House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was respect.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin (Saskatchewan)

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

Statements in the House

Petitions May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.

The first petition draws attention to a CBC documentary revealing that ultrasounds are being used in Canada to tell the sex of an unborn child so expectant parents can choose to terminate the pregnancy if the unborn child is a girl. The petitioners note that 92% of Canadians believe sex-selective pregnancy termination should be illegal and note that 200 million girls are missing worldwide as a result.

The petitioners feel that it is a terrible shame that the three deadliest words in the world are “it's a girl”. They would like Parliament to condemn discrimination against girls occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.

Petitions April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this petition is from 355 signatories, from B.C. all the way across to Newfoundland in our fair country.

The petitioners draw Parliament's attention to the fact that a high percentage of prostitutes are forced into the sex trade and are trafficked. The petitioners are calling on the Parliament of Canada to legislate such that it be a criminal offence to purchase sex from a woman, man, or child and that it be a criminal offence for pimps, madams, and others to profit from the proceeds of this pernicious sex trade.

Children's Day Celebrations April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on Apri1 23, 1920, the national assembly of the Turkish republic was established.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish republic, dedicated April 23 to the children of the country because they would be the future of the new nation. Turkey's children's day showed the world the importance he placed on the health and education of young people.

Years later, UNICEF decided to recognize April 23 as International Children's Day. Since 1979, National Sovereignty and Children's Day in Turkey has been celebrated with guest children from around the world. They are housed in Turkish homes and interact with kids from other nations, and learn about each other's cultures. When these children participate in a special session of the parliament, a truly international assembly is formed, where children pledge their commitment to international peace and friendship.

Turkish Canadians are rightly proud that their country of origin was the initiator of the world's first national children's holiday. Children's day in Canada is celebrated with numerous multicultural children's activities and events that focus on our children, our future.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, of course that is the highest task and demand of a government: to protect its own citizens in various ways. The hon. member for Yukon well makes the point that we need to be doing that. We need to be making sure that our citizens are protected and we are taking the kinds of measures that send a very strong message, an incentive or inducement, I guess, to many others to avoid that. However, as he also alluded to, there is no question that we need to do what we can on the prevention side.

Our government is trying to get at both of those aspects. Any responsible government will look at the preventive aspects, how it can prevent people from getting into situations in the first place. That is a whole other kettle of fish, as we have said. The use of the Internet is a big part of that problem, and we need to work with providers so that some of this is shut down.

As my colleague rightly makes the point, we need to provide those kinds of measures in the Criminal Code that provide punishment and send the message. We have done this with this thicker bill, and others as well. I thank the member for the good work he has done throughout his riding and in respect of these kinds of measures. I know he has pushed them hard and supports them, and I thank him for that.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I think the member asked a very good question. Of course, it is probably better directed to the Commissioner of the RCMP, and I hope he is listening today so that those dollars are expended in the pursuit of those individuals who are using the Internet for these nefarious purposes.

The RCMP should be using those dollars effectively and efficiently to get at the root of this problem, which is very often on the internet. We hope the RCMP spends to the appropriate extent to get at the Internet issue, which is the biggest problem here of all.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak about our government's decisive action to keep our streets and communities safe. I am proud to note that we have a particular focus on protecting the most vulnerable of all in our society, and that is our dear children.

Since 2006, we have taken a number of actions in this regard, including, among many others, enacting new and increasing existing mandatory minimum penalties for child sex offences and making it illegal for anyone to provide sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against that child.

Recently, as members of this House will know, we took action to crack down on cyberbullying. That has been mentioned in speeches here already. We have all been moved by several tragic cases we have heard about, from across the country and North America, where young lives have been lost due to the emotional torment caused by cyberbullying. That is why last year we passed legislation to give police and prosecutors new tools to effectively address cyberbullying.

Although our government has taken significant strides to protect our children, more work remains to be done. Of course, more work always remains to be done. Sadly, other threats to our children exist, perhaps none so disturbing as the threat from child sexual offenders, and that seems to be growing domestically and abroad. In 2013 alone in Canada, some 4,200 sexual violations against children were reported to police. Those were just those cases that were reported, not to mention the many others that have no doubt occurred and for one reason or another were not reported.

