House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was veterans.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for New Brunswick Southwest (New Brunswick)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Dna Identification Act November 3rd, 1997

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to take part in the debate on Bill C-3, the DNA identification act.

DNA is basically the next generation of fingerprinting. Since 1988 trial judges have allowed DNA evidence from the accused to be introduced in several criminal prosecutions. Indeed forensic DNA analysis has been instrumental in securing convictions in hundreds of violent crimes and has resulted in the release of wrongfully convicted people.

During the early days of DNA evidence, there existed a vacuum in regulating the collection and use of DNA evidence. In a number of cases the judges even allowed DNA samples which were taken from accused individuals who did not consent to having their DNA collected. Organizations such as the Canadian Police Association had warned the government that legislation would be needed to ensure the proper and effective use of DNA evidence.

During a 1993 meeting with the then Minister of Justice and in 1994 with the solicitor general, representatives of the Canadian Police Association raised the urgent need of updating evidence laws to include DNA technology. Despite these warnings of the men and women on the front lines of keeping Canada safe, the Liberal government decided to wait. It dragged its heels until the Supreme Court of Canada intervened in 1994, much the same way as it dragged its heels on the Young Offenders Act.

The supreme court ruled that in the absence of federal legislation, the police did not have any lawful means to obtain a search warrant for the seizure of bodily substances for the purposes of DNA typing. This lack of legislation led the supreme court to determine that DNA evidence obtained without the consent of the accused risked being excluded at trial.

The government finally took the first step in 1995 for the legal framework of DNA. That bill gave the police the right to seek a warrant that, if approved by a provincial court judge, authorized the collection of bodily substances for DNA analysis. Bill C-104 also legislated criteria for judges to consider when reviewing DNA warrant applications. Police officers, lawyers and judges finally had some guidelines, albeit very broad ones, to govern the collection of DNA evidence.

With Bill C-104 in place, the obvious question arose: What would the government do with DNA samples once they were collected? The logical answer was the creation of a national DNA data bank in which collected DNA samples could be stored for future reference in criminal investigations or trials.

Even the Minister of Justice at the time when not preoccupied with cracking down on law-abiding gun owners—another contentious issue obviously—or launching politically motivated witch-hunts, conceded the importance of a national DNA data bank. He felt it was so important that when Bill C-104 was approved, he promised complementary data bank legislation for the fall of 1995.

That promise as we know bit the dust when the government started consulting on the January 1996 discussion paper entitled “Establishing a National DNA Data Bank”. Interestingly enough the cover note and news release which accompanied that discussion paper at the time stated that the government would bring in DNA data bank legislation in the coming year.

We all know what happens to promises. The coming year stretched into 16 months and obviously it died on the Order Paper, but it was included in the Liberal's red book two during the election. I will say the Liberals at least did not use the election as an excuse to delay the importance of this legislation. Obviously it is on the floor of the House now.

With the exception of some minor changes the technical language in Bill C-3 is what we are talking about today. The solicitor general has outlined many of the positive elements in this bill of which there are several.

The DNA data bank to be managed by the RCMP will consist of two main components: a crime scene index that will contain DNA profiles obtained from unresolved crime scenes; and a convicted offenders index that will contain DNA profiles of adult and young offenders convicted of designated Criminal Code offences.

Because police officers will be able to cross reference data from certain convicted offenders with unresolved crime scenes, the DNA identification act is an improvement over the vacuum which previously existed in terms of storing DNA data. But will this national data bank as established under Bill C-3 provide our police officers with an effective tool to solve crimes and keep our streets and communities safe? That is the question.

The police officers through the Canadian Police Association say no. In fact the police association which has been at the front of the lobbying movement to establish the data bank is so concerned about the effectiveness of Bill C-3 that it is opposed to the legislation.

The major concern of the police association is with the timing of DNA collection. According to the CPA, a national DNA data bank will only be successful if the collection of DNA from a person charged with an indictable offence is done at the time of the arrest. Why is this the case? Because the only guaranteed opportunity to obtain the DNA evidence from individuals charged with an indictable offence is when police actually have custody of the person charged.

The proposed convicted offenders index while somewhat useful would not help police identify unknown murderers and rapists. It might even encourage suspected offenders to skip bail as most people charged with offences are released pending trial. In fact if we look at it, in Canada bail is granted to 95% of all people charged with all criminal offences. According to Juristat more than 66,000 people in 1995 either broke bail or failed to appear as required. Therein lies the problem.

What would happen for example if someone was arrested for an offence related to juvenile prostitution which is a designated offence for DNA collection under this legislation but in this case the individual may have also committed an unsolved murder from which the offender's unidentified DNA was collected. It is pretty obvious the person would know that if he is convicted of the juvenile prostitution charge, the DNA analysis would be obtained and cross referenced with the crime scene index. Then that person would be up on a murder charge.

