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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Kootenay—Columbia (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions September 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have the privilege of presenting three petitions.

The first petition has five pages. The majority of Canadians respect the sanctity of human life and whereas human life at the preborn stage is not protected in Canadian society, therefore your petitioners pray that Parliament act immediately to extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human beings to unborn human beings.

Witness Protection Act September 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in support of this private member's bill and the initiative taken by the hon. member. One of the most amazing things to me is having had the opportunity now to take a look at this, I would suggest to all members that they probably have a number of people currently in their constituencies falling through the cracks relative to this issue.

Most of us are involved with people in our society who are supposedly the law-abiding people, the upstanding citizens, the people we never hear about in the courts. Certainly we never read about them in the paper. As we are all aware with criminal justice there are situations in our constituencies that require the attention of the police and the courts and of course all of us want to see justice done correctly.

Part of the justice system are the witnesses who come before the courts. They are a very important part, at the risk of stating the obvious, to getting the convictions we would like to have in our criminal justice system for those who are guilty of a crime.

The information these witnesses provide is absolutely invaluable to crack the case. Unfortunately, however, it is very obvious that we would end up in a situation of tremendous fear on the part of some individuals when they are confronted with a situation of facing the accused in a court or coming forward with information. They have tremendous fear and very understandable fear.

I happened to notice in the Edmonton Journal this last weekend that there was a case of an individual who on September 6, 1988 got four months in custody for uttering threats, carrying a concealed weapon, failing to comply. On February 10, 1989 this person was sentenced for six months open custody for forcible confinement and assault with a weapon. On September 20, 1989 this person was sentenced for two months open custody for solicitation, and on and on. There are four more cases on top of the first three I have outlined. Then on September 9, 1992 this person was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $400 for uttering threats against a woman police believed might implicate this person in a murder.

We have seen particularly in western Canada very successful so-called crime stopper programs in which crimes are brought forward on television. People are encouraged to come forward and act as witnesses but the difficulty is that even if they come forward in confidence, even if they come forward in secrecy, even if they provide the information in such a way that it will result in a conviction, it is not infrequent that mistakes will occur in the investigation or mistakes can occur in the court where the name of that person who has come forward as a good responsible Canadian citizen suddenly is applied in court. Then the accused person at that point, particularly if it leads to a conviction, is fully aware of where the information came from. Fear is an absolute factor in this equation.

Right at the moment this is a police responsibility, and as the member from Quebec stated, this leads to a patchwork, very spasmodic kind of a system. It leads to inconsistency from jurisdiction to jurisdiction because there will be different attitudes on the part of different police departments even throughout our constituencies. There will also be different budget constraints and respective police forces will have different attitudes toward the issue of budgets.

Another problem that currently exists is what I call the 97 per cent factor. I have been led to believe on the basis of research I did before speaking to this issue that 97 per cent of the people who would be protected by the witness protection act are people who were involved in some kind of criminal activity with respect to the issue that would be before the court.

It becomes part of the plea bargain or it becomes part of the "if you will give us this evidence in court to lead to this conviction, although you were involved" and this bargaining goes back and forth.

I suggest with police being human beings they would undoubtedly have an attitude problem from time to time with some of the people they would be using in an attempt to gain convictions because the people they are dealing with as far as they are concerned do not fall into the responsible citizen category.

This legislation would lead to a specific protection department. I support it because it would be separate from the police force for the reasons I have just outlined. This protection department for witnesses would also, in my judgment, be best served by getting people who are trained in counselling.

Can we imagine the stress on individuals of coming forward as a witness, particularly in very serious crimes or crimes where there are tremendous numbers of people involved? I see the witness protection department as having counsellors who are trained.

By having a department separate from the police forces, we would not only gain uniformity of application across the country, but it would give us an opportunity to develop some kind of standard policy across Canada.