Child sexual exploitation is a horrible, evil crime. Although most of us could never fully imagine the extent of devastation caused by abuse of this sort, we understand that the impact on the victims endures long after the abuse ends. That is why we are committed to doing everything we can to protect our children, and that is why our government has introduced the comprehensive legislation before us.

The tougher penalties for child predators act would help us better address the enormity of this crime and further crack down on offenders convicted of child sexual abuse offences. It proposes a range of measures to protect our children. It will take a few moments for me to outline some of these changes we have proposed, beginning with the proposed changes to the Criminal Code.

The first is to ensure that those convicted of child pornography and child-contact child sexual offences serve their sentences one after another, consecutively, instead of discounting them, where we pile one sentence on the other and the offenders get a break and less time served. Particularly, this would be for offenders who have victimized multiple children. Further, this legislation would increase both maximum and minimum penalties for child sex offences and would increase penalties for the violation of conditions in supervision orders. Finally, it would ensure that the spouse of a person charged with child pornography offences could be obliged to testify in court. That is important, as often it is the spouse who can provide the testimony needed to secure convictions in these cases.

Now I would like to turn our attention to some of the important proposed amendments to the Sex Offender Information Registration Act.

Before I get to the changes, I would note that this act, which came into force in 2004, allowed for the establishment of a database containing information on convicted sex offenders across Canada. It is called the National Sex Offender Registry. It is administered by the RCMP and is used by police across Canada to help them prevent and investigate crimes of a sexual nature. There are currently approximately 37,000 sex offenders listed on the database, of which 25,000 have been convicted of a sex offence against a child.

Certainly some important reporting obligations are already in place in the current system. For example, offenders are required to report annually and any time they change their address or legal name, and all registered sex offenders are required to report absences of seven days or more for trips either within or outside of Canada.

It is also worth noting that significant reforms came into effect in 2011 to strengthen the registry and the National DNA Data Bank. Those changes include the automatic inclusion, and mandatory DNA sampling, of convicted sex offenders in the registry, proactive use of the registry by police to prevent offences, registration of sex offenders convicted abroad, and parallel amendments to ensure that reforms apply to those convicted of sex offences through the military justice system.

Nevertheless, legitimate concerns remain about our ability to know the whereabouts of sex offenders, particularly given offenders' mobility to travel abroad to other countries.

Internationally, approximately one million children are exploited by sex tourists and sex traffickers each year. Our government is committed to taking action to protect children from sexual exploitation no matter where in the world it may occur.

Indeed, the changes we are proposing to the Sex Offender Information Registration Act would allow us to better protect children from sexual exploitation, both in Canada and abroad, by ensuring that police have more information about the travel plans of sex offenders. One proposed change is to broaden the reporting requirements for registered sex offenders about their international travel plans.

I mentioned a moment ago that all registered sex offenders are required to report absences of seven days or more for trips within or outside of Canada. However, currently the requirement for them to provide specific destinations and addresses is for domestic trips only.

We are proposing that sex offenders convicted of child sex offences be required to report absences of any duration for trips abroad, and, again, provide specific travel dates and locations. Registered sex offenders travelling abroad would be required to report every address or location at which they expect to stay for a trip of seven days or longer, and the specific dates that they will depart and return.

This brings me to the next proposed change, which is one that would allow for the establishment of information sharing between officials with access to the National Sex Offender Registry and officials at the Canadian Border Services Agency. Although this may surprise some, there is currently no mechanism for information sharing regarding sex offenders between those two organizations. It goes without saying that it limits our knowledge of sex offenders when they travel.

To close this gap, the bill proposes to authorize registry officials to disclose information about certain registered sex offenders to officials at the Canadian Border Services Agency, particularly in cases of child sex offenders assessed as high risk, so that they can be placed on a lookout system. In addition, border officials would be authorized to collect travel information about these sex offenders upon their return to Canada and then share it with National Sex Offender Registry officials.

Finally, the bill includes provisions that would authorize the RCMP to establish and administer a publicly accessible national database of high-risk child sex offenders. Essentially this would be a separate database that would centralize public access to certain information on high-risk child sex offenders who have already been the subject of a public notification in a provincial or territorial jurisdiction.

