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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 23% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act December 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

I agree with his statement to the effect that the citizen must have seen the person committing an offence to be able to arrest him. What I said about probable grounds applies to sections 495 and 499 of the Criminal Code for police officers. It does not really apply to this bill. I agree with the hon. member's statement with regard to citizen's arrest.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act December 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government introduced Bill C-26, which covers and provides clarification on citizen's arrest. This bill is very similar, identical even, to Bill C-60, which was introduced by the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina during the last Parliament.

The changes made by Bill C-26 will allow citizen's arrests without a warrant within a reasonable period of time. Right now, under section 494(2) of the Criminal Code, a citizen's arrest must be made while the crime is being committed. Bill C-26 also includes changes to the Criminal Code related to self-defence and the defence of property.

Sections 34 to 42 of the Criminal Code pertain to self-defence and the defence of property. Sections 34 to 37 of the Criminal Code are repealed and replaced with a single self-defence provision that applies to any offence. The current distinctions between provoked and unprovoked attacks, as well as any intention to use deadly force, are eliminated.

Bill C-60 also sets out a non-exhaustive list of factors that the court may consider in determining whether the act committed is reasonable under the circumstances. The bill will repeal sections 38 to 42 of the Criminal Code, which pertain to defence of property, and replace them with a single defence of property provision. As a result, the bill will eliminate the current distinction between the defence of personal and real property.

The bill amends the citizen’s arrest section of the Criminal Code, but only section 494(2). Thus, the powers of citizens to make arrests set out in section 494(1) remain as they are. These powers mean that anyone may arrest without warrant a person whom he or she finds to be committing an indictable offence or believes, on reasonable grounds, has committed a criminal offence and is escaping from and freshly pursued by