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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was agreement.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Independent MP for Simcoe—Grey (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 14% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation) November 25th, 2009

moved that Bill C-58, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak in support of government Bill C-58, the child protection act.

I think everyone in this House would agree there is no greater duty for us as elected officials than to ensure the protection of children, the most precious and vulnerable members of our society.

The creation of the Internet, particularly the creation of the World Wide Web, has provided new means for offenders to distribute and consume child pornography, resulting in significant increases in the availability and volume of child pornography.

While Canada has one of the most comprehensive frameworks in the world to combat child pornography, we can and must do better in protecting children from sexual exploitation. This proposed new federal statute before us today would enhance Canada's capacity to better protect children from sexual exploitation by requiring suppliers of Internet services to report Internet child pornography.

Bill C-58 would strengthen Canada's ability to detect potential child pornography offences; help reduce the availability of online child sexual abuse; facilitate the identification, apprehension and prosecution of offenders; and, most importantly, help identify the victims so they may be rescued from sadistic pedophiles.

Less than a week ago, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection released a report that included an overview of the information received through reports to Cybertip.ca. Cybertip.ca is Canada's tipline for reporting online child sexual exploitation, in particular, child pornography, online luring, child exploitation through prostitution, travelling sex offenders and child trafficking.

I will quote from this report, which contains absolutely shocking information about the prevalence of online sexual assault and the distribution of these images:

The results of this assessment provide some disturbing data on the issue of child abuse images. Most concerning is the severity of abuse depicted, with over 35% of all images showing serious sexual assaults. Combined with the age ranges of the children in the images, we see that children under 8 years old are most likely to be abused through sexual assaults. Even more alarming is the extreme sexual assaults which occur against children under the age of 8 years. These statistics challenge the misconception that child pornography consists largely of innocent or harmless nude photographs of children.

The Cybertip.ca report reinforces similar findings revealed this past summer in the special report of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, “Every Image, Every Child”.

This report, which provided an overview of the problem of Internet-facilitated child sexual abuse, revealed that the number of charges for production and distribution of child pornography increased 900% between 1998 and 2003. Moreover, between 2003 and 2007, the number of images of serious child abuse quadrupled. Additionally, the images are becoming more violent and the photos are featuring younger children.

Canadians would be appalled to know that 39% of those accessing child pornography were viewing images of children between the ages of three and five, and 19% were viewing images of infants under three years old.

Here are a few other facts from the report. Commercial child pornography is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. There are over 750,000 pedophiles online at any given time. Thousands of new images or videos are put on the Internet every week, and hundreds of thousands of searches for child sexual abuse are performed daily. Offenders may have collections of over a million child sexual abuse images. An image of a four year old girl in diapers has been shared an estimated 800,000 times. Most child sexual abuse image producers are known to the victims.

The most disturbing revelation in the ombudsman's report comes in the form of a quote from Ontario Provincial Police detective inspector Angie Howe. When she appeared before a Senate committee in 2005, she said:

The images are getting more violent and the children in the photos are getting younger. As recently as one year ago, we did not see pictures with babies, where now it is normal to see babies in many collections that we find. There is even a highly sought-after series on the Internet of a newborn baby being violated. She still has her umbilical cord attached; she is that young.

We must do everything within our power to put a stop to this growing problem. That is why our government has introduced legislation to create a uniform mandatory reporting regime across Canada.

It is important to note that the measures proposed in Bill C-58 build upon our existing comprehensive measures to better protect all children against sexual exploitation through child pornography.

Canadian criminal laws against child pornography are among the most comprehensive in the world and apply to representations involving real and imaginary children. Section 163.1 of the Criminal Code prohibits all forms of making, distributing, transmitting, accessing, selling, advertising, exporting, importing and possessing child pornography. It broadly defines child pornography that includes visual, written and audio depictions of sexual abuse of a young person under the age of 18 years, that advocates or counsels such unlawful activity, or that has descriptions of such unlawful activity as its predominant focus.

All child pornography offences are punishable by significant penalties, including a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment upon indictment for the offences of making and distributing child pornography.

