House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberal.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Battle River—Crowfoot (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 81% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Health March 23rd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, farmers are plagued with enough problems negatively impacting their ability to produce the safe and high quality food products Canadians have come to expect. We certainly do not need to import more trouble.

I therefore call upon the government to ensure that the most stringent and effective precautions are taken to stop foot and mouth disease from entering into and spreading in the country.

The single largest source of income in the Alberta agriculture industry is derived from the cattle industry. It would be absolutely devastating if foot and mouth disease were to strike my province.

Knowing this, my constituents are anxiously calling my office expressing concerns and asking that British soldiers not be deployed to camps Wainwright, Suffield and Cold Lake until the disease is contained in the United Kingdom.

School trips to the United Kingdom are being cancelled. Although greatly disappointed, our students respect and understand that this sacrifice is necessary to protect the livelihood of their families and neighbours.

I commend the leadership demonstrated by the school boards, the teachers and particularly the students of Crowfoot. I call upon the government to—

Judges Act March 22nd, 2001

Madam Speaker, we have seen other judges acts over the last four years since 1998. In 1996 we saw a Judges Act, the name or number of which I am not familiar with right now, but there have been four such bills. As we go through the bill, it is all about compensation. There are probably 10 or 15 pages on annuity scheduling.

The bill gives judges close to a 12% raise. In 1998 they had an 8.3% raise. The salaries of judges are indexed yearly. Could the member enlighten us a little more on remuneration? When we look at different sectors of criminal justice we see that in 1998 and prior the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had its wages frozen for five years. For five years the police forces had their wages frozen.

Then in March 1998 they were awarded a 3% increase, retroactive to January 1. In April they received another 1% and later on in October, three-quarters of 1%. Over the past six, seven and eight years, our police forces have seen marginal salary increases of up to 4% or 5%.

Are we seeing a higher level of concern or importance respecting the remuneration of higher levels of the public service? We have seen close to a 26% increase over the last few years when we factor in the indexing. I wonder if it is a higher level than other public sector employees are receiving. Why is it that the government seems to be paying such close attention to high level public servants when frontline police forces are seeing such nominal pay increases? Could the member enlighten us on that a little?

Modernization Of House Of Commons Procedure March 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. I honestly knew that that one was coming.

I believe that when we have policy that it is policy we stand on in the good times and in the bad times. It is policy of which we can be proud. It is policy that brings what we would call, and what perhaps is not understood in the House, accountability to every to every member.

On this side we have a book that we like to term required reading. It is called On the Take . If the hon. member has not read it I would suggest he read it. It is excellent evening reading. In that book he will find countless examples in 1993 and before 1993. It reminds me of Erik Nielsen and his many concerns with the old Progressive Conservative times. He absolutely felt betrayed. He felt that those people should step down and move aside.

We had another former leader from that party who got himself into some difficulty. I think he spoke to a judge at the time. There are examples on every side of the House. It would bring accountability back to this place. All parties need it.

I am quite proud of our referendum that the member was referring to. In areas of contentious debate, where issues have been brought forward, far too often we watched the Liberal government members stand up like puppets, look at their the Prime Minister and vote the way the he told them to vote. The people back home said that was not the reason that they sent their member to Ottawa. They sent the member to Ottawa to represent them.

There were people in the back rows on the government side with tears in their eyes who they voted for the gun law when they knew that their constituents were against it.

We have seen this so many countless times on all sides of the House. It is time we look at a policy that would bring accountability back to each member. I am proud to stand here and say that this party believes in accountability. We believe in recall. We look forward to parliamentary reform with some substance and not the meandering kind that we have seen brought forward here tonight.

Modernization Of House Of Commons Procedure March 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in favour of parliamentary and democratic reform. It is not the first time in the past six months that we have spoken to parliamentary reform. We have spoken about it a lot.

In the last general election we probably held close to 25 or 30 forums and public meetings where we spoke about issues such as agriculture, fiscal responsibility and judicial reform. More than anything else we spoke about parliamentary reform.

We spoke about the need to see certain reforms in the Senate. We want to see an equal Senate. We want to see a Senate that is effective and is elected. We talked a great deal about that in the constituency of Crowfoot. We spoke about free votes. The member for Yellowhead so eloquently this evening showed us the need for free votes. I agree with his words. We spoke about referenda, about recall and about citizen initiatives. All these things are fundamental to the parliamentary reform we would like to see.

