House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was offences.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Fundy Royal (New Brunswick)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Gordon Fairweather November 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise to honour a great Canadian from my riding of Fundy Royal in New Brunswick.

This riding was represented in the House by Gordon Fairweather who had served in the New Brunswick legislature for 10 years before being elected member of Parliament in 1962. He was New Brunswick's attorney general from 1958 to 1960. He went on to sit in this chamber for 15 years and he won a remarkable six consecutive elections. After serving in the House he became the first chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Still today he continues to have honours bestowed upon him. Gordon and his late wife, Nancy, summered for 50 years at Long Reach on the Kingston peninsula. They crossed by cable ferry to their home in Rothesay on a regular basis.

It was my privilege to join with his many friends and admirers on October 22 of this year at a ceremony christening the new 24 car cable ferry plying the beautiful Kennebecasis River between Gondola Point and Reeds Point on the Kingston peninsula. The state of the art ferry was built by Irving Shipbuilding and is named RGL Fairweather .

Criminal Code November 1st, 2004

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to Bill C-13.

I have many concerns which some of my colleagues have raised already. In the larger context of our criminal justice system, a trend has developed over the last several years whereby the government introduces a piece of legislation which common sense would tell us would be wholly ineffective but has some merit on its face. When experts such as front line police officers, child protection advocates, and victims groups look at it and dig beneath the rhetoric a bit, we see there are some fundamental flaws. I want to touch on a couple of examples.

I would like to speak about our sex offender registry in the larger context of criminal justice. When that was first introduced, the opposition recognized some serious flaws, one being that it was not retroactive. It was a blank sheet of paper and would do nothing to protect Canadians. There was considerable public outcry about it and we were able to make some headway by advocating some changes to it. For some time the registry was not retroactive and did not have any names in it.

Another example is the child protection legislation which was recently introduced. Once again, on the same theme, this is a piece of legislation that does not close defences for the possession of child pornography. I do not know what rights we are balancing here but it seems to err on the side of protecting those in possession of the material rather than protecting society at large.

I acknowledge there are many positive aspects to Bill C-13 such as broadening the more serious offences where the onus would be on a defendant to prove why DNA samples should not be taken. That is a good move. Another positive aspect is the broadening of the total list of offences.

Seven years ago when the DNA data bank for Canada was being debated, organizations like the Canadian Police Association argued that for a data bank to be truly effective, samples would have to be taken at the time of arrest. Their pleas were largely ignored. We have to recognize where those pleas were coming from. They were coming from front line police officers, people whose job is to protect Canadians and to investigate offences, whose job is to work with crown prosecutors to ensure that we are protected. Their opinion was that it was too late to wait until a conviction.

A very real situation has been raised today. If someone has been arrested and charged and knows that if convicted, he or she would have to provide a DNA sample and knows it would positively link him or her to a crime he or she committed in the past, the chances of flight by that individual would go up exponentially.

There are literally thousands of unsolved sexual assaults, murders, and kidnappings in Canada. In all likelihood some of those will never be solved. There may be people who have been wrongfully convicted and could be exonerated if only the samples had been taken before a conviction was reached. If samples were taken at the time an individual was charged with a serious indictable offence, it would seem wholly reasonable that we would at that point require them to submit a DNA sample.

This could have the effect of linking them to an unsolved crime in the past. We have seen that one of the great benefits of a DNA data bank is it could have the effect of exonerating someone who has been wrongfully convicted. However, there is this serious shortfall.

I mentioned front line police officers. I want to quote the chief of the largest municipal police force in Canada which is that of the city of Toronto. What he said was not about the original data bank but about this new legislation that we are debating today, he said that it is not enough and it is not adequate. He went on to say:

Here in Canada we have a great deal of room to grow. It seems that whatever progress we make with respect to advances in the criminal-justice system, it is at best a piecemeal endeavour.

That seems to be a trend that we have seen in all legislation dealing with criminal matters, certainly in this session and in past sessions. On the face of it or at first blush it sounds like a good idea but when we dig a little deeper, we realize that it is not going to be as effective as it could be. I for one believe that paramountcy must be given to protection of Canadians, society and children.

I heard a lot of comment on the other side that the court is agreeable with this, that the court seems to have acknowledged this step or that the court finds this is necessary. Yes, talk to the court but we also have to talk to a family that has had a crime perpetrated against it, someone who has been assaulted, someone who has a family member who has been kidnapped or murdered. That has to take paramountcy and has to be at the forefront of our criminal justice system.

We have to ensure that those who would victimize Canadians are put behind bars and that Canadians are protected. Certainly we must do whatever we can to prevent someone from being wrongfully convicted. It is a win-win scenario by broadening the use of our DNA data bank capabilities.