Since 2005, all child pornography offences impose a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment and, as a result, convicted child pornographers are not eligible to receive a conditional sentence, for example, house arrest.

As well, the commission of any child pornography offence with the intent to profit is an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

Also, since 2005, sentencing courts are required to give primary consideration to the sentencing objectives of denunciation and deterrence in sentencing for an offence involving the abuse of a child.

This government also recognizes that more is needed to combat this scourge than just strong criminal laws. That is why, in December 2008, we renewed the federal government's national strategy to protect children from sexual exploitation on the Internet. Initially launched in 2004, and under the lead of the Minister of Public Safety, this strategy is providing $42.1 million over five years to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre to provide law enforcement with better tools and resources to address Internet-based child sexual exploitation, enhance public education and awareness, and support the national launch and ongoing operation of Cybertip.ca as a national 24/7 tipline for reporting the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.

As announced in budget 2007 and rolled out in 2008, we have allocated an additional $6 million per year to strengthen initiatives to combat the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. These funds are being used to augment the overall capacity of the NCECC, as well as to specifically enhance its ability to identify, and ultimately rescue, child victims through the analysis of images seized from sex offenders, captured on the Internet or received from international law enforcement agencies.

The international community has also recognized that the protection of our children is of paramount importance in the many treaties that address the issue. In particular, the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime seeks to standardize a definition of child pornography and offences related to child pornography in an attempt to foster international cooperation for crimes against the world's children. The legislation introduced in the House yesterday would further enhance our ability to cooperate with our international partners in the fight to eradicate this violence.

I would now like to describe how this piece of legislation will work.

First, the bill focuses on the Internet and those who supply Internet services to the public, because the widespread adoption of the Internet is largely responsible for the growth in child pornography crimes over the last 10 years or so. Because suppliers of Internet services are uniquely placed to discover child pornography crimes, because they provide Canadians with the Internet services through which child pornography crimes can be committed, the bill imposes upon them a duty to report or notify.

It should be noted that this act will cover more than just ISPs. The term ISP usually refers to those who provide access to the Internet, in other words, the wires that go into our homes or apartments. This bill applies to all persons who supply an Internet service to the public. While this includes ISPs, it also includes those who supply electronic mail services such as webmail, Internet content hosting, which would include web server farms and co-location facilities, and social networking sites on which the public can upload material to an Internet service.

Furthermore, the act would apply to those who provide complimentary Internet services to the public, such as cybercafés, hotels, restaurants and public libraries. This wide application will ensure that the act has as broad a scope as possible and will eliminate as many pedophile safe havens as possible.

Under this new federal statute, suppliers of an Internet service will have a duty to comply with a number of requirements.

First, they will be required to report to a designated agency whenever they are advised of any Internet addressing information relating to a website where child pornography may be found. To be clear, it is only the Internet addressing information that they will be required to report to the designated agency. No personal information will be sent to the designated agency.

This has to be done for two reasons. First, in order to perform the triage function of determining where this material resides, the designated agency does not need any additional information. Second and most importantly, since the designated agency does not need personal information to fulfill its duties, which will be articulated in the regulations, to protect the privacy of Canadians, no personal information will be passed on by the supplier of the Internet service to the designated agency.

Although the regulations have not yet been finalized, it is anticipated that the main role of the designated agency will be to, first, determine if the Internet addressing information actually leads to child pornography as defined by the Criminal Code, and second, to determine the actual geographic location of the web servers hosting the material. The designated agency would then refer the report on to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

The second duty proposed by Bill C-58 would require persons who supply Internet services to the public to notify police when they have reasonable grounds to believe that a child pornography offence has been committed using their Internet service.

For example, if an email provider, while conducting routine maintenance for its mail servers, found a user's mailbox filled with child pornography, it would then be required to notify police that it had grounds to believe that a child pornography offence had been committed. This duty, which falls under clause 4 of this proposed new federal statute, also comes with an additional duty to preserve this information for 21 days once the email provider had notified police.

