House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code October 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the member is correct in that right now there are laws, not necessarily against street racing, but against reckless driving or dangerous driving. The difficulty is that there is no distinction between street racing and other forms of dangerous driving or criminal negligence. We want to create a separate offence in the Criminal Code that will specifically denounce street racing.

Street racing is a very defined activity. Reckless driving can occur but then there is street racing. In street racing one decides to participate in a street race. One decides that one will drive one's car as fast as possible in order to win whatever might be on the table. We want to basically separate this out from other dangerous driving type of offences in order to protect the public.

During my speech I listed some instances that have occurred recently and in past years where Canadian citizens have either been very gravely wounded or have actually died from street racing or alleged incidents of street racing. One of the reasons we want to protect Canadians from street racing is that it is a definable activity that is actually taking place on Canadian streets today. Having this activity hidden in among dangerous driving charges is not protecting Canadian citizens.

Criminal Code October 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, we are not saying that the bill is the complete solution to street racing. There is education and advertising. We need to send a message to the public that street racing is not acceptable, both from a legal perspective and from society's perspective.

The bill outlines that we want street racing to be a criminal act. I would ask people to picture in their mind what might be going on before a street race actually takes place. People might be milling around. Two cars might be on the street. The drivers themselves are probably thinking they can handle the speeding ticket and the demerits. They certainly do not intend to wound or kill anybody. In their mind they do not see the penalties being that grave. They think they can deal with the penalties should they happen to be caught.

That is one of the reasons that we want to break street racing out on its own. We want to tell people that it is a criminal activity. We want to let them know by advertising, by education and with the passing of this bill into law that it is a criminal activity. It is our hope that this will pass through their minds and dissuade them from street racing.

I also believe the bill would give our police an additional tool with which to act against people who are street racing. I believe our police officers need this sort of law to help them protect public safety.

As part of the bill, our government is committed to hiring more RCMP and police officers and working with communities. We want to ensure there are more police officers on the ground to help enforce a law such as this.

Criminal Code October 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity to speak to C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Criminalizing street racing is an obvious and appropriate complement to the current provisions of the Criminal Code governing dangerous driving, as well as to the legislative efforts of certain provinces to strengthen their traffic laws. The proposed changes target serious criminal behaviour.

The Government of Canada made a clear commitment to Canadians that it would tackle this crime, as indicated in recent months by many announcements regarding the financing of municipal and provincial programs. These crime prevention programs target youth at risk with the assistance of the National Crime Prevention Centre. These local prevention programs complement our financial commitment to help assist the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their training and recruitment efforts.

In addition to this important and tangible crime prevention effort at the local level, we should note this government's commitment to giving more bite to our criminal laws. This government has promised to get tough on crime and that is exactly what it is doing.

We proposed reforms in several areas: strengthening the laws dealing with the national DNA data bank; making it harder to be granted bail in the case of crimes involving a firearm; increased minimum sentences for this type of crime; and limited recourse to conditional sentences for serious and violent offences.

This holistic approach has been in response to renewed calls for all levels of government to reassess existing practices and responses in fighting crime. The government's response clearly reflects our understanding of the importance of keeping our streets and communities safe for all Canadians.

Bill C-19 is part of this government's overall program to tackle crime. It is in my opinion a welcome and important piece of legislation which will contribute to raising the safety and quality of life for our citizens to a level that they deserve and rightfully expect from their government.

Those who exploit and abuse their privilege to drive a motor vehicle by engaging in street racing demonstrate contempt for our laws, and more significantly, contempt for their fellow citizens. Cars can be dangerous at the best of times. When operating with such wanton recklessness and disregard for the safety of others, they too can be come lethal.

A driver's licence carries with it great responsibility. I strongly feel that drivers must be held accountable for their actions behind the wheel when, for a cheap thrill, they show no regard for that responsibility.

The streets and roads in our cities and provinces are a shared public resource, to be used and enjoyed by all of our citizens. The increasing incidence of street racing is turning the pavement into race tracks, but without all of the necessary elements that are found at all legal racing facilities. As a result, too many innocent bystanders are dying or being seriously injured.

Although we do not yet have any comprehensive statistics on the prevalence of street racing in Canada, or on the exact number of related deaths or injuries, there is sufficient evidence to confirm the seriousness of the situation. Such incidents causing death or serious injury are happening across the country. Just in the past three months, for example, we have read:

In June near Campbell River, British Columbia, two 18-year-old girls were allegedly involved in a street race which ended in the death of one of the drivers and serious injuries to two of her passengers.

