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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for St. Catharines (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Holidays Act June 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House on our last sitting day of this session and speak to Bill C-597, an act to amend the Holidays Act, which was introduced by the member for Scarborough Southwest.

I want to congratulate him on his ability, from a House perspective, to get the bill this far through the House of Commons. I know that it is never easy. I believe we have had 40 private members' bills receive support from the House during this term, and getting to third reading is no small feat. I congratulate him on that.

The Holidays Act was created in 1970 to consolidate the Dominion Day Act, the Remembrance Day Act and the Victoria Day Act. Although all three days were designated as holidays within that specific act, Remembrance Day was not designated as a legal holiday.

Initially known as Armistice Day, and still known by that name in Newfoundland and Labrador, Remembrance Day was created by King George V to commemorate the armistice that ended the first world war on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.

The first Armistice Day in Canada was observed in 1919, and is still observed every year as Remembrance Day. It was a day on which we remember the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country so that we may live in peace and freedom.

For most of us, Remembrance Day is not only an occasion to remember those who gave their lives and those who continue to fight for our country. It is also a day to be grateful for the sacrifices, bravery and selflessness of our soldiers, and the country we have today. Remembrance Day is an opportunity to give thanks to those who fought, and still fight, for our freedoms and rights. We must never forget this.

That is why our government has been working hard to provide veterans and their families with the care and support they need. In fact, since forming government, we have invested over $5 billion in funding toward programs and services for Canada's veterans that provide them with the support they need and deserve. Our government will continue to leave no stone unturned as we continue to find innovative new ways to build on the supports available to veterans and to their families.

I would like to address Bill C-597 specifically. There needs to be some clarification, as the member for Scarborough Southwest has been misleading Canadians somewhat about his bill. The purpose of the bill is to make November 11 a legal holiday. However, as my colleague opposite said on numerous occasions, “I believe that it is time to make November 11, Remembrance Day, a national statutory holiday”. He said that on November 3, 2014.

I listened to my colleague's speech just before mine and he iterated on a number of occasions that the purpose of the bill was to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday, not a statutory holiday. I find it somewhat ironic that the reason the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River had to say that was because the purpose of his rationale and building up of his argument in his speech was based on comments that were made by the very mover of the bill, not by anyone in any of the other parties in the House and certainly not by anyone who sat at committee after the second reading vote and during our hearings on the legislation.

Currently, on the member for Scarborough Southwest's website, which I have mentioned a number of times to him both in committee and in the House, there is a statement which says:

Having November 11th made into a statutory holiday will allow every Canadian an opportunity to attend their local Remembrance Day ceremonies and participate in this important day.

That was never taken down. We have had this conversation over a period of many weeks. It makes it clear that the member for Scarborough Southwest believes that his bill would, in fact, make Remembrance Day a statutory holiday.

There are numerous problems with that statement. First, witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs made it very clear that they did not support making November 11 a statutory holiday.

In fact, at committee, Mr. Bradley K. White, dominion secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion, said:

We remain concerned that if given the time off as a legal holiday Canadians may not take the time to remember, that it may simply become a mid-week break or just part of another long weekend.

Mr. Bradley also said:

It is the Legion's position that November 11 not be a legal or statutory holiday.

This testimony makes it clear that the Royal Canadian Legion does not support Bill C-597 from the member for Scarborough Southwest.

Furthermore, to back up Mr. Bradley's argument, Ms. Sonia Gallo, who is a communications manager at York Catholic District School Board, said during her testimony:

The York Catholic District School Board...does not endorse Member of Parliament [for Scarborough Southwest's] private [member's] bill to make November 11, Remembrance Day, a statutory holiday.

Second, the member opposite knows full well that even if Bill C-597 were to receive royal assent, it would be up to the provinces to decide what days are statutory holidays. This means that his piece of legislation would have, in essence, no effect.

This is important to note because as stated above, the member has been misleading Canadians in saying on June 15:

This Friday, let us end the 41st Parliament on a high note and elevate Remembrance Day to the same status as Canada Day and Victoria Day by passing Bill C-597....

