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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was human.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Kildonan—St. Paul (Manitoba)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in this economy, we can always say that we need more money and more police officers. We also need more education. What has happened throughout this Parliament is that our government has educated all of Canada. It takes a nation to stop this kind of thing.

As for the $10 million that keeps coming up, it was not spent by the RCMP. If anyone has ever seen RCMP officers from units like that, it takes a lot to go into a unit like that. It takes training. It takes heart. It is a sacrifice for the family. That money was not spent, but right now in this country, for the first time, we have laws on human trafficking. For the first time, we have put laws in that people are learning about, and more training is coming to the forefront.

I can see that as we move on in this manner, we will have less of this problem, and the resources will be utilized very prudently.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to provide some input in this very important bill. It is of paramount importance that it pass through Parliament as quickly as possible.

Our government has had a very strong desire to protect children. When it comes to criminal activity such as sexual exploitation against our most vulnerable, our children, we know we must never back down in our efforts to stop these terrible crimes. When one child is hurt or exploited, it is one child too many. As a parliamentarian and a mother of six children, I am convinced that we need to do more to protect our children against sexual exploitation and believe strongly that the legislation before the House today would do just that.

I feel strongly that Canadians all across the country will pay attention to the speeches today, to the responses and to the positions of everybody on this issue. I am sure every member in the House, whether a parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent or friend, would agree that we must ensure that individuals who sexually exploit children are held fully accountable. I hope every member agrees that we must ensure the laws allow our justice system to hand out appropriate sentences that match the seriousness of the crime.

With Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act, we have an opportunity today to take an important step to protect our children from this crime that occurs far too often. As the statistics show and as was mentioned earlier, there is a 6% increase in sex offences against children. I urge all members of the House to support the passage of this bill without delay. Our children are too important, and it affects every family in Canada in one way or another.

Child sexual abuse is a crime of the most heinous nature. It causes unimaginable devastation to the lives of children. Studies have shown that it profoundly affects victims into adulthood and throughout their lives, and I dare say it affects their families as well.

Children under the age of 18 accounted for more than half the victims of sexual offences reported to police in 2012, and these numbers are unacceptable. They call for the kind of tough and decisive measures our government has proposed in this legislation. The bill contains a number of important elements, some of which fall under the responsibility of the Minister of Justice, including, as the name suggests, tougher penalties for those convicted of child sexual offences, and that is exactly what they should get: tougher penalties.

Legislation would require judges to impose consecutive sentences when convicted child sex offenders were sentenced at the same time for contact child sexual offences against multiple victims or for child porn and contact child sexual offences. With this legislation, both the maximum and minimum penalties for child offences would be increased, as would the maximum penalties for violating conditions of supervision orders. This is well put when 6% more offences are occurring in our great country.

The bill also includes many practical measures at better safeguarding children against sexual exploitation, both in Canada and abroad. Our government often speaks about the need to ensure that law enforcement has the tools it needs to do its job of helping to keep citizens safe. That is certainly a key preoccupation of mine and I am proud of our government's record. It is a record upon which we can further build this legislation.

For the purposes of our discussion today, the tool in question is the National Sex Offender Registry, administered by the RCMP and used by police officers all across the country. It goes without saying that law enforcement agencies need to be aware of the location of registered sex offenders, and that is where the registry comes in. As of January 2015, there were approximately 37,000 registered sex offenders on the registry. Of those, approximately 25,000 have a conviction for a child sex offence.

Clearly, the National Sex Offender Registry is a vital tool for police in that it provides officers with rapid access to information on registered sex offenders who are living or working in a given area and can help police in their work to prevent or investigate sexual crimes.

Members in this House know that our government has made some legislative improvements already to enhance the effectiveness of the registry. In 2011, we ensured that convicted sex offenders were automatically included in the registry and were required to give a mandatory DNA sample to the National DNA Data Bank.

