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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

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act September 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to voice my support for Bill C-36, the protection of communities and exploited persons act.

Bill C-36 would fill the gap created by the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the Bedford decision, which would result in the decriminalization of most adult prostitution-related activities if Bill C-36 is not in force before the expiry of the court's one-year suspension. I know with deep appreciation that the House of Commons justice committee and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs studied the bill during the summer recess in recognition of the Supreme Court's one-year time limit.

We have heard numerous criticisms of Bill C-36 from those people who oppose its approach, an approach that reflects a fundamental paradigm shift toward the treatment of prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation by criminalizing those who fuel the demand for prostitution and continuing to criminalize those who capitalize on that demand.

These criticisms include that the bill does not respect the Bedford decision, assertion one; that it should be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada for determination of its constitutionality, assertion two; and ultimately that the Bedford decision requires decriminalization of adult prostitution, assertion three. I propose to address each of these three assertions in turn.

With respect to the first assertion, that the bill does not respect the Bedford decision, the Supreme Court of Canada defined in Bedford the objectives of the three impugned prostitution offences narrowly as addressing primarily the nuisance aspect of prostitution rather than its harms. In doing so, it came to the conclusion that the effect of these offences was either grossly disproportionate or overbroad with respect to its objectives because they prevented sellers of sexual services from taking steps to protect themselves when engaging in a risky but legal activity. Specifically, existing provisions do not permit selling sexual services from fixed indoor locations, which was found to be the safest way to sell sex; hiring legitimate bodyguards; or negotiating safer conditions for the sale of sexual services in public places.

Bill C-36 comprehensively responds to these concerns. First, it articulates its new elevated objectives in its preamble. No longer would the law focus on addressing the nuisance aspects of prostitution. Bill C-36 is clearly targeted at addressing the exploitation involved in the practice and the harms it causes to those involved, to communities and to society at large by normalizing a practice that targets those who are disadvantaged, including because of gender, race, youth, poverty or a history of abuse.

Second, the scope of Bill C-36's proposed new and modernized offences is consistent with its objectives. Bill C-36 primarily targets the purchasers, those who fuel the demand for prostitution, and third parties, those who capitalize on that demand. Moreover, the proposed purchasing offence would make the prostitution transaction illegal. No longer would prostitution be a legal activity.

Bill C-36 would also immunize from prosecution those who are viewed as the vulnerable party to that illegal transaction, the sellers. Only in certain narrow circumstances would that group be held criminally liable, where their actions harm other vulnerable members of society, our children.

The justice committee narrowed the proposed “communicating offence” to apply only where communications for the purpose of selling sexual services occur in public places that are next to locations designated for use by children, namely, school grounds, playgrounds and daycare centres. The Senate committee heard that this narrowed offence clearly delineates the parameters of criminal liability and strikes the right balance between the protection of sellers and the protection of children who could be drawn into prostitution through exposure to the practice or harmed by dangerous refuse left behind, such as condoms and syringes. Furthermore, Bill C-36 would not prevent the implementation of certain safety measures noted in Bedford.

Specifically, Bill C-36 would not prevent selling sexual services from a fixed indoor location, hiring legitimate bodyguards or negotiating safer conditions for the sale of sexual services in public places, other than in those three child-specific locations I have already mentioned. This does not mean that Bill C-36 would facilitate or authorize the sale of sexual services. On the contrary, just as the bill seeks to reduce the purchase of sexual services, so it also seeks to reduce the sale of those services. While we work toward achieving the bill's objectives, those who remain subjected to prostitution should not be prevented from taking the measures that the Supreme Court of Canada found to be the most safety-enhancing.

Some witnesses before the two committees found this approach contradictory and therefore constitutionally suspect. I cannot agree. In my view, this approach recognizes the power imbalance that often accompanies the prostitution transaction. In too many cases this transaction does not involve two consenting autonomous individuals

Asymmetry in the application of the criminal law to the prostitution transaction recognizes that so often prostitution involves the purchase of sexual acts by those with money and power from those with little money and less power. In particular, prostitution allows men, who are primarily the purchasers of sexual services, paid access to female bodies, thereby demeaning and degrading the human dignity of all women and girls by entrenching a clearly gendered practice in Canadian society.

This brings me to the second assertion, that Bill C-36 should be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada for constitutional analysis. I stress that the Bedford case constitutes a constitutional analysis on these very issues and I have just referred to the many ways in which the decision influenced the development of the bill. Moreover, we have heard academics tell the two committees that constitutional cases need a solid evidentiary foundation as to the effects of the legislation. The evidence adduced in Bedford does not provide that record in respect to Bill C-36, which has different objectives and proposes new prostitution offences. In short, it would be premature to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for its constitutional analysis at this stage.

I note, however, that the Minister of Justice tabled a technical paper with both parliamentary committees that summarizes the evidence relied upon in the development of Bill C-36. The technical paper is also available on the department's website.

The third assertion is that Bedford requires decriminalization. There are those who claim that Bedford stands for the proposition that the law must allow the purchase and sale of sexual services in fixed indoor locations; the employment of bodyguards, receptionists and others who may enhance safety; and all public communications for the purpose of selling or purchasing sexual services. However, this reading of the Bedford case ignores the fact that the court analyzed the three impugned provisions in their existing legal context. This context makes adult prostitution a legal activity and as held in Bedford, reduces the objectives of existing prostitution-related offences to combatting primarily the nuisance effects of prostitution. Moreover, this interpretation of Bedford ignores the Supreme Court of Canada's clear statement that Parliament is not precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted.