The bill would not give Remembrance Day the same status as Canada Day or Victoria Day. Should the bill pass and make Remembrance Day a legal holiday, it is the provinces that have the final word of what holiday is statutory or not.

According to the Constitution Act, legislation relating to provincial non-working holidays is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. Therefore, for Remembrance Day to become a non-working holiday for all Canadians, legislation would have to be adopted by provincial legislatures and most of them already have done this.

Remembrance Day is currently a paid non-working holiday in all provinces and territories, except in Ontario and Quebec. At the federal level, Remembrance Day is a paid non-working holiday for public servants and those working in federally regulated institutions.

This being said, whether Remembrance Day becomes a paid non-working holiday throughout the country or not, we must all remember its significance.

We must remember the reason the day was created in the first place. We must continue to honour it, to be proud of our veterans, of our history and the wonderful country in which we live. We are thankful to those who were and are still willing to fight for it.

We must continue to educate our youth and future generations about the importance of our military history and its place within this world. We must teach them to recognize and appreciate the breadth of the sacrifices of the men and women who put their lives on the line for us, whether they did that previously or whether they do that today, or whether they do that in the future on behalf of this country.

Lest we forget.

Canadian Heritage June 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is too bad the member was not more clear on what he meant to do exactly with his bill.

Our government believes that it is not only important to recognize our veterans, but that it is our duty to remember the Canadians who sacrificed so much for our freedom and values. That is why our government supported this proposal in Parliament, and the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs heard from groups such as the Royal Canadian Legion and Canadian Veterans Advocacy.

Hearing from these groups was important to the consideration of such a wide-reaching veterans proposal.

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada June 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we see time and time again that the leader of the Liberal Party is simply not ready to be Prime Minister.

This is the person who said that he admires China's approach to government. He said that they do it much better than most any other country in the world. He is the one who attributed Putin's aggression with Ukraine on a hockey game, and claims that budgets balance themselves.

Canadians know that the only Prime Minister, our Prime Minister, is a man they can trust to actually get the job done, by keeping taxes low, focusing on economic growth, and promoting job creation.

We spent ten years doing it; we will spend the next ten years making sure that Canadians have low taxes, job opportunities, and ensuring that the Canadian economy is stronger than anywhere else in the world.

Life Means Life Act June 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member's question moves away from the discussion we are having on Bill C-53.

The member was not here in 2006 when I was elected and we became government. One of the first pieces of work we put it in in public safety was the opportunity for community organizations to access funding to assist young people, whether they were in or out of school, who were travelling down a wayward road. Those young people had the ability to be funded directly by the federal government to enter programs that would assist them in achieving a positive life goal, whether that be a job or continuing their education in high school.

I beg to differ with the member in the strongest of ways. This government has not only insisted on ensuring, as in Bill C-53, that individuals pay a significant price for crimes such as this that they commit. It has also been our goal for the last 10 years to ensure that we assist in preventing crime and assist in educating young people and getting them to understand a positive way of life. We have done that.

Life Means Life Act June 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I outlined that at the end of my speech. The fact is that there are such crimes and murders committed in this country by individuals who should not, for any reason, be allowed to sit at a table and request parole. Individuals should serve their sentences based on the murders they committed, and if that crime is so severe and significant that it requires life, then there should be no opportunity for parole.

I understand the member's question. The fact is that if a murder such as I have described that would be judged under Bill C-53 were to be committed, there is no reason the victim's family should ever have to face the perpetrator, the convicted murderer, at a parole board hearing on a regular basis and have to live through what would be indescribable and unacceptable.

If a person commits a crime as outlined in Bill C-53 and as I outlined today in my speech, there would be no opportunity for that individual to earn parole. There would be no opportunity for that person to ever deserve an opportunity to request parole.

Life Means Life Act June 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, before I speak to Bill C-53, the life means life act, I first want to thank the member for Edmonton—Leduc not only for his service to our country and to his riding for the last 15 years, but also for his friendship.

There is not a lot said about the relationships that are built here when we get elected. Those relationships are not just found among parties. There are relationships and friendships that are built over the period of time that we serve here on behalf of the people from our communities. The member has become one of my close friends, and I wish him all of the best in his future endeavours.