Tonight we come to the House to discuss parliamentary reform. We are talking about different minor things that can change in certain technical aspects of bringing bills forward. They are probably things that are very important. We are talking about using notes or not using notes. In the past two months I have been here I have heard a lot of people give speeches where they should have used notes.

However, I want to speak about parliamentary reform. There is a country that understands parliamentary reform, a country with a population of less than seven million, with very few natural resources. It has a harsh climate and 25% of its land mass is covered by mountains. It has four official languages, many ethnic subgroups, and large regional economic disparities.

One would think such a country would be riddled with economic and social strife, division and troubles, but nothing could be further from the truth. The country has had the highest standard of living of any other country over the last 50 years. Never has the country experienced more than 1.5% unemployment. Inflation is never higher than 4% and interest rates are always close to 6%. It has an extensive high quality health care, an excellent education system, generous social services which I might add are truly for the needy, and a social service program that looks after those who are handicapped and in need. The country has a world class transportation system.

In proportion to population the country has the smallest civil service in Europe, the lowest tax rates and the smallest national budget. Why does the country enjoy such economic and social success? It is because Switzerland has a recipe for success. The ingredient for success is called true democracy.

The Swiss truly have government of the people, by the people and for the people. Power is literally in the hands of the people, a concept that for far too long has escaped the imagination of those who sit in power here and run this country.

We in Canada have government of the politicians, by the politicians and for the politicians. It is time for change. We in Canada have top down rule. The tendency of this and previous governments has been to increase their own power by employing closed door policies. Only an exclusive few, the cabinet, the executive of government and those influenced by special interest groups and lobby groups, are the ones that come together to decide policies and programs in Canada.

Canadian citizens have effectively been excluded from participating in a forum that decides how their daily lives will be conducted and affected. Effective communication between citizens and their elected representatives has been cut off. Politicians are no longer accountable to the electorate on a day by day basis. Rather than thinking of gaining public confidence through listening and accommodating public concerns, elected officials have spent their time selling their government programs and legislation to the people.

We have seen that in the last week. We have seen farm groups and agricultural people who have come together to say that the programs the government has put forward are insufficient. The response of the government is to come out with hundreds of thousand dollar advertising campaigns selling their programs back to the people of Canada.

Rather than representing their constituents in Ottawa, our federally elected officials are representing Ottawa back home to their constituencies. My colleagues on this side of the House and I are committed to changing this sad fact.

We talked about throughout the last general election. We are committed to changing the autocratic means of decision making by restoring power to the rightful owners, the people. Individuals on the other side of the House are chuckling at the novel idea that we would actually give people power in terms of programs and representation.

Since my colleague speaking before me provided many recommendations on modernizing and improving the procedures of the House for the special committee to consider, I would like to briefly speak about an Alliance recommendation for improving democracy and it is recall. Recall, a procedure that allows the voters to call their representatives to account before the end of their term, is but one step in many to putting power back into the hands of the people.

I do not know of any other job in Canada that will not allow the removal of a person from the job for improper conduct or for not doing his or her job, except for the positions occupied by politicians. We on this side of the House believe the people of Canada should have the right to fire the people that they have hired.

As it stands now, elected officials cannot be fired by the very people who hired them, except at election time. This leaves the impression that politicians are above the rules and the regulations that govern the average Canadian worker. Allowing an elected official immunity for misconduct or incompetence is an absurdity that is added to the current level of political apathy as witnessed in the last federal election when only 51% of the electorate decided it was really worth coming out to vote. Author William Mishler says:

Political attitudes and behaviour are learned. The political apathy and inactivity characteristic of large segments of the Canadian public are not intrinsic to man's basic nature. They are neither inevitable nor immutable. The decision to participate in or abstain from politics is to a substantial degree a conditioned response to the political environment.

Our political system has bred the attitude that the government does not care what the people think or what the people want. Those elected to parliament have lost touch with the people. The political environment has produced a nation of cynics who hold politicians in contempt. Recall would force elected representatives to open the doors of communication with their constituents, thereby enhancing the dialogue between them, a dialogue that lies at the core of the representative process. Recall would also help restore mutual respect between the electorate and the politicians. It would put in place the cheques and balances to remove the monopoly of power held by parliament.

Representatives would be forced to vote on legislation according to the wishes of their constituents not according to party line. We saw some of that on legislation that was been highly contentious, such as same sex benefits and firearm laws.