Bill C-13 does not address this one serious shortfall. Further, as was the case with the sex offender registry, the DNA data bank is not retroactive. It does not include all criminals convicted of a serious criminal offence.

Thousands of unsolved crimes could continue to go unsolved. It could mean that hundreds of people who perhaps were wrongfully convicted continue to remain behind bars. We have to broaden the application. That is one thing that I would certainly argue.

It does not go far enough by not including all indictable offences as is required with fingerprinting. Fingerprinting as we know is done at the time of arrest. At one time fingerprinting was a modern miracle. It has been the staple of law enforcement and the criminal justice system for a century but now we are into a new era of DNA data banks. We need to be as proactive as possible with this and realize its full potential.

It is quite clear, if we listen to people who are on the front line and in the know, this is not what is currently being done by this legislation. We must be retroactive. We must include all indictable offences. We have to broaden the scope.

Beyond the legislative shortfalls, there is also the practical shortfalls. We have heard in recent times of the RCMP having serious shortfalls with its ability to process DNA cases. There is a huge backlog. We have to address not just the legislative but also the practical implications of this system.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act November 1st, 2004

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise today to speak to the bill. I have been listening with interest to the comments that some of the members on this side have been making. I think they are very valid and we are raising some very serious concerns.

I want to talk about two issues primarily that are so fundamental to a free and democratic society, one of those being access to information on the part of its citizens and the other is the principle of equality before the law of all citizens.

I want to focus on a particular article, 2.12, disclosure of information. Currently, we have access to information provisions in this country that allow individual citizens to access the information contained by government. It states:

Subject to 2.12.3, but notwithstanding any other provision of the Agreement, neither government, including the Tlicho community governments, nor the Tlicho Government is required to disclose any information that it is required or entitled to withhold under any legislation or Tlicho law relating to access to information or privacy.

Article 2.12.2 goes on:

Where government, including a Tlicho community government, or the Tlicho government has a discretion to disclose any information, it shall take into account the objects of the Agreement in exercising that discretion.

Finally, article 2.12.3 states:

Notwithstanding any legislation relating to access to information or privacy, government shall provide a Tlicho community government access to any information under its control, other than federal Cabinet documents or territorial Executive Council documents, that is required for the administration, by the Tlicho community government, of an interest listed in part 2 of the appendix to chapter 9 or a lease listed in part 3 of the appendix to chapter 9.

I raise that issue of access to information. We want to ensure that the citizens who are governed under this agreement are not subject to a lesser amount of access to important vital information than Canadian citizens are subject today. That is a concern because access to information is a cornerstone of a free and democratic society.

I also want to talk a bit about the principle of equality. That is a principle to which most of us on this side are committed to and to which those on the other side say they are committed. This overall agreement will create a racially segregated electoral system, which is clearly contrary to our charter of rights that we cherish.

Those who are Tlicho citizens acquire a very distinct status. They enjoy the electoral franchise as Tlicho citizens. They have all the rights and benefits of other Canadian citizens. They also maintain their identity as aboriginal people of Canada participating in and benefiting from any existing or future constitutional rights. They also receive all status Indian benefits and maintain their hunting, fishing and trapping rights under treaty.

I fear we are creating here a system of rights, competing rights and conflicting rights among various groups of Canadians. The principle of equality appears to be thrown out the window in an effort to reach this agreement.

As Canadians we are protected under the charter of rights. It is part of our Constitution and has been since 1982. It provides certain rights and guarantees to all Canadians. Some of those rights that we cherish are included under that charter. It is not clear to me, and it has been raised today by various members, that the charter will apply to these citizens.

It seems quite clear on its face that if we were to take some of the provisions of this agreement and pushed them onto an area such as Ottawa, or my riding where we had a segregated electoral system, Canadians would not appreciate that. However, under the guise of reaching an agreement, we have some onerous provisions.

The principles that we cherish in a free and democratic society, that are necessary to maintain a democracy, the principles of openness of government, and the principle of equality of all citizens before and under the law, I would urge all members to consider whether this bill is in keeping with those principles that we claim to hold so dear. When we look at some of the provisions here, that is not the case.

Other provisions have already been raised today. I want to touch on some other items. We can go through so much effort in the debate on this agreement and the cost of trying to reach an agreement, but when we finally achieve an agreement, it must be final. How can we subject Canadians from across this country to this type of debate and this type of effort that goes into reaching an agreement and not have a final agreement?

I fear that the government has put us in a situation where we will have to revisit this issue often. It sets a terrible precedent. Canadians would expect that this agreement would be final. Finality is an important part of any contract. We all want to know that we can rely on what we have entered into a year from now, 10 years from now and into the future. If we have an agreement that is not final, it does a disservice to the Tlicho people and to all Canadians.