Also in June in Merritt, British Columbia, two 24-year-old men died and two innocent motorists were seriously injured in what is a suspected case of street racing.

In July in Winnipeg, Manitoba, two drivers were charged with street racing and had their vehicles impounded when they were caught racing at speeds of more than 165 kilometres per hour.

Just a few weeks ago in Mississauga, Ontario, a foreign exchange student was killed when the vehicle he was driving careened into a hydro pole after it was hit from behind, allegedly as a direct result of street racing.

Those are only some of the most recent examples. Innocent victims who have died as a result of street racing in the past several years include a couple strolling on the sidewalk after celebrating their wedding anniversary, an RCMP constable on patrol, a 29-year-old mother out driving, and an immigrant taxi driver just days away from his citizenship ceremony.

I for one am saddened and outraged by these incidents, the reckless trend that is behind them and the frightening prospect of more to come. These senseless tragic deaths and serious injuries were all preventable and together make clear the call for a tough response. We simply cannot allow such carnage to continue.

These crimes continue to occur and the current government is determined to give more leverage to those responsible for law enforcement in order that they may respond to this crime effectively. The provinces have sentences in their jurisdictions, including fines, licence suspensions and impounding vehicles, which hit the wallets of the offenders. Nonetheless, when money is not a driving force, such measures do little to deter street racers from adopting this irresponsible and often deadly behaviour.

I think it is important to send a strong message about the seriousness of this offence, by criminalizing such behaviour and creating serious consequences for the crime. The consequences in this bill establish a system for determining a fair and appropriate sentence based on the seriousness of these crimes, namely a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison for bodily harm and a maximum of life in prison for causing death.

This sentencing system is enhanced in an appropriate manner by gradually increased mandatory driving suspensions, starting with a minimum suspension of one year for a first offence up to a life suspension for three convictions for street racing not resulting in death or bodily harm.

I believe that these measures are necessary given the frequency and serious outcome of tragic accidents that could be avoided and too often are the result of street racing. Enhancing and protecting public safety are among the most important responsibilities of government. Bill C-19 is about enhancing public safety. It sends a clear and strong message to those who wish to engage in street racing by establishing appropriate and proportional sentences for individuals who use our streets as their personal race courses, without any regard for their own safety or that of others.

The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, as well as other government initiatives to tackle crime, will improve the safety of our streets by putting citizens more at ease when exercising their right to use our public spaces without fear of bodily harm or death caused by behaviour completely lacking in common sense.

In closing, street racing kills. Bill C-19 is important and will make our streets safer. I urge the honourable members to join me in supporting Bill C-19 and ensuring that it is passed quickly.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, once again I have listened to a speech from a member of the NDP and its position simply does not make sense. My colleague speaks about the B.C. softwood lumber industry and the challenges it has had to face over the past decade. She speaks of plant closures, layoffs, displaced workers and the impact this has had on families. We know that and we agree with it.

However, I would ask my colleague to view this logically. All of that has come about because there has been no softwood lumber agreement. What has the lumber industry had to deal with? It has had to deal with high export duties, high legal costs and endless litigation, and I mean endless litigation. The consequences of the industry having to deal with those things were the very things the member spoke about: plant closures, layoffs, displaced workers, unemployment and a negative effect on families.

What surprises me is that the NDP position is not to change anything and to fight the softwood lumber agreement that offers stability to the market. This is what the softwood lumber companies see. They see stability in the softwood lumber agreement, which is what the industry needs.

The softwood lumber agreement will be in effect for seven years and can be extended for another two years. It will return over $4 billion to the industry, which is huge. This is the type of stability that the softwood lumber industry needs. When I sat in committee that is what I heard from the companies. They need this money to rebuild their capital, to invest in their workers and to invest in their industry.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, l listened to my NDP colleague and to my Liberal colleague, who spoke earlier, and I simply do not understand their position.

I am on the international trade committee. I worked at the committee throughout the summer. I heard the testimony from witnesses and I read their testimonies. Softwood lumber companies are in favour of this agreement, overwhelming so. Some 90% of our industry is in favour of this, but there is more.

The premiers of the key softwood lumber producing provinces are also in favour of the softwood lumber agreement. In fact, the premier from the member's province is in favour of it and he has asked, actually almost begged, the member to support the softwood lumber agreement to help forestry workers and to help the lumber industry in British Columbia.