The Swiss know that if democracy is to be meaningful, it has to be a bottom-up system of popular or grassroots government. The Swiss have had a system of initiative, referendum and recall since 1874. The value of this process is seen in the prosperity of the country.

The official opposition encourages the use of national referendums to give Canadians the opportunity to voice their opinions on issues of a moral or contentious nature. If all members of the House believed in democracy, if they truly believed that the majority ruled in this country, they too would support the use of national referendums. They would support the establishment of a special house committee, as recommended today.

We need to move forward in the House of Commons. We need to move forward in a positive way, where the people would feel that they had better representation, that when they sent their member to Ottawa or to parliament he or she would speak their wishes. We can do that through taking a very comprehensive look at what parliamentary reform means. I suggest that we have heard far too much of what it does not mean. It is time to look at changing a system that is sadly in need of repair.

Supply March 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that today, as we brought this debate to the House, the House leader on the other side stood and for an hour we questioned the agricultural difficulties and the problem here. We lost an hour of debate. There are now six people from my party, many on the other opposition sides and a few on the government side who would love to speak to the agricultural crisis. However we spent an hour on a technicality when the country is in a disaster and a crisis.

This is the fourth time I have stood in the House on behalf of the many farmers in my predominantly rural riding and pleaded their case for assistance. Today is the first day of spring, the day most farmers look forward to getting on the land and putting a crop in the ground, a time when calves are being born and equipment is being fixed. Many farmers in my riding are not looking forward to much.

Every farm group across Canada has asked for a minimum of $900 million. The government says it can give $500 million and that should do. That will not do. It will not help the plight of our farmers.

Last week farmers across the country took to the streets in tractors and combines to protest the meagre aid that was given. In Ontario convoys pulled on to the highways, even highway 401, the busiest highway in the country, to protest. They also protested in Saskatoon.

I realize that my time is pretty well up. I should like to ask for an extension of the time for debate on the motion.

Supply March 13th, 2001

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member beside me for such a good question. It boils down to this: Do we want to fight crime or do we want to deal with the effects of crime? Do we want to put in place what the police forces are asking for? They are asking for a registry that would not only be a record of the case or of the conviction of an offender but a record that would allow them to know where the offenders were so they could prevent it from happening again.

We want more than record keeping. We want a tool put in place to help us fight crime. As we learned in question period today, people on the most wanted list are in Canada. They have been here for two years. The government does not seem anxious about this until these individuals are forced to leave. Then two years later it will deal with the crime and say that at least the individuals did not commit anymore.

The Liberal document that I received this morning deals with the need to fight pornography at the root and not allow it to go the next step. The document states that there should be a registry available to groups who would hire people who work with children. It goes on to talk about pornography and making it illegal to possess it.

In the past we have sat passively by watching the courts rule on decisions. The government has had no will to fight crime but there has been a will to rehabilitate and reintegrate. One of my greatest concerns is that we are now compromising on that. That is exactly what this member said.

We are now saying that not only are we not going to fight crime by giving police officers the ability to know where these individuals are, but we are going to lower the amount of time they are incarcerated. We are not going to make it compulsory for these individuals go through education programs while incarcerated. This is an injustice to our society and to our children. It is time we stand up for the sake of our children and our grandchildren.

Supply March 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and a pleasure for me to stand and speak in support of establishing a national sex offender registry. I do so today in memory of Christopher Stephenson, an 11 year old Toronto boy who was abducted, raped and murdered by a repeat sex offender.

Joseph Fredericks had a long history of assaulting children. He spent most of his life in psychiatric institutions. He was on mandatory supervision when Christopher was killed. I fully recognize that in this particular case a registry may not have prevented this sadistic killer from committing such a horrific act. However, as many have argued here today, it may have prevented him from killing the young boy. It may have allowed police officers to find and incarcerate Fredericks before Christopher's death.

As noted in many of the speeches already presented by my colleagues, we are proposing to establish a registry that would contain the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders. Every offender would be required to register in person at his or her local police station at least once a year. During that time they would be required to provide any updated information that the police force may ask for in order to combat sex offences.

As already mentioned today, a number of provincial jurisdictions have established this registry already. In the case of Ontario, Christopher's law, or Bill C-31, received royal assent in April 2000. It established a registry that aims to ensure the safety and security of all persons in that province by providing the information and investigative tools required to prevent and solve crimes of a sexual nature.

Before proceeding further, I would like to caution members on the other side of the House, particularly those who were here in or prior to 1993, to carefully consider their position on the motion today.