The Reform Party, of course, is noted for always talking about how much it is going to cost. With the current incarceration and rehabilitation programs for people who are convicted of criminal offences we are currently looking at an expenditure of about $2 billion. In the area of enforcement under federal jurisdiction alone we are looking at a cost, I believe, of about $1.7 billion.

What we should be doing with the $1.7 billion is looking at the cost effectiveness of using dollars where people would have confidence in a witness protection plan to be able to come forward. I cannot help but think that this would have a direct impact on being able to roll back the cost of some investigations, where the investigations would not have to go forward at continuing cost because people would feel comfortable in coming forward.

The relocation of a witness is an issue. Again I suggest that within the $2 billion which we are currently spending on incarceration and rehabilitation, we should be able with some ease to find some dollars for the issue of relocation of witnesses.

In conclusion, the sentence that a criminal receives for his or her criminal activity is measured in months and years. I suggest that the sentence that a witness gets is a life sentence, particularly in situations where the person who is convicted of a crime makes it very clear that he or she is going to continue to pursue the witness. We must set up retraining for these people to get them from the field that they are currently working into another field. This would help to isolate them from their previous situation. We must set up documents, set up protection for the people who we are asking to be witnesses in these criminal cases.

I look forward to the thoughtful support of all members to move this bill forward to committee.

Criminal Code September 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I understand the motivation of the member and that behind this legislation. The motivation is to work against discrimination, to protect people who are of a visible minority within our society. I understand that completely.

What Canadians want are safe streets. A person who is beaten up, a person who has cracked ribs, a person who has his teeth jammed down his throat with an iron pipe has his teeth jammed down his throat with an iron pipe. The minute this House walks away from the fundamental principle that all Canadians are equal regardless of race, language, creed, colour, religion or gender, and we make more worthy victims than others, we are on absolutely indefensible ground.

Criminal Code September 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that virtually every time we have a debate on criminal justice reform we keep on hearing that the Reform Party is just talking about the sensational.

We fully recognize there is a segment of the population that has gone through an unfortunate situation in terms of education, economics, or their upbringing which will have an impact. Everyone of those people who is in a disadvantaged state in Canada has the opportunity to move forward and get ahead.

Not all of them fall through the cracks. With respect to the specific question, of course I do not have that answer at my fingertips. With the greatest respect, I would suggest that probably the member having walked into this House as I did at some point in time today probably also does not happen to have those numbers at his fingertips.

If this Parliament really wants to focus on reason and compassion, I wonder if just once this government might be able to have reason and compassion for the victim. I wonder if just once this Parliament would talk about bringing in the same kind of resources.

I said in my speech very clearly that I was not critcizing the fact that this criminal behind bars had ended up getting his university degree. I was not criticizing that. I was asking what resources were made available to the victims of his terrible crime. I would suggest not many.

The last time I spoke on this issue I believe we were talking about the Young Offenders Act. It was a Thursday. Perhaps some of the Liberal members will recall that this was immediately preceding their convention here in Ottawa.

It was very instructive because we brought up what the members consistently called sensational things, that we were off base, that the only place where there is any problem with the Young Offenders Act is in the constituencies that have a Reform Party member, that we were completely out to lunch is exactly what we are hearing from the other side the entire day.

It was really quite instructive that at the conclusion of their tête-à-tête in Ottawa the Prime Minister stood up and said: "We have suddenly discovered on the basis of the input that we have received from these Liberal members that we have a problem with crime. Therefore this is what we are going to be doing".

It turns out that maybe the problem was not isolated to the 52 constituencies that are represented by Reform. Maybe it is a problem with the balance of constituencies that do perhaps need the Q-tips I was offering.

Criminal Code September 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in a document published in May 1993 from Ottawa the Prime Minister, in an election mood at the time, said: "Safe streets and homes should be a basic right of every Canadian". As he noted Canada's 40 per cent increase in violent crime he said: "Since 1984, the Conservative government has done almost nothing to combat the growing crime rate except half measures and lots of macho talk".