It does not take a rocket scientist to conclude that under the current bill many offenders would choose to skip bail instead of risking a murder charge. How would that help police in this case solve the mystery of an unsolved crime?

As it now stands Bill C-3 has a loophole and that loophole is big enough to drive a truck through. If there is one thing our legal system does not need at this time, it is more loopholes.

I understand the fears of individuals such as Canada's privacy commissioner, but I believe there are ways to deal with some of the privacy concerns without compromising collection of samples and the ability to solve the most serious of unsolved crimes.

When the previous minister introduced the first incarnation of the DNA identification act, he stated the importance of getting the data bank correct the first time.

Our officers do not believe that Bill C-3 is the most appropriate measure to collect and store DNA evidence. And if they do not, we should take a serious look at amending this legislation at the committee level.

I support the goals and objectives of this bill, but our police officers and courts need an effective DNA data bank as soon as possible. If we allow for modifications of Bill C-3 at the committee level, I believe we can make an effective DNA data bank a reality.

I would therefore urge my colleagues, especially the solicitor general, and the justice committee to be flexible and consider the reasonable suggestions put forward by organizations such as the Canadian Police Association. We need to plug those loopholes such as the ones highlighted by the CPA and other organizations.

I will conclude by simply stating that if the Liberal government or any other party decides to refuse these amendments to Bill C-3 at the committee level, our caucus will be obligated to re-evaluate its position on this legislation.

Employment Equity Act November 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the House that the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt introduced this motion today with regard to employment equity. I want to let the House know that we fundamentally disagree with some of what the member had to say, but not entirely.

Our position would be that the act does not have to be reintroduced, nor a new act created. We have to fine tune the existing legislation that we presently have. I think that would be a benefit to all sides. The process that the Reform member is suggesting is a lengthy process and could be a very expensive process, and we disagree on that.

The other point I wish to make is with respect to the charter of rights. The charter protects all of us, and that is something none of us wants to lose. But it is a very lengthy process for anyone engaged in the pay equity dispute. It is one that few of us would ever go through to its finality. It becomes very expensive.

In terms of the pay equity dispute presently ongoing between the federal government and its employees I want to put a few facts on the record. There are approximately today 190,000 public servants who would receive the pay equity allowance.

Most of the 190,000 public servants are women but they are not the highest paid in the public service. I wanted to point that out because if I go through the list of the six groups that dominate the issue of pay equity, they are not the highest paid public servants in the country. The principal groups involved are clerks, secretaries, typists, data processors, librarians, hospital staff, hospital service staff and educational support staff. We are not talking about employees who make $100,000 a year. We are basically talking about a group of people who want fairness in the system.

We in the Conservative Party believe in equal pay for equal value of work done. I do not think anyone would disagree with that. Fundamentally the government simply has to open up the dialogue among all major groups and come to the realization there are problems that have to be addressed. I believe it should do that.

With regard to the back pay owed to the women of Canada who are public servants and have done their jobs for the country, they could simply say “Yes, let us negotiate a settlement because it will end a lengthy laborious legal process which becomes very time consuming”.

Let us take a look at some of the numbers so we will know what we are talking. The numbers really speak to the issue. The offer would mean a lump sum settlement of $27,037 for the employees involved. For the largest group, which currently makes around $30,000 a year, the lump sum would be about $15,000 and future annual adjustments would account for about another $2,184 a year.

When we get back to the issue of the union because there are union people involved in the whole issue, the best thing they could do at this point is take the issue back to the membership. The House is the place where we debate with different points of view various bills, motions, private members' bills and government bills. With regard to the union, the single best thing it could do at this point is simply refer it back to the membership. If it goes any further than what it already has, the delay could be counted not in months or weeks but in years.

This goes back to the fundamental reasons unions are there in the first place: to represent their workers. In all fairness, if they are representing their workers in the most democratic fashion, the best thing they could do today is simply settle with the government after consulting the membership. The membership should decide the issue. It should be consulted.

The treasury board president was quoted on September 10 as saying with regard to the latest offer “This is our latest offer. It is not only generous but it is a bit more than what we can afford”. That also has to be considered by the union. I know some union activists to the left of me are hollering a little loudly at this point. I do not blame them. I think they at the end of the plank on this one. I do not think I would want to be walking that plank now if I were a union activist.

I will repeat my statement to the member for Dartmouth. They should take it back to the union, the membership, the people who have been paying union dues for many years.

Getting back to the motion itself, we disagree with the Reform member who introduced it because we do not think more legislation or more laws are needed.

Our position is simple. At present the legislation is there. We have problems with it. They are minor in terms of what other countries are saddled with. If we are to make changes to the law we should identify the specific changes. Some could be brought about by legislation, not by the introduction of a new bill.

