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

Committees of the House September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have heard a mixture, and I have heard a lot of people say that it is not time for an inquiry. I am talking about aboriginal communities. That is what I hear on part of the aboriginal community. My grandchildren are aboriginal.

The fact is that aboriginal communities are saying that they need the shelters, the DNA missing persons index, leadership for missing persons and unidentified remains. All these things that came through the committee are things that the community is saying it needs and it is saying it very loudly. They do not want the money put somewhere else. They want it on a concrete basis in their communities so their lives can be better.

Committees of the House September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to this very important issue because, as members know, in the world of human trafficking there are a lot of missing and murdered aboriginal women and other women who have fallen prey to predators out to make lots of money off them and to take away their self-identity, their dignity, everything.

I really noticed one thing in this action plan that I really appreciate so much and fully support because there have been so many studies. There are the 40 studies that were referred to tonight, and there have been other studies as well. There has been a report by the RCMP. My own son is in the RCMP, and I have to say that the national operational overview is something that is extremely important to the aboriginal community. When we talk about an aboriginal community in Canada, we are all part of that aboriginal community. In my family, my son married an Ojibway girl whom I love very dearly and who works very hard with aboriginal youth.

When we look at the RCMP's Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview, we can see the caring. To better understand the nature and extent of police-reported cases involving missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada, that RCMP institution conducted an analysis of files from police organizations from all across the country, an analysis of the historical female missing persons files. They looked at homicide cases between 1980 and 2012, and they saw a consistency there. The police recorded 1,017 incidents of aboriginal female homicides between 1980 and 2012, and 164 aboriginal female investigations dating back to 1952.

Everyone talks about what the solve rates are in finding these missing and murdered women. The solve rates for homicides involving aboriginal women, at 88%, are consistent with homicides involving non-aboriginal women, which is 89%. There are currently 225 unsolved cases, as we know: 120 unsolved murders of aboriginal women and 105 missing aboriginal women.

When we look at the action plan, all I can say is that, in working on reserves with the aboriginal people all across this country and having the privilege of 37 chiefs in Manitoba presenting me with a red shawl, I have seen something that is very unique in this particular report. Listening to the conversation back and forth, I would say that we need to collaboratively get together on all sides of the House. This is not a partisan issue. It is not one-upmanship. It is time to take all the research; it is time to take all the knowledge we have; and it is time to take action.

One thing in working in aboriginal communities, which is part of my family's community, is that we have to respect the elders. We have to respect the organizations within the aboriginal community. We have to respect the aboriginal communities themselves. The role women play is a very important role in aboriginal communities, and also the role the elders play and the chiefs play. Each part of an aboriginal community is grounded in the history that we have right here in our country.

With the opening of our Canadian Museum For Human Rights in Winnipeg this past weekend, I was very moved by the stories that were told about murdered and missing women, about residential schools, about the history that Canada is a part of, the good and the bad. Here in 2014, we as parliamentarians can be an integral part of the good of making things better for the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. My heart goes out. There are terrible crimes against these innocent people, and our thoughts and prayers every day are with the victims and with the families, because when one loses a child or one loses a family member, one never gets over that.

I know a case in point where this one boy was missing. He was abducted. It is not just women. In this case, it was a young youth. I can tell members that after his perpetrator died, a lot of youths went on reserve and burned the perpetrator's house down because the hurt was so profound and nothing was done.

What is so good about this report is that the action plan provides tools such as preventing violence by supporting community-level solutions. That is a very wise move. Part of the community-level solutions is working with all the players within the aboriginal community—the elders, the grandmothers, the mothers, the chiefs, and others—and supporting aboriginal victims with appropriate services.

That young man I was telling members about did not have victim services and he was not a survivor. He later took his own life, and that is a sad story. However, it could have been prevented had an action plan like this been put in place, where there were solutions, where there was some place to go.

The idea of investing in shelters and improving Canada's law enforcement and justice systems on these fronts is extremely important. It is not a matter of which party can shout loud enough to say, “You're all wrong and we're all right”. What it should be now, in 2014, is this non-partisan collaborative approach.

The committee did some astounding good work. I was watching it as the witnesses were going through all the things they had to say and the thing that I felt was of paramount importance was their ability to tell their stories. I know the Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women has said that she wants to be sitting at the table when a round table comes up, that she needs to be a part of that, and that everybody needs to be a part of it. I think we need to be sitting at the table right now and we need to look at the umbrella causes.

We talk about the root cause. The root cause is really avoiding the issue. It is easy to study and study and have committee after committee. The biggest complaint I hear on the reserves with the people I work with is that everyone studies it to death and they make a fancy speech, but there is nothing on the ground.

In this particular report, there is a lot on the ground. When these three priorities were set out, it started by saying that supporting community-level solutions is the answer. Whether it be shelters, whether it be schools, whether it be education about how to keep away from creditors, economic development, all of those things are part of building communities in any community. It is the same on reserves. It is the same for aboriginal people who come to our large urban centres. Opportunities, we live in a country of “The True North strong and free”. We live in a country where parliamentarians have the ability to change the channel and reset what is happening.

