House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was alberta.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre (Alberta)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is a day to honour those whose lives were lost through systemic violence because they were transgender. It is a day to reflect on the abuse and hatred still faced by transgender people around the world simply for being themselves.

We are committed to protecting the rights of all Canadians. We have ensured that non-binary Canadians are protected under the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act, and we have provided support to marginalized communities around the world.

Despite this protection, trans people still remain targeted, harassed, assaulted and discriminated against every day, stopping them from living their lives, being loved and participating in our communities.

As a country, we must pay homage to the incredible lives of the countless transgender people we have lost and acknowledge that a lot of work remains to be done.

Today, by remembering those lost to bigotry and hate, we are continuing the fight for justice, for equality and for a better future for all.

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his leadership on this file.

It is very clear, and the Prime Minister was clear in his apology, that we had work to do on the bawdy house provisions. The committee unanimously agreed to repeal them in Bill C-75, including the vagrancy provisions.

Gay men were charged, arrested and now have criminal convictions for simply going to meet other men in bath houses or gay clubs. This change would allow future additions to happen to expunge in legislation so that those records could be expunged.

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Madam Speaker, if the member for St. Albert—Edmonton were to go back on the tape, he would also see that I was very clear about his comment to the committee and said “hogwash and poppycock” on his politicization of a very serious matter in Bill C-75.

I have met with Ms. Arsenault. I have met with George Marrinier. They are constituents. Quite frankly, that member knows, as members on the other side know, that this is not a sentencing question. We doubled the fines for impaired driving to 14 years. I can tell members that this is going to help us respect the Jordan principle.

The member can be upset about this, just like I am, but this is going to help us in the administration of justice.

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I am going to answer the question, if the heckling will stop.

What I can say very clearly is that the hybridization of offences would provide the courts with the tools they need to make sure that we respect our obligations under Jordan's principle. Nobody wants to see criminals on the streets because they did not get their time in court within two years. Principles of sentencing would not be affected by Bill C-75. That is section 718 of the code. Members can look at it.

Hybridization would be another tool for prosecutors, and they would be able to use it.

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I think I was clear in my remarks that I was speaking about the victim surcharge and what we are doing for the LGBTQ community. I can say clearly that—

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for Bill C-75. I would like to use my time today to discuss the proposed changes to this bill that would affect the LGBTQ2 community, human trafficking and the victim surcharge.

As special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, I am particularly proud of the work of our government in advancing the rights of LBGTQ2 Canadians and the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in making concrete, tangible legislative changes that would improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians.

Today, on the the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we pause to reflect on the lives of transgender people here in Canada and around the world that have been lost to murder, suicide, hatred and discrimination; the lives diminished due to overt transphobia and misogyny; and the daily discrimination faced by trans children, siblings, parents and their loved ones, I am proud, as the first openly gay MP elected from Alberta to the House, that Parliament passed Bill C-16 to protect trans persons in the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. I am particularly proud that our government led this charge.

I am also proud of the work of our government in passing legislation to enable Canadians who have criminal records for same-sex consensual activity to have these records expunged, and I acknowledge the leadership of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on this file.

I would also like to thank the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada for including in Bill C-75 the removal of section 159, which discriminates against young gay or bisexual men. That would now be removed from the Criminal Code with the passing of Bill C-75.

I also applaud the work of the committee and the ministry in responding to expert testimony for the repeal of the bawdy house and vagrancy provisions that were used by police forces to arrest gay men who frequented gay clubs and bathhouses. Men arrested in these police raids, many now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, still face criminal records as a result of these charges. We heard the testimony, and the committee and the ministry responded. Should Bill C-75 pass, these odious provisions in the Criminal Code would be removed and amends could thus be made.

Parts of the bill pertain to human trafficking and the victim surcharge.

I think it is very important to clearly state that human trafficking cannot be tolerated and that our government sees it as a very serious concern. That is why we continue to work closely with the provinces, territories, law enforcement agencies, victim services groups, organizations representing indigenous peoples, and other community groups, as well as our international partners. We are working together to combat all forms of human trafficking in Canada and abroad, to provide victims with special protection and support, to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and to ensure that their punishment reflects the severity of the crime.

Human trafficking is a very difficult crime to detect because of its clandestine nature and victims' reluctance to report their situations out of fear of their traffickers. We heard testimony about that when the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights travelled across the country to listen to victims of human trafficking and to see how we could change the Criminal Code to provide more opportunities for police to work with those organizations that work with victims.

The legislative changes within Bill C-75 would provide police and prosecutors with additional tools for investigation and prosecution. These measures would bring the perpetrators of human trafficking to justice so they can answer for the severity of their actions.

The amendments proposed in Bill C-38 would bring into force amendments that have already been passed by Parliament, but were not promulgated in the former parliamentary initiative, Bill C-452. They would also strengthen the legislation to combat all forms of human trafficking, whether through sexual exploitation or forced labour, while respecting the rights and freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution.

We heard of heinous crimes being committed not just against those who are unknown to the perpetrators, but also against family members. Family trafficking exists in this country, and we must make sure that police forces are armed with the tools they need to be able to put an end to such heinous crimes.