I also thank him for his time and his commitment to his riding, his community, and his country. It was clear when we heard him speak a moment ago that he is very passionate. He remains as passionate as he was as a young man entering this chamber 15 years ago. He may be a little older now and he may have a little more grey hair, but he is certainly just as passionate about his community and the country that we represent.

Turning to the bill before us, I am here today to speak in support of Bill C-53, the life means life act. I believe that providing sentences of life imprisonment without parole for high treason and the most reprehensible forms of murder would ensure that the most dangerous murderers would never be free to endanger Canadians or their communities. Importantly, Bill C-53 would align Canada's criminal justice system with those of other parliamentary democracies, like England, Australia, and New Zealand. It would also provide for sentences of life without parole for the most vicious murderers.

In this context, the English whole life murder sentencing regime was the object of considerable study and analysis during the development of Bill C-53. The measures proposed in the life means life act have been carefully crafted to reflect Canadian legal principles and the Canadian experience with murder sentencing, while at the same time seeking to avoid some of the pitfalls encountered by the English in implementing their sentencing regime.

Unlike in Canada where minimum parole ineligibility dates for first and second degree murder are mandatory and established by statute, in England the court assesses the seriousness of the murder and selects an appropriate parole ineligibility starting point. The normal parole ineligibility starting point is a presumptive 15 years, but more serious murders will lead to presumptive starting points of 25 years, 30 years, or even whole life. Once the starting point for calculating the parole ineligibility in any particular case has been determined, the court will then add or subtract from it after considering a list of aggravating or mitigating factors before arriving at a final minimum parole ineligibility period. At the expiry of that date, the convicted murderer may apply for parole.

Under this English scheme, if the seriousness of the murder is exceptionally high, the starting point will be a whole life order. A whole life order precludes the offender from ever applying for parole or being released from custody, except by order of the secretary of state on compassionate grounds, such as terminal illness.

In England, there are four categories of murder for which the seriousness is exceptionally high. The first is multiple murder involving premeditation, abduction, or sexual or sadistic elements. The second is the murder of a child that involves abduction or sexual or sadistic elements. The third is murder to advance a political, religious, or ideological cause. The fourth is murder by any offender previously convicted of murder.

Under the English system, once the starting point and all of the aggravating and mitigating factors have been accounted for, a convicted murderer could end up with a final parole ineligibility date ranging from less than 15 years or all the way to the end of natural life in the form of a whole life order.

If we compare the English scheme with what is proposed by Bill C-53, under Bill C-53, a sentence of life without parole would be mandatory for high treason and for the most morally repugnant murders, namely, premeditated murder committed against a police officer or correctional official, or committed during a sexual assault, kidnapping offence, or terrorist offence; or premeditated murder committed in such a brutal way as to indicate that the offender is unlikely to ever be restrained by normal standards of behaviour.

A discretionary sentence of life without parole would be available for all other first degree murders, whether premeditated or not, as well as for second degree murder where the murderer has previously either committed murder or committed an intentional killing under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

In deciding whether to impose a sentence of life without parole, courts would consider “the character of the accused, the nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding its commission” and the recommendation by the jury.

These are the same criteria the courts now use to decide whether a second degree murderer will serve a parole ineligibility period longer than 10 years, and whether a multiple murderer will serve consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.

There are clear similarities between what is proposed in Bill C-53 and the English whole life regime. Each penalizes the following categories of murders: those involving premeditation, abduction and sexual offences; those that are premeditated and involve sadistic elements, which Bill C-53 deals with under the heading of brutal murders; those committed in the context of terrorist activity, which the English refer to as murder to advance a political, religious or ideological cause; and those where the killer has murdered before.

Despite these similarities, there are several key differences between the proposed life means life scheme and the English whole life order regime.

First, while the English scheme requires that anyone who commits premeditated murder involving abduction and sexually oriented offences must have murdered more than one victim in order to receive a whole life order, Bill C-53 does not impose such a restriction. Thus, anyone who commits the premeditated murder of a single victim in the course of a kidnapping, forcible confinement, abduction, or sexual assault would be subject to a life sentence of imprisonment without parole under Bill C-53.