I issue such a warning because I have a copy of an April 1993 document titled “A Liberal Perspective on Crime and Justice Issues”. Contained within that document are a number of recommendations put forward by the then official opposition, one being to “combat Canada's growing violent crime problem.”

I commend the Liberal Party that while it was in opposition it recognized and realized there was a growing violent crime problem. That problem is still here today.

One of the recommendations that was put forward appears on page 7 of the Liberal document: “to support the establishment of a national registry of convicted child abusers”. The rationale for the recommendation was:

Sex offenders represent almost 20 per cent of the incarcerated population and 10 per cent of the conditionally released population. These numbers are not an accurate representation as they include only those sentenced to two years or more in prison. Actual figures are much higher.

Over the past five years there has been a 20.4 per cent increase in the rate of admission of sex offences. Evidently more and more sex offenders will be reintegrating into Canadian communities.

The Liberal's own findings went on to reveal:

Repeat sex offenders are more than twice as likely to commit further sex offences, much more likely to violate conditional release conditions and more likely than any other offenders to reoffend with a non-sexual offence. However, treatment programs for sexual offenders are sorely lacking.

When referring to the Tory government at the time the document stated:

The federal government is spending approximately $98 million a year to incarcerate sex offenders and only $2 million a year on treatment programs to rehabilitate them.

It went on to state:

It is the norm, when it should be the exception, that convicted sexual offenders return to communities without any counselling or rehabilitation therapy.

I do not often agree with the Liberal Party, but I certainly agree with its findings in this instance. Most of my colleagues and I agree with the information that was given out by the Liberal Party in 1993 to support its own recommendation for a national registry of convicted child abusers.

The Liberal's information is fully supported by a number of good studies which repeatedly indicate that sex offenders have one of the highest recidivism rates of any criminal group, with an estimated 40% reoffending within five years of release.

As well, research indicates that offender treatment programs have shown limited results. Practitioners in the field of sex offender treatment never claim to cure sex offenders, but rather they claim to manage the risk of reoffending.

What has changed over the last eight years? What has changed since the Liberals produced this great document on growth and violent crime? What is it that has so adamantly changed their minds that they have not implemented the program they wished to implement in 1993? Why have they not established this registry?

Moderately more money is being spent on treatment programs. According to the CSC's most recent figures, approximately $150 million is spent to incarcerate offenders and a little over $8 million is spent on treatment. That is a slight improvement over the figures released by the Liberals when the Tories were in power.

Not all sex offenders are fully completing the courses, the necessary plans that are prescribed by the CSC officials, because treatment is not compulsory. When they are incarcerated it is not compulsory that they undergo rehabilitation programs.

I can only surmise that it must be amnesia. Perhaps the Liberal Party is growing old or perhaps it is strictly amnesia that is causing it to forget about the recommendations or promises it once so believed in, or claimed to believe in.

The Liberal government forgot the recommendation to support a registry just like it forgot the recommendation to scrap the GST, just like it forgot the recommendation to forget free trade, just like it forgot the recommendation to have an ethics counsellor who reported directly to parliament. We have a very forgetful government.

To better illustrate the need for a national registry I will read some excerpts from an article that appeared in the Montreal Gazette a number of years ago. It stated:

A pedophile named Martin Dubuc was convicted...for offences against children—again. This is the same Martin Dubuc who, as a boys' hockey coach in Laval, was convicted in 1986 for molesting team members, the same creep who, after his release from prison, did not let a lifetime ban on coaching in Quebec stop him.

He simply changed locales, becoming a coach and eventually president of the Minor Hockey Association of Southwest Montreal. But that neglect by the recreation establishment is an old scandal. The new scandal involves the schools. It came to light last week when Dubuc pleaded guilty to using the telephone to threaten several boys aged 10 to 13 and to incite them to touch themselves sexually. Somehow, he had slithered his way into elementary schools as a substitute teacher. And this was not a slip-up by just one organization. In recent years, three different school boards in the Montreal area had hired Dubuc.

The Gazette went on to say:

This case illustrates the chilling way in which predators with long criminal records can worm their way into positions of trust and authority to harm children.

The author of the article went on to say that this was not a slip-up by simply one organization. It was a slip up by many organizations. One of those organizations was the Liberal organization across the way. One of them was the Liberal government because it failed to establish the national registry that it had once recommended.