The Prime Minister has served Canada in this House for over 20 years. Perhaps some of the influence of the Conservatives in proposing half measures has rubbed off on the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

Bill C-41 in its intent and as far as it goes has many things that are supportable. I submit, however, that with this as with other legislation currently before the House, the Liberals are consistent. They are moving. I believe that is because the Reform Party members are listening to their constituents and are saying things on the floor of the House of Commons that typically have never been said here before. Through the pressure of the voice of Canadians being brought to this Chamber by the Reform Party the government is moving but, I submit, in half measures.

Let us reflect also on what my leader, the member for Calgary Southwest, was saying in 1992. While speaking in Belleville, Ontario on the issue of reforming the criminal justice system he proposed the two following things:

Number one: Reformers believe that a better balance should be struck between the amounts of public money spent on the apprehension, care and protection of the perpetrators of crime and the amount of public resource spent on helping the victims of crime. Combined federal and provincial spending on jails alone is about $2 billion a year. Police spending is $1.7 billion for the federal government alone. The court costs another several hundred million dollars each year, whereas the resources committed to helping or compensating the victims of crime are minimal.

The second thing he said was that sentencing and parole procedures should be reformed. He said: "We have proposed that automatic parole be eliminated altogether; that 25 per cent time off for good behaviour be the maximum amount by which a sentence can be reduced; and that sentencing guidelines for judges and juries be improved to ensure greater certainty and consistency in sentencing".

These proposals are in line with the recommendations made by the Canadian Sentencing Commission in 1987 but largely ignored by the federal government.

I believe that in 1993 when my leader made those comments that they were reflecting the values and judgment of Canadians just as they reflect those same values today in a more substantive way than is evident in the bill currently being considered by the House, which I have judged to be a half measure.

On the first issue raised by my leader that there must be a better balance struck between the money spent on criminals and their victims, I would like to present a couple of ideas. First, I think quite frankly that there is a problem in our wonderful free and democratic society with our news gathering systems and media. They have to set their own agenda and perhaps have to sell their newspapers or their advertising time on television.

Unfortunately, we have articles, for example from the Ottawa Sun on March 12, 1994, a two-page article outlining communications telling of a complex person expecting to emerge from jail as though her past and her crimes will be erased. It published a whole series of Karla Homolka's letters. In those letters there appeared, for example: That card fits perfectly with my Mickey Mouse posters. Hey, I'm getting Sesame Street towels and sheets on Friday. My room is going to be the most juvenile in the whole institution but, hey, I like it that way.'' Another letter:I'm growing bangs, or at least I am trying to''.

This kind of sensationalism by the news media in my judgment does a major disservice to this whole issue. I believe that the fundamental tenets of our society are based on freedom of speech and access to information. But I challenge the news media in the way that it takes that information, distorts it, twists it, sensationalizes it and sells more issues of its newspapers by so doing. I do not think that is excusable.

However, there are responsible articles. I refer in the context of this speech to one from the Toronto Star dated June 26, 1994. I read in part:

Rick Sauve, serving a life term for murder, is the first lifer in Canada to earn a university degree behind bars.

Friedman, one of the people who was an instructor to him and who used to teach classes inside prison, said:

The greatest reward is when I talk to someone who has gotten an assignment back and they have got a 65 per cent and they are pleased as punch and say `wow, I can compete with those guys'. It literally brings tears to your eyes.

Claire Culhane of the prisoner rights group in Vancouver believes strongly that the public should support prisoners' attempts to get post secondary education. Our policy now is to warehouse them. If you are doing 10 or 20 years, are you supposed to sit there and vegetate? If they do not want tension in prisons they have to provide something for everyone.

The second part of the article is that in May Sauve was granted the right to apply for parole. A hearing will be held later this year.