More specifically, the proposed changes will make it easier to prosecute human trafficking offences by introducing a presumption that will enable the Crown to prove that the accused exercised control, direction or influence over the victim's movements by establishing that the accused lived with or was habitually in the company of the victim.

In addition, these changes would add human trafficking to the list of offences to which the provisions imposing a reverse onus for forfeiture of proceeds of crime apply.

I would now like to discuss the changes that would affect the victim surcharge. Bill C-75 proposes to restore judicial discretion to waive the victim surcharge by guiding judges to waive the victim surcharge only when the offender is truly unable to pay. For certain offences against the administration of justice, where the total amount would be disproportionate in certain circumstances, the bill would also provide for limited judicial discretion to not impose a federal victim surcharge amount per offence.

The federal victim surcharge, which is set out in the Criminal Code, is imposed on a sentencing basis, and revenue is collected and used by the province or territory where the criminal act was committed to assist in the sentencing process for funding victims services. Bill C-75 would maintain that the federal victim surcharge must be imposed ex officio and must apply cumulatively to each offence. However, to address concerns about the negative impact of current federal victim surcharge provisions on marginalized offenders, the bill would provide limited judicial discretion regarding the mandatory and cumulative imposition of the surcharge in certain circumstances.

Bill C-75 would provide clear direction as to what would constitute undue hardship. These guidelines would ensure that the mandatory exemption, or waiver, would be applied consistently and only to offenders who were truly unable to pay the surcharge. In addition, the bill would state that undue hardship would refer to the financial ability to pay and was not simply caused by harm associated with incarceration. We are trying to avoid the criminalization and over-criminalization of people simply because of their inability to pay a federal victim surcharge.

For certain offences against the justice administration, in the event that the cumulative surcharge was disproportionate to the circumstances, Bill C-75 would contain provisions allowing an exception to the victim fine surcharge ratio. This exception would apply to two types of offences against the administration of justice: failure to appear in court; and breach of conditions of bail by a peace officer or court order, and only when said breach did not cause any moral, bodily or financial damage to the victim.

Studies show that marginalized offenders, especially indigenous offenders and offenders with mental health and addiction issues, are more likely to be found guilty of offences against the administration of justice.

Under the existing victim surcharge provisions, it is unlikely that much of the money collected in the federal victim surcharges that are paid out to the provinces and territories comes from groups of offenders who are unable to pay the victim surcharge or who are only able to pay part of the surcharge because of their personal situation or because of their multiple offences against the administration of justice.

In addition, offenders who suffer undue hardship as a result of the mandatory victim surcharge are, by the current application of the provisions, hampered in their ability to regain financial stability. This places them in a situation where the surcharge does not allow them to successfully reintegrate into society after serving their sentences or paying their outstanding fines, and they risk reoffending. These types of situations do not help survivors or victims of crime or the provision of services to help them. This proposed exception would be consistent with the principles of fairness and equity.

I am confident that by maintaining a higher mandatory surcharge, this proposed legislation would support the objective of the victim surcharge to provide a source of funding for provincial and territorial victim services while strengthening offender accountability regarding victims and society in general. At the same time, the bill would be in keeping with the principles of proportionality, fairness and respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Not having gone through law school, I can say that it is an honour to serve on this committee and to be part of making Bill C-75 appear in the House today.

Canadian Heritage November 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, under the Conservative government, nothing was done to support our artists or modernize our laws on culture. After this decade of indifference for our artists and creators, our government is taking action. Last week, our government announced reforms aimed at modernizing the Copyright Act.

Thanks to changes to the Copyright Board of Canada, creators will now be paid for their work faster.

Would the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism explain what the modernized system means for our artists and creators?

Indigenous Affairs October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, no relationship is more important to Canada than that with indigenous peoples and our government is committed to building renewed relationships based on recognition of rights and mutual respect. The Lubicon were left out when Treaty 8 was signed in 1899, and as a result, they have been negotiating with the government for almost 40 years over their rightful title to lands and treaty benefits.

Could the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations update the House on reconciliation with the Lubicon Lake Band?

International Artist Day October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, yesterday was International Artist Day.

Canada has some of the most talented artists and creators in the world. They share our experiences with the world and promote innovation through their creativity.

Edmonton has produced some remarkable talent, enjoyed worldwide. This includes musicians like the late maestros Tommy Banks and Brian Kipping; playwright and actor Darrin Hagen; and recent inductees into Edmonton's Arts and Cultural Hall of Fame, such as saxophone player Raymond Baril, choreographer Shelley Switzer and choirmaster Laurier Fagnan.

We would not be able to support and celebrate so many artists without all of those who support the arts, from patrons who buy tickets to a Winspear show, the Edmonton Opera or the Art Gallery of Alberta to philanthropists such as Dianne and Irv Kipnes, who have a long legacy of supporting Edmonton and Canadian artists.

We thank and congratulate all artists from coast to coast to coast.

Elections Modernization Act October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I would say this to my hon. colleague across the way. Let us be really clear. The voter information card shows proof of address, not proof of identity. Voters have to show proof of identity. They need to show that they are Canadian citizens. That is what it takes to vote in the Canadian election. Everything else is a frivolous and vexatious attack on the Canadian electoral system from the other side.