I feel right now, in the year 2014, with this action plan, I like the word “action” and there is a plan. There is significant money put behind that plan and we are moving forward.

I am thankful for this opportunity and I would like to welcome any questions that parliamentarians might have. I cannot guarantee I can answer them, but I think I would like to hear the questions that are coming forward.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, last week Canadians celebrated the opening of the first Canadian national museum built outside of Ottawa, in the centre of Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It is a tribute to all who suffered in the Holocaust, the Holodomor, and other unspeakable atrocities down through history. It is a tribute to the survivors who lived to tell the world what happened to them and to demand that it never happen again. It is a symbol of hope to those suffering today in the modern-day slave trade known as human trafficking, right here in Canada and worldwide.

The museum stands tall for all to see, for all to experience, for all to learn, and for all to be inspired to build a better world. Many thanks to our Prime Minister for his vision to have a national museum outside Ottawa to make our history more accessible to all Canadians. Our thanks go to Izzy Asper for his vision and to the Asper family and friends of the museum for making Izzy's vision become a reality.

This is the Canadian way.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very anxious to ask some questions, because there is a bit of a vacuum in some of the comments that were made.

Why is Bill C-36 here? It is what we have been talking about all morning. The Supreme Court collapsed the laws. The laws the member was talking about that are in the Criminal Code were actually deemed unconstitutional. The government was asked to take this up and produce a bill that would respond to that. That is the answer to that.

Again, the tools, which I talked to very explicitly, are that now the victims could talk to the police. Just because there is a little provision in section 213 that if they solicit in front of schools, day cares, or kiddie pools, and that kind of thing, they can be moved along does mean they are being arrested. What happens is that often police get them to the police station and explain to them why this is not acceptable.

This is one of the best bills this country has ever put forward to address this terrible problem.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, to be very candid, when we look at and other advertisements, we will often see advertisements like “Asian women”, “young women”, “fresh women”. Those advertisements are done by organized crime and traffickers. They are selling their product.

There is a provision for the prostitutes themselves. If they want to individually advertise, that is fine. The bill would not touch that. What it would go after is the control of these women.

I am an honorary chief. I have been on reserves. I have the red shawl from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. My own family is aboriginal. I have such a heart for the murdered and missing women. I can tell the House that there has been so much talk about inquiry and no action, and now we need to take action. We need to put the money into programming and into solving the problem.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first of all, my own son is a police officer who works with trafficking victims. He has done that for a number of years. One tool we were talking about the other day that is so important is how victims now have the ability to report abuse to the police.

They would not arrested under Bill C-36. The only place from where they would be asked to move along is in front of schools and playgrounds. That does not mean that they would be formally arrested. In every other place, the victims would have a right to say to the police officer that they have been abused, that this is what is happening to them, and to please help them out. That is a big tool.

What happened before was that the victims were controlled by the pimps and the traffickers. If they went to the police, they were arrested. In fact, before this bill, when there was a takedown, between the pimps and the prostitutes, more prostitutes were arrested than anybody else.

We have to change our language around prostitution. It is modern-day slavery, for the most part. There are very few people who choose to go into something like this. When we stop to think about it, what woman would get beaten, give all of her money to somebody, and then keep silent about it?

This is a huge tool in Bill C-36.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-36. As members know, I am supportive of the bill as a response to the Supreme Court of Canada's December 20, 2013, Bedford decision. In December last year, Canadians received a Christmas present. For the most part, they did not know what was happening as they were busy getting ready for Christmas. The Supreme Court of Canada deemed all of the laws around prostitution unconstitutional. It allowed the government a year to respond to that and there has been a tremendous amount of work that has gone into the bill, including a lot of study of this important legislation. It is possibly one of the most important pieces of legislation and I am totally convinced that it will keep our youth and our people safe.

We heard from a lot of people, including front-line support workers, police services, chiefs, and experts from the legal profession. I must say that Professor Janine Benedet, one of the foremost constitutional lawyers in this country, who had worked on the Bedford case as well, fully expects the bill to be and has said that she firmly believes it is constitutional. As members know, many bills are defeated on a charter challenge. However, without a doubt the bill is constitutional.

I am especially impressed by all of the victims who came to committee and the survivors who came to testify at both committees, because that is what this is all about—survivors finally talking about what happened to them. Human trafficking and prostitution were under the public radar for years. Everyone felt that if young girls or boys sold sexual services that was what they wanted to do. However, at committee we found out it was totally opposite to what the public thought. Why is that? Because more and more families across this country are being impacted by predators who come on as their friends and lure them into the sex trade and then they get into drugs and all sorts of things.

However, they have no voice. Bill C-36 allows those victims of human trafficking and those who have been forced into the sex trade to have a voice and the freedom to come and testify before us. They are the ones who need our attention and protection and we must not forget them.

After sitting around the table listening to these survivors, I would say that every Canadian should read the testimony of that committee because they would learn a lot about what is happening to a lot of children in communities all across this country. We have learned that predators earn about $260,000 to $280,000 a year per victim. That is why they do it. It is all about the money. A lot of the people connected to those predators earn a lot of money too. Hence, what is happening in this country is that a lot of people are protecting their cashflow at the expense of modern-day slavery.