There are two fundamental problems here. I do not want to comment on the issue of this prisoner receiving the ability to be able to have the resources to get his university degree but I suggest that it is hard to imagine that the family of Rick Sauve's murder victim earned a university degree at government expense as a result of the loss of their loved one. What has the government been doing in terms of looking after them in the same way that the offender is currently being looked after?

I am not discussing the issue of whether Rick Sauve should have worked for his university degree. The issue I am raising in this case, as in others like it, is how much time, money and government resource is put at the disposal of victims versus the money and resources put at the disposal of the perpetrators.

The second issue is what my colleague from Fraser Valley West said on Tuesday. He made it very emphatic. Life is life, or at least it should be. Yet we see from this article that Rick Sauve was granted the right to apply for parole. We see a measure in this legislation that victims will be allowed to make representation at section 745 hearings.

While this is an improvement I believe that section 745 should be repealed in its entirety. The judge at the presiding jury or judge trial should have the ability to be able to set the sentence. The sentence should not be overridden at some future

point in time by people who were not party to the case in the first place.

This brings me to the second issue which my leader raised. Surely there must be some ultimate protection for law-abiding members of society.

In a paper produced by the MacKenzie Institute entitled "Streets of Fear, the Failure of the Criminal Justice System" the author, Brode, cited some very interesting examples of the problems with sentencing procedures in Canada.

Two Nova Scotia cases recently underline the inadequate judicial response to attacks on women. In Regina v. Swinamer a man forced his estranged wife into a truck and threatened to kill her. She escaped. Charged with unlawful confinement he was released on condition that he have no contact with his wife. Again he captured her. He drove her to a secluded area and raped her.

At his sentencing the court considered the offender's situation, that he had already spent five months in custody and had a good work record. His sentence, three months' imprisonment and 19 months' probation.

In Regina v. Desmond the husband had severely beaten his wife, thrown her out of the house. She suffered a fractured shoulder and pneumothorax of the lung.

Again it was the offender's situation that mattered for the trial judge considered that it was his first offence of this type and that he could lose his job if in prison. His sentence, 90 days to be served on weekends and two years' probation. This man except by the grace of God would have murdered his wife and he gets 90 days' sentence and two years on probation.

In my home town of Cranbrook this past weekend there was a march of citizens concerned about family violence. They were looking for changes in the criminal justice system and to see that inadequate sentencing for sexual assault is carried over into sentences for spousal abuse.

At an Ottawa conference on women's safety a couple of years ago Chief Brian Ford said that a first offence for assault on a wife usually results in a suspended sentence. Those for drunk driving are stiffer. Inexcusable.

What the government today is missing is the understanding that the late Judge Les Bewley observed, and I quote: "The control or reduction of crime depends on three essential elements: the certainty of detection of the offender; the speediness of the trial; and the certainty of punishment". He goes on to say: "These were all observed and taken for granted 30 or 40 years ago". Not any more.

I would like to introduce for consideration of members today the concept of retribution because the Liberal concentration has totally smothered this concept.

Take for example events which occurred in 1989 and 1990 in Perth, Ontario. Kenneth McLean, the convicted killer of Ruth Moore, had originally been convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 13 years. McLean had told friends: "If I cannot have her, nobody else can". He strangled her and then stabbed Ruth 24 times.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a new trial because of technical errors in the judge's rulings. At his retrial McLean pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and thereby became eligible for parole in another 18 months or released on mandatory supervision in three years. In effect, he would serve six and a half years for Ruth Moore's death.

The victim's family was outraged and violence almost erupted in the courtroom when the new sentence was imposed. The presiding judge, Dan Chilcott, sympathized with the family. He told them he understood their feelings of outrage but then he added: "Retribution plays no part in our system as far as I am concerned".

