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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was code.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe (New Brunswick)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, finally, someone has grasped one of the essential points of mandatory minimum sentences. Quite frankly, I agree with the comment that, regretfully, pedophilia is not an illness that can be cured—and it certainly is an illness. While the aim is not so much to take those who are afflicted with this disease, put them in jail and throw away the key, the evidence, regretfully, proves that it does not appear that it can be cured.

In the case of mandatory minimum sentences, in the case of longer sentences, and in the case where people afflicted with this sort of disease have a chance to get some treatment, there is a hope that they will be cured. There is a hope, but there is also certainty that when they are behind bars, they will not be re-offending and will not be attacking the children of Canada.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question and her help on this file.

The justice system is a means to an end. Certainly, the justice system is there to protect children. In the past, we always respected the fact that a husband and wife were married, that they would not be able to testify against one another and that they were sometimes reluctant to do so. This bill would bring an amendment to subsection 4(2) of the Canada Evidence Act to render an individual compellable against their spouse in the case of child pornography. It is the case of many child sexual offences.

In criminal law, it is a question of public order. It is all a question of balancing the interests of the citizens. Sometimes there is an intrusion on one right in favour of another, and we have to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each one's rights and values. However, in this case, the government has thought so strongly about protecting the rights of children that it has done something that is unusual in common law. It has gone so far as to make a spouse, a husband and wife, compellable against each another in order to produce evidence of offences against their very own offspring.

That is the sentiment. That is the depth of our commitment to trying to protect children. It is not that we do not respect married life, but that first and foremost, the most vulnerable, the children, must be protected.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, probably the most important study that a parliamentarian could observe, read, and study is the sentiment of the public that the justice system was really shortchanging them. The reason there are mandatory minimum sentences, the reason why they increased the sentence in the case of child sexual offences, is that the public abhorred the fact that people were committing absolutely heinous crimes and were getting off scot-free. The public, in consultations that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness had, has given us a resounding response: look, crimes of this nature will no longer be tolerated.

We have acted in accordance with those wishes. We feel that those wishes are definitely in line with what all of Canada wants, and our values. That is why we have mandatory minimum sentences. That is why we have increased maximum sentences. They reflect the gravity of the crime.

Even in the Bible, there are 10 commandments. Let us just say that maybe murder is more serious than, perhaps, stealing. They are both crimes. However, not every crime is of the same magnitude in the Criminal Code.

We feel that offences against children, the most vulnerable, are the ones that must be penalized most severely. That is the message we are conveying.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question. Clearly, we should not let perfectionism stand in the way of something that is already fundamentally good. This bill protects the most vulnerable members of our society: children.

Throughout Canada's history, there have been numerous amendments to the Criminal Code. There have been many occasions where the justice system—meaning prosecutors, defence lawyers and victims' rights groups as well—has had to adapt to changes and modify how it works. However, how could anything be more motivating for stakeholders in the justice system to change how they work than making child protection the ultimate goal?

Is there always enough money to ensure that every bill is absolutely perfect? No. However, this is a step in the right direction. Protecting our most vulnerable, Canada's children, is a very commendable goal.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to voice my support for Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act, during second reading debate.

In order to support the Canadian government's commitment to stand up for victims of crime, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness introduced a bill to better address the problem of sex offences committed against children in Canada and abroad.

The bill builds on the government's concerted efforts to protect children from those who would prey on their vulnerability.

Some examples of what this government has done to better protect children from sexual predators include the Safe Streets and Communities Act in 2012, which established new mandatory minimum penalties for seven existing child offences, increased the mandatory minimum penalties for nine existing child sex offences, and increased the maximum prison sentences for four existing child sexual exploitation offences to better reflect the serious nature of these offences.

It also created two new offences to prevent anyone from providing sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of sexual offences against that child, which is section 171.1 of the Criminal Code, and to prohibit anyone from using any means of telecommunications, including the Internet, to agree or to make arrangements with another person for the purpose of committing sexual offences against a child, which is section 172.2.

It also requires judges to consider prohibiting suspected or convicted child sex offenders from having any unsupervised contact with a young person under the age of 16 or having any unsupervised use of the Internet or other digital network.

There was also the law called “An Act Respecting the Mandatory Reporting of Internet Child Pornography by Persons Who Provide an Internet Service” in 2011, which requires those who provide Internet services to report when they are advised of an Internet address where child pornography may be available to the public.