However, we could do more to strengthen its effectiveness as a tool to assist police in carrying out their work. To do that, we need to make some important amendments to the legislation that governs the registry, namely the Sex Offender Information Registration Act. As members know, that act came into force in 2004 and authorized the establishment of the data base containing information on convicted sex offenders across Canada. It includes information such as the offender's name, address, place of employment, and physical description.

Let me describe how the proposed amendments in the legislation before us would improve the effectiveness of the registry, beginning with the enhanced reporting requirements that would be imposed on sex offenders.

Obviously, reporting requirements are very important to ensure that police have up-to-date information on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders, including when they travel outside of Canada. As it stands today, registered sex offenders are required to report in person to registry officials on an annual basis and within seven days if they change either their addresses or legal names. They must also notify registry officials within seven days of a change in employment or volunteer activity, including the type of work they do.

All registered sex offenders are required to report the dates of absences of seven days or more for travel either within or outside of Canada. These are critical reporting requirements from the perspective of both accountability and public safety. However, they do not go far enough. At present, these offenders are only required to provide specific destinations and addresses for travel within Canada. Here is where it is obvious that there is a need for increased accountability and reporting.

Canada is one of many countries on the international stage that is gravely concerned about child sex tourism. Our determination to protect children from sexual crime does not stop at our borders. It extends to children everywhere. That is why, with this bill, we are taking measures to increase the reporting requirements for sex offenders who travel abroad and are imposing even more stringent requirements on those who have committed these crimes against children.

Registered sex offenders with a child sex offence would be required to report, in advance, international travel of any duration. This would now include a requirement to provide the address or locations where they will be staying and the specific dates of their travel.

As for other registered sex offenders, that is, those who do not fall into the category of child sex offender, their reporting requirements would be as follows.

They would have to report any trips of seven days or longer, again including the dates and addresses or locations where they would be staying. They would also be required to report their passport and driver's licence numbers. Of note, the new reporting obligations would apply to those currently in the registry and those convicted after the legislation comes into force. Taken together, these changes would have the effect of ensuring that police have better information regarding the whereabouts of travelling sex offenders.

Another critical part is information sharing. The next element in the bill I will highlight is how we would provide for the exchange of information on certain registered sex offenders between the officials responsible for the registry and those at the Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA.

As members have heard, under the current legislative framework, there is no specific legal mechanism for this information to be shared at the present time. While the current legislation allows registry information to be shared in certain circumstances, including to police services, there is no such authority for sharing with CBSA. This gap in information sharing obviously inhibits our knowledge about the travel of sex offenders. It is a gap that needs to be addressed.

Given its responsibility for management of our borders, CBSA can and should be one of the authorities involved in receiving and providing information that assists in monitoring the travel of sex offenders.

With this bill we would close the information gap by providing the authority for officials at the registry to regularly disclose information to the CBSA about child sex offenders who are assessed as a high risk to reoffend. The bill would also allow sharing of information between the RCMP and CBSA on other registered sex offenders on a case-by-case basis.

I would note here that the RCMP would implement a risk assessment process to determine those child offenders who present the highest risk to reoffend. The experts in the police forces are the people to do this.

Upon receiving a list of these offenders, the CBSA would then ensure that the sex offenders' names were placed on their lookout system. Border officials would also be authorized to collect travel information from these offenders upon their return to Canada and to share it with National Sex Offender Registry officials, including the date of departure and return to Canada and every address or location at which they stayed outside of Canada.

This type of enhanced information sharing would achieve two very important outcomes. The first is that we would better enable authorities to investigate and prevent crimes of a sexual nature. The second is that we would put the authorities in a better position to address any potential breaches in the reporting obligations of the offenders.

These are reasonable changes that just make sense. If we are going to keep a closer eye on the travel habits of sex offenders, it only stands to reason that our border officials and National Sex Offender Registry officials need to be able to share the information.

