House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Mississauga South (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke very well about the bill that is under consideration but we will not start second reading on it until tomorrow. What we have been talking about is the process. There is maybe a misunderstanding on behalf of the member that somehow, because of the Liberal and the NDP concerns about the fast-tracking, we are not supporting the bill. We will have to wait and see but I am pretty sure that is not the case.

Does the hon. member believe it is possible, just possible, that Bill C-59 could be improved upon further? Would it not be prudent to have more than four hours of second reading debate and certainly more than the restrictions being placed on the justice committee to have its report in by 3 a.m. that morning? It is restricting parliamentary privilege to do its job. I hope the member has a comment on that.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

False, false.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member is well aware that the member for Kings—Hants came before the House with a question of privilege, which notified the House that the government had refused to provide five year data on corporate tax cuts as well as the costing of a whole list of justice bills. The government had claimed that this was cabinet confidence.

Would the member like to comment on whether the costing of legislation is a relevant aspect of doing a reasoned review of legislation and whether proceeding with this bill without that kind of information is in fact interfering with our ability to do our jobs?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for raising the issue.

A lot of the speeches today have been second reading speeches on the legislation and not on the process of dealing with Bill C-59, which is a very draconian measure to take place in this House, because it basically prevents Parliament from doing its job. In a sense, it limits the amount of time that a committee would have to hear from witnesses and to propose and properly debate amendments to the legislation; and then bringing it back and fast-tracking all of the stages is part of the problem. I oppose the motion for closure and the process; it does not mean that I oppose the bill.

However, I do know, and the member may want to comment on this, that the government has refused to provide information on the costing of justice bills. If we are going to do our jobs and consider legislation in a forthright and informed manner, we need to know that information. The government said it is a matter of confidence.

We have a matter of privilege before the House on the request of the finance committee for this information. The government is claiming it is cabinet confidence, and they have not even responded to the privilege issue yet. They are frustrating our ability to do the job and to do it well.

I hope the member will agree that this closure motion and what it is doing to the privileges of parliamentarians is what the House should consider first.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member about information. Right now we are debating a motion about whether we should limit the debate that we are going to have at second reading, which will not start until after we vote tonight at 8 o'clock. I assume it will start tomorrow.

One of the things she knows is that the finance committee has asked for information about the various justice bills, particularly about costing and about the impacts of those bills, so we can consider that information as part of the assessment of the legislation. Some concerns have been raised in the debate today about whether there are sufficient resources within the system to sustain a balanced approach to criminal justice where there is, yes, punishment, but also rehabilitation and reintegration.

I wonder if the member believes that the disclosure to the House and to the finance committee of the costs of this bill and other justice bills, as asked by the committee, is a matter of cabinet confidence or is in fact information that we need to do our job.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we are still dealing with the motion. Second reading has not started yet but I thank the member for his second reading speech.

The member may want to check the transcript, but I think he referred to the persons we are talking about in this bill that, “they may reoffend and commit another violent offence”. This bill is actually about non-violent crime.

The premise of the member's representation seems to have to do with parole as an instrument of the judicial system. Does the member feel that there is a place in our justice system for parole? Could he explain to the House and all Canadians that getting out on parole does not mean that a person is free and everything is fine? There are some terms and conditions that normally apply to parolees. The member may want to clarify that as well.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, the members raises some good arguments concerning the victims of serious crimes. This is not the only kind of non-violent crime we are covering here.

I am a little concerned that there is a pattern of suggesting that parole is available within a shorter period of time; but it is not automatic. It sounds like the member is saying that it is automatic, that the person will get out after serving just a short amount of time. There is judicial discretion and there is a parole process.

Does the member have any figures on how many people would apply and get out, and whether there is any enhancement in terms of the ability to make restitution, to have restitution orders, and other factors that may in fact enhance the victim's position. The issue is not just that of a person going to jail, then our throwing away the key and that person having to stay there to be punished and then be rehabilitated.

We had a case not too long ago in Toronto where the police did not prosecute someone who defrauded a party of persons of some $8 million. The police did not lay a charge, the reason being: do you want us to go after the murderers and the rapists, or do you want us to go after this guy who defrauded people, because there is not enough money in the system to enforce the laws that we have with regard to violent criminals?

That is the problem. Rehabilitation probably is not properly funded in any event, so maybe the question is a little broader than simply, “You do the crime, you do the time”.

What about dealing with the realities of the judicial system?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, the arguments are becoming clear. A number of examples have been given of other jurisdictions which have increased the time served by those who commit non-violent crimes and the evidence appears to be that the recidivism rate actually goes up. In Florida that is the case. In New York it was the reverse. The time in prison was lowered and the recidivism rate went down.

I wonder if the member could assist the House by providing the basis for saying that keeping people in jail longer is going to protect people, when in fact the expectation, based on hard evidence, is that the reoffending rate is going to go up.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's speech at second reading, but we have not reached that stage yet. We are dealing with a procedural motion on the bill, which would close down debate and prescribes that we will not spend very much time debating the bill.

The member is probably aware that finance committee has asked for a costing of the various justice bills and that request has been denied on the basis that it constitutes cabinet confidence, that it is a state secret.

Would the member care to explain to the House and to Canadians why information about the impact of a piece of legislation in this place will not be available to members of Parliament so we can make good laws and wise decisions?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, the member provided a fact-based explanation as to the elements involved in Bill C-59. One piece of this has to do with the government's reluctance or refusal to provide all the information to the House of Commons or, indeed, the finance committee with regard to the impacts in this case of justice legislation.

I would ask the hon. member not so much whether it is a matter of making laws because of money, but whether the justice system is based on rehabilitation, punishment, reintegration and other elements. That principle seems to be abandoned. Would the member care to comment on whether we are moving away from the fundamental principles of public safety and the justice system?