In closing, I call upon members sitting opposite to honour their past promises. It is better to be late than never. Sexual criminal offences are all about control and power. For the sake of our children, let us take control away from the offender and give it back to our police forces, back to those who would fight crime. For the sake of our children, let us protect society and let us begin now with a national sex offender program and registry.

Judges Act March 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, in December of last year, shortly after the federal election, I was going through an Ottawa Citizen article which mentioned that Canadian judges would be receiving a $19 million pay raise that would boost their income 11.2% on average to more than $205,000.

The 11.2% awarded on December 13, 2000, was according to that news article quoting a justice department lawyer a compromise between the 26.3% that the judges were asking for and the demands of taxpayers to keep costs down. Government justice lawyer Judith Bellis had taken the view that the 11.2% was in the range of reasonable.

Bill C-12, the subject of today's debate, enacts that 11.2% pay raise, thereby raising the salaries of approximately 1,013 federally appointed judges who sit on provincial superior courts and courts of appeal, as well as the tax courts and the Supreme Court of Canada.

The increase, retroactive to April 1, 2000, will raise the base salary from $179,200 to $198,000 for judges who sit on appeal courts and superior courts in each province. The salaries for the chief justices in those courts will rise to $217,000 from $196,500. The same rates will also apply to federal court judges.

The judges on the Supreme Court of Canada will remain the highest paid. The eight regular judges will see an increase to $235,700 from $213,000, while Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin's salary will jump to $254,000 from $230,200.

It is important to note that while the government considers this raise reasonable, the official opposition views it as extremely generous considering senior public servants have received raises of no more than 5.7%. As well, the pay of public servants is not indexed, while the pay and salaries of judges are. We on this side of the House, therefore, are opposed to Bill C-12.

For the information of other new members of the House, I would like to point out this is not the first time the Liberal government has tried to amend the Judges Act. In fact, this is the fourth time the Liberals have come forward and made changes to the act.

Originally in 1996, Bill C-2 and Bill C-42, both if I may paraphrase a former member of the House, were described as being nebulous, inconsequential pieces of legislation with little significance to Canadians who were genuinely concerned about their safety, as opposed to the simple administrative matters that these bills brought forward.

In April 1998 Bill C-37 was introduced to establish the judicial compensation and benefits commission. The compensation commission was set up as an independent advisory body after the supreme court ruled that judges' salaries were constitutionally protected and the previous system of setting pay was inadequate.

Bill C-37, increasing judges' salaries retroactively, provided them with an 8.3% pay increase over those two years. Translated into dollars, this meant an average $13,000 pay increase for federal judges with salaries increasing from $159,000 to over $172,000.

I do not know of any other federal public servant, or any hard-working Canadian citizen, who received a $13,000 pay increase in 1998. While the Liberal government and the Tories were voting in favour of the huge pay increase, Canadians' incomes were on a steady decline.

Members on this side of the House, with the exception of the Progressive Conservative Party, opposed the bill. Members on the other side of the House wrongfully insisted that our opposition to the bill was “the ravings of ill-informed and ill-prepared men of parliament who contributed to the ill-repute of the justice system”. The truth is that my party holds the judiciary in high esteem. We were opposed to Bill C-37 and we are opposed to Bill C-12, based on the fact that other senior public servants, lower level public employees and other Canadian workers had not and will not be awarded such generous increases.

In the same year that federal judges were being awarded these huge salary increases, comparatively Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, who had had their salaries and wages frozen for five years, were granted an increase of 2% in March 1998, retroactive to January. A second pay increase was given to them in April 1998 and toward the end of that year they received another three-quarter per cent increase. Over the five years that they had been frozen, and in the next year of 1998, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police saw an increase of three and three-quarter per cent. They are on the front lines putting their lives in jeopardy. The average three year constable received less than $2,000 over those years.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that the former member of Crowfoot put forward an amendment to Bill C-37 that was supported and passed in the House during report stage. That amendment ensured that every four years the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights had the opportunity to review the report of the commission on judges' salaries and benefits. The task would not be left solely to the Minister of Justice as was originally contemplated by the Liberal government.

It would be negligent of me if I also did not recognize the thorough job the Senate did in reviewing Bill C-37, the pre-emptive bill to Bill C-12, and the substantive amendments that it brought forward at the upper house.