The other item that has been mentioned, and I cannot understand why there has not been more opposition raised to it, is the right to enter into international agreements. We have seen some of the controversy on the other side when statements were made that some provinces could act on the international stage as a representative of Canada. We know that is not true. The Government of Canada speaks for Canada on international debate and international negotiations.

Have we opened the door now to a group of people within our country and have we given the opportunity now for them to speak to international agreements and international issues? In practice how would that be put in place?

We do not offer a seat for the provinces. Yet, we are now going to extend a seat in international agreements which is what the agreement says. This is a power that is constitutionally reserved for the federal government and we are going to open this up in this agreement.

I have already mentioned the electoral system. There has to be fundamental equality before the law. We have seen recent Supreme Court decisions affirming that every Canadian citizen has the right to vote. We have seen that even extending into our federal prison system.

To then suggest that only certain citizens in an area, these Tlicho citizens as they will be known, are entitled to be elected to certain positions is a clearly racially based system.

There is also concern in creating another tier of government. We have a municipal tier which ironically enough this government has promised time and time again to support and has been pulling the rug out from under our municipal governments. Now we see the government creating another tier.

Those are some of the issues that must be addressed.

Natural Resources October 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's approach to dealing with Atlantic Canada is nothing short of insulting.

Yesterday the Prime Minister's communications director threatened Newfoundland and Labrador and implied that its premier was not telling the truth. When our former Prime Minister's communications director called the U.S. President a moron, our current Prime Minister's supporters demanded that she be fired.

When will the Prime Minister's communications director be fired for insulting and threatening Newfoundlanders?

Criminal Code October 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-2, an act to amend the Criminal Code in regard to the protection of children and other vulnerable persons.

First, I want to be very clear that there are some aspects of this bill that are worthwhile. I applaud those measures. For example, Canada is in need of legislation to deal with voyeurism and the distribution of voyeuristic material. As a matter of fact, there is a lady from my home province of New Brunswick, Julia Buote, who has helped to lead the fight for tougher laws on voyeurism. I commend her on that effort. We also need legislation that helps to facilitate the testimony of child victims and witnesses and this bill provides a step in that direction.

Unfortunately, as we have seen in the House before, these worthwhile measures are thrown in with a bill that still falls far short of what Canadian children require from this government. In short, this legislation allows for the continuation of a dangerous loophole that will allow for child pornographers to continue to possess what should be illegal material.

Much of the controversy over Canada's child pornography laws dates back to the court case of John Sharpe. In the Sharpe decision, the Supreme Court of Canada said that the Criminal Code defence of “artistic merit” should be interpreted as broadly as possible. This helped shape the decision that allowed Sharpe to be acquitted on two counts of “possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute”. The material in question contained violent writings targeting vulnerable children; however, the judge ultimately found that this material had artistic merit.

All across Canada, child pornography cases were put on hold while the Liberal government did nothing as the Sharpe case wound its way through the courts. For two years Canadian children effectively went without legal protection against child pornographers as police were compelled to put investigations on hold pending the appeals.

The Supreme Court held in Sharpe that artistic merit should be interpreted as including “any expression that may reasonably be viewed as art” and that “any objectively established artistic value, however small”, would support the defence.

When the Liberal government finally reacted to public outrage over the Sharpe decision, the response was woefully inadequate. Three times now, first with Bill C-20, then Bill C-12, and finally Bill C-2, which is before us today, the government has attempted to appear tough on child protection, but in reality is not closing loopholes that threaten Canadian children.

Actually, the government has now come full circle and is still including a type of artistic merit defence for the possession of child pornography.

Under Bill C-12 from the 37th Parliament, the existing Criminal Code defences for child pornography, which included artistic merit or educational, scientific or medical purpose, were reduced to a single defence of “public good”.

Despite the Liberals' attempt to sell the bill on the basis that the artistic merit defence had been eliminated, the former justice minister admitted in the justice committee that it was still included under the broader category of public good. He stated, “Artistic merit still exists in the sense that a piece of art will have to essentially go through the new defence of public good...”.

Interestingly, in the Sharpe decision the Supreme Court also briefly considered the defence of public good. The court found that public good has been interpreted as “necessary or advantageous to...the pursuit of, among other or other objects of general interest”. Again, when Canadians discovered this loophole they were rightly outraged.

The Liberals are now proposing, in Bill C-2, another brand new loophole. This time it is called “legitimate purpose”. The new legislation replaces the term public good with legitimate purpose. The defence would be available if the act in question has a legitimate purpose related to, among other things, art, and if the act does not pose an undue risk of harm to children. The loophole for artistic merit has therefore not been closed and what constitutes “undue risk of harm to children” remains open to interpretation by judges.