In order to ensure that the privacy rights of Canadians would not be unduly impacted, the person who notified police would also be required to destroy any information that would not be retained in the ordinary course of business after the expiry of the 21 days, or continue to safeguard the information if a further court order were obtained in relation to that information. Any person who made a notification to police under this act would also be required not to disclose the fact that he or she had made such a notification.

Bill C-58 was also crafted with the following overarching principles in mind.

This legislation should not contribute to the consumption or further dissemination of child pornography. In accordance with this principle, among other things, the bill explicitly states that it does not require or authorize any person to seek out child pornography. In addition to this, the duties were crafted in a manner that would not require a person who supplies an Internet service to do any personal investigation.

They are not required to verify Internet addressing information when they must report to an agency, and they are required to notify police only when they become aware that a child pornography offence has been committed using their Internet service.

The last feature of the bill that I would like to talk about this afternoon is the offences and the penalties.

Any person who knowingly contravenes his or her duties under this act is liable on summary conviction to a graduated penalty scheme, starting with fines of up to $1,000 for a first offence to $5,000 for a second offence with the possibility of a $10,000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to six months for a third and subsequent offence.

Increased penalties are available for corporations and these, in the same manner, are $10,000, $50,000 and $100,000 respectively. The two-tier penalty scheme recognizes the diverse landscape of Canada's service provider community which ranges from large multi-national corporations to sole-proprietorships. While some might argue that these penalties are relatively minor, the government believes that they strike the balance between sending a message to suppliers of Internet services that they have a social, moral and now legal duty to report this heinous material when they encounter it and the real focus of the bill which is compliance.

This government wants to ensure that not only the major ISPs, that already voluntarily report and assist policy, comply but that all suppliers of Internet services in Canada comply so that we can further the goal of better protecting our children.

I hope that all parties and all members of Parliament will provide support for Bill C-58.

Status of Women November 25th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I again will note for the member that each member of the House is able to have his or her own opinion. It does not mean it represents that of the government.

What I will highlight is that this government, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, has made significant investments in Status of Women Canada. We have three pillars of focus: economic security, violence against women, and women in leadership roles.

We also have the highest percentage of women in cabinet in Canada's history, and the highest level of funding at Status of Women Canada in Canada's history, with an increase in the number of grassroots organizations that are now able to receive funding to support the most vulnerable women in Canadian society.

Status of Women November 25th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I note for the member that all members of Parliament in the House are required to have their own opinion. It does not mean it is the opinion of the government.

Status of Women November 25th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for the work that she has done to end violence against women.

For Status of Women Canada, one of our key pillars is ending violence against women. We are in fact supporting hundreds of projects across the country that address the number of faces of violence against women and children.

We have also taken a number of initiatives. We have introduced and passed the Tackling Violent Crime Act. We have made significant investments in policing. We are supporting Sisters in Spirit. We also introduced most recently Bill C-42 to end house arrest and conditional sentences for violent sexual crimes. We hope the opposition will support us.

Fairness for the Self-Employed Act November 5th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I do not have enough time to highlight everything that we have done.

I would like to point out, however, that recently the third edition of the pink book was distributed. To be perfectly honest, I can understand how many of the Liberal women were probably upset, because once again they were relegated to the back pink room, handed a pink pad of paper and asked to write down, for the third time, the list of Liberal broken promises made to women over the past decade-plus. It is shameful. It is unfortunate.

It is this Conservative government that not only has delivered on every promise that it has made to women but it is working to ensure that women have the opportunity to fully participate in the economic, social, democratic and cultural life of Canada. We have the largest percentage of women in cabinet in Canada's history, the largest increase in funding to Status of Women Canada to support women and the status of women, and the largest amount to hand out to grassroots organizations across the country that the country has ever seen.

We are hearing from these organizations, which are helping women with concrete actions and plans in the individual communities across the country, how pleased they are with this Conservative government and the positive changes that it has made and the work it is doing for all Canadians.

Fairness for the Self-Employed Act November 5th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his important question.

I will highlight for him what Catherine Swift, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, had to say. She said the bill would fill a “glaring gap” for those who run their own business, especially women. She said:

We have a lot of women members. They'd like to have a child and yet abandoning [their] business is not [an option].

