if it is necessary to amend the conditional sentencing regime once again, especially given that the last amendments to this regime came into effect on December 1, 2007. To them, I would say yes. The concept of serious personal injury offences as defined in section 752 of the Criminal Code of Canada was developed in the context of dangerous offenders.

However, the opposition parties borrowed it as a limit on the use of conditional sentences when they got together to modify the government's original proposal as laid out in Bill C-9. While the courts have, since the last amendments came into effect, distinguished between the interpretation of the definition of serious personal injury offences and the contexts of conditional sentences and dangerous offenders, the fact remains that there are serious shortcomings.

Whether it be in the context of dangerous offenders or in the context of conditional sentences, only sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, and aggravated sexual assault are deemed to be serious personal injury offences. I would like to reassure my colleagues that although Bill C-42 proposes to eliminate the reference to serious personal injury offences as laid out in section 742.1, it would still ensure that conditional sentences would not be available for such indictable sexual offences.

However, as we have previously heard, robbery, for example, is not treated as a serious personal injury offence in all cases. This is all the more surprising, given that the offence of robbery, under section 343 of the Criminal Code, includes elements of violence. The same goes for the offences of assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.

It is also worrying to see that the opposition parties, who favour the definition of serious personal injury offences instead of the proposed government approach, are of the view that only violent offences are serious crimes, and that only violent offences should be subject to limits on the use of conditional sentences.

Need I remind them of the extent of the fraud cases reported in the media recently. Serious white collar crimes that had serious impact on people's lives. Yet, the definition of serious personal injury offences cannot ensure that conditional sentences will not be available in cases of fraud or theft over $5,000. The bill, along with upcoming initiatives, will ensure that cases involving serious fraud are treated as serious offences. They are treated within the law for the serious offences that they are.

Conditional sentences were created for less serious crimes. It is for this reason that it is not available or that it not be available for offences punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, or for offences for which a sentence of two years or more is imposed. The government is attentive to the concerns of Canadians who no longer wish to see conditional sentences used for serious crimes, whether it is a violent physical crime or a serious property crime. For the reasons I just explained, I would urge my colleagues in the House to give the bill their unanimous support.

I want to address by way of summary some of the key points. Conditional sentences are not available for all offences. There are several criteria for their use. For example, conditional sentences are not available for sentences with a mandatory prison sentence and are not available if the sentence would be more than two years imprisonment.

Bill C-42 fulfills this 2008 platform commitment by restricting the availability of conditional sentences of imprisonment to ensure that serious crimes, including serious property offences, are not eligible for house arrest.

I encourage all members to take a serious moment to pause around what this legislation is intended to achieve. We want to make it clear that when it comes to serious crimes, this government is getting serious with the people who need to do the time.

Ending Conditional Sentences for Property and Other Serious Crimes Act October 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the line of questioning around the member's constituents, I have been listening with great interest to the member for Leeds—Grenville. I noted that during his speech he mentioned his constituents and their interest in this important bill. I was wondering if the member could elaborate on why they think the bill is so important.

Federal Sustainable Development Act October 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to stand in the House on behalf of the constituents of the great riding of Kenora. I am also pleased to participate in the debate on Bill S-216, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act (involvement of Parliament).

To echo what we have already heard, this government is pleased to have senators review both the draft and final versions of the federal sustainable development strategy. We are very happy for their participation in this process as well as all of the other reports required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

As my colleagues previously mentioned, this bill comes in response to an oversight in the original Federal Sustainable Development Act, which, as we have heard, failed to properly include the whole Parliament in its processes.

As the House is aware, similar provisions in the Auditor General Act require the tabling of sustainable development strategies and reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development before the House of Commons. When that language was borrowed for amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the tabling of reports in the Senate was unfortunately lost.

This government believes strongly in accountability. Improving Senate involvement in the Federal Sustainable Development Act and Auditor General Act would offer a further improvement, a concept that we fully endorse.

The government has no issue with the tabling of the reports required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act or the Auditor General Act before the Senate and is pleased to support this bill. That said, let me take a moment to briefly and importantly address what lies at the very core of the actual Federal Sustainable Development Act, and that is sustainable development itself.

Sustainable development is necessary to Canada's economic stability. We see that in the great Kenora riding with the importance of infrastructure projects that help our mills and our residential, commercial and industrial development not just serve its community for its utility and convenience, but also continue to be more environmentally friendly.

This is also to the financial well-being of our country, because economic decisions can carry with them economic ramifications. Development must be undertaken in such a way that does not unduly deplete Canada's rich and diverse natural capital. This approach to sustainable development calls on citizens, industry and governments to participate equally in activities that achieve results without jeopardizing the future of our resources.