What is my colleague saying to the softwood lumber companies that are endorsing the agreement? What is the message he is giving them, that he happens to know better than they do what is good for them, better than the people who are in this industry?

Eastern Ontario Development Program September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the Eastern Ontario Development Program, which was announced this summer, is very important for my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. This initiative consists in a $10 million contribution for a program to alleviate the socio-economic problems in the rural regions of Eastern Ontario. The money is used to support economic and community development, small business development and job creation. This money is essential for funding and developing small and medium enterprises in the riding.

We have worked hard to guarantee that this program receives the budget it needs and by providing this funding, our government is showing the importance it places on local industries. We know the assets Eastern Ontario has to offer and I can assure the people in my riding that I will work tirelessly with my colleagues in order to see that we make the most of them.

Canadian Forces September 22nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I recently met with a special family in my riding. The Spence family has a long, proud tradition of military service going back several generations. The father, Rick Spence, is a 27 year veteran who serves in our Canadian air force.

His son, Private Michael Spence, is a member of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. Tragically, he was critically wounded serving on operations in Afghanistan. After meeting with his parents, Rick and Christina, I am extremely pleased to report that Michael is in good spirits and responding well to treatment. In fact, he is on the Hill today for the rally.

One thing Michael wanted me to express is that he is only one of thousands of brave Canadian men and women serving in Afghanistan today, and that it is his hope that they receive the honour and full support of all Canadians for the dangerous but important work they are doing. We heard today from President Karzai how essential this work is.

As a 20 year veteran of the armed forces, I salute our brave soldiers who are truly making a difference.

My colleagues and I wish Michael a speedy recovery. We will keep him and his family in our prayers.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell June 22nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House of two activities that will take place this summer in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

Three times per week between July 6 and August 17, Francoscénie will present L'écho d'un peuple, a celebration of 400 years of French history in North America and Ontario, and a major production attracting tourists from all over Ontario, Quebec and further afield.

With over 300 actors, singers, dancers and jugglers, this show is a major event for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

The second event I would like to highlight is the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville. With over 60 pipe bands, highland athletes and hundreds of traditional dancers, this event has something for everyone. Almost one million people have found themselves drawn to Maxville to witness an outstanding display of highland music, dance, sports, pageantries and tradition.

This summer Glengarry--Prescott--Russell is where it is at. Venez-nous visiter!

Federal Accountability Act June 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague for splitting his time with me.

I would like to speak to the House about Bill C-2, the federal accountability act. I am very pleased to show my support for this piece of legislation. Accountability is a fundamental principle of our democratic system and this bill will dramatically change how the government conducts itself.

We are honouring our commitments, clearly stated in our election campaign and in the throne speech, to ensure a sound and honest government. It is time to restore Canadians' trust in their government.

The need to restore this trust is an important element in the provisions of the bill. These provisions, which I will address in my speech here today, will strengthen the role of the Ethics Commissioner

I would first like to thank the Prime Minister for making this matter a real priority. Our government does more than just talk about its priorities; it pursues them relentlessly and spares no effort in getting the work done. As you know, many hours were devoted to this bill in committee.

I would also like to congratulate the President of the Treasury Board for the results of this important work, bringing the Prime Minister's vision to fruition.

In the time allotted to me today, I cannot possibly address all of the worthy reforms and initiatives in the bill. I know that many of my hon. colleagues have spoken to, or will speak to these issues. The focus of my remarks is on the bill's proposal to create a new conflict of interest act, an act that would create a stronger conflict of interest and ethics regime to be administered by a conflict of interest and ethics commissioner.

As hon. members know, we made seven clear commitments on how to strengthen the role of the Ethics Commissioner. I will just reiterate them quickly.

We must give the Ethics Commissioner the power to fine violators. We must prevent the Ethics Commissioner from being overruled by the Prime Minister on whether violations have occurred. We must enshrine the Conflict of Interest Code into law. We must close the loopholes that allow ministers to vote on matters connected with their business interests. We must end venetian blind trusts. We must allow the public, not just politicians to make complaints to the commissioner, and we must make part time or non-remunerated ministerial advisors subject to the ethics regime.

Bill C-2 clearly shows that we have honoured every one of these seven commitments. The new conflict of interest and ethics regime will guarantee that elected representatives and public office holders carry out their official duties and manage their personal affairs so as to avoid conflict of interest. Here is how we have honoured our commitments to Canadians.

First, we have given the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner the power to impose monetary penalties on people who violate the act. Sections 52 to 62 of the proposed Conflict of Interest Act set out a detailed regime of penalties that the commissioner can impose on public office holders who violate the provisions of the act. The maximum penalty is $500, and the commissioner is to determine the exact amount based on criteria set out in the act. These penalties may be recovered in the Federal Court, and they must be made public, which is not the case in many other similar regimes.

Second, the act clearly says that the commissioner's decisions as to whether or not the act was contravened may not be overturned. Section 47 clearly states that no one may alter the commissioner's report. When the commissioner imposes a penalty, it may not be appealed in court and the prime minister may not overturn the commissioner's decision.

Third, the act enshrines into law the substantive and administrative regime found in the current Conflict of Interest and Post-employment Code for public office holders. The act refocuses the regime as a true conflict of interest regime similar to the approach used in most provinces.

The conflict of interest and ethics commissioner would also be mandated to provide advice and support the Prime Minister on ethical matters beyond conflict of interest.

Fourth, the proposed act was designed to clarify the obligation that ministers not vote on matters connected with their business interests. Section 21 requires all public office holders to recuse themselves from any decision, debate or vote in respect of which they would be in a conflict of interest.

Section 30 gives the commissioner a broad power to determine any measures that might be required to ensure that the public office holder is in compliance with these and other requirements of the act.

Subsection 6(2) of the act expressly prohibits a minister or a parliamentary secretary from debating or voting in the House of Commons on questions that would place them in a conflict of interest. This provision is an essential element of the conflict of interest regime and is based on a similar provision found in the code for members of the House of Commons.

We are pleased that this provision has been reinstated after it was deleted in committee by an opposition motion. This restores the integrity of the conflict of interest regime.

Section 27 of the new act, which honours the fifth of our commitments regarding the ethics regime, expressly prohibits the use of blind management agreements, sometimes called “Venetian blind trusts”. Consequently, as this section states, the only way to divest controlled assets is to sell them in an arm's-length transaction or place them in a true blind trust that meets the requirements set out in the bill.

As for the sixth commitment, the new law provides for a means whereby the commissioner may receive complaints from members of the public. Subclause 44(4) states that the commissioner may consider information from the public that is brought to his or her attention by any parliamentarian. In addition, the law now permits MPs and senators to file complaints against any of the 3,600 public office holders, and not just the ministers and parliamentary secretaries as is the case under the existing Parliament of Canada Act. In addition to these changes, clause 45 of the bill gives the commissioner the explicit authority to examine a matter on his or her own initiative, an authority currently not in place. These changes considerably improve the ability of the commissioner to act on credible information and to ensure that public office holders comply with conflict of interest provisions set out in the law.

Finally, the seventh ethics regime commitment has been fulfilled by expanding the definition of public office holders covered by the regime to include ministerial advisors.

Ministerial advisors are those who occupy a position in the office of a minister or a minister of state and who provide policy, program or financial advice, whether or not the advice is provided on a full time or part time basis, and regardless whether the person is remunerated or not.

As part of the action plan, the government has also committed to increase public transparency about the numerous ministerial appointments to advisory bodies who may be unpaid and working part time, and who are not public office holders for the purposes of the act.

I could continue to speak about the considerable and very important changes that we presented in order to strengthen the conflicts of interest and ethics regime. These changes have produced a regime that is autonomous, better focussed and more transparent, somewhat like our government.

I am honoured to speak to these points at the third reading of Bill C-2. On their own, these reforms warrant our support for this bill. However, I would like to remind the hon. members that they form part of a number of much more significant measures designed to restore confidence in the government. The other components of the federal accountability bill also deserve our support and I ask my honourable colleagues to carry out their responsibilities and support this bill that will make government more accountable to the Canadians who elected all members to serve them.

Firearms Registry June 20th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberal member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine said that an overwhelming majority of her caucus would support the wasteful billion dollar long gun registry.

Let me remind her what members of her own caucus have said. The Liberal member for Outremont said, “The gun registry is a disaster. It is a living, breathing scandal”.

The Liberal member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River said, “I have advised my Liberal colleagues that I'll be voting with the Conservatives to dismantle the Firearms Act”.

The Liberal leadership hopeful, the member for Kings—Hants said, “Over one billion dollars has been wasted for this misguided, poorly designed long gun registry program that from the beginning was destined for failure”.

Unlike the Liberals, the government is committed to keeping its promises and delivering real results to Canadians. The government is committed to effective gun control. We need to target criminals, not duck hunters and farmers.