Yet another way in which the proposals in Bill C-53 differ from the English whole life order scheme lies in the nature of the criteria for the discretionary imposition of life without parole.

The English scheme contains a detailed list of aggravating and mitigating factors, whereas Bill C-53 does not allow for mitigating factors that would reduce the parole ineligibility period below the mandatory minimums set out in our Criminal Code. Nor does Bill C-53 rely on a list of such factors that may have to be updated from time to time. Instead, reliance is placed on the broad and flexible language capturing all such factors that is reflected in the long-established criteria referred to earlier that focus on the offender's character, the nature and circumstances of the murder and any recommendation in this regard by the jury.

It is clear that Bill C-53 is not only necessary, but its time has come. When an individual commits the horrific crime of murder in the way that I have described in regard to Bill C-53, their sentence should be whole life. The sentence should not be set in a position where any attempt at parole would be accepted.

As we know, certainly from the perspective of a victim's family, having to attend a parole hearing is a kind of torture in a way by having to replay and revisit a most terrible time in their lives. This is not something that is acceptable. It is not something that this government has ever spoken about in the last 10 years in terms of being acceptable. That is why Bill C-53 is one that should be enacted. It should certainly be part of our legislative process when it comes to justice, and it should be a bill that both sides of this House supports.

International Trade June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal record on free trade speaks for itself. It is the party that campaigned to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement. When they were in government, the Liberals completely neglected trade. In fact, they only completed three free trade agreements.

The Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in the era of global markets. Even to this day, they are opposing the biggest export contract win in Canadian history. It is a contract that will create and sustain thousands of jobs right here in Ontario, especially in London, and the advanced manufacturing industry across our country.

Thankfully, our government is fixing the mistakes of the Liberals. We have concluded agreements with 38 countries, and there are more to come. As Conservatives, we know that the best job creators are liberalized markets through free and open trade in the world.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I certainly would have to state that, in the close to 10 years that I have been here, we have only had one other private member's bill that dealt in any way, shape, or form with cruelty to animals and legislation in law that would pertain specifically to the treatment or unjust treatment by humans to animals. I do not disagree. I hope, from my perspective, that this is the start of what we can do as both the government and as a Parliament. Our legislation in terms of animal treatment and animal cruelty certainly needs to be updated. We have begun that process here.

However, for the member, if there is other legislation that should come forward in terms of the inhumane treatment of animals and the cruelty that is unjustly done to those animals, on this side of the House I will be the first one to stand up and support that. I think there is almost nothing worse than some of the treatment that is done to animals and the almost inevitable stopping of such an individual from having to face any type of penalty from our justice system. This is a great start, and there is more for us to do.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting question. Actually, in terms of relevance, while it may not be the exact intent of this legislation to deal with that issue, some of my closest friends, whether they be RCMP officers or members of the Niagara Regional Police, have entered into these kinds of discussions not only for tracking events but for safety.

Perhaps the member may be suggesting that it would be an extension of the potential safety and security of both law enforcement officers and animals. Certainly it is something we should all consider, and I think communities across the country are considering this as we speak.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.

What is fascinating are all the complaints I hear from opposition members about not having enough time to speak about a particular piece of legislation, and when they actually have the time to speak about legislation, they complain about not having enough time to speak about legislation. It is ironic.

I also want to point out that some young supporters of this piece of legislation from Beacon Christian School, and I will certainly not mention whether they are here, have come all the way from St. Catharines to Ottawa to make sure they give their endorsement and show support for this bill. I just want to make sure that we note that.

I am certainly proud to add my voice in support of Quanto's law. This is yet another piece of legislation our government has introduced with the goal of making Canadian communities safer. Every day, we ask women and men in uniform and service animals to risk their lives. They have an incredibly important role in keeping Canadians safe.

Regrettably, each year, some officers and service animals make the ultimate sacrifice in carrying out their duties. Only a few days ago, Constable Daniel Woodall gave his life in the service of his country and his community in Edmonton. Our deepest condolences go to his family and friends for their loss.

It is out of honour and respect for these individuals and animals that we continue to bring forward legislation like Quanto's law. The specific focus of this legislation is to deter persons from harming law enforcement and service animals and from assaulting law enforcement officers.

