House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Kelowna—Lake Country (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Safer Witnesses Act May 30th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's support for this. I had the chance to sit in on one of the committee meetings. My understanding is the NDP did not actually bring forward any amendments to the bill. We have been trying to push the bill through for a long time and the NDP had forced votes and delays. I am hoping that we can agree that the safer witness protection act is important not only for our witnesses, but for the men and women who are serving, protecting our communities.

Assistant Commissioner Todd Shean, who works in federal and international operations with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was a witness at committee and was very supportive. The RCMP has waited for the changes the bill brings. It is comfortable that we have the resources within our existing resources to run an effective witness protection program and it welcomes the changes.

Safer Witnesses Act May 30th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and honour to rise in the House this afternoon to share the speaking time with my hon. colleague from Edmonton Centre, my birthplace. I know it is well looked after by the hon. member, with his 30-plus years with the air force, and now serving this constituency as a member of Parliament.

It is a pleasure to speak specifically to Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Witness Protection Program Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, something that I know is vitally important for effective law enforcement right across Canada. It is of great interest to my constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country and many, if not all, members' constituents. They understand the bill's important role in helping to combat organized crime.

I suspect there are few individuals who have not at least heard of “witness protection”, whether it is a favourite CSI television show, or through high-profile court cases in which someone is offered protection in exchange for his or her testimony. We do not normally hear many details about how the program operates or about the people who are admitted into it. That is how it is supposed to work. Nonetheless, I believe all Canadians understand how important it is to have effective witness protection programs to combat organized crime.

Therefore, I appreciate this opportunity to join in the debate on our government's legislation, which would help to modernize and strengthen the federal witness protection program in Canada, while also making it more effective and secure.

The current Witness Protection Program Act, which we have heard from previous speakers, and my hon. colleague from Edmonton Centre, is about 17 years old and has not been substantially modified since it came into force. That does not mean we need to have a radical overhaul or alter the act in a major way, but we need to make some changes to modernize it. It is important that we have the proper tools in place to help us build safe neighbourhoods across Canada by keeping up with the changing nature of crime and criminal or terrorist organizations.

As members know, organized crime groups were certainly prevalent in 1996 when the current act took effect. However, their operations, their tactics and their make-up have changed significantly, and I think we would all agree on that.

Globalization has facilitated the diversification of organized crime groups and in many ways has allowed them to become involved in many more types of activities, serious activities that they are scheming together on across our country and around the world. The Internet has allowed many of these criminal organizations to avoid capture and detection in ways that seemed unimaginable when the Witness Protection Program Act came into force.

The Internet also provides organized crime groups with more ways to find people than before. This is certainly a big concern for individuals in witness protection, as well as for those who administer these programs. Looking after the safety of our witnesses is a key. All these changes make witness protection both more urgent and more difficult to perform. Reforms are therefore needed.

I would like to note that the changes proposed under Bill C-51 are the result of extensive consultations with the provinces, and we believe we are on the right track. I have the privilege of serving the great constituency of Kelowna—Lake Country in the province of British Columbia. The Hon. Shirley Bond is the minister of justice and attorney general of British Columbia. We do not know what her portfolio will be after the recent May 14 election. However, when she was the minister she said:

In the fight against crime, protecting witnesses effectively is essential. We look forward to reviewing the amendments and working constructively with our Federal counterparts to ensure that any changes minimize the risk to witnesses.

As members can see, we have consulted with our partners in the provinces and we believe that we are on the right track.

We were very pleased to see support from provincial attorneys general and from police officers from across the country, including the head of the Canadian Police Association, who said in a recent news article:

The Canadian Police Association strongly believes that this proposed legislation will enhance the safety and security of front-line law enforcement personnel who are engaged in protective duties...

Bill C-51 would first and foremost improve the interaction of the federal witness protection program with provincial witness protection programs. We are working in partnership to complement each other. At the moment, someone in a provincial program can only obtain a secure identity change if he or she is temporarily admitted into the federal witness protection program. This can result in delays in obtaining a new identity. It can also result in a number of issues for the RCMP, which administers the federal program.

Bill C-51 proposes to remedy this situation by establishing a process whereby provincial programs can become designated witness protection programs. Once again, the provincial programs would work together with the federal program and become a designated witness protection program.

A province would request this designation from the Minister of Public Safety, at which time the provincial authority would provide assurances of the program's capacity to protect both its witnesses and its information. It is important that it protects both the information and the witnesses. Once the program is established and designated upon the request of that program, the RCMP would be obliged to help in obtaining federal identity documents for a provincial witness without any need for him or her to be transferred temporarily into the federal program. That is one of the big changes.

In addition to being easier, the new system is also designed to be more efficient and more secure. Security and efficiency are other complementary assets of the new reform program. Under the designation regime proposed by Bill C-51, requests for federal identity change documents would be submitted by a provincial official from a designated provincial witness protection program to the RCMP, thereby limiting the number of individuals involved in the process and making the system more secure.

Bill C-51 also proposes to enhance the security of witness protection regimes in Canada by both enhancing and extending the current prohibitions against the disclosure of information concerning an individual in a designated witness protection program. The current federal Witness Protection Act prohibits the disclosure of information by individuals within the federal program. Section 11(1) of the act says "no person shall knowingly disclose, directly or indirectly, information about the location or a change of identity of a protectee or former protectee".

Bill C-51 would strengthen this prohibition in a number of important ways. Let me expand a bit on that.

Bill C-51 would not only prohibit the disclosure of information about individuals in the federal program, it would also prohibit the disclosure of information about how the program itself operates, as well as about those individuals who provide or assist in providing protection for witnesses. Both of these prohibitions would also extend to individuals in designated provincial programs. Such prohibitions against the disclosure of information currently exist only within the legislation of the particular provincial jurisdiction, not across jurisdictions. That is another big contributing factor to enhancing the existing legislation.

