House of Commons photo

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 November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and privilege to speak on Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act. In particular, I do appreciate the minister's earlier comments on the necessity of mandatory minimums, because even for one child, protecting them from an offender who is behind bars is of paramount importance.

Bill C-26 is a critical component of our government's commitment to ensuring that children are protected from the most horrible forms of exploitation. Our government, and everyone in the House, is committed to holding those who perpetrate these horrendous crimes accountable for their actions and to be punished accordingly, and and above that, to ensure they are away from their victims so they cannot reoffend.

The proposed amendments would include increasing mandatory minimum penalties. That is why I think the subject is on the top of the radar screen in Parliament today and why we have continued to talk about them and their importance to keeping predators away from children and victims. Minimum penalties and maximum penalties for certain sexual offences committed against children ensure that the serious nature and effects of these offences on a child are recognized.

I note that the proposed amendments in the bill would build upon the reforms enacted by the Safe Streets and Communities Act by ensuring that all child sexual offences prosecuted by summary conviction are punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to two years less a day. I think that is very good.

The bill takes direct aim at and denounces child pornography by ensuring that the most serious forms of this offence are treated more seriously. I want to talk about this because the bill proposes that the offences of making and distributing child porn would no longer by hybrid offences that only result in a maximum provincial term of imprisonment of less than two years if prosecuted as a summary conviction. It needs to be noted that under Bill C-26, which should be passed as quickly as possible, making and distributing child porn would become straight indictable offences and would be punishable by a mandatory minimum penalty of one year imprisonment and a maximum of 14 years.

I want to pause for a moment to tell members about a very brave young man, a 10-year-old child, who wrote me a four-page letter about how he was addicted to porn. I remember that when I talked about this in an interview with the National Post, some readers said, “Oh, Mrs. Smith does not have any such child”.

In fact, I have received multiple letters and emails from across this country on this issue, but this one particular child really stood out with me because when the parents read the National Post comments section, they got very angry and phoned the paper. They got in their van, with their children and a couple of neighbours, drove all the way to Ottawa and knocked on my door here on Parliament Hill and spoke with me. They said, “This is a serious issue. It's not only our child, but it's others in school divisions all across this country that are affected”. At that point, they pointed out that the laws on child porn and its effects were very weak in this country. Because what happens out in the real world is that when a child trafficker targets a victim, they often condition them with porn. That is how they teach them. They try to normalize it.

In another case, a young girl—who, actually, I just gave an award to, about four weeks ago, for her bravery—came to see me. Her grandpa, who was a pedophile, had conditioned her while the parents were at work. Grandpa was home, conditioning her with porn, because he was taking care of her. This is so disturbing. He eventually put her out on the streets and raised a lot of money by trafficking his own granddaughter. Years later, terrible things happened to her because her whole world had been turned upside down

We are talking about middle-class Canada. We are not talking about somebody who is addicted to drugs. We are not talking about somebody on the streets. We are talking about middle-class Canada.

This bill is important because it addresses and denounces child porn, and our children are our most vulnerable citizens in this country. They are the little victims who do not speak out, particularly if it is done by a relative or somebody they are supposed to respect and love. More and more cases of pornography being inflicted on our youth population are emerging here in Canada.

Bill C-26 would make child porn an indictable offence punishable by mandatory minimum penalties. If this were not the case, many predators, in the quietness of their dens and homes, would use child porn in the most despicable manner. The penalties are a vehicle at our disposal to address the unlawful conduct of predators and the harm done to victims of crime. In the case of child porn, children are the innocent victims of a horrendous crime.

No one in the House wants to see a child harmed. They are silent victims. In the adult world, we need to have things that adults understand, because the child porn that has been inflicted on children is done mainly by adults, and this legislation is a step in the right direction. The penalties, however, are not the only tools we have.