About retribution the Mackenzie Institute says: "Retribution is the root of society's motivation to punish those who seriously breach our standards of accepted conduct. Retribution is not revenge, for revenge is arbitrary and self-seeking. Retribution is a measured response to a past offence imposed after due process and it is proportional to the gravity of the offence. It does not gratify individual loss. It enforces the legal order and reflects society's abhorrence to violence. To grant lenient sentences is to say that violent acts are acceptable and are not to be truly punished".

Again, there was a recent incident in my hometown of Cranbrook. An individual had been sitting with his ex-girlfriend. She decided to have a bath. Following an argument he went in and shoved her face down in the water. She smothered to death. I grant you he confessed to the crime, but after both the crown prosecutor and the defence asked for a five-year sentence for this murder, the judge in his wisdom said: "Oh, no that is not good enough. We are going to give seven years". What is this? What is a life worth?

When we have lost the concept of retribution, of making the penalty fit the crime, we have lost an essential element of our judicial system. All judges should understand they are on the bench to administer retribution. Courts do not exist to sympathize with the criminal, but to adequately punish for a wrongdoing.

The greatest deterrent to crime is not necessarily the severity of punishment, rather it is the certainty of punishment. The prevailing system of parole and automatic remission of sentence has made punishment uncertain and in many cases unlikely. The

danger lurking in the criminal's mind that he will pay the prescribed penalty for his act simply is not there. He knows the parole system will spare him even in so-called life imprisonment. The criminal justice system therefore becomes a deception. It leads the public into believing that criminals are being punished and it shields the criminal from paying the penalty.

I wish to introduce the major reason I will vote against this bill and in conclusion I want to briefly address the declaration of this bill, that where crimes are motivated by hate this is deemed to be an aggravating factor. The minute this House strays from the fundamental principle that all Canadians are equal regardless of race, language, creed, colour, gender or religion, we open up the entire Pandora's box of inequality.

Let me give an example which was reported in

B.C. Report magazine on September 12 of this year. George Mammolitti, the 32-year old NDP MPP from Toronto who spoke out forcefully against Ontario's same sex benefits law before it was defeated in June has been the target of harassment, abuse and threats.

The magazine reported that after the defeat of the bill Mr. Mammolitti received about 300 abusive and threatening phone calls often in the middle of the night. Many of the callers uttered racist epithets and told Mr. Mammolitti to go back to Italy. He was also sent a handwritten note containing a threat to kill him in front of his children. Police determined the note had been mailed near the legislature but were unable to determine who had sent it.

Mr. Mammolitti has call display telephones in his office. As a result, Craig Smith, assistant to the associate culture minister, Shirley Coppen, was found to be responsible for at least some of the abusive calls Mr. Mammolitti had received. When Mr. Smith was approached he admitted to making the calls. He was suspended with pay for three days and no criminal charges were laid.

The hate provision strides into very dangerous territory. It pits members of supposed majorities against citizens of appointed minorities. A victim is a victim and a perpetrator is a perpetrator. If the shoe had been on the other foot, if Mr. Mammolitti supposedly representing the majority of Canadians had been going after Mr. Smith supposedly representing the minority of Canadians, Mr. Mammolitti would have been in serious trouble. As it is, it does not work that way.

What are we doing getting into this with this kind of judicial law? When a person's head is kicked in, it is kicked in. Curbing is a very gross action which I believe is coming out of the slums of New York or the American inner cities. The victim is put down with the back of his head to a curb and then someone applies boots to his forehead with great force. Something has to give. A murder of that type occurred in Coquitlam within the last three months.

Now I ask: What possible service does this law serve? If the people going through due process are convicted of that crime, what possible service does it serve our society? Does it serve the victim's relatives? Does it serve the offenders if the judgment of the penalty is based on whether the victim was an identifiable minority? Clearly these people did it out of hate. Was the victim just an ordinary guy and these were a bunch of goofball fools who took this person's life? Well that is okay, we do not have to give them as tough a penalty I suppose but remember, the victim is still dead.

We are entering into very dangerous territory with this particular provision in the bill. I truly understand the motivation, but my father said it best: You cannot legislate morality.