As we can see, Bill C-51 would also clarify the prohibition with respect to what and how information is being disclosed. Clarity is very important. As I mentioned earlier, Section 11(1) of the current act contains the phrase "no person shall knowingly disclose, directly or indirectly, information about the location or a change of identity of a protectee or former protectee". The phrase "directly or indirectly" was considered to be unclear. Bill C-51 proposes amendments to ensure that the prohibitions will clearly apply to cases where a person discloses information in a range of ways.

Let me share a few examples. It would include telling someone what a protected person's name is, leaving information about the protected person unguarded, telling someone where a protected person lives and revealing unique characteristics about the person that could, for example, identify a specific housing market that results in someone deducing the city to which the person has been relocated. Bill C-51 would prohibit all of the above disclosures by specifying that no one could disclose any information, either directly or indirectly, that would reveal the location or change of identity of a protected person or the information from which the location or change of identity could be inferred.

Finally, among other improvements, Bill C-51 would expand referrals for admissions to the federal witness protection program to sources assisting federal security, national defence or public safety organizations, such as the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. By extending referrals to this category of witnesses, we are also addressing one of the commitments under the Government of Canada's Air India inquiry action plan released in 2010.

The act has not been substantially changed since it came into force, despite the constantly changing nature of organized crime and calls for reform. The safer witness act would help to strengthen the current federal witness protection program, a program that, as I mentioned, is often vital to effectively combat crime, particularly organized crime.

Like my colleague from Edmonton Centre, I encourage all hon. members in the House to follow the example I would encourage on our side. I know that there was support at committee. Hopefully the House will support Bill C-51 and see it move forward to provide the tools for our men and women serving across the country and our witnesses as well.

Petitions May 30th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise this morning to table a series of petitions from Canadians across this great country who are calling on the House to condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex selective pregnancy termination.

International Trade May 23rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to strengthening our relationships with our partners in the Americas.

This week the Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade are in South America, working to deepen our trading relationships and create new opportunities for Canada's exporters.

Could the hard-working Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade please share with the House how our government's ambitious pro-trade plan is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for hard-working Canadians?

Crown Corporations May 8th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the tax and spend socialist NDP continue to stand with its big union bosses to oppose our government's common sense reforms that would better protect Canadian taxpayers. The NDP continues to advocate for expensive gold-plated public sector pensions and entitlements that most Canadians do not receive.

Could the President of the Treasury Board please update the House on the government's intention to ensure crown corporations are sustainable into the future?

Justice April 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is committed to keeping our streets and communities safe. We are also committed to helping the victims of crime and providing them with the support and services they need.

This week our government launched the eighth annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week. Can the highly respected Minister of Justice please inform this House about the government's further action to support the victims of crime?

Search and Rescue April 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, this weekend in my wonderful riding of Kelowna—Lake Country I was flying high, and low too.

Let me explain. I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a training exercise with my local central Okanagan Civil Aviation Search and Rescue Association team. The association is a member of CASARA, a Canada-wide volunteer aviation organization dedicated to the promotion of aviation safety and the provision of air search support services to Canada's national search and rescue program. Represented by a dedicated group of men and women from a variety of professional backgrounds, it is part of a larger network of emergency volunteers across the country who rush in to help while the masses are running for safety.

I ask all hon. members, during this National Volunteer Week, to join me and salute all our first responders, including our police, firefighters, paramedics, search and rescue and the thousands of volunteers from coast to coast to coast who help to protect us and keep Canada safe.

Business of Supply April 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately my colleague from across the way does not understand what rules-based trading provides.

I do not condone the actions of a communist government, but we need to realize that it is the second largest economy in the world and it is growing exponentially. Therefore, we need to have rules in place so there is fairness.

The fact that we have an international arbitration process in place will help Canadian businesses rather than have every Canadian business hire a lawyer and have an agreement set up for every situation. This is in place for all Canadians. I mentioned Jayson Myers of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, a variety of the Canadian chambers of commerce and business associations across Canada that are looking to expand business. We also welcome that certainty for Chinese investment in Canada to help to develop our resources to create jobs.

Therefore, it is a win-win situation with this certainty and predictability.

Business of Supply April 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, to answer the question from the hard-working chair of the trade committee, being in Japan was definitely a great learning experience. It was a second trip. Our sister city to Kelowna is Kasugai, so I have been there before. Seeing the great opportunities that Canadians will have because of this agreement, it would be easy to say that the Japanese are almost salivating over the fact that Canada has this agreement in place.

It is a great opportunity for the certainty and predictability for Canadian businesses. Jayson Myers, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters executive director said:

These agreements strengthen Canada's position as a strategic partner for China, advance our commercial interests within the second largest market in the world, and promise to deliver enhanced access to China's market for Canadian exporters.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives stated, “The Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection agreement (FIPA) will allow Canadian business leaders to invest with greater confidence”.

Consequently, our negotiators, with Mr. Ian Burney, assistant deputy minister, are taking the lead on this. The fact is that we have a stronghold over other countries because we have this agreement in place. It is a great asset for all Canadians.

Business of Supply April 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his great work on the committee and working together on Canada-U.S. as well in the House.

That is why this foreign investment promotion and protection agreement is so important. It levels the playing field. It sets the certainty. If a provincial government makes a decision to change legislation, it has to ensure it is not negative toward a foreign investment. All Canadian investors are to be treated the same as foreign investors. If a NDP government decided to legislate a carbon tax that would affect all Canadians, which would be a bad decision, all businesses, whether foreign or Canadian, would be affected in the same way.

We have consulted with provinces along the way.