As well, the Protecting Victims from Sex Offenders Act of 2011 required all those convicted of sexual offences abroad to report to a police service within seven days of arriving in Canada, and the Tackling Violent Crime Act of 2008 doubled the duration of peace bonds and protective orders for persons convicted of child sexual offences or suspected of committing such an offence in the future, and of course raised the age of sexual activity, known as the age of protection, to 16 years.

This last amendment is significant. It brought Canada in line with other like-minded countries to ensure a higher level of protection for children in Canada by preventing Canadian children from being targeted by foreign pedophiles, who used to view Canada as a safe haven to pursue sexual activity with 14- and 15-year-olds.

Our government has also taken broader measures to help young victims of crime. We have provided over $10 million for new or enhanced child advocacy centres, or CACs, since 2010. So far, CAC projects have been funded in 20 cities or municipalities across Canada.

Teams of professionals at these centres help young victims and witnesses cope with the trauma they have experienced and navigate the criminal justice system. We also launched, the Government of Canada’s public awareness website on online safety. The site contains information for parents on how to protect their children from people who go online for the purpose of exploiting, manipulating or abusing children.

We joined the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online in June 2013. The goal of the global alliance is to strengthen international efforts to fight Internet predators and child abuse images online. It focuses on identifying and helping victims, prosecuting offenders, increasing public awareness and reducing the availability of child pornography online.

There was also consultation with the public and stakeholders in order to better understand the different opinions on which rights should be recognized and protected by a federal victims bill of rights. These consultations are crucial to determining how best to enshrine victims' rights in a single federal law.

Since 2006, the government has allocated more than $120 million to meet the needs of victims of crime through programs and initiatives delivered by the Department of Justice.

This is only a sampling of the measures that this government has undertaken to strengthen the criminal justice system's protection of children from such heinous crimes, but these measures are the foundation on which Bill C-26's proposed reforms are built. I believe that the import of Bill C-26's reforms can only be truly appreciated in this context.

First and foremost, sentencing reforms in Bill C-26 would ensure that those who prey upon children receive the sentences they deserve.

In Canada, more than 3,900 sexual offences against children were reported to the police in 2012. That is a 6% increase over 2010. We must take action.

This bill proposes nine new measures that reflect the commitment the government made in the 2013 throne speech to re-establish Canada as a country where those who break the law are punished for their actions, where penalties match the severity of the crimes committed, and where the most vulnerable victims—children—are better protected.

The measures are as follows: requiring those convicted of contact child sexual offences against multiple children to serve their sentences consecutively, one after another; requiring those convicted of child pornography offences and contact child sexual offences to serve their sentences consecutively; increasing maximum and minimum prison sentences for certain child sexual offences; increasing penalties for violation of conditions of supervision orders; ensuring that a crime committed while on house arrest, parole, statutory release or unescorted temporary absence is an aggravating factor at sentencing; ensuring that spousal testimony is available in child pornography cases; requiring registered sex offenders to provide more information when they travel abroad; enabling information sharing on certain registered sex offenders between officials responsible for the national sex offender registry and at the Canada Border Services Agency; and establishing a publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex offenders who have been the subject of a public notification in a provincial or territorial jurisdiction to assist in ensuring the safety of our communities.

The bill proposes to increase the mandatory minimum penalties for 9 existing child sexual offences as well as to increase the maximum penalty for 16 existing child sexual offences. The offences cover the full range of conduct engaged in by child sexual offenders.

Some offenders engage in conduct that is preparatory to a contact sexual offence. This process is sometimes referred to as “grooming”. For example, some offenders may show children sexually explicit material to normalize the sexual activity in which they wish to engage. Others may attempt to make an agreement with another adult who has control over a child to sexually abuse that child. Still others may directly contact a child through the Internet to prepare the child for sexual abuse.

I stress that all this contact is specifically prohibited by the Criminal Code, sections 171.1 to 172.2. Bill C-26 would ensure that the penalties for engaging in this conduct are commensurate with the severity of the crime. Applicable mandatory minimum penalties would be increased, and a maximum penalty of 14 years on indictment would be imposed for all these preparatory child sexual offences.

The Criminal Code also prohibits sexual contact with children through child specific sexual offences, sections 151 to 153, and general sexual offences, sections 271 to 273. Maximum penalties for child specific sexual offences as well as for the general sexual assault offences, section 271, where the victim is under 16 years, would increase from 18 months to 2 years less a day on summary conviction and from 10 years to 14 years on indictment. The maximum penalty for sexual assault with a weapon where the victim is under age 16 would increase from 14 years to life imprisonment.