In conclusion, these changes would allow us to further deliver on some of the worthy commitments we have made to Canadians, namely to ensure that those who break the law are punished accordingly for their actions, that penalties match the severity of the crimes, and that the rights of the victims come before the rights of the criminals. Above all, these changes would allow us to better shelter children, both in Canada and abroad, from the horrific crime of child sexual exploitation.

Therefore, I call on members of all parties in this House for their support of this very worthy measure.

Petitions March 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, more than 200 petitioners are drawing Parliament's attention to the fact that a high percentage of prostitutes are forced into the sex trade and into trafficking in sex, that a big majority of them are women and children, and that there are those who profit from the sex trade.

These petitioners are concerned, and they are asking that we frame legislation so that it would be a criminal offence to purchase sex with a woman, a man, or a child, and that it would be a criminal offence for pimps, madams, and others to profit from the proceeds of the iniquitous sex trade.

Victims Bill of Rights Act February 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today in support of this important bill, Bill C-32, the victims bill of rights. It has been a long time coming, yet many people over decades prior have seen the need for something in the order of what we have here today.

The victims bill of rights is unlike any other legislative proposal for victims of crime in our country. It would create a stand-alone act, the Canadian victims bill of rights, or the CVBR. As my esteemed colleague just moments ago spoke so very eloquently about, it would enshrine 12 rights for victims at the federal level, for the first time in Canadian history. That is what the bill is all about.

My colleague mentioned those 12 rights being grouped into some different areas of information, protection, participation, and also restitution. All would be enforceable through the remedy scheme proposed in the bill. That is only the first part of the reforms included in Bill C-32. In order to give life to the 12 rights set out in the Canadian victims bill of rights, Bill C-32 includes amendments to the Criminal Code, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and the Canada Evidence Act.

I am very proud to be part of this historic recognition of the important role of victims in the criminal justice process. It is on the eve of my departure from this place in the fall, along with my colleague who spoke prior and others around this place. However, there is a great sense of satisfaction that we got this together and it is being passed under our watch, so to speak.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has just finished an extensive study of this important piece of legislation. I was very pleased to hear so many members of the committee, from all parties, expressing their support for the bill. We have already heard those inferences here this morning.

This support speaks to the importance of the bill's overall goal of recognizing victims and ensuring that they occupy a more meaningful place in our criminal justice system. I was also pleased that so many witnesses took the time to testify at committee. Indeed, some 40 witnesses appeared before the standing committee to offer their views on the victims bill of rights. Most of those witnesses expressed their overall support for the bill while offering some specific constructive comments and suggestions for its improvement. Many acknowledged the importance of the bill in taking this first step toward treating victims as more than mere witnesses in the criminal justice process.

We also heard some criticisms. Some argued that the bill would cause excessive delays in an already overburdened justice system. In particular, they felt that a victims's right to information, supported by changes in the Criminal Code, would bring the criminal justice system to a halt. For example, proposed new subsection 606(4.1) would require a court that has accepted a guilty plea from an accused as a result of a plea agreement for a serious personal injury offence or murder to inquire of the prosecutor whether reasonable steps have been taken to inform the victim of the agreement. If it is not reasonable in the circumstance to do so, the crown would then be required to notify the victim as soon as possible.

That amendment would allow victims to be informed, at an early opportunity, of potential plea bargains as they are on the horizon. Victims would be entitled, under proposed new subsection 606(4.2), to ask the crown attorney to notify them of plea agreements in cases involving other indictable offences with a maximum punishment of imprisonment of five years or more.

It is clear that these amendments were carefully crafted to respond to victims' desire to be informed of plea agreements, to respect the independence of crown prosecutors, and to avoid delays in the criminal justice system that could infringe on an accused's right to be tried within a reasonable time, or which would otherwise grind the system to a halt.

It is worth noting that section 20 of the Canadian victims bill of rights addresses aspects of that concern directly, and that the act is to be applied in a manner that would not likely interfere with the proper administration of justice. That would include causing excessive delay in the prosecution of an offence. This particular amendment, which supports a victim's right to information, has been criticized by some for not going far enough. We have heard from witnesses who would like a victim's right to participation to include an ability to present their views on plea agreements before they are accepted by the court.