This is a strong businesswoman, the president of the CFIB. She has her ear to the public, to the small business people. She clearly knows what they are looking for. Her strong statement highlights that there are a lot of small business people who are members of her organization who have been looking for this.

In addition to that, public opinion research has indicated that 86% of the self-employed support access to sickness benefits, that 84% support access to compassionate care benefits, and that 64% support access to maternity and parental benefits.

This is something that goes back years. Those in small businesses have been calling for it for about 10 years. There have been a number of reports, even specifically on women and women in business, indicating that they have been asking for this initiative. It is clearly something that they want.

It depends on the uptake. The member knows that. Clearly we can see that there is a strong interest and desire to have this.

Fairness for the Self-Employed Act November 5th, 2009

Madam Speaker, a year ago the Prime Minister said this:

Self-employed Canadians—and those who one day hope to be—shouldn't have to choose between starting a family and starting a business because of government policy....They should be able to pursue their dreams—both as entrepreneurs and as parents.

At the time, Conservatives promised to extend EI maternity and parental benefits to the self-employed. That was our pledge to all Canadians.

Canadians who pay into the EI system now get not only maternity and parental benefits but also compassionate care benefits and sickness benefits. Right now the field is not fair. Those Canadians get more.

We want to do more, we can and we will do more. We are doing more for self-employed Canadians through Bill C-56. Not only will we make maternity and parental benefits available to them, but also those same compassionate care and sickness benefits that most working Canadians already receive. This is both the fair thing and the right thing to do and it is really that simple.

The same relative assurance and stability that most working Canadians have due to these special benefits should be and now will be accorded to the work and lives of the literally millions of self-employed Canadians across the country.

Our Conservative government knows that families are the foundation of our great country and until the introduction of the bill, there was no choice for them at all. Self-employed Canadians have been on their own since the very beginning.

While we certainly have faith in the abilities and the willingness of these Canadians to create jobs, to create wealth and to save and plan for the contingencies of life, successive Canadian governments have done nothing to make things even just a little bit easier; that is, until now.

Bill C-56 amends the Employment Insurance Act to extend to self-employed Canadians similar EI special benefits that employees enjoy on a voluntary basis. These are the benefits that can help them cope with life-changing events and transitions, such as the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, a serious illness or having to care for a family member who is gravely ill.

These benefits have been available in various forms to most working Canadians for a very long time but never to our self-employed. Building this structure to facilitate our self-employed being able to draw on these benefits, if they want to and if they need to, is our government's way of making things a little easier.

There are somewhere around 2.6 million self-employed Canadians in our country. We are talking about over 15% of the workforce. We know that 47% of small business owners are women owned or operated by women. We know that the OECD has cited Canada as having one of the most entrepreneurial women's groups within the OECD developed countries. That is impressive. It is a very large and very important segment of our workforce and an even bigger segment of our entrepreneurial, creative and wealth-producing talent.

They have long asked for this sort of support. Previous governments completely ignored these Canadians and they have for decades. That is stopping right now.

Our government has listened and we have worked hard to create this bill and the structure and now we are delivering results for the self-employed.

In many cases self-employment has meant a new start for people or even a challenge right at the outset of a person's working life. Many of these people are entrepreneurial by nature. They are willing to take risks. They are very creative and they are driven.

I have been a small business owner myself, having been raised in a small business family and coming from a long line of small businesses, namely from a jewellery business, to a local garage owner, to a motel, to a grocery store and to a furniture business. That is the family business I was raised in for 40 years. I often jokingly say that I started in the dusting department and quickly rose and graduated to marketing, sales, finance and so on. A small business person is all of the above.

Many members here, past and present, and I am sure many in the future, too, have run small businesses and perhaps will run a business of their own when they leave this place.

Self-employed people set out to market their skills and their knowledge and the economy is much better for their resourcefulness and determination. In this place we often speak of creating the best trained, most skilled, most flexible workforce in the world. Often it is those very attributes that define the successful self-employed Canadian. They market themselves on their strengths, on their training and their skills and they are certainly among the most flexible people in the labour market.

