House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was whether.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Eglinton—Lawrence (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I must first thank, on behalf of all of the committee members, the clerk and analysts who have worked so hard for the committee. I must also thank the members from all four parties for their work in committee, especially during the difficult moments over the past few days.

On their behalf I present, in both official languages, the following report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: the 27th report on Chapter 3, "Service Delivery," of the Fall 2010 Report of the Auditor General of Canada. Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to reflect for but a very brief moment on your service to the House. You and I came here to the House together many years ago; some would say a lot. We faced the challenges of serving the public together in different capacities. On behalf of all of those people who demonstrated confidence in my ability to represent them, I know that they would want me to thank you for the enormous service that you have provided the Canadian public and this great institution, the House of Commons of Canada. Thank you very much.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate and respect the erudite position put forward by my colleague, who is steeped in law and has great courtroom experience. However, I want to take him to the other issue that has arisen as a result of Bill C-60.

He has followed the debate. He knows that the government did not act, as it promised, back in 2009. Then we found out in this debate that the Minister of Justice had actually struck an agreement with his provincial counterparts, including the one in the province where the David Chen case arose. The minister knew then that the case would not be decided negatively and waited while Mr. Chen ran up legal bills in the tens of thousands of dollars to protect his person and property. He knew that and wanted to ensure that the courts reinforced the decision that all the attorneys general had already struck.

I would like the member from Charlottetown to give his perspective on how expenses should be dealt with in all fairness when a private citizen is subject to the courts so that the government can accomplish its objective of testing something that it should already have done on its own and on which it already knew what the result would be. What is his view on that?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Sherbrooke because, just like the members for Richmond—Arthabaska and Saint-Jean, he got right into the details. They have shown the courage and the will to resolve the problem with the principle of this bill.

I want to ask my colleague from Sherbrooke a different question if I can. In this instance we have at least one individual who was engaged in court action to defend his person and property against the very court system that was put in place to defend him. All the while the government knew that he had a very solid position, as evidenced by the court in the month of October.

In fact, the Minister of Justice stood here in front of all his colleagues and said that in the fall of 2009 he had already reached an agreement with the attorneys general of all the provinces, including the province where Monsieur Chen had found himself before the court, that they would change the law in the same way that my colleague from Trinity—Spadina and I had already proposed.

Does he not think there should be a political willingness to do justice and to help the victim by reimbursing him for the thousands of dollars he had to spend?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I could not let this pass without thanking my colleague from Madawaska—Restigouche for giving me such credit. I will return the compliment by complimenting his constituents on having such a great member of Parliament.

My colleague has pointed to a very important issue in this bill. There are three grave shortcomings in the legislation. First, Mr. Chen and others like him were victims of a criminal act. Second, they became victims of the law and the way it was applied. Third, they became victims of government indifference at their own cost in order to rectify an unjust situation.

Knowing that my colleague has been at the forefront of a movement in this place to bring to account both the government and its agents of Parliament, some of them have become agents of the government rather than agents of Parliament, and because he is familiar with hush money put aside for one particular individual, I wonder if he thinks that this might not be yet another case where the government, instead of putting forward hush money, it actually contributed to the cost of having had Mr. Chen proceed through the courts in order to establish the principle of a citizen's arrest under reasonable grounds.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I think that the members in the House need to pay attention to the Bloc member when he says that the devil is in the details.

This could have been a very easy bill to address had the government told everybody that it saw a problem with a specific element in the Criminal Code that it wished to address. It had unanimous support in the House. Witness the two bills by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence and Trinity—Spadina. However, the government has taken a position, and I hope my hon. colleague will comment on this, that the entire Criminal Code needs an uplift, needs sorting out and greater attention, but it has not made the case for this bill.

We are looking for government members and government ministers to convince the House and the general public why the bill needs to be accepted in all its complexity as presented to the House.

The hon. member has just made a compelling case for saying there are very important issues that need to be addressed. The business of citizen's arrest is one of them. It is a crucial one. It tips the balance toward the citizen on reasonable grounds on a case-by-case basis--

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the hon. member's intervention because, with his legal training, he has an insight into the way the law would work, from which other members of Parliament might benefit.

Trying to tap on his expertise, I would like to get his views on whether it has been necessary for this legislation, Bill C-60, to be as expansive as it has become. We were essentially trying to address the issue of a citizen's right to arrest, period, pure and simple. The government has unnecessarily burdened this debate with other issues that will take the public's attention away from a very small amendment to the Criminal Code.

In fact, it is an amendment that had been studied by various university law professors and had been worked on by those associated with Mr. Chen. I compliment Chi-Kun Shi and all her team of legal experts who provided the energy and incentive to Mr. Chen and gave him the courage to stand up to government, to speak truth to power and to ask for a change in law so citizens could be protected.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the hon. colleague is a lawyer and is accustomed to ensuring that precision is part of the presentation. He will recall that, on June 16, I presented a private member's bill to draw the government's attention to the fact that Mr. Chen's case was languishing in a stupor of indifference. The member for Trinity—Spadina followed that up the following September, still in 2010, weeks before Mr. Chen's case appeared in court for deliberation. Still there was no action by the government. Remember, the government says that it is tough on crime, but it is indifferent to victims.

Those of us who really wanted a balanced approach to life were looking for an indication that the government would deliver on its promises, promises made by the Minister of Immigration and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. Even the Justice Minister, in his presentation, indicated that in the fall of 2009 he was already in consultation with the provincial attorneys general to do something, and did nothing. Does the member not find this all strange?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite just raised a very important point, and that is that the SH government has no agenda for getting tough on crime. It does not have a reasonable approach to dealing with crime and promoting justice. In fact, there are no more resources being allocated for justice issues.

How can one be tough except by one's own wrath?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague on attempting to make the legislation relevant to the everyday experiences of ordinary citizens.

Mr. Chen was an ordinary citizen. He had the assurance of the Minister of Immigration that his situation would be rectified very quickly by the Government of Canada, or the SH government. He also had a similar assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

By his own words, we have the Minister of Justice's account that in late 2009 the governments of the various provinces were already coming to a conclusion with regard to this and yet the government did nothing.

I wonder whether the member will comment on why it took two opposition bills in order to prompt the government to action?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I must insist because the issue that caused the bill to come forward is essentially one of a citizen's arrest, in other words, the right of an individual to protect himself as well as his property but, most important, his property at this stage of the game. The government has come forward with legislation that unnecessarily deals with, as the member has noted, a series of issues even though the courts in the David Chen case addressed his issue, which was the reasonableness of the time and the continuity of the actions where, under any normal and reasonable expectation, someone would have found that David Chen actually did protect his property by using all the means available to conduct a citizen's arrest.

Under those circumstances, would he not think that the government is really trying to thwart the will of the courts?