All too often the denunciatory value of a sentence is diluted because the offender gets a volume discount, and that frustrates me. Multiple offences are all packaged into one, and an offender is given one sentence for multiple offences. I know of one individual who offended 47 children. At that time, years ago, his sentence was packaged into one, but all of those 47 children were left hurt and damaged. Two of them eventually committed suicide. I do not know how many became involved with drugs or alcohol, but I have heard since that several of them have been in addiction programs. Others have been counselled and became better.

When we talk on Parliament Hill about what is important to do, we must remember that it is not about the political landscape. It is not about what each party thinks about what. We are supposed to be taking care of our most vulnerable population. Here we are talking about the children in our country.

Courts will sometimes order the sentences for offences committed against several victims to be served concurrently. We also see this type of order in the case of an offender who has committed several crimes against the same victim. That is why I support the proposals contained in this bill to clarify the rules relating to the imposition of concurrent and consecutive sentences generally. I support as well the specific proposal relating to offenders who have committed several child sexual offences over a long period. These perpetrators have gotten off scot-free for too long. This has almost become normal in some cases, almost the real world. In Canada, this is not the real world. In Canada, this is what we want to stop.

I will attempt to demystify in a practical, real-world way the current rules contained in the Criminal Code, as well as the proposed new rules.

Consecutive sentences are sentences that an offender serves one after another. On the other hand, concurrent sentences are served simultaneously, and the offender serves the longer sentence. The Criminal Code currently requires that consecutive sentences be imposed for the offences of possession of explosives by a criminal organization, the use of a firearm in the commission of an offence, terrorism offences, and criminal organization offences.

That is what the Criminal Code currently requires. For other offences, the Criminal Code provides courts with the discretion to impose consecutive sentences. However, it does not provide clear guidance as to when consecutive sentences are preferred, except to say that their combined effects should not be unduly long or harsh.

Over the years the courts have developed a general approach of ordering multiple sentences to be served consecutively unless the offences arise out of the same event or series of events, in which case concurrent sentences are imposed. The same event or series of events rule, referred to as the continuing criminal transaction rule, requires that there be a close nexus between the offences committed in order to justify the imposition of concurrent sentences. This is so because the moral blameworthiness of the offender relates to the overall criminal conduct, which may include the commission of several offences.

The determination of whether offences are committed as part of the same event or series of events is a fact-specific determination made by the sentencing court. In some instances, the nature of a particular offence calls for the imposition of consecutive sentences. For example, courts will generally order an offence committed while fleeing from a peace officer to be served consecutively to any other offence that is part of the same event or series of events, which is a common phrasing used in the courts. Similarly, the courts will often direct that an offence committed while on bail be served consecutively to the predicate events.

The proposed amendments are aimed at clarifying the existing rules in the Criminal Code and codifying the practices developed by the courts that I have just mentioned. For instance, Bill C-26 proposes to require a sentencing court to consider imposing consecutive sentences when an offender is sentenced at the same time for multiple offences that do not arise out of the same event or series of events, including offences committed while the defendant was on bail or was fleeing from a peace officer.

This bill would also clarify the existing language by directing sentencing courts to consider imposing consecutive sentences when the offender is being sentenced for one offence but is already subject to a term of imprisonment for another offence.

What we see out there in the real world is that parents and families are sometimes frustrated and dismayed at how the court system works and at the lack of clarity within the court system. What is so great about Bill C-26 is it clarifies a lot of things that were not clarified before.

The amendments would also clarify the term of imprisonment. It includes one that results from a failure to pay a fine or something like that, but there are also clarifications of other procedures that the court carries out as well on a regular basis.

All in all, when we look at Bill C-26, we see a clear denunciation of sexual crimes against children. This bill would ensure that each victim counts in the sentencing process. There is nothing as damaging to a young child who has been sexually violated than for the pain, agony, and injustice that the child has gone through not to be recognized. Pornography and the like on the Internet have been rampant in this country, and up until now everybody in this country has said that it is unfortunate and they do not like it, but it is a fact of life. Our government has gone beyond that and is trying to ensure that each child and each individual is recognized and that the punishment fits the crime.