Bill C-26 would also strengthen the child pornography provisions, which prohibit making, distributing, possessing, or accessing child pornography, section 163.1. First, the bill would make the offence of making and distributing child pornography strictly indictable and increase the maximum penalties from 10 years to 14 years to reflect the particularly heinous nature of these crimes. It would also increase the mandatory minimum penalties for possessing and accessing child pornography from 90 days to 6 months on summary conviction and from 6 months to a year on indictment. In addition, it would increase the maximum penalties for these offences from 18 months to 2 years less a day on summary conviction and from 5 to 10 years on indictment.

However, Bill C-26 does not stop there.

The bill would also increase penalties for breaches of supervision orders. These orders can be imposed to prevent future offending. Therefore, it is critical that penalties for breaches of such orders act as a deterrent.

Accordingly, Bill C-26 would ensure that anyone convicted of breaching a probation order, peace bond, or prohibition order would be subject to a maximum penalty of 18 months on summary conviction rather than the existing 6 months, and 4 years on indictment rather than the existing 2 years.

I have focused on the reforms Bill C-26 proposes that would increase penalties for child sexual offences, but the bill also proposes other important sentencing reforms, including to require that offenders who offend against multiple child victims, or commit child pornography offences and contact child sexual offences, serve their sentences for these offences consecutively rather than concurrently if they are sentenced for such offences at the same time. This means no more sentence discounts.

Bill C-26 would also ensure that committing an offence while subject to a conditional sentence order—that is, a sentence that was served in the community or while on parole or while on statutory release—is also considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

All of these sentencing reforms taken together would assist in strengthening the criminal laws' intricate web of protection for children.

In short, these reforms would send a message: Canada will not tolerate sexually offending against children. We must do everything we can to prevent such offending, protect children, and hold offenders to account.

I am also pleased that this bill contains some important reforms that would assist in ensuring that the evidence of an accused's spouse is available in child pornography prosecutions; that information could be shared between Canada and foreign countries concerning Canadians travelling abroad to sexually offend against children; and that the public would be informed of high-risk offenders who may offend again against our children.

I will quote Sharon Rosenfeldt, president of the Victims of Violence. She said:

We need to protect the vulnerable and make sure they have the tools to get help, heal and move forward with their lives—especially our children. We at Victims of Violence welcome the federal government’s move to strengthen laws surrounding sexual abuse, so children are protected from abuse and exploitation, victims are heard and our communities are made safer.

There is no doubt in my mind that Bill C-26 is a critical piece of legislation that would serve to protect our children and our communities and keep them safe. Accordingly, I encourage all hon. members to join me in support of Bill C-26.

Victims, especially children, need our support.

I invite members of all parties to join me in supporting this bill.

Child Poverty November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand here today and speak to this NDP motion regarding child poverty. This represents a great opportunity to inform the House of the many things our government is doing to reduce child poverty.

As everyone knows, our government's top priority is the economy, and this means that we all want Canadians to have long-term prosperity, especially those who currently find themselves with a low income. In order for us to achieve this, we must be able to improve the lives of many Canadians who find themselves struggling.

I am pleased that under our Conservative government, we have the lowest rate of child poverty in the history of this great nation. Indeed, our approach to reducing poverty, which emphasizes collaboration with the provinces and territories to invest in targeted programs, reduce taxes, and create opportunities for good-paying jobs, is working.

To help make this a reality, the government invests in a wide range of programs and policies that support Canadians on the road to prosperity.

This approach includes, for example, funding for student loans and grants so that more people have access to a good education. It includes support for training programs to help people get specific skills they need for the workforce. It includes support for apprenticeship programs so that Canadians can pursue a variety of trades. It includes transfers to the provincial governments to support post-secondary education.

It also includes support for aboriginal communities so that first nations, Métis, and Inuit Canadians have a better chance to have a good job and secure their future. It includes support for those with disabilities so that they can find greater success in the workforce. It includes support for new Canadians to help them fully participate in the economy, and it includes constantly refining and improving supports for individuals who face particularly difficult barriers to participation in the workforce.

To help ensure that people are better off working, in 2007 our Conservative government brought in the working income tax benefit to supplement the earnings of low-income working families. This benefit gives people in these situations a supplement to their wages so that families on social assistance will always be better off when they are working. The program works very well.

In 2009, the government doubled its commitment to $1.1 billion to help people get off welfare and into the job market. By 2011, upwards of 1.5 million working Canadian families were receiving support through this program, and it is estimated to have lifted some 110,000 parents, children, and single people out of low income.