The final element of the bill is one that would allow us to further deliver on our commitment to Canadians to protect our communities from sex offenders. This is very important to our government, because Canadians want and deserve access to information they feel could protect their families. They feel that they need to have this information, and that includes information about potentially high-risk individuals who live in their communities. That information should be easily accessible and available to all Canadians, and this bill would pave the way for that.

The proposed public database, the high risk child sex offender database, would be separate from the National Sex Offender Registry, which is accessible only to police. This new high risk child sex offender database would be searchable by the entire Canadian public. It would include information about those high-risk child sex offenders who have already been the subject of a public notification in a provincial or territorial jurisdiction. They would be well known anyway to the public.

Our government believes that it is only right that Canadians have the ability to access this type of information with a few simple clicks on the computer. After all, knowledge of the presence of high-risk child sex offenders in the city would empower parents to take appropriate precautions to protect their children.

To that end, I can assure members of this House that consultations are under way with the provinces and territories regarding police notifications and the proposed database. We continue to work closely with these partners to develop further criteria to define the high-risk child sex offenders who would be included in the new publicly accessible database

As members can see, our government has developed a clear path forward to better protect the public from offenders with one of the most troubling forms of criminal behaviour we have to face in society. I am speaking as one who has worked with many trafficked victims and many children who have been sexually violated.

There is an impact on a family, and it is not just poor people, aboriginal people, or girls who are out looking for a boyfriend, or whatever people say. What we are talking about is a predatory kind of crime that looks to prepubescent children for the perpetrator's sexual gratification.

This bill would do much to close the gaps out there now. When we see a 6% increase in child exploitation and child sex offences, clearly, in Canada, there is a problem. That is why our government has taken bold steps to protect children. It has taken bold steps to ensure that we do every possible thing to enhance information sharing and communication between police forces and to protect our children from sexual exploitation and sexual crimes.

We would improve the accountability of sex offenders and better protect those who need safeguarding from crimes of a sexual nature. Those are our children.

I have to say that I am very proud to be part of a government that has taken a very clear stand on this. Today it is particularly interesting to hear some of the comments, because we as parliamentarians have to take a very responsible attitude and make sure that the children throughout our country are protected from sexual predators. It is frivolous to vote against or block anything that would do that. Certainly this particular bill would close many gaps. Even now, a lot of children are at risk without these gaps being closed.

I hope parliamentarians on all sides of the House will put aside their partisan concerns. I know that an election is coming soon, but by the same token, Canadians all across the country want these laws. They want their children protected. They want to know where the individuals who have been convicted of sexual offences against children reside.

We cannot heal sexual offences against children. They learn how to be survivors, but the occurrence comes back to them over and over again. The first thing I believe parliamentarians have to do in one voice is protect the most vulnerable in this country.

This is too important for political interference. We need to take the heart of the nation and the heart of the parents and children who are reaching out to the House of Commons today and put these laws into place and ensure that their families are safe.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I was not going to stand up because I will give a speech a little later, but I could not stay silent. My son is an RCMP officer. My son was in the ICE unit. The people who go into those units are special people because they have a lot to face. They have to look at videos of children being raped, hearing their screams and know that they have to find those children. There are not many officers who want to go into the ICE unit or those kinds of units because they have not been specially trained.

Therefore, the $10 million was not spent by the RCMP because they could not find the specialized people to deal with this unit. We can say many things in this House, but they have to be truthful and they have to reflect the realities of the day.

Respect for Communities Act February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for her very insightful comments on these questions. I wish all parliamentarians would listen very carefully to what she says, because it is very relevant.

I would like the minister to expand on the response we need to have when we have collaboration across the country and when the Supreme Court and Canadians are saying that there is a certain thing they want, which is a voice. Could the minister address that a little bit more fully?

Business of Supply February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have a deep respect for the Hon. Preston Manning. His ideas are extremely good. However, what is salient in terms of what the member opposite has mentioned is that we basically have to talk to people and find out where they are coming from. It can be legislators and academics, but that is not everybody. In fact, that is a very small part of the population.