It has also done something else that is very important. I referred to it earlier in one of the questions. Lately I have had many adult women come to talk to me about how they were sexually exploited. They have never talked about it. They never said anything.

The family of an 84-year old grandmother called me to the hospital to talk to her not too long ago because she wanted to tell me that she was trafficked. She wanted to tell me what happened to her and she wanted to tell me that nobody really cared about it. She wanted to tell me that she was so glad that now people were talking at it, and before she died, she wanted to talk about what happened to her.

Four weeks ago, at a big event on human trafficking, another grandmother, who was 64 years old, told me that when she was a child, her father's best friend sexually attacked her on numerous occasions. She said she told her father, but he was a friend of the family and her father was convinced that she was lying. Her parents never took her to a doctor. They never examined the man, who was a financial partner with her dad. She said that has always torn at her heart and that she has been very angry about it. We talked at length about the fact that in Canada, child offences are now being recognized.

These have been the silent victims. The value of Bill C-26 is to give a voice to the silent victims and to take the fear away from them.

A little while ago in Montreal, there was a trafficked victim who went through a second trial and testified against her perpetrators. She has now been taken out of Montreal, but the perpetrators are being brought to justice. One comment she made to me was that nobody seemed to care when her boyfriend became involved in her life when she was 15 and a half years old and separated her from her parents and then trafficked her from the U.S. to Canada. She said, “No one seemed to care.” The relationship between the young girl and her mom had become so bad that the last thing she said to her mom was, “I am leaving this house and I'm never going to see you again.” That was after she came into the house with liquor on her breath at 2 a.m. and the mother just lost it because this had happened frequently.

This was an offence by an older man against a child. He was a boyfriend who wanted to separate her from her parents, and he did. For over seven years she was trafficked in Canada. She served, on average, 40 men a night, and she made money for her trafficker.

She was very deliberately rescued. She thought she was going to die, so she stole things from a store so that the guard would notice her, and she was arrested. I have to give a shout-out to Dominic Monchamp, the head of the vice squad in Montreal, who listened to her story. He rescued her and did many things to help her.

In this country I am proud to support Bill C-26. I am proud that members opposite are supporting Bill C-26.

It is time to stop the long speeches. It is time to listen to the public in Canada. It is time to listen to the victims and get the bill through committee.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, repeatedly this morning I have heard the question, “What is the use of mandatory minimums?” Repeatedly I have heard that because there has been an increase in child sexual exploitation, mandatory minimums are not working, and repeatedly I have said that they are working. They keep perpetrators away from victims. Also, there are more and more victims coming forward. Why? It is because now the laws are in place and victims and the parents of victims know that they can be protected.

I want to thank my colleague for his unending support for the protection of young children, especially on the human trafficking file. I want to ask him what he can tell me he feels is the most important point in this bill, because it breaks the ice in a lot of areas in terms of the protection of children.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his very insightful and very knowledgeable speech. Regarding what was said in this House a few minutes ago about mandatory minimums, anybody can have the feeling, philosophically, that mandatory minimums are not useful.

However, in actual fact, in Canada right now, because of the mandatory minimums that were put in for human trafficking offences, because of the mandatory minimums that are being put here, there is a difference. Again, I say something that a lot of parliamentarians across the way are not addressing in this House today. The fact is that more and more people are speaking out. That is why we are having an increase. The victims are feeling safer.

I even have a lot of older men and women coming to me, saying, “You know, this happened to me as a child. I couldn't say anything. There was nothing. No one would stand by me”.

Would my colleague please comment on the fact that our government has done much in the protection of children, and this is why we are hearing about so much of this in this day and age?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Newton—North Delta for her insightful speech today.

I have heard in this House comments about child sexual abuse having gone up by 6% since mandatory minimum sentences were put in place. The question earlier today was that mandatory minimums are not working, so why do we do it?

There is one factor that has not been taken into consideration in this House today. The fact is that because of the bills that have been put forth in this House, more victims are coming forward and speaking out. I find the mandatory minimum sentences extremely helpful. They protect the child.

