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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was money.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague on the issue of health care.

Quebec has innovated in a number of areas in primary health care. It has been allowed to do that over the years, which is fantastic.

Seventeen of the top 20 health care systems in the world are European, and all of them use different models to fund hospitals. They do not use block funding but rather fund hospitals based on patient care and services rendered. They also use a mix of public-private partnerships, and they utilize innovative tools in terms of prevention, using Head Start early learning programs.

Given the wall that we are careening toward with an aging population and a cost that is going up 8% per year and revenue at 3%, does my colleague not think that Europe is a place to look to in terms of innovations to save our public health care system?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act October 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as a follow up to my colleague's response, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is the leading cause of preventable brain damage in neonates. The fact is it is entirely preventable.

The federal government believes that in matters of health, the province is the lead manager, and it is correct, but nothing precludes the federal government from using its convening power and its financial levers to work with the provinces to develop innovations in health care that would improve the health of our citizens. Because these problems are transboundary, nothing precludes the federal government from doing this. We desperately need this type of leadership to deal with problems like FASD.

If FASD is the leading cause of preventable brain damage in children, does my colleague not think it is crucially important for the federal government to use its power, work with the provinces and implement best practices?

I have worked in jails as a guard and as a physician. The average IQ of somebody with FASD is 67. How on earth are people with an IQ of 67 able to integrate, engage and be productive members of society? They cannot.

As a matter of humanity and being progressive in our country to deal with a fundamental issue that is so trying and difficult for those who work in the judicial system and the medical system, does my colleague not think that the federal government should work with the provinces to implement best practices in the prevention of FASD?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act October 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague gave an excellent speech.

We can take a look at early interventions that will have the most profound impact upon the trajectory of individual lives. We know right now that what happens in the first five years of a person's life will have a profound impact on his or her life.

Subject a child to violent sexual abuse, improper nutrition, or improper parenting and the trajectory of that child's life will change significantly. Ensure that the child is in a loving, secure environment with proper nutrition, is subjected to a healthy environment, and that child will be the best that he or she can be.

Early learning head start programs have the most profound impact upon the trajectory of that child. When it comes to youth crime, an investment in early childhood intervention will actually decrease youth crime by 50%.

I would like to ask my colleague a question. Does the member not think one of the most powerful things the federal government can do is work with the provinces to ensure that Canadians from coast to coast will have access to early childhood education?

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, many of us are dismayed by what is now taking place in the Middle East. Continuing to build settlements in the West Bank is, in my view, something that has to stop immediately, particularly now that peace talks are taking place. I beseech the Israeli government to stop all Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Water is a huge issue in the Middle East, particularly in Jordan. They have serious problems with the lack of potable water, which is a major infrastructural problem in that part of the world. I would ask my colleague whether he sees an enormous opportunity for Canada, through this free trade agreement, to work with Jordanians and other countries in the Middle East to help them access the potable water that their people need. Also, would this agreement give Canada an opportunity to develop an arrangement for transferring expertise between our universities and the post-secondary institutions in Jordan?

Criminal Records Act Review September 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Surrey North for her Motion No. 514 on public safety and criminal records. She is a long-standing champion of the rights of victims and for trying to make our justice system a better functioning system. I want to congratulate her for her tireless work in this area. This particular motion deals with criminal records and it is certainly one that needs to be changed.

There are a number of issues with respect to, for example, the pardon system. We saw the situation of the hockey player, Mr. James, who received a pardon despite having victimized dozens of young boys for a long period of time. All Canadians were outraged that this individual received a pardon and we have seen other individuals who committed very serious crimes receive or are going to receive pardons.

The whole issue of pardons and records came out of the Criminal Records Act. It was done by Don Tolmie back in the 1960s. It was done in a well-meaning way but unfortunately, such things have not panned out as they should. As a result of that, we have seen that changes are necessary with respect to how we do that.

Back in 2000, the then government of Mr. Chrétien made a number of amendments to the Criminal Records Act, including changes requiring that applicants whose pardon applications had been refused must wait at least a year before reapplying, and automatically revoking pardons for anybody with new convictions. There are certain things that can be done to move forward in this area, including precluding individuals who commit serious, indictable offences from ever getting a pardon. It is offensive that this occurs and I think a lot of the public would wonder, as many of us did, how this could possibly happen.