Self-employed individuals must be ready to take on a very wide range of challenges. Many self-employed individuals find great satisfaction in being their own boss. They enjoy being called in to fix a particular problem for which their background and training make them qualified.

However, as many self-employed people know, and would remind us, this kind of career path can be something like walking a tightrope at times and there is no safety net of benefits to tide them over should difficult times come upon them.

Life transition events can be extremely challenging for those who are self-employed. What do they do when they are sick? Who do they turn to? What do they do when a close family member has been diagnosed with a terminal illness? How do they balance their work and their family responsibilities?

An employee who pays EI premiums has access to EI maternal or paternal benefits when needed. Up to now, self-employed Canadians had no such option. Our Conservative government cares a great deal about the family. We are helping Canadians balance their work and their family responsibilities.

When the Prime Minister first assumed office in 2006, he made child care a priority for our government. Choice and opportunity would be the driving forces behind our government's policies when it came to Canadian families.

When our Conservative government sees such a large number of Canadian workers who might want to raise a family but do not have the kind of supports that they need, especially when those supports are available to other Canadians, we want to ensure we can help them. This situation is particularly acute when we consider how many self-employed Canadians are women.

As Minister of State for the Status of Women, I am proud of what the bill would accomplish for women. This, however, is nothing new because in every action that we have taken as a government, we have advanced the economic, social, cultural and democratic participation of women in this country.

The guiding principle for actions we have taken with respect to women has always been ensuring that the benefits go directly to women and their families. That was why our government chose to provide child care benefits directly to parents. That is why we created two new funding programs at Status of Women Canada: the community grants fund and the partnership fund. We increased the budget for both of these programs so women's organizations across the country could get the assistance they needed in order to help within their own specific communities.

Funding for Status of Women Canada right now is at the highest level in Canada's history. We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of women's organizations across the country that are receiving funding, in fact, a 69% increase. Forty-two per cent of them are receiving money for the first time.

To date, 100,000 women have benefited from these projects, which focus on economic security, ending violence against women and leadership and democratic participation. However, the larger portion is focused on economic security. This includes talking about financial literacy or helping a new businesswoman understand what is required in terms of accounting measures for small business, or, for new immigrants, even knowing where to go to begin that new business.

Over the summer, I had an opportunity to meet with women across the country from all walks of life. I was proud and impressed to hear from so many Canadian women on how they had accomplished so much as small business women and what they were looking for from this government.

I heard time and again that they wanted us to fulfill the promise and the pledge that we made to provide maternal and paternal benefits to the self-employed, and that is exactly what we are doing. We are doing one better. We are also going to provide compassionate benefits, which are important.

Working with businesswomen across the country, being a former owner of a small business and having a Masters in business, I can tell the House that small businesswomen across the country are pleased with this government. They are looking to all members in the House to support the bill.

Status of Women October 29th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, when we became the government, there was absolutely no directive in place whatsoever for gender-based analysis to be done within the challenge agencies.

When we came in, immediately in 2006 in the budget tax measures we started gender-based analysis and continue to do so. Treasury Board submissions in 2007, also now under the leadership of this government, required evidence of gender-based analysis. In 2008 we put a requirement in place that all memoranda of the cabinet would require evidence of gender-based analysis.

We have acted. That is leadership. The member is wrong.

Status of Women October 22nd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberals demonstrated again just how desperate they are by making very careless, very reckless big spending promises in the billions: $6 billion for day care, $4 billion for a 45-day work year.

Canadian women are looking for action, not more Liberal rhetoric. They know that our government is acting on their real concerns, such as child care, the economy, and ensuring we have safer communities. This is real action. This is what women are looking for and it is exactly what they are getting from this government.

Aboriginal Affairs October 8th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, our government takes the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women very seriously.

Sisters in Spirit is a five year project that is in its fifth year. It is a research project. It is a public awareness and education project. It is helping to inform policy recommendations, as well as identify future directions for further investigation.

I would encourage the member to support the work that is spearheaded by the Native Women's Association and allow it to finish this important work.