The tenor in this parliamentary chamber today is so gratifying. I hear my colleague across the way speaking from her heart for the safety of children and I hear my other colleagues saying that it is of paramount importance that children be protected. However, we have to look at the whole picture when it comes to mandatory minimums. They are of paramount importance because of the increase in the number of people coming forward.

I want to ask my colleague across the way if she has looked statistically at how many people, and how many children, are coming forward now in comparison to three and four years ago? I think she would be quite gratified to see the change in those numbers.

Status of Women November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as Canadians, we can be proud that we are a welcoming nation and home to many newcomers who seek safety, security, and protection. Although Canada is a generous and tolerant country, our openness does not extend to barbaric cultural practices that seek to harm women and girls.

Studies show that there are hundreds of cases of forced marriage in Ontario alone, and there have been 21 Canadian criminal cases of honour-based violence in the past decade. One case is too much.

Yesterday, our government tabled legislation in the Senate that would protect newcomer women and girls from violence, including early and forced marriages, spousal abuse, violence in the name of so-called “honour”, and other gender-based violence.

Canada will not tolerate practices such polygamy, early and forced marriages, or honour killings. We will continue to ensure that Canada's women and girls have the tools they need to succeed and flourish in this great nation of ours.

Foreign Affairs November 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we became aware of a disgusting video showing a group of young ISIL men laughing and joking while they wait to buy Yazidi women in the ISIL slave market. This video truly drives home the depravity and barbarity of ISIL as it rampages through Syria and Iraq. Untold thousands of women and children have been captured by ISIL to be parcelled out as sex slaves.

Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs please tell us what Canada is doing to help address this horrendous crime?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, the bill does go through committee. It is at committee where those suggestions are made and brought back.

Having said that, the whole bill is about creating jobs. The whole bill is about building business. The whole bill is about making the lives of families and business people better in this country.

I have to say that I look forward to the member for Winnipeg North sitting on committee and bringing those suggestions forward for a fulsome conversation.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first of all, this particular bill is not unusual. I keep hearing that it is an omnibus bill, a great big bill with a lot of pages. Having said that, it is not unusual when we compare it to other budget implementation bills that have come forward over the years.

Also, we have had this bill for over eight months. I think it has been eight months and twelve days, actually, so there has been a lot of time to go through it. It does not take that long.

When we talk about temporary foreign workers, provinces all across this country have had challenges where the temporary foreign worker issue has been abused. Jobs for Canadians come first. Having had that collaboration across the country, we have had to look at putting Canadians first, jobs first for Canadians, and at the checks and balances that are long overdue in the temporary foreign worker program.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the member for Vancouver South.

I listened this afternoon to all the speeches. The job of members opposite is to be the opposition. I listened to some of the speeches from the NDP side and I know it has never been in government, so it can pretty well say anything. As far as the Liberal side is concerned, it too is in the same position.

When in government we have to make sure everything is in balance. We expect criticism, which is fine. However, let us look at the global picture. Nearly 1.2 million net new jobs have been created in Canada. That is over 82% full-time jobs and 80% in the private sector since the end of the recession in July 2009.

When we look at our country, Canada is the envy of the world because Canadians as a whole live well, and as a whole we are safe. It is the best country in the world in which to live.

As parliamentarians and members on this side of the House know, as we went into the recession, the most important thing was to ensure that our country's economy was balanced so that there were jobs, so that people could live in their homes and buy their food. In any country, nothing is perfect. There are housing problems and other issues in all countries. However, in Canada, we have a lot to be proud of. Canada has one of the strongest job growth performances in the entire G7. That is quite incredible looking at the global economic problems that the world has faced. Canadians have also enjoyed one of the strongest income growth performances in the G7 and Canada's business investment performance has been the strongest in the G7 over the recovery. This is very important. Why? It is because this gives a sense of security to Canadians.