During the hearings, law enforcement agencies also came forward to express their overall support for Bill C-36 and applauded the strong message it sends to all Canadians, which is basically that we will go after the pimps and johns and we will put support systems in place for the victims of human trafficking and those people who have found themselves in the sex trade without ever intending to be there. The police officers agreed that prostitution is an inherently dangerous activity and emphasized a need to prosecute those who profit from the sexual exploitation of others. I spoke earlier about predators making between $260,000 to $280,000 per year, which is a lot of profit. The police also emphasized the need to have in place the necessary tools to protect our communities from the harms of prostitution so that parents do not have to sweep away syringes and condoms from the school grounds of their children.

It is not about arresting victims at all. The only provision within Bill C-36 has to do with schools, playgrounds and pools, right on the grounds themselves. The fact of the matter is that Canadians agree that children should be protected. More and more Canadians in communities across Canada are starting to understand that they are also protecting their own beautiful children and vulnerable children from predators, due to Bill C-36.

We heard a lot of things in committee. We also heard another perspective that said people have rights to choose any profession they want, and, of course, that is true in Canada. However, we listened to the survivors of forced prostitution, human trafficking, and all of those stories that came forward. I cannot help but emphasize the contrast between the stories of the people who said that prostitution is an industry and government is circumventing their rights if it starts addressing it, and the stories of those who have experienced pain, suffering, and victimization while at the mercy of pimps, drug dealers, brothel owners, criminal organizations, and human traffickers. It is just unbelievable. When they bravely came to committee for the first time to tell people what happened to them, it was all we could do to keep our composure.

For someone who has worked with victims of human trafficking and those who were forced into prostitution, it was very profound to see these courageous people get up at committee to talk about it.

Statistics and research show that those who are most vulnerable to becoming involved in prostitution are marginalized, disenfranchised, and vulnerable, and the vulnerable can come from middle-class Canada.

We had many cases across this country where middle-class young people came forward. They were trafficked because of the way that the predators operate. They come on as their boyfriends, and they believed they were in love and that nobody wanted to exploit them. It never crossed their minds, until all their identification was taken away and they were forced to sexually service men or women. Those are vulnerable people.

We also speak to the homeless and those who have suffered abuse as young children or have suffered from addictions. A lot of those young, underaged people who are victimized are not addicts when they go into it. It is to camouflage their pain and to get through the day that it happens.

It is critical that Bill C-36 prioritizes this vulnerable group that people are talking about more and more, to protect them from harm.

It has been seen in many countries, many jurisdictions, that targeting the johns and the pimps is the right thing to do. In this country, human trafficking and forced prostitution was under the public radar screen for a very long time. We hear over and over again that $40 million is not enough. Well, it is a very good start.

Provinces, municipalities, and others need to contribute to this as well. Bill C-36 would address, in a very bold way, a problem that has remained under the public radar screen for a very long time. It is not about taking away some person's right to choose whatever profession they want to be in; that is up to consenting adults. That is not what the bill is about. The bill is about making sure that these vulnerable populations I have been talking about are protected, that they have a chance, even if they are caught in the horrible trafficking or forced prostitution field. Now they are protected because they are able to report the abuse to the police and they are able to get out and be rehabilitated.

I am very proud of Bill C-36. I am very proud of what our government is doing. A lot of people across this nation are listening to this debate and listening to what other people have to say, on all sides of the House. There is a very strong contrast between our government, which is standing up for the vulnerable, and those who are not on the other side of the House.

Victims Bill of Rights Act June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have heard members many times today refer to time allocation. We are supposed to be talking about the victims bill of rights. For the first time in Canada victims will be recognized. For the first time they will have the ability to get restitution. So many victims are anxiously waiting for this legislation. They often go into courts without information and are lost.

Would the justice minister please comment on the victims side of the bill. Could he comment on how they feel about getting the bill through and why they need it passed so quickly?

Drug-Free Prisons Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in what the member opposite had to say because what I am hearing tonight over and over again from opposition is that there is no money behind the initiative to eradicate drugs from prisons. I was just wondering if the member realized that in actual fact the government has invested $122 million over five years to increase drug interdiction efforts. Those efforts include drug detector dogs, security intelligence, and perimeter security within the prisons.

As well, is the member opposite aware that the Safe Streets and Communities Act introduced two-year mandatory minimum penalties for trafficking drugs in the penitentiary or on penitentiary grounds? That is something that is definitely a deterrent to those in the prisons.

Also, I wonder if the member is aware that prevention and treatment initiatives within the prisons are provided under the government too. Generally CSC spends between 2% and 5% of its total operating budget on core correctional programs, including substance abuse programs. I am wondering if the member opposite is aware of this.

Drug-Free Prisons Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, perhaps it is the late hour, but I thought I heard the member opposite say that he supported the bill. I do not know if that is correct or not. I would like the member to clarify that.

I heard a lot of criticism of the drug-free prisons bill. Would the member not agree that this is the first time this issue is being talked about and attacked and dealt with by doing something about the problem of drugs flowing freely in many prisons across this country?

Could the member please answer those two questions?