From the outset, there has been broad support in the House and in this country for this legislation. What concerns there may have been with regard to one aspect of this proposed legislation, a mandatory minimum penalty of six months imprisonment for the killing of a law enforcement animal that was assisting a law enforcement officer in carrying out his or her duties, have, I believe, been addressed in the course of the justice committee's deliberations and its study of this bill. It is our government's firm position that this legislation will withstand any charter scrutiny.

The most common type of law enforcement animal in use is the police dog. Police dogs are specifically trained to assist the police and other law enforcement personnel in their work, such as searching for drugs and explosives, searching for lost people, looking for crime scene evidence, and protecting their handlers. In the United States, anyone who kills a federal law enforcement animal could face fines and up to 10 years in prison. Similar statutes exist to protect police animals from malicious injury in almost every state in the U.S.

It is a sad truth that Quanto's law could have been named in honour of several other police dogs that have been killed in the line of duty. The Canadian Police Canine Association maintains a Valour Row on its website. Quanto's story is there and accounted for, as are accounts of how 10 other law enforcement dogs were killed in the line of duty between 1965 and Quanto's death in 2013.

Quanto's law recognizes and honours the important contribution police dogs such as Quanto make to law enforcement. However, the bill also acknowledges the very important role other service animals play.

Through the work of the justice committee, we have become more aware of the invaluable assistance service animals provide to persons with disabilities, and I am pleased that the bill recognizes the important role other service animals play. Service animals are trained to assist or perform some of the functions and tasks that individuals with disabilities cannot perform themselves. There are several different kinds of service dogs, including guide dogs, hearing dogs, mobility dogs, seizure alert and response dogs, psychiatric service dogs, and autism dogs.

I suspect that the service animals with which most people are familiar are the Seeing Eye dogs used by individuals who are blind or have very low vision. However, there are other types of service animals, such as psychiatric service dogs, that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities that require the same type of recognition and protection from persons who would wilfully cause them harm.

Another important aspect of Quanto's law is its proposal on the sentencing of persons convicted of committing any type of assault on a law enforcement officer, whether it is common assault, assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, or aggravated assault. It would require that a sentence imposed on the offender be served consecutively to any other sentence that might be imposed on the offender for the same event or series of events.

For example, there is a report of a break and enter in a dwelling. As the police arrive, a suspect is seen running away from the house. A police officer engages in a foot chase with the fleeing suspect. The officer quickly catches up to the suspect and tackles him, but the suspect pulls a knife and stabs the officer, wounding him and endangering his life. The officer is taken to the hospital and survives. Later, the offender is convicted of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer pursuant to section 270.02 of the Criminal Code, in addition to being convicted of breaking and entering into a dwelling house, which is contrary to section 348.

In such a case, the amendment in Quanto's law would require that the sentence imposed for the aggravated assault be served consecutively to whatever sentence was imposed for the break and enter.

As I said at the beginning of my remarks, every day we ask women and men in uniform and service animals to risk their lives for our safety. We have a duty to ensure that those who would harm them are deterred or punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Bill C-35 will be a fitting legacy for Quanto. It is my view that the spotlight that has been placed on the intentional killing or infliction of harm on law enforcement animals as well as service animals will not soon be forgotten. By enhancing the protection afforded to men and women in uniform and these working animals, we will also be making Canada a safer place for all.

Let me conclude by stating what I believe to be a very important aspect of this legislation. I said at the beginning of my speech that all Canadians and almost everyone in the House supports this legislation. Regardless of the fact that we often spend a lot of time arguing with each other, from a government or opposition perspective, about legislation, regulation, or policies being debated here or at committee, one thing I do understand is that there are some issues that rise above partisanship.

I am thankful to all opposition members and parties for their support for this legislation. We are moving forward with something that is near and dear to most people across this country. It shows that we can rise above partisanship and actually find a piece of legislation on a goal that is honourable. When pain or death is inflicted on purpose on an animal, there is going to be legislation on the books that puts these individuals in conflict with our legislation, and they will serve time for the crime they have committed.