In particular, I would like to single out the efforts of Senator Anne Cools for her diligent efforts in revealing the many inadequacies of Bill C-37. Senator Cools apparently exposed the fact that Bill C-37 would effectively allow judges to set their own wages, salaries and benefits and in so doing would set up the possibility of there being a show down between parliament and the judiciary. It would allow judges to appeal parliament's decision regarding a recommendation of the salary increase put forward in the courts. Essentially the judges would have the final say over whether or not parliamentarians were giving them a sufficient raise.

Although former judicial pay commissioner David Scott said it was unlikely that judges would ever be setting their own salaries, he would not rule out the possibility of the judiciary challenging parliament's response to the commission's recommendations for a pay increase or for reducing pay.

The judiciary would have to prove, however, in a court that the refusal to increase salaries or a decision to lower them was motivated by a wish to diminish the independence of judges. Mr. Scott said that even if the judges won in such a case, the court could only declare parliament's motion on the issue void and that would result in a stalemate. As pointed out by the Liberal senator, this would “deprive Canadians of their undoubted constitutional right to parliament's control over the public purse in respect to the judiciary”.

Clearly, the control of the public purse rests with the elected members of parliament and not with the unelected members of the judiciary.

Section 100 of the 1867, Constitution Act, states in part that the salaries, allowances and pensions of the judges shall be fixed and provided by the Parliament of Canada. Clause 6 of Bill C-37 potentially abolished parliament's role in fixing judges' salaries.

Obviously we must question why the Minister of Justice at that time was so willing to bestow such potentially wielding powers on the judiciary through Bill C-37. One can only surmise, and again I use the words of Senator Cools when she said:

The real intent (of Bill C-37) is to remove parliament from the process.... There is a problem in that certain particular judges seem to crave a closeness to certain individuals in the Department of Justice and are trying to cling, closer and closer, to the executive rather than to parliament.

She went on to say to the Senate:

In other words, honourable senators, what is happening here is that 200 years of history are being turned on their head, and we are being told in this judgment that, quite frankly, judges prefer their fate to be in the hands of the executive rather than in the hands of parliament. It is a most curious and interesting subject matter.

It is more than curious and interesting, it is fearful.

Bill C-37, which was also an act to amend the Judges Act as it was originally drafted by the Department of Justice, had another problem. It created a legal right for a judge to have two spouses. The two spouses clause was meant to deal with circumstances in which a married judge, who was separated from his or her wife or husband and was living common law with another person, died. It would have allowed a judge to have both spouses, married and common law, to be eligible for the lucrative pension. In addition, the common law spouse would collect a one time payout of one-sixth of the judge's annual salary at the time of his or her passing.

Former supreme court Justice William Estey said that this particular section of Bill C-37 would “give his former colleagues on the bench the right to a kind of homemade harem. It would effectively create two separate sets of family law, one for the judges and one for everyone else”.

During debate on this legislation it was noted that the situations such as the contemplated one in Bill C-37 were rare. Therefore, questions arose as to why such a clause was put into Bill C-37. Critics suggested that this particular clause was tailor made for Chief Justice LeSage who was separated from his wife and had resided for about a year with Judge Lang. If Chief Justice LeSage were to die, the new amendment would have allowed both Judge Lang and Mrs. LeSage to qualify as his surviving spouse and share his pension.

As pointed out by Senator Cools during the debate, Bill C-37 appeared tailor fit to particular individuals. Senator Cools said “We have a situation in this country where individuals have access to the legislative writing machine”. Senator Cools said that it was very bothersome. Again, that is more than bothersome. That is a huge concern.

I understand that Bill C-37 was not the first time that the government has tailor made legislation to amend the Judges Act. Bill C-42, as mentioned earlier, also amended the Judges Act. It changed the pension scheme and working conditions of the federally appointed judiciary. In particular, it set out the terms on which Canadian judges could participate in international activities.

Although it was never explicitly admitted by the House or by the government, it was no secret that these amendments to the Judges Act arose due to the 1996 appointment of then Madam Justice Louise Arbour to the United Nations as a prosecutor for its special war crimes division.

Apparently opposition members naively agreed in June of that year, just before the House recessed for the summer, without any debate in the House, without any debate at committee, to pass Bill C-42 after being assured by the former justice minister that it was a simple innocuous housekeeping bill. It was not until the amended bill was returned from the Senate and the testimony of witnesses that appeared before the Senate committee were made known that my colleagues realized that Bill C-42, as claimed by legal experts, had “the appearance of transgressing the vital principle of judicial impartiality”, the very principle that our Minister of Justice has just spoken on.