Those who read Bedford as requiring decriminalization appear to have forgotten the premise of the Supreme Court of Canada's analysis, that prostitution is currently a legal activity. In that context, the court found that sellers cannot be prevented from implementing safety measures. However, Bedford does not stand for the proposition that prostitution must be recognized as work like any other and those involved in the trade, be they sellers, so-called managers, or other third parties.

Bill C-36 fundamentally alters the premise on which the Supreme Court of Canada's constitutional analysis was based. It makes prostitution illegal because it is too dangerous and poses too great a harm to those involved, the communities in which it is practised, and society at large to entrench it as a form of work recognized by law. Bill C-36 posits that doing so would increase the sex trade, and concomitantly, increase the risk of vulnerable persons being drawn into it. The Bedford case does not preclude such an approach, rather it opens the door to it.

Bill C-36 is a welcome change to the criminal law's approach to prostitution. It recognizes that entrenching prostitution as a legitimate profession by facilitating it through decriminalization would result in more vulnerable persons being drawn into it. I do not think this is the type of society to which we should aspire.

I implore my fellow parliamentarians to stand with those who have been subjected to prostitution by force or through lack of meaningful options, some of whom courageously testified before the two committees and were silenced by prostitution's oppression. I ask all members to stand with me in support of the bill, which was specifically developed to protect vulnerable persons from oppression.

Justice June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it always helps to listen to the answers that are given. There have been 182 women appointed to the bench since 2006, a 17% increase.

I have named the diversity of different members who have been named. There are more: Justice Diane Cameron, a Métis, was appointed to the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench and then elevated to the Manitoba Court of Appeal; Justice Guylaine Beaugé was born in Haiti and was the first black woman appointed to the Quebec Superior Court; Madam Justice Neena Sharma, the first Indo-Canadian who was appointed to the B.C. Supreme Court; Justice Jennifer Power, an aboriginal, was appointed to the B.C. Supreme Court; Justice Shannon Smallwood, an aboriginal, was appointed to the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories. We will continue to appoint diverse Canadians to the—

Justice June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we are obviously very proud of our record in naming women to the bench. There are 182 who have been named since we became government in 2006. This represents a 17% increase. Obviously, we want to encourage good candidates to apply to the JACS. As far as diversity goes, we will reinforce the notion that this has to be reflected in judicial appointments.

I notice that Justice Michael Tulloch, who was born in Jamaica, was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Justice Valerie Miller was the first black judge appointed to the Tax Court of Canada. Justice Leonard Mandamin was the first aboriginal Canadian appointed to the Federal Court.

We will continue to appoint diversity.

Aboriginal Affairs June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in recent years, there have been at least 40 investigations and studies. Nothing has come of them. Violence continues to be a problem in aboriginal communities. We will invest $25 million in these communities. We will work with them in order to truly address the problem, and that is how we will reduce violence against aboriginal women.

Justice June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased with the judges we have appointed to superior courts in various provinces. Chief Justice Nicole Duval is the first female chief justice to sit on the Quebec Court of Appeal and Justice Guylaine Beaugé, who was born in Haiti, is the first black woman to be appointed to the Quebec Superior Court.

There are others. In Alberta, four empty seats have been filled by four highly qualified women. In Ontario, two empty seats have been filled by two highly qualified women. In B.C., two out of four empty seats were filled by women. We will continue to appoint highly qualified women to provincial superior courts.

Justice June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, judicial appointments are based on one single criteria and one single criteria only: merit and legal excellence. Since coming into power in 2006, 182 women judges have been named to the superior courts of the provinces. This is a 17% increase in the number of women in the judiciary. They are critical to the judicial process.

We will continue to encourage women to apply for these important positions because we know they are good for the country.

Justice June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our appointments are based on only one criterion: legal excellence and merit. The men and women appointed to the superior courts were recommended by 17 advisory committees. Since 2006, 182 women have been appointed to the superior courts and that is an increase of 17% in the number of women sitting on the benches.

Sealers Memorial Statue June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today in the town of Elliston, Newfoundland and Labrador, the unveiling of the Home From the Sea Sealers Memorial Statue will take place. My colleague, the member for Miramichi, is there today.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Newfoundland sealing disaster in which we lost over 250 sealers in the North Atlantic from the SS Newfoundland and from the sinking of the SS Southern Cross.

It is important that we take the time to remember the lives lost on that day, including Reuben Crewe and his son Albert John, who passed away together on the ice and whose memorial statue will stand as a testament to the hardy and dangerous work done by sealers on the ice every spring.

Public Safety June 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Kootenay—Columbia for his previous service as a member of Canada's very own RCMP.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of RCMP Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, David Ross and Douglas Larche, who gave their lives to protect Canadians.

As the member of Parliament for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, I feel the relief, like other citizens, that finally this horrific accused has been brought to justice and will face the full brunt of the law.

Battling against danger and imminent odds and pure evil, we saw the old adage that the RCMP always gets its man held true again. Thanks to the great actions of the RCMP, we remain Moncton strong.

Victims Bill of Rights June 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I believe the consensus is that most victims of crime, when they were put into the judicial system, went there not knowing how the system worked. As I said earlier, nothing can be worse than the fear of the unknown.

Being treated as a piece of the evidence and not with the respect required to participate in a process is not adequate for any human being. It is devoid of all dignity. The way the victims were being treated prior to this cried out for some reparations and some way of treating these people in, at least, an equal fashion to the accused.

That is not to say that the accused are not entitled to rehabilitation and that we should put them in jail and throw away the key. However, the victims could be piloted through this system in which they find themselves through no fault of their own, and have some certainty of what the process is. They could potentially receive some reparation, if at all possible. Obviously, not every perpetrator will be of the millionaire sort.