I am pleased to have taken part in the debate today. I respect the positions of the Reform and the NDP. However, let us examine the issue a little more carefully to see if we can bring about the changes through regulation. With regard to the pay equity situation, let the unions speak.

The Late Fred McCain October 23rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, as you mentioned, Fred McCain served in this House many years. Mr. Speaker, you served with him, as did the leader of our party.

I want to pay tribute today to Fred McCain. Fred served the people of New Brunswick and Canada for 34 years, 18 years as a member of the provincial legislature and 16 years as a member of the House of Commons.

Fred was a great orator, a tremendous speaker who spoke always from his heart with deep rooted convictions, convictions he held and defended to his last breath. He loved his country and certainly dedicated his life to that end.

In what I consider one of the most prophetic speeches ever made in this House, Fred McCain rose in his place on October 21, 1980 during the Constitution debate to say:

—this is indeed an historic debate and one in which, in a way, I find no great pleasure in participating. I think it implies that we either recognize the concept on which this nation was founded or we may be laying the foundation of its destruction. This is a debate on a resolution that has the potential to alter the face of this country like no other before it. I believe that if this resolution is accepted in its present form it will change the shape of federalism as it has existed historically and that it may not be accepted as a favourable change.

I think it would be valuable to spend time examining the force of federalism over the last century, because if this is to be called an historic debate, then, I say, history should play a part in the determination of its climax.

The precedents set by the wise men of the past, and the examination of these precedents, should not be overlooked—.

The good of the proposed nation as a whole was the primary objective of those who gave this nation their earliest consideration. Although these men had differences, they put those differences behind them and proposed a union that would be mutually beneficial to all parties concerned.

On October 24, 1986, again he rose in support of a united Canada with these strong and eloquent words:

Let us not divide the voters of this nation. Let us not put culture against culture, region against region, man against woman, women against everybody and man against all concerned for the political purposes and for the gain of votes.

During the very contentious debate on the issue of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, with his quick wit and memory for quotes, he chose to say this in response to a challenging colleague's retort: “The hon. member is never lucky in the coincidence of his facts with the truth”. Fred went on to quote Sir Winston Churchill: “I think it hardly possible to state the opposite of the truth with more precision”.

Always the gentleman, Fred was always the gentle man.

How familiar to New Brunswickers are Fred's phrases, quotes, humour and kindness, and that genuine ability to listen to people and truly hear them. These attributes exemplified Fred McCain.

Fred leaves behind a wonderful family: his wife Frances, his one sister Deanne, two sons, Fred and David, two daughters, Susan and Patricia, two step-children, Susan and Richard, and 10 grandchildren.

His first wife, Marjorie, as many of us know, passed away in 1988 while Fred was still a member of this House.

In closing, I offer to this House these thoughts. Fred was my mentor. He was a great Canadian with a great capacity to listen and understand people. He had a remarkable record which was a tribute to his natural affinity for people. He worked hard and was eager to help others regardless of their political stripe.

He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and all of us who believe that politics is an honourable profession.

Supply October 23rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want to bring to the minister's attention that he was dead wrong in his facts when he was referring to the hon. member for Burin—St. George's as a former minister. He was never ever a former—

Supply October 23rd, 1997

Madam Speaker, it is certainly nice to see you in the chair. I think this is the first time I have had the opportunity to speak while you are in the chair. I want to make a few comments, most of them with regard to the fishing industry in my riding of Charlotte. Of course, that is the one I am concerned about.

What really appalls me are the licensing fees and the changes this government has brought in in the last number of years. There are lobster fishermen in my riding whose licensing fees have gone from $17 to $3,000 in a single year.

How could any fisherman in any jurisdiction in any country in this hemisphere survive those kinds of charges? Nobody can. It is forcing individual fishermen out of the business.

They have done the same thing with our scallop fishermen. Small fishermen now are being required in the riding of Charlotte to put monitors on board. In some cases it costs up to $350 a day to put a monitor on board just so matters can be checked. It is like the big eye of government looking down on a small fishermen who can hardly afford to put fuel in his boat.

The most discouraging thing is that the laws, the rules and the regulations for these fishermen are applied differently, depending on what side of the bay they live on. Some of the restrictions do not apply to fishermen, for example, that are lucky enough to live in some parts of Nova Scotia. It is ridiculous. I have no quarrel with fishermen in Nova Scotia, but if the government is going to apply a policy to fishermen it should be applied evenly across the board. The government is putting fishermen in my riding at a tremendous disadvantage to people 40 miles across the water. It is absolutely insane.

The same applies to wharves and the reconstruction of wharves. New Brunswick does not have enough money in the budget, for goodness sakes, to buy 50 pounds of spikes for the number of wharves that are in the riding. This is absolutely ridiculous.