Historically, the National Parole Board's hands have been tied. What it does is assess somebody, and if he or she has had an unblemished record for five years after the conviction, the National Parole Board is obliged to give that person a pardon. That is the system that we have.

Changing the system and providing the National Parole Board with the ability to refuse pardons for individuals who have committed violent offences, including sexual offences, is something that is welcome and certainly sends a very clear message that individuals who have committed these serious crimes will always have it on their records. As I said before, this is something that needs to be changed.

I would also draw attention to something that needs to change in terms of the RCMP.

There was a decision called the McNeil decision that came down through the courts, which in many ways put the police on trial. It actually puts disclosure obligations on the police officer for a wide variety of crimes, from DUIs all the way to homicide investigations. In other words, in a trial, the RCMP officers are put on trial, and long aspects of disclosure in terms of personal information on them have to be disclosed to the defence and the court. This to me is absolutely absurd. It is not the RCMP officer who is on trial. It is the person who is charged with the offence who is on trial.

The impact of this, of course, has been quite devastating because it has put a huge administrative burden on the RCMP in terms of quite extensive legal, human resources and administrative costs. This is not a small problem. It is a large problem and a large impediment to the ability of our police officers to do their jobs and implement the legal system that we have in our country.

As a result, it is causing an entanglement within our justice system. I would strongly encourage the government to take a look at this McNeil decision and introduce in this House changes to reverse it. In times of fiscal austerity and a significant difference between the job that our RCMP has to do and the resources it has, now it is being forced to pour huge amounts of money into large administrative costs that are not necessary in terms of being able to deliver the justice and protection that the Canadian public needs.

Today, one could safely say that the system we have really does not take into account the complexity of the charter of rights, the duty to account, and the constitutional ambiguity that surrounds the job that police officers engage in today. Their job keeps on changing and the legal obligations on them keep on changing, which makes it much more difficult for them to do their jobs. I would strongly encourage the government to look at this and implement changes that are desperately required to enable our police officers to do their jobs.

Some of us in the House are disappointed that in coming back to the House after three months working in our ridings, the long gun registry came to the forefront. All of us understand that changes have to happen. Chief Superintendent Cheliak and his team did an excellent job of changing the registry, changing the administrative burden that had been on the shoulders of individuals who owned long guns. Whatever has to happen in the future to make this better, I would encourage the government to work with us and people who own long guns to ensure that whatever other changes are required do happen to make this less of an onerous task on them.

Most of the gun owners, at least in my community, have actually said that they support the registry, that the changes that were made by the RCMP and that the capping of costs at $4 million a year they found to be a fair and reasonable trade-off, given the fact that all the major police groups in the country, from the RCMP to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Police Association and others, have actually asked for this.

There also needs to be some mending of fences between individuals who live in rural areas and those who live in urban areas. This has caused a wedge between them and we need to do a better job of understanding that there has been misinformation which needs to be corrected. Some of the concerns of those who own long guns must be listened to, and whatever changes that are required to improve the system need to be done.

I want to compliment the member for Surrey North. There is an opportunity for us to work together to improve the efficiency of our justice system. One of the first things that can be done is to listen to our police officers. They labour under some very difficult administrative and legal obligations which actually pull them away from doing their duty, which is investigating those who allegedly commit crimes in our country.

Because of the administrative overlay that they have, valuable and limited resources are being taken away from the sharp end of policing in Canada and are buried in administrative costs. Taking police officers away from front line duties to sit at desks, filling out endless forms, is not effective, not useful, and can actually mar the implementation of our judicial system.

There are a lot of opportunities to listen to the RCMP and other police forces across the country. Personally, I do not think they are being listened to right now in many cases. They have a lot of superb solutions that can enable us to achieve a fair and effective judicial system, but they are the ones on the front line. They are the ones who can provide some very innovative solutions and they ought to be listened to.

The government needs to understand there are things it can do on the judicial side that are important. The government did not use a good chunk of the crime prevention moneys. It has removed quite significantly moneys for victims. Moneys have been cut, which is remarkable, for victims rights groups. I would ask the government to reinstate those moneys.

There are two very powerful things the government could do to reduce crime. An early learning head start program will reduce crime by 40% to 50%. Changing the drug laws in our country would also significantly reduce crime because the current prohibition puts money into the hands of organized crime gangs in our country.