In that respect it has been a guiding principle of this government to work in partnership with all parties to ensure our resources are exploited and developed in a manner that harms neither the economy nor the environment. We heard the parliamentary secretary speak of that balance that any government is trying to achieve in this regard. I am pleased to say that this government has repeated that refrain long and large.

Our collaboration with our partners in the United States on clean energy dialogue, for example, has been as much about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the shared environmental fabric of our two nations on this great continent as they have been about protecting the shared economic footing that allows both Canada and the United States to thrive and prosper.

Our strong and comprehensive approach to ensuring our water resources are used wisely has as much to do with ecological gains as it does with economic growth.

Our measures to clean the air Canadians breathe were created with good health in mind, good personal health, good environmental health, good community health, but also good economic health. All of those are factoring heavily in the design of our regulations, for example, the regulations for tailpipe emissions that we introduced just last April.

I mentioned, quite purposely, the three elements, greenhouse gas emissions, water and clean air. More than any others, these three represent the most recent indicators of good environmental sustainability. As members are no doubt aware, our health, well-being and economic security are highly dependent on the quality of the environment.

Reports of smog alerts, blue-green algae growth in our lakes or shrinking ice caps in our north bring attention to changing conditions in the environment. Issues like asthma, cardiovascular disease and water-borne illnesses underline linkages between the environment and human health. Environmental changes such as low water levels, pest infestations and intense storms also have economic impacts on such sectors as agriculture, forestry, tourism and fisheries.

My point here is that there is an interconnectedness between our abilities to be environmentally sustainable and to experience sustainable economic development in general. The two are not mutually exclusive. As far as developing land, cities, businesses and communities go, our government subscribes to the very definition of sustainable development, namely that we will meet current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.

This definition, to which our government has adhered since being elected into office nearly four years ago, recognizes that social, economic and environmental issues are interconnected and that decisions that will ultimately be judged as being successful are the ones that incorporate each of these aspects over the long term for our future generations.

The fact is that sustainability can be used as a means to enhance the health and well-being of Canadians, as a mechanism for preservation of Canada's natural environment, and as a tool to advance Canada's long-term economic competitiveness, be that on a continental or a global plane.

Given the importance of good, smart, sustainable development to our environmental, economic and even personal health, it goes without saying that this government will continue to do what it can to improve sustainable development in Canada.

This includes continuing to work with all of our partners. I think of the opportunity that we have in northwestern Ontario at this very moment to share in resource management and to learn from sound environmental principles from our first nations communities. We have benefited greatly from understanding traditional practices with respect to care of the land, its lakes, its trees, our forests and other important resources.

As well, we need to continue to work closely and consultatively with industry, our communities, citizens, and other levels of government, including the Senate, for the betterment of Canada's economic and environmental landscapes.

The government is pleased to have senators review both the draft and final versions of the federal sustainable development strategy, as well as all other reports required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The bill responds to what is largely the result of an oversight, as I have said, within the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which failed to properly include the whole of Parliament in its processes.

This government believes strongly in accountability. Improving Senate involvement in the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act will offer further improvement.

For the purposes of today's discussion, our commitment to sustainable development also and obviously includes supporting Bill S-216.

Business of Supply October 19th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I will not comment on anything but what the officials from those companies told me. They were very enthusiastic about the announcement and very confident that this would significantly contribute to their competitiveness within the pulp and paper mills. Fort Frances and Thunder Bay operations in particular were very enthusiastic.

I would encourage the member to get behind this important announcement for the benefit of the communities and the workers at those mills who we have been working to support in a myriad of different programs and strategies. That is an invitation to treat.

Business of Supply October 19th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is important to diversify within the forest sector and provide opportunities for hard closures to make transitions into other areas within the forest sector, and we believe our government is doing that. There is a number of examples in the Kenora riding. I would be happy to share those with the member at some point in time.

Business of Supply October 19th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would not qualify that as a brief question, but certainly there are programs available with respect to opportunities to diversify within the forest sector. I might add that it is important for the Conservative government to continue to work with the provinces and—

Business of Supply October 19th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, it was a great pleasure for me last week to make the announcement on behalf of the minister to a number of pulp and paper mills throughout northwestern Ontario. I am often tasked with the affairs of northwestern Ontario, not just the great Kenora riding. I had an opportunity to speak to senior officials in some of the pulp and paper mills who were positively affected by this, and I will share this with the member so he knows.

In one case they were over the moon about this news. They assured me they would be putting those resources, those credits to good work in an effort to not just reduce the environmental footprint, but to deal with some structural defects in the northwestern Ontario forest sector, namely to reduce overall energy costs, incentivizing black liquor as an environmentally friendly but competitive way of meeting our energy demands, in some cases by 100%, we hope, is the result of those announcements.

Those are the numbers. They are not from the phone book from which the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River is reading.