In answer to the member's concern about 12 months, which is extremely important, it would behoove us to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada for an extension so we can do it right. This is not something that should be rushed like was done in the Netherlands when one of the lead professors, who agreed with euthanasia, stood up in 2004 and said not to do that. That is not something we want to say in Canada. We want to get it right.

Business of Supply February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as we know, palliative care, for the most part, is provincial jurisdiction. We also know that from a federal point of view, we are looking now at the euthanasia issue and palliative care to open this dialogue all across the country. How we get to the bottom of all this? I think we would all agree that there should be collaboration, getting as many Canadians as we can to give us feedback about where they are coming from and what they believe, before we go to a committee. I know that will eventually happen; we have to do that. We need to search far and wide because this is a very important issue.

As parliamentarians, we all need to do our part in reaching out, in a non-partisan way. This is a very personal, very important issue in our country today.

I dearly care for the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia and appreciate his points of view in many ways. Far and wide collaboration, reaching out to every Canadian, and doing it in a very meaningful way by using the Internet and eventually a committee to really do a good job is of paramount importance to the well-being of those who are reaching their end of life right now.

Business of Supply February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to such an important issue. I will be splitting my time with the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia.

As members know, I have been long-time friends with the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia. I am so glad he is here in Parliament today, because he is one of the smartest people I have ever worked with, and it is just a pleasure to speak to this.

When we speak about this very important issue, I am certain there is not one of us here in the chamber or listening to any speeches today who is untouched by concern about family or friends facing serious health issues, now and in the past. We are concerned about their quality of life and their happiness, and also about their ability to have timely access to the high quality care they may need, especially in the last days, weeks or months of life.

Compassionate end-of-life care affects every citizen in the nation, yet we do not know about the options that are there for them and, eventually, for ourselves. My hat goes off to all palliative caregivers and people who directly work with those who are at the end of their lives. It is a very important time.

When we think of palliative care, we often think of it only as a type of medical care focused on managing pain and symptoms, but it is much more than that. Another way to think about it is that palliative care helps patients to achieve the best quality of life right up to the end. It focuses not only on the concerns of the patients, but on their families, often using a team approach. It has issues with paying close attention to managing pain, depression or confusion, and it is very mindful of patient dignity. After someone has passed on, family members may need support as they grieve the loss of the loved one.

This is a very important issue. We all have expiry dates and all of us will one day face this issue, yet numerous barriers remain. As far as we have come collectively, we still live with the stigma associated with the end of life. A recent poll conducted by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association said that 45% of respondents had great fear of death. Society is now starting to acknowledge the end of life as a natural part of life, but it will still take some time before the majority comes around to this kind of thinking. Work has to be done there.

This morning, as I listened to the member for Mississauga—Erindale, I thought his speech was one of the most thoughtful speeches, well thought out because he touched on this. He also touched very personally upon what happened in his personal life. Society and all of us as parliamentarians have started to acknowledge end of life as natural part of life, but it will still take some time to understand all of the ramifications about it.

There is also the issue that is fundamental to public awareness, which is that palliative care is strongly associated with the end of life, but it is not uncommon for the term “palliative care” to be stigmatized.

At the end of her life, my youngest sister had heart problems. She had wonderful palliative care toward the end. It was very sensitive to us. She passed on at a young age, and this palliative care was a critical in helping her pass on without a lot of pain but with a lot of support around her.

Palliative care units are often perceived as places as death, but in our case when my younger sister passed on, it was also a place of supreme caring, love and compassion. We were very supported, and I know a lot of people have been, but there are real issues when people are seriously ill. There are real fears. Sometimes people resist a referral to palliative care services, and then afterward ask why they did not do it sooner.