There are many fact-based solutions the government could implement to improve our judicial system and make our country a safer place. I would strongly encourage it to implement those solutions.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act September 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-22 about online child pornography.

It is hard to imagine a more despicable, disgusting and appalling crime than the abuse of a child.

It is impossible for any of us to imagine that such a thing is possible, but we all know that today it is far too common. Unfortunately, the victims who bear the brunt of this abuse lay all too silent.

Most child victims of abuse are never found or are found far later in their lives. Their lives unravel at inexplicable times, and when we scratch the surface and go back into what started this, we often find episodes of child abuse.

Those who commit the abuse are often not found. Once individuals are found, it is discovered that not only have they had a few victims, but generally there has been a long-standing pattern of victimization. Many have abused dozens and dozens of children over a prolonged period of time. It is a psychiatric sickness, but it is also a cancer in our society that is absolutely intolerable.

The bill goes some way toward dealing with that and specifically with dealing with online child pornography. It was introduced on May 6 in the last Parliament and is being resurrected again in this Parliament.

The bill basically obligates people to report all website addresses they are aware of that may contain pornography. There is an obligation to report them to police if it is believed that a child pornography offence has or will be committed, based on the services one has. The provider must also preserve the relevant computer data for 21 days after notifying the police.

Failure of sole providers to report such a thing will result in fines of between $1,000 and $10,000, and failure of corporations to do this will result in fines of between $10,000 and $100,000. It is important to note that the bill does not require online providers to proactively seek out child pornography.

Therefore, the Liberal Party of Canada, given its long-standing history of addressing this issue, will be supporting the bill to go on to committee stage.

Legislative initiatives to deal with this go as far back as 2002, when the Liberal government of the day, for the first time, introduced legislation to deal with and criminalize online pornography and those people who contribute to it.

It would be worthwhile to talk a bit about facts and to discuss the depth and scope of this terrible problem.

The Internet is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it provides great opportunities to learn and disseminate information. The dark side of this, of course, is the issue we are talking about today, which is child pornography. It is important for us to understand what this actually means. No one thinks it is innocuous, but it certainly has to be dealt with in terms of how serious it is, as I mentioned, because of the long-standing trauma it inflicts on children. Children are not only being exposed to child pornography on sites but are also being victimized by it, as individuals try to lure children through the Internet capabilities they have.

Here is a little bit of information. Seventy-six per cent of offenders convicted of Internet-related crimes against children admitted to sex crimes against children that were previously unknown to law enforcement. Each offender admitted to 30.5 victims; so every person picked up as an offender has, on average, abused 30 children. That is an absolutely staggering number of children per abuser.

Of the 1,400 cases of reported child molestation, child pornography was used in the majority of cases by those who were the molesters. Child molesters almost always collect child pornography, and 80% of purchasers of child pornography who have been charged have actually been active abusers. We can see the strong connection between those who are actually engaging in and looking at child pornography and the fact that those individuals are also abusing children. There is a direct correlation.

The absence of contact with a child is probably the most significant factor in limiting the production of child pornography and the opportunity to access to children, which is an essential factor in the production of child pornography and child abuse.

The RCMP stands out as a shining example of a Canadian police force that has done an extraordinary amount of work in this area. The RCMP is known worldwide as being a leader in the area of combatting child pornography. All of us in the House should commend the RCMP for the excellent work it has done and the men and women who have to endure looking at these sites and horrible images. This cannot be an easy thing for them to do. For those men and women who work within the RCMP and who have to look at these sites, witness this horrible abuse and try to identify those individuals who do this, we thank them for their service to Canada and particularly for their service to the children of Canada and the world.

The RCMP has a site called cybertip.ca. This site has received over 35,000 reports, 90% of which were considered to be child pornography. If people who are watching this debate today are aware of or know of individuals who are engaged in child pornography or child abuse, I ask them to please contact 911 or cybertip.ca.

Only 30% of children who disclose that they have been sexually abused do so during childhood. As I said before in my opening comments, as a physician I have seen a lot of patients who have been abused sexually and oftentimes they have different problems. When their lives start to unravel and an indepth history is done, too often it is found that they have a history of sexual abuse.

I used to be a correctional officer. I also, as a physician, I worked in the jails. The number of people in jail who had been abused sexually as a child is very large. Many of them not only have psychiatric problems, but they also have substance abuse problems, a lot of which stems from early sexual abuse. Many of the pedophiles in jail were sexually abused as children. It is a vicious cycle that goes around and around.