We pretend we have a multimillion dollar fishery, and we do, but how can fishermen survive? The government is actually forcing fishermen who are making the meagrest of all livings, to take money out of their back pocket at the end of the day to repair the very wharves for which the Government of Canada should be responsible. How in the name of goodness can the fishermen, under those set of circumstances, survive? The answer is very clear. They cannot survive under those kinds of circumstances.

That is not the end of it. The fisheries department entered into agreements with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs to bring natives into the fishery, which is fine. We want to see that happen. However, there is no co-ordination between the two departments. Neither department knows what is going on. They have no long term strategy. Again, it is throwing money at a problem with no vision for the future.

People are at a tremendous disadvantage now because of that lack of co-ordination. Fishermen in my riding are being sacrificed because neither of those two departments, fisheries nor Indian and northern affairs, want to take responsibility for their actions. We cannot continue. The fisheries in Atlantic Canada are on the rails and this government wants to simply abdicate its responsibilities.

This type of motion should be on the floor of the House every single day for the next year so that Canadians can get the message that the fisheries are in tough shape. It is time that the government took responsibility for the very fishermen who it is supposed to be representing.

The Late Mr. J. Chester Macrae October 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the citizens of New Brunswick and the constituents of the former federal riding of York—Sunbury are mourning the death of long-time resident and friend, John Chester MacRae. The former member of Parliament and D-Day veteran died this past Sunday after a brief illness.

John Chester MacRae was born in Hope-Town, Quebec, received his education at Campbellton High School and the provincial Normal School in Fredericton. He taught in the public school system until 1940 when his regiment was called out to active service. He served in Britain and France, going into France on D-Day. For service in France he was awarded the Military Cross and after his return to Canada received the Efficiency Decoration.

J. Chester MacRae continued his interest in the military after the war and throughout his life with his final appointment being honorary Colonel of the First Battalion, the Royal New Brunswick Regiment (Carleton and York).

J. Chester MacRae was elected to the House of Commons in 1957, won five subsequent elections and retired undefeated in 1972.

Former New Brunswick Premier Hugh John Flemming once described Chester MacRae as being a man who it was a privilege and pleasure to know, stating that “he was a great Canadian, distinguished in everything he's ever undertaken”.

People from the Fredericton area will always remember Chester MacRae for his dry wit. He once said “My relationship with the Conservative Party was a happy and cordial one, although elections to me were agony.”

As a long-time member of the Royal Canadian Legion he served as branch president, provincial president, grand patron and a life member of the St. Machar Masonic Lodge, Aberdeen, Scotland.

In one of his final speeches in the House 31 years ago, he reflected on a wide range of matters, some of which are very relevant today. He spoke on the issue of the population explosion, of the need for peace in the world, on the equality of all races, and the matter dearest to his heart, the veterans of Canada and, indeed, the veterans of all countries. He stated in this Chamber that those veterans who were prisoners of war underwent greater hardships than perhaps any of the rest of us who were privileged to serve in World War II.

The people of Fredericton and the people of New Brunswick will long remember J. Chester MacRae for his dedication, his service, his kindness and that rare quality, his heroism.

Chet MacRae is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mina Catherine Gerrard MacRae, one daughter Marjory Ann and her husband Jack Patterson of Vancouver, one daughter-in-law Darlene MacRae of Saint John, 10 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Chet MacRae would want to be remembered as an ordinary Canadian who served his country well. This he did.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act October 7th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, under the rules of the House, there should be a minister present and I believe that is not the case.

Member For Saint John October 2nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer a tribute to the member for Saint John.

Recently the international leader of the Salvation Army, General Paul A. Rader, conferred on the member for Saint John the Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service. This is the highest recognition the Salvation Army awards to a non-Salvationist.

The member's contribution to local and national public service is well known, in particular her years as a very progressive mayor of Saint John. The Salvation Army was pleased to recognize her dedicated and practical service to mankind by awarding her this distinction.

The member for Saint John is only the 57th Canadian to be inducted into the Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service and the first person in Saint John. The award is well deserved and we are very proud of her.

Members of the Salvation Army are here with us today in the gallery and I wish to welcome them to this Chamber.

Points Of Order October 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, again it goes back to question period and the purpose of question period.

Mr. Speaker, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that question period is there so the opposition to take the government to task for deeds it has either done or not done and answer to the people of Canada.

What confuses me in this whole process is in the last number of days we have had questions thrown at the ministers in advance. In other words, backbench members of the government are putting on average two questions a day and the ministers are absolutely prepared in advance and actually reading from statements—

Health October 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

During the election campaign the Liberal government promised a national pharmacare program but obviously had no idea of how it could or would be funded. To add to this, it had virtually no agreement with the provinces or territories with regard to implementation or compliance.

Is the government serious about its commitment to a pharmacare program, or is it just another campaign promise—