In particular, I refer to the testimony of Professor Morton:

The government is concerned, as well it should be, with the current status of Justice Arbour and the implications of her status for those responsible at justice. The government seems to hope that by passing Bill C-42 as quickly as possible it can retroactively legitimate apparent indiscretions by Justice Arbour and possibly others—

It would appear that Justice Arbour agreed to the appointment before it had been approved by the Minister of Justice (or any other officials), thereby forcing the minister to react to a fait accompli. Furthermore, it then appears that the minister, rather than recommending to Justice Arbour that she postpone her new activities (at the Hague) pending necessary amendments to the Judges Act, sought to temporarily legitimate her actions by an order in council; and then (because the order in council is conceded to be insufficient) sought to retroactively legitimate Justice Arbour's new employment with general amendments to the Judges Act, Bill C-42, thereby forcing the hand of Parliament.

Professor Morton added:

No doubt some will say that this is nit-picking. My response is simple. If the justice minister and appeal court judges cannot be expected to comply with the letter of the law, then who can?...Indeed within the last month the justice minister himself pronounced on the meaning and the importance of the rule of the law. The rule of the law is “a living” principle that is fundamental to our democratic way of life. In substance it means that everyone in our society, including ministers of government, premiers, the rich and powerful and the ordinary citizen alike, is governed by the same law of the land.

While one section of Bill C-42 at that point in time appeared tailor made for Arbour, another section of that very same bill was apparently designed for the then chief justice of the supreme court in that it offered an unprecedented pension benefit to the chief justice and his wife at the very time when the top court was considering the most politically sensitive case of the decade, perhaps of confederation, whether Quebec had a constitutional right to secede from Canada.

The proposed changes did away with the prohibition on judicial double-dipping. Previously a retired judge received a pension equal to two-thirds of his annual salary; on average, about $104,000. When he died, his spouse collected a survivor's pension worth one-third of his salary or $52,000, provided that she was not a retired judge.

Under the new law retired judge spouses will collect both, thus receiving a total pension equivalent to their salary before retirement. The most obvious beneficiary of the change was Chief Justice Lamer and his wife, Federal Court of Canada Justice Danièle Tremblay-Lamer.

With regard to this section of Bill C-42, Professor Morton said:

Without imputing any illicit motive to anyone involved—the timing of this proposed change could not be worse.

Morton also said that sceptics would claim:

It is unacceptable that a chief justice who is about to benefit from the minister's proposed pension policy change now sits in judgment of the minister's Quebec reference—the most politically sensitive constitutional case of the decade.

In closing, I would assure the House and Canadians in general that the official opposition will closely scrutinize Bill C-12. In particular, we will review the provision of the bill that changes the annuities scheme.

I am not a financial expert. I am not an expert on annuities or the pay schedules that are put forward in the bill. Without the advantage of expert advice at this stage, what appears to happen is that the changes being made to the Judges Act allow a judge who is married for the second time to another judge after the death of his or her first spouse, also a judge, to collect both or two survivor benefits upon the death of the second spouse. One could only guess why the government is contemplating such a rare and highly unlikely situation.

As we have already mentioned, four times the Liberal government has come to make amendments to the Judges Act. We have seen time and time again where the government has tailor made legislation to fit certain individuals and certain situations. We will also assure the House and Canadians in general that Bill C-12 is not tailor made to any individuals. If it were, it would definitely compromise the impartiality of our judiciary.

Judges Act March 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act and to amend another act in consequence. I would like to mention that I will be splitting my time with the Canadian Alliance justice critic from Provencher.

Trevor And Linda Davies March 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend Mr. Trevor and Mrs. Linda Davies of Camrose, Alberta for their volunteer efforts in Honduras.

On behalf of the Canadian Executive Service Organization, Trevor and Linda went on assignment to Honduras to assist an organization that provides financial services to Afro-Honduran communities and other ethnic groups that have difficulty accessing credit from conventional sources.

Trevor wrote a comprehensive report that covered the past and present micro credit situation, management and personnel and projected lending. He made a series of recommendations for change.

Linda provided recommendations for immediate and long term health and sanitation improvements for a village project the organization sponsored. She left medications and other supplies donated by Canadians at the village clinic and donated materials to the village school.

The outstanding and selfless efforts of these two individuals helped stimulate development in the disadvantaged economy of Honduras.

In this year of volunteers, I salute the work of these highly skilled volunteers, Trevor and Linda Davies.