In conclusion this is a situation of half measures. It is dangerous because it raises expectations of citizens. That leads to lost hope which when these half measures do not work leads to loss of faith in law and order.

If I could have the attention of members opposite I will make them an offer. I will provide the Q-tips for cabinet if they pledge to use them so they can hear what ordinary citizens are saying. Canadians want an end to the half measures this bill represents.

Immigration Act September 19th, 1994

That is caucus co-ordinator.

Immigration Act September 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member for Vancouver East will probably be interested in having the House know, she and I occasionally share time together on a radio commentary show on CBC out of Vancouver. I have grown to respect her and her qualities as I have with many people not only in this House but in Canada. They have come to Canada and made this country great. They have contributed to this country. I stand very firmly behind the people who have done exactly that. They come to Canada to make it the great country that it is.

Would the hon. member not agree there are some people in Canada, again a small minority I am sure, who might want to equate immigrant to criminal or refugee to criminal. The member spoke of confidence. I wonder if she would agree that by having more precise laws, by having a better law than the one we are currently debating, by having a law that has more teeth which would do away with the abject abuses that our member from Fraser Valley West was talking about, would accomplish exactly what she and I want to achieve, that is, to be able to say truly that people coming to Canada are coming to build Canada, make it stronger and a better place for all of us to live.

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, that is part of the question that I posed at the outset and why I have clearly stated that I have no position, that I am ambivalent. There is a principle involved, the secondary principle that I did not speak to earlier which is the fact that we effectively were rewarding people for being involved. I am talking about ordinary citizens who were going out and purchasing the illegal cigarettes. We actually rewarded those people by taking taxes off. It seems to me that the principle is all wrong.

Principle is one thing, but when I speak to doctors, nurses and medical practitioners and they tell me of the difficulties that this is going to create by not lowering the taxes I fully recognize that there is a physical reality here. I stand to be convinced but nonetheless I am taking a look at the fact that again we have combined the tobacco taxes with the air tax, with the GST rebate and we will be voting as best we can on what is a poorly cobbled piece of legislation.

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in this instance we have spoken about the connection or the user pay principle. I am wondering if there is not something that we could be taking a look at with respect to a direct connection between their cost of doing business. In the same way that we have no deposit, no return, in other words a deposit system on bottles, cans or glasses, in the same way that we have been talking about user pay for air transportation tax, I am wondering if we could not be seriously taking a look at the connection between the taxes that we should

be levying on tobacco and see them as a specific piece of revenue that would be going toward health care costs.

Additionally, one of the interesting things coming out around the world in all commodities, for example the forest product companies in Canada, is that there has been a glare of light in some of their practices that historically have been unacceptable and have actually been poor for our ecology. In the same way that there has been this glare of light suddenly these companies have taken on the responsibility of responsible sustainable forest practices. They are very proud to be able to show people in their communities and to put on demonstrations of how they are being responsible at this point.

In addition to the actual financial suasion of a tax connection, such as I have just spoken about together with the moral suasion, that is, making them have more of a feeling and an acknowledgement of responsibility for what their product is doing within our community, that is part of the answer.

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned at the outset, the difficulty is that when one combines the issue of tobacco taxes with airport tax, air transportation taxes and GST changes for meal allowance, it clearly is unworkable.

The simple answer would be to have brought them forward as three totally separate bills so that they could have been handled and discussed with more intelligence.

The other factor I question is why the government would have chosen to pull C-32 with the tobacco taxes together with these at this time and why it would not have brought it forward at the same time when Bill C-11 was brought forward. Again, as memory serves, from Bill C-11 there were some aspects that were totally supportable but on the other side of the coin there were some serious problems and there was a balance. Had we the opportunity for the section on tobacco taxes of Bill C-32 being combined with Bill C-11, I believe this House would have been able to have much more intelligent deliberation.