Let us dwell on that number for a moment. The working income tax benefit, just one of our government's measures, has lifted approximately the population of the city of Guelph, Ontario, out of poverty. This is quite remarkable, and it is proof that our plan is working.

The federal government works with provincial and territorial governments on the national child benefit and provides direct funding to parents through the universal child care benefit. It also helps to ensure that enhanced benefits and services continue when parents move from welfare to paid employment. This has had a significant impact on reducing the number of children living in poverty.

In 2011, the rate of children living in low-income families was 1.8% lower as a direct result of the national child benefit. That translates into approximately 118,000 fewer children living in low-income families because of this benefit.

Another example is the Canada social transfer to the provincial and territorial governments. In fiscal year 2013-14, this transfer provided over $12 billion to provincial and territorial governments, an increase of $4 billion since the Liberals were in office. This transfer continues to increase at the rate of 3% per year.

This funding supports provincial initiatives in early child development, early learning, child care, and post-secondary education. As well, it supports social assistance and other social services for low-income families with children.

Other initiatives in support of families with children include the universal child care benefit, which we have recently announced will now be about $2,000 per year for each kid under six and $700 per year for kids six and over, helping families with the costs of whatever form of child care they choose. Families are making their own choices.

This benefit is credited with lifting some 41,000 children in 19,000 families out of low-income situations, and this will dramatically increase with our recent top-ups.

The child care expense deduction, which we have just announced we will be expanding, is another example. It lets families deduct the cost of child care from their taxable income, and in 2013 it reduced taxes payable by families by about $1 billion.

There was also the child tax credit of $2,255 for each child under 18, which reduces the parents' income tax payable by about $340 for each child.

The government has also supported the creation of over 8,500 daycare spaces in over 400 first nations and Inuit communities to encourage more aboriginal Canadians with children to join the workforce.

In total, the government is providing over $15 billion in benefits for families with children through programs and tax measures, such as the Canada child tax benefit, the national child benefit supplement, the child disability benefit, the universal child care benefit, and finally the child tax credit. The vast majority of this investment goes to low and modest income families with children.

One must also consider all the federal investments being made to make housing more affordable for lower income Canadians. Since 2006, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the government has invested more than $16.5 billion in housing. Working with its partners, CMHC has helped nearly 915,000 Canadian households, including low-income families with children, find adequate and affordable housing.

The programs I have mentioned are showing results. The incidence of children living in low-income households has dropped to all-time lows. That translates into about 730,000 fewer children living in poverty. In fact, there has been a decline in the low-income rate for single female-parent homes of over 20% since 2002.

As well as providing targeted support for those most in need, the government has also cut taxes for Canadian families and individuals by upwards of $160 billion. The greatest benefit has been for low and middle income Canadians. Personal income taxes are now 10% lower and more than one million low-income Canadians have been taken off the tax rolls altogether. That is like taking the entire population of Calgary off the tax rolls completely.

The proof of our government's action is in the numbers, and our plan is working. That is why I am pleased to support this motion, because it recognizes all of the good work our Conservative government has done to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.

I thank the hon. member for her motion, and I urge all my hon. colleagues to support it.

Interparliamentary Delegations October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the delegation of the Canadian branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, concerning its participation at the meeting of the Political Committee of the APF, held in Libreville, Gabon, on April 15 and 16, 2014.

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent October 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to exercise my democratic right as the elected member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe. Our founding fathers, our veterans, and our brave men and women who wear our uniform fought and continue to fight for that right.

Tragedy struck Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu early this past week, resulting in the violent and sudden death of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was a dedicated member of our forces for 28 years. Warrant Officer Vincent served with dignity and valour.

Courageous men and women risk their lives every day to defend our freedoms.

They put on their uniforms knowing they are fighting to uphold the very values our predecessors fought for.

I think I speak for all Canadians, inside and outside the House, when I wish the Vincent family our condolences and our strength at this difficult time.

God bless the Canadian Forces and all they do each and every day to protect Canada.

Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the 2013-14 annual report of the Federal Ombudsman for the Victims of Crime and the government's response.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, since Confederation, the Supreme Court has ruled on constitutionality in a number of cases. That is the beauty of our democracy. Bills are passed and analyzed, and then the brightest legal minds of the Supreme Court get us back on the right track when we stray.

Investigations will always be subject to judicial review. The court determines the value of a request to protect victims.