The Liberal Party supports the bill. We also support the work that the RCMP has done.

One of the things we have to look at is the early childhood period. We need a better way to reach these children so when they are abused, they have a safe place to go to talk about it so the perpetrators can be arrested and the children can be taken out of that situation.

As I said before, only 30% of children disclose that they have been sexually abused before the age of six, which means that 70% of children who are sexually abused prior to the age of six never tell. They endure years of abuse unknown to anybody. We can deal with this by providing opportunities.

I will give the House a real life example of the impact of this.

I worked in a jail where two sisters around the age of 14 had been picked up for prostitution. Their mother, who I knew because I had treated in the detox unit and in emergency, had a substance abuse problem. She was prostituting her two little girls to raise money to pay for her drug abuse problem.

I told the two young women that they would wind up dead if they did not stop, and they laughed it off. A year and a half after that one of the girls was found dead in a ditch in northern British Columbia. After that, I was walking through the pediatric ward doing my rounds and this girl looked familiar. She was still a teenager and she had a very bad stroke affecting half of her body. Because of the environment she was in, she had been exposed to drugs. I do not know what happened to her after that, but what a profoundly tragic end to two little girls who could have had a full and complete life if it were not for the situation they had been in.

If we take a look at the broader scope, there is child sex tourism. This is a situation where we have adults from the west going to countries, generally third world countries but sometimes a lot go to eastern Europe, where laws are lax and interest is limited in terms of child abuse. Adults are going far away to Southeast Asia, eastern Europe, areas of extreme poverty, and they are using the very unstable situation to fulfill their warped and twisted sexual appetites.

The victims of this are literally millions of children. In fact, it is estimated that in India, there are 1.2 million child prostitutes. In Thailand, a favoured destination of pedophiles, 40% of the prostitutes are children. If we look at the cycle, sometimes individuals go into rural and impoverished areas that are in the grips of deep poverty. They tell parents that if they bring their sons or daughters to them, they will ensure the children get jobs and the money will go to the parents. They tell them that their children will do domestic work or some other legitimate form of activity. Instead they take the children and use them as sex slaves.

The children have no hope and no future. They are horribly abused. They suffer from malnutrition. Sometimes they get pregnant early on. They acquire HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. They die an early death. They are victims of extreme violence. They are often gang raped and no one hears about them. They are silent victims in this ever-growing epidemic.

Bill C-22 is an effort to try to deal with this.

We all see cases from time to time that come to forefront when individuals are caught. However, the number of people who are engaged in these behaviours, westerners who go abroad to engage in the sexual abuse of children, and who are actually caught is very small. Only a tiny fraction of these parasites are caught.

It speaks to the failure internationally of countries working together and collectively to address this. Too many times, domestic police forces turn a blind eye. In many of these impoverished countries, children have no rights. They are not really seen as being worthy of the protection of whatever legal rules they have. As a result, children are treated as little more than chattel. This leaves an environment that is ripe for this kind of dramatic sexual abuse and the horrible situations these children endure.

It occurs all over the world, as I said. It is very common in eastern Europe. It is very common in parts of Africa and certainly in Southeast Asia, but we are not immune from this here. Individuals acquire children and bring them to Canada and the United States. Children are abused in our country and we do not even know about it. The Internet is a route to doing that. When people are aware of the type of child pornography on the Internet, it is not a victimless crime. It is very much a crime, period, and the victims are the most underprivileged people in our society.

There are also a number of other very interesting endeavours taking place. The RCMP has, again, been at the forefront of it. It is trying to do a scan to determine the extent of the problem. It is trying to get a better handle on who does this so the people can be identified. It is trying to do a better job of understanding why people would try to go down this route in the first place and how they can be identified before they start to wrack up the number of victims.

Victim identification is also another challenge. Canada has not done a very good job on this. This is certainly something that needs to be addressed and dealt with.

All of us are very pleased that this issue has been brought forward, unlike the gun registry, which dominated the beginning of this Parliament. It is not even, by any stretch of the imagination, an issue that should be consuming Parliament in any way shape or form. There are thousands of other important issues that affect Canadians, such as jobs, money in their pockets, health care and myriad of other issues. This, at least, is an issue that is important.