However, if people do not know about palliative care and other end-of-life care options, there is a fundamental obstacle to requesting it and accessing it. It is something that has to be discussed with a doctor. People might think that palliative and end-of-life care can be provided in a limited number of settings like hospitals and nursing homes, but that is not the case. Palliative care can be provided anywhere, at home, in a hospice, in a hospital, in a nursing home. The best place for palliative care is the place that best matches the patient's needs. Many health care providers continue to build palliative care teams.

In the case of this issue, when we just have 12 months to come up with a possible solution, we have the Internet, as the member for Mississauga—Erindale said this morning. We have many ways of communicating. This is a very important issue, an issue in my view that does not rest on one specialized committee. It rests on Canadians to give their feedback to Parliament. It rests on Canadians to have this open discussion. It rests on Canadians to learn more about it.

Interestingly, in the Netherlands for instance, Professor Theo Boer, was on a regional team that looked at euthanasia. He was very much in favour of euthanasia in 2007. He said:

I wrote that ‘there doesn’t need to be a slippery slope when it comes to euthanasia...But we were wrong--terribly wrong, in fact. In hindsight, the stabilization in the numbers was just a temporary pause.

He said that before the House of Lords. Then again later on, he said, “I used to be a supporter of” the Dutch law on euthanasia “But now, with 12 years of experience, I take a different view.” In April 2001, it became law in the Netherlands.

However, in 2014 Professor Boer said, “don’t go there. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.”

My question would, did they it too quickly? Did they not have extensive collaboration all across the country? I do not know, but in Canada we are a leader on many fronts and I know parliamentarians on all sides of the House are very concerned about this. As was said earlier in the House, we need to work together in a collaborative manner and not make demands that a special committee be compiled, and there we go. It is more than a special committee. It touches the lives of every man, woman and child in our country. It is deeply emotional. It is something that is deeply personal.

Professor Boer was totally in favour of it and examined it. When the law was put through in the Netherlands, all of a sudden he said that it should stop, that it should not do that. He said:

You must realize that a growing number of the Dutch are saying: for me going to a care institution would equate with unbearable suffering. I’m worried about that. Care facilities are not getting any better.

Have we examined all the care facilities? Have we examined everything that needs to be done to ease the end-of-life issues for anyone, young and old? No, we have not. This discussion has not been opened to the degree that it should. People might say that if a care facility is the reason for people to get euthanasia, then we should do something about care facilities.

Professor Boer went on to say:

If we don’t have the means to do that, then I’m afraid that in 2030 a large number of euthanasias will be performed because people are in deadly fear of the care facility

Toward the end of life, an awful lot of people have issues with fear. If they do not have family around, then they get very depressed. All of these things were mentioned this morning, and I will not repeat them because the member for Mississauga—Erindale has done that.

I encourage all members of Parliament to take their time and not rush this. It is a very important issue.

International Development February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, constituents in my riding are concerned with the living conditions of mothers, newborns, and children in the developing world. Our Conservative government has shown global leadership on this file, and the figures are staggering. Globally, between 2010 and 2013, an estimated two million child deaths from disease have been prevented. Two million children have been saved.

Could the minister please update Canadians on our action?

Justice February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the activities around prostitution are illegal because they are harmful to vulnerable individuals and all of society.

On December 6, our government's response to the Bedford decision, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, came into force. Could the Minister of Justice update the House on the impact it is having on prostitution in Canada?

David Wynn January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to express my sincere condolences to the family of Constable David Wynn, who will be laid to rest in St. Albert, Alberta, today.

Today, I stand with all of the families that have lost loved ones in the line of duty. What a tragedy that four RCMP officers were killed in the line of duty this past year.

With my own son being an RCMP officer who was on the ground following the Moncton shooting, I know the sacrifice and dedication it takes to be in the force, but none know that sacrifice more personally, more profoundly or more painfully than the families and colleagues of a fallen officer.

I would like to thank all police officers from all across our great nation for continuing to ensure that our communities and our families are safe. Truly, they serve and protect.