Some are aware that in developing this victims bill of rights, all of the views presented during the in-person and online consultations were considered. They were weighed, and it is very much a balancing act. In this bill, I think we have it right.

Victims have repeatedly noted the importance of being informed of a plea agreement as soon as practical. The committee heard testimony from witnesses who spoke of the positive effects of informing victims of plea agreements. It can make them feel more included in the criminal justice process and more likely to understand the nature of the plea agreement.

The issue of possible delays in the criminal justice system resulting from informing victims of plea agreements was raised at committee. In particular, the testimony provided by Mr. Gilhooly, who shared his experiences as a victim in the criminal justice system, summed it up perfectly. When asked if he thought the new duty to inform victims of a plea bargain would somehow delay the court process, he replied, “it would have taken 15 minutes to have kept me apprised”, when referring to the plea agreement reached for hockey coach Graham James.

I agree with Mr. Gilhooly's remarks. Bill C-32 has struck the right balance between informing victims while avoiding delays in the criminal justice system.

Another Criminal Code amendment that has received a great deal of attention is proposed in the new section 486.31, which would codify the common law practice of enabling a witness to testify without revealing his or her true identity, typically through the use of a pseudonym. This provision has been criticized as being contrary to principles of fundamental justice and unconstitutional. However, I disagree, as would many around this place, obviously.

The proposed scheme would be discretionary and would require a judge to determine that such an order was in the interest of the proper administration of justice, a test that is well established in our current criminal law. The judge would consider a number of factors when considering whether to make that order. These factors would include fair trial rights, the interests of the witness in question, and societal interests relating to the proper functioning of our criminal justice system.

This provision would recognize the critical role witnesses play in the criminal justice system. Intimidation, such as threats of harm, can be directed at witnesses to impact their evidence, or indeed, in some cases, to prevent them from testifying at all.

In the 2007 case of Named Person v. Vancouver Sun, the Supreme Court of Canada also recognized that it may be appropriate, in certain circumstances, to order a witness to testify using a pseudonym. Indeed, courts across Canada have done so. For example, in the case of R v. Moosemay, 2002, an Alberta court authorized a witness in a Wildlife Act prosecution to testify using a pseudonym to protect his safety. Similarly, in R. v. Gingras,1992, the Alberta Court of Appeal made an order to protect the safety of a prison inmate who testified and feared for his safety if his identity was made public. These cases demonstrate that orders such as these can be important in a wide variety of situations.

The standing committee heard from one witness who works with victims of human trafficking and who was threatened as a result of her testimony at trial. She too very much supports this provision to protect the security of victims.

The fair trial rights of the accused will always remain at the centre of the criminal justice system. However, a criminal trial must acknowledge and accommodate, to the extent possible, other important societal interests, such as protecting those who agree to testify as witnesses.

We know that the Canadian victims bill of rights cannot be all things to all people. It has been criticized by some for going too far in recognizing victims rights and by others for not going far enough. I, for one, believe that the bill has struck the right balance. It provides in plain language the rights victims should be able to exercise in the criminal justice and corrections systems. It also includes appropriate limitations that respect the myriad interests at play in the criminal justice system, including the rights of an accused. Most importantly, it provides the framework upon which all levels of government, federal, provincial, and territorial, can build to continue to strengthen the criminal justice system's treatment of victims.

I hope that all members will support Bill C-32 and take part in this historic change in our Canadian criminal law.

Petitions February 6th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, citizens of Canada draw Parliament's attention to the fact that a high percentage of prostitutes are forced into the sex trade and traffic. Because of the attendant violence and inhumane abuse, the petitioners request the House of Commons to legislate such that it would be a criminal offence to purchase sex with a woman, man or child and that it be a criminal offence for pimps, madams and others to profit from the proceeds of the sex trade.

Petitions January 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my last petition is from almost 300 petitioners in the Saskatoon area and 30 from elsewhere in the country. The petitioners are expressing concern about multinational seed companies gradually replacing the immense diversity of farmers' seeds. They are calling on the government to consult with small-farm families and to preserve the right to use and freely exchange seeds.