Since 2004 Canadians have put our government into power because they had the confidence that the economic part of their lives would be secure. That does not mean to say every single Canadian is secure. It means that we are the best country compared to others. Canada has a AAA rating in this economic environment worldwide. We also know that the middle class in Canada lives better than in the U.S. and many other countries. Also, we now have 180,000 children who are now out of poverty.

There is a lot to be proud of. For the sixth straight year the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system the soundest in the world. This means something. With all due respect, even though there are always things to improve and do better, this is indicative of Canada's standing on the world stage and indicative of its very sound economic planning and practices. Does that mean everyone is going to get everything they want, daily? No, that does not mean that. It means that the economy within the country is sound, jobs are growing, people can go to work, children can go to school, and our country is the best country in the world in which to live.

I listen to all these criticisms and all the hyperbole. In Parliament, hyperbole is something that we hear every single day on probably every single topic.

When Canada is leading the global economic recovery, that is something to be proud of. There needs to be a recognition that Canada and this government are doing something right. When we listen to members opposite, we hear all the talk of gloom and doom. They think they can do things better. The fact of the matter is that this is not what the Canadian public thought, because those members are not sitting on this side of the House.

Canada has the lowest overall tax rate in the G7 on new business investment. That is a red flag right there. It shows that this government is creating new business.

Canada is one of only two G7 countries to have a rock solid AAA rating, with a stable outlook, from all the major credit rating agencies, such as Moody's, Fitch, and Standard & Poor's. That is important. A lot of countries cannot claim that, because they have no plan in place. War-torn countries have not had the opportunity to put a plan in place. It is impossible for them to do that. This government has been able to meet that high standard.

There is a reason our government's top priorities are job creation, economic growth, and long-term prosperity. It is so people can have families, work, prosper, and have a future.

Our government has become aware of many issues that have presented themselves through businesses. For instance, small business is the engine of this country. It pushes out so much of the economy. Women are some of the top small-business owners, and that is a real change from 20 years ago.

More small business opportunities have been created through the small business job credit, and that has been a real asset to those women who want to start businesses. That is not often spoken about in the House. Some of these businesses are run out of the home. Some are run out of small offices. These businesses are providing income for families.

The budget implementation bill will make life more affordable for Canadian families. What is important to a family? A lot of children participate in sports. It was presented to our government that a lot of families could not afford to pay the registration fees for sports, such as soccer and other kinds of sports, so in this particular budget, our government has doubled the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000 and has made it refundable.

Paying attention to individual families has made a huge difference in balancing Canada's economy. We have heard today many instances of how families have been impacted. Unfortunately, because I only have 10 minutes to speak, I cannot list them, but they were listed earlier.

We should work collaboratively to give suggestions. When the bill goes to committee, amendments can be made, if need be. We should look at how we can build together and recognize the fact that this government has put in a strong economic plan.

National Health and Fitness Day Act October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure tonight to speak to the bill. I think it is one of the most important bills we have had in this Parliament because it affects all of us in a major way.

I have to compliment the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country. He has taken a dynamic leadership role in, first of all, making MPs aware of healthy eating and healthy living styles. Parliament Hill is a place where we eat on the run. We eat unhealthy foods because we are so busy. We are on airplanes all the time, and need I say more about airplane food and the inactivity of sitting on an airplane? We have chronic issues there.

Having said that, when I was first introduced to the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, he was starting all these fitness programs around this place. I am possibly the least sports- or fitness-minded person. As a mother, I took my kids to every sport known to man, from hockey to soccer. I was the hockey mum and the soccer mum and did all those kinds of things. My husband is a wonderful athlete and does everything from martial arts to hockey to whatever. That certainly helped him when he got chronic cancer, because today he is in remission, and I credit that to, number one, prayer, and second, his fitness level was fantastic.

When I look at what the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country has done, it has began to turn or reset the channel of even Parliament Hill, the seat of Parliament where we are supposed to be producing laws for all Canadians and being examples for all Canadians.