In its 2001 Sharpe decision, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that artistic merit should be given as broad an interpretation as possible, a strong signal of how the courts view these defences.

I feel the question that Canadians are asking is why the government is contorting itself to leave open loopholes for the possession of child pornography. I believe the problem is that the government's focus is not on doing all it can to protect children but on what the courts might say if we passed effective legislation.

In my opinion, establishing a test of undue risk is an insult to Canadians. Any risk to the safety of children should be met with the strongest response possible.

I ask the government to listen to the people who work on the front lines of child protection. Listen to police offices who have to deal with the tragedy of child abuse. I will quote from Scott Newark, vice chair and special counsel for the Office for Victims of Crime. He said:

Almost invariably, as in the Sharpe case, it gets down to a section 1 interpretation by the courts; and frankly, rather than having the courts determine Parliament's intent, in every single piece of legislation, in my experience, you should be expressing it, particularly where what's involved is choices between priorities.

Again, the Sharpe case is an example of that. There was an absolute recognition in the Sharpe case that child pornography in all forms represents a risk of harm to children.

Sergeant Paul Gillespie of the Toronto Police Service said:

We've seen what happens when police are left to define what is or isn't artistic merit. We'll be fighting about this one for years.

Now police will be left to determine whether something serves a legitimate purpose or poses an undue risk before proceeding further.

I also want to talk about some other changes in the bill, one being maximum sentences. Again there is an appearance to the Canadian public that the Liberal government is being tough on people who commit offences against children. However increasing maximum sentences is meaningless if the courts do not impose these increased sentences. We know by experience that when maximum sentences are raised there is no corresponding pattern in the actual sentencing practices. What is needed are mandatory minimum sentences, truth in sentencing, eliminating statutory release and no conditional sentences for child predators.

All across the country child pornographers are given conditional sentences for their crimes. These people are serving no jail time. Canadians may not be aware of that. How then is raising the maximum sentence going to help when the courts are not even approaching sentencing beyond the minimum sentences? Higher maximum sentences for child pornography will not be effective unless the courts enforce them.

The bill also fails to prohibit conditional sentences and child predators should serve their sentences in prison and not in the community.

I want to touch on the age of consent. The bill ignores the pleas of police groups, child advocacy groups and the provinces by failing to increase the age of consent. The age of consent for adult-child sex must be raised from 14 to 16. On this issue, 80% of Canadians polled have said that they want to increase the age of consent to at least 16 years.

In 2001, provincial ministers unanimously passed a resolution calling on the federal government to increase the age of consent to at least 16.

Like Bill C-12 before it, Bill C-2 fails to raise the age of consent. Instead, the bill creates the category of exploitive relationships. It was already against the law for a person in a position of trust or authority or with whom a young person was in a relationship of dependency to be sexually involved. It is unclear then now how adding people who are in a relationship with a young person that is exploitive in nature will add legal protection for young people.

I believe all Canadians care very deeply about our children. I believe that all members of this House sincerely want to protect children. However the Liberal approach to protecting children consistently fails to put the needs of children ahead of the rights of criminals. This needs to change.

We must act in the best interest for Canada's children and close all loopholes that allow for the possession of child pornography.

Child Pornography October 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, Canadian children deserve better. Rather than listening to Canadians, the minister has simply revived old legislation that child advocates and front line police officers have already said will not be effective.

First it was artistic merit, then it was public good. Now it is legitimate purpose. I ask the minister, why will he not close all loopholes for child pornographers?

Child Pornography October 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, last Friday when the Minister of Justice reintroduced so-called child protection legislation, he once again failed to address the most fundamental issue. Instead of eliminating the notorious artistic merit defence for possession of child pornography, the minister has simply given it a new name.

Why does the government continue to provide loopholes for the possession of child pornography?

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I was pretty clear that we should exhaust all options to resolve the crisis. The question the member asked me had nothing to do with that. He asked why we keep mentioning the ridiculous remarks that come from his side about the Americans. I was quite clear that it is not helpful and I do not believe we are going to resolve this crisis as long as that poisoned atmosphere is in place between us and our largest trading partner.

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, we are having this take note debate because all across our country there are farmers in crisis. We should be exhausting all means, whether they be diplomatic or legal, necessary to resolve this crisis.

If there are steps that can be taken, and we have exhausted diplomatic steps, then I certainly feel it should be the mandate of the government to take all the steps necessary to resolve the crisis.

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, the only response I would have is that it may not be the only reason, but those types of reactions and comments certainly at the very best do not help matters. That point has been made over and over many times tonight. It seems fairly self-evident to me that we do not gain favour with our trading partners by calling them names. That has been well established and I would say that at best it does not help.