It is also important to understand that the RCMP is working in an area that has received short shrift. When there is a disaster, in times of extreme insecurity, such as what occurred in the Tsunami in Southeast Asia, what is occurring in Pakistan today and what occurred in Haiti during the earthquake, children are extremely vulnerable. People lure children, taking them into sex slavery and prostitution. Like vultures they descend into these environments and try to find children who are lost, orphaned and found on the streets. At a time of insecurity, when the rule of law has been shattered, they go in and try to find children to abduct. This is a huge challenge, one on which compliment the RCMP for engaging in.

Right now the there is a strategy called “Operation Century”, which is an effort to try to prevent children, during the time of natural disaster, from being subjected to these kinds of abuses and from being abducted from their homes to be trapped. It is part of a national strategy in which the RCMP is engaged.

This all started back in 2002 when, for the first time, legislation was adopted and implemented to deal with something that was very new, which was the use of the Internet as a tool to capture children and use them for sexual abuse and to commit violent acts against them.

There is a national strategy for the protection of children from sexual exploitation on the Internet. The strategy was first launched in 2004 under then Prime Minister Paul Martin, and it extends to this day. I am very happy that the House has chosen to take this.

I hope all of us can agree that this is about our most vulnerable citizens, the children of our country and children from afar. Children deserve to have a life free of these kinds of abuses and violence, sexual abuse and exploitation to which some are subjected. No children should be subjected to that.

I think all of us support the RCMP's efforts to prevent it. We must work together to implement the legal tools that it needs to deal with an every-changing complex issue, which is the use of the Internet to exploit children.

Eliminating Entitlements for Prisoners Act September 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the demographic changes in our country, we will have an explosion of those people who will be needing pensions. We also know there is a significant problem today of people not having enough savings and not having enough pension security.

I would ask the member's opinion on one of the things I think we could do. When pensions were put together, the average life expectancy was roughly 60 to 62. Today, the average life expectancy of a woman is 82 and for a man it is 80. There is a large gap between the time of retirement and the average end of life.

I would ask the member whether one of the challenges that a government would have and one of the solutions would be to incentivize individuals to be able to work after the age of 65. Maybe one way to do this would to enable people to take a part of their CPP tax free in order to incent them to work after the age of 65, and that number would actually increase from 65 to 70. This way it would have less pressure on our CPP levels while providing an incentive for people to work.

We are also seeing a contraction in our workforce as our population ages. The amount of workforce we have will contract because we know our population reproduction rate now is about 1.5 children per woman and the number needed just to maintain a population is 2.1 children per women.

Does my friend believe that a significant reformation of our pension system to incent individuals to work beyond the age of 65 would be to allow them to keep part of their CPP tax free?.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act June 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe that the member so blithely disregarded the construct of this bill. It is partially a budget bill, but there are major parts of it that will significantly change the country, including the environmental checks.

If nothing else, the member has to see what is happening in the southern United States. He has to ask himself why on earth the government is simply abrogating its responsibilities on the environment and giving the checks and balances to the private sector when this model has been proven to have devastating results in other countries. This will be an abysmal failure. The government will wear it if anything happens.

Will the member at least take to his Prime Minister the notion to remove those sections of the bill that have nothing to do with the budget, but are substantive issues that will dramatically change our country? They should be debated in the House and committee, where we can bring the best ideas to craft a better bill.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act June 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague along the HST line.

My riding is located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The HST that is going to go through will result in winners and losers. Oftentimes, the situation in B.C. is conflated with the Maritimes where an HST did go through but under an entirely different circumstance.

The government has a $1.6 billion incentive on the table but the provincial government can only have 5% flexibility in providing tax breaks. Would the member ask his government to allow the $1.6 billion to stay on the table for another year and allow the provincial government to expand that flexibility to provide tax breaks for those of modest means and for the four major sectors in my province, tourism, the service sector, home building and restaurant service associations? These sectors will be hit very hard, particularly at this time when the economy is under dire straits. People will lose their jobs because of entirely preventable situation.

Offshore Drilling June 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, reviewing something and doing something are two entirely different things. This House and Canadians want to see a plan as soon as possible.

My other question relates to oil tanker traffic off the coast of northern B.C. The minister was correct when he said that there was a moratorium, but Canadians want to know when he will ban oil tanker traffic off the pristine and ecologically sensitive waters of northern British Columbia.