I had a big challenge personally, because at a very young age my brother drowned and it hit our family very hard, particularly my mum. I was a baby at the time, so I do not remember my older brother, but I remember my mum sitting in a rocking chair and every once in a while she would start to cry. Even when I was a teenager, my dad would say, “Leave mum alone for a while. She just needs this time”. She was remembering the tragic loss of her son and our brother. I have to say it sort of seeded a fear of water in me. I love to look at the water. I love to put my toe in the water. When I was very bold, I would walk into water up to my neck and hope I could still reach the bottom, because I liked the water in way, but I feared it dreadfully.

One day the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country said, “Why do you not come and learn how to swim?” I kept telling him I did not have time, and I really did not have time. I was very busy. However, it was a very healthy thing to do and he is very persistent and very persuasive. I could not believe it. I bought a bathing suit, goggles, and a cap. I looked like something from outer space, and I do not have the greatest figure in the world, so getting me out there just on that basis was a challenge.

Having said that, I started going into the water, and today I am not a bad swimmer. I know how to swim and I have learned how to go under water. The most exciting thing is having my goggles on going under water and seeing all the things that are happening there. I got over my fear of water, but it also got me into physical activity.

The other thing I do on a regular basis is biking. We could be walking down Wellington or O'Connor and there we would see the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country early in the morning on his bike. It never ceases to amaze me how he can bike in extremely cold, windy weather.

I am not that dedicated, but I am dedicated to a charity I started, and I biked for victims of human trafficking. I have done that kind of thing, which motivated me as well.

The member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country has changed the environment around this place through his leadership, and it is an environment of activity that involves people from all parties. It is just amazing. We can get together, no matter what party we belong to, and we can run, bike, or swim, and it is pleasant. It became a three times a week event for me over the summer. I am now down to two times a week, but I do other things.

One of the members said earlier that taking care of our bodies is like taking care of a 1950s car. I wish I were a 1950s car. My car would be a little older than that. Having said that, we have to take care of our bodies and repair them so we will end up living longer.

This awareness that the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country has brought forward is of paramount importance in my own riding. I love the idea of the first Saturday of June being a national day to promote health and fitness for all Canadians. I love that idea because it would make us all aware. A school will not change our mindset. Parliament will not change our mindset. I have always said that education is our greatest weapon. The more we know about the problems we have, the better off we are. It takes a tremendous toll on our families if we are sedentary and do not take care of our bodies. Not only does it take a tremendous toll on our families, but it also takes a tremendous toll on our lifestyle and our quality of life.

We have heard members talk about the different aspects of the health care system. One-quarter of colon and breast cancers are attributable to Canadians' sedentary lifestyle. Twenty-seven per cent of diabetes in Canada and 30% of chronic heart disease is attributed to inactivity.

It is telling when one in three Canadian children are overweight or obese. It is telling when health care costs due to overweight individuals and inactivity amount to $7 billion a year. We can do something about that. Under the leadership of the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, we have been caught up in the awareness of physical activity.

I have talked to many municipal leaders in my riding about doing something special on that day. There could be free entry into the pool or maybe a special thing for seniors to get them out, like a bike-a-thon. We could do anything on that national health day. Each municipality has the ability to do that.

It says a lot when only 13% of Canadians participate in sports. It says a lot about our need to become aware of the health benefits from activity. It says a lot as well when only 6% of Canadians choose to spend their leisure time in sports.

That would have been me before, but not anymore. When I have some leisure time, I either go for a swim or a bike ride. I take part in some activity. Through this process I not only managed to overcome a fear of the water, which was tremendous, but I now enjoy the lifestyle and the physical activity. Exercise of some sort clears our minds in such a way that we feel better mentally and physically.

I congratulate once again the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for his tremendous leadership on this issue. I urge members to look for him on the Hill. He will be recognized because he always has a bicycle pin attached to his lapel. I think it is marvellous. He gave me one of those little bicycles and I wear it quite frequently now. I am proud to say that I am a bit of a sports jock now. I could not have said that before.