House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was respect.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Regina—Wascana (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, in the past, the offenders who tended to become involved in administrative segregation were obviously the ones who were very often the most difficult to manage and the ones with the least prospects of successful rehabilitation.

The fact is that under the existing system of administrative segregation, once an offender is put into those circumstances, all the programming aimed at rehabilitation, changing their behaviour, making their conduct more safe for the rest of society, stops. It is physically impossible to provide that kind of mental health treatment, or other counselling or other types of programming in the existing arrangement for administrative segregation.

The correctional service tries its best to continue with those services and programs, but it is very difficult to do it under the rules of administrative segregation. By transforming the system to the new intervention units, the system will be able to achieve the same kind of safety provisions, but without cancelling the programming that is aimed at changing the behaviour, accomplishing rehabilitation and making the ultimate release of those offenders more safe when their sentences has been served.

The legislation, indeed, leads to a much safer situation, both for those who are running the institutions and for the public generally.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned that objective repeatedly, including the provision of very nearly half a billion dollars over the next six years for the successful implementation of this legislation. That includes $300 million for staffing and other resources specifically related to the SIUs.

That obviously demonstrates a very proactive response to a number of the issues correctional officers have raised to ensure they have the resources, the staffing and training necessary to administer these new provisions in a successful manner and in a manner that keeps them safe.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the question is a complete non sequitur. Moreover, its fundamental premise is absolutely flawed. There is no relationship between the issues that he raises in his question and what is in Bill C-83.

Bill C-83 and the amendments that are now before the House are intended to make our correctional system safer and more successful in keeping society safe and secure. The amendments that we are now considering at report stage have to do in large measure with review and oversight to ensure our correctional service has the power and authority to run the system in a way that keeps the system safe and that respects the needs of those in the institutions. This is to ensure that, to the maximum extent possible, rehabilitation can be achieved.

If we reject the objective of rehabilitation, we are saying that when sentences expire, we should release inmates willy-nilly, with no concern for future public safety. That is surely a formula for disaster, which the official opposition seems to embrace.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, a number of people, including union representatives and expert professionals within and outside the correctional system, have made the observation, as the hon. gentleman said, that the transition to the intervention units, identified as SIUs in the legislation, is good in principle, but we need to ensure the resources are there, financially and otherwise, to run the new system properly and effectively.

In that regard, I informed the standing committee last fall that in the fall economic statement a total of $448 million were allocated over six years for the implementation of the legislation. That includes about $300 million for staffing and other resources specifically for the SIUs, and $150 million for mental health care improvements in the SIUs and throughout the correctional system. Moreover, there was a pre-existing $80 million for mental health care for Correctional Service of Canada in the two federal budgets prior to the fall update.

With respect to resources being made available, yes, that is an absolute requirement and, yes, the funding has already been allocated.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is probably unique in that regard. Quite frankly, I think that is a very good thing.

We are dealing with an issue here that should not be partisan in nature. The proper functioning of our correctional system and the need to have a successful system that produces a safer society is an objective all of us share, I am sure. Therefore, it is a very good thing that the standing committee heard from witnesses, received advice, information and recommendations, and took the initiative to make a number of amendments to the legislation to improve it, consistent with the advice and testimony that were presented to it.

That process continues at report stage, where further amendments have been added, particularly on the important issue of oversight and review. This is a good example of the House and its processes proceeding in the way they were intended: to listen to the evidence, to draft amendments in response to the evidence, and to implement those amendments according to what the witnesses recommended.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the bill clearly provides the power, the authority and the mechanisms to separate offenders in correctional institutions when that is necessary for the purposes of public safety. Therefore, the power would continue under the legislation to provide that kind of separation.

It also provides for the continuation of the programming, including of mental health and other counselling services, that is necessary in those institutions to achieve the ultimate objective of greater rehabilitation. This will result in a safer institution and a safer situation when those inmates are ultimately released.

The whole purpose here is public safety, including the safety of correctional officers, to ensure that our institutions are secure and that, to the maximum extent humanly possible, we are achieving the objective of rehabilitation that will make our communities, our society and the public safer in future.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the bill is going through all of the normal parliamentary stages, including extensive work at committee, further debate at report stage with additional amendments being considered, and a third reading debate. Then, according to our parliamentary process, it will go on to the Senate for the appropriate consideration there. Therefore, all of the parliamentary steps are being properly complied with.

I would note that back in 2014, the head of the correctional officers union in this country at that particular time was quoted as saying, “We have to actively work to rid the Conservatives from power.” He accused the Harper government of endangering correctional officers with prison overcrowding and cuts to rehabilitative programming. Some of that will be corrected by C-83.

I would also point out that the courts have said that to simply allow the present system of administrative segregation to expire in compliance with the court rulings, with nothing in place to replace it, would in fact make the system more dangerous. Therefore, all the measures in Bill C-83 are intended to address those very real issues that perpetuating the debate will not solve. Taking a decision will help us to come to a solution.

On the issue of consultation, I would point out that I have met with the correctional officers union on multiple occasions, both before and after Bill C-83 was introduced. This particular issue was discussed on every occasion.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, administrative segregation has been an issue the government and the correctional service have been dealing with over the course of the last three years. Obviously, we inherited a system that needed considerable fixing, so we are in the process of doing that.

As various items of legislation have been presented to the House, at the same time there have been court proceedings going on that predated the change in government. These are court proceedings that relate back to 2015 and even earlier. They have come to a decision time before the courts in the last number of months. As the courts have considered those matters that existed prior to 2015, a number of different prescriptions and requirements have been offered in the judgments in two different provinces. The hon. gentleman is right that both of those judgments are under appeal, one by the government and one by the other side. Therefore, it is a cross-appeal that is going on.

Obviously, it is important to meet the parameters set out by the courts, one of which is to get solutions to this situation in a timely manner, and the courts have set deadlines. Accordingly, it is important for Parliament to act in a timely manner to respond to the issues that have been raised by the courts. Therefore, allocating a certain number of hours to conclude the debate and get on with it is important in order to comply with the court judgments.

I would also point out that many of the amendments that are before us now at report stage deal with transparency, oversight and accountability, and there is broad agreement that these amendments would in fact improve and strengthen the legislation. Therefore, we are approaching the time when it is necessary to conclude the debate, vote and take a decision.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, under the legislation we are continuing to provide the correctional service with the authority and the physical system to be able to separate inmates from each other when that is necessary in the interests of safety within the institution. The existing infrastructure within the correctional system lends itself to that approach already in some cases. In others, there would need to be some physical modifications in terms of the actual structures.

To deal with the specific questions from the hon. gentleman, I would be happy to ask the correctional system to provide him with some design options so that he can see physically what the new arrangement would look like. He would see that it could accomplish the objective of providing separation when that is necessary for safety and security, at the same time allowing the programming to continue, particularly mental health and other counselling services that are necessary to ensure that the particular inmate or offender is properly managed within the institution. I would be happy to provide the member with some physical examples, if that would be helpful.

Public Safety February 25th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have met with representatives of a variety of communities across the country about community safety initiatives, including special constables and other forms of augmenting regular police service. I am certainly happy to meet with any community in the hon. member's riding if people have concerns they wish to pursue.

However, I would note that for the first nations policing program, we have just made the largest investment in Canadian history to try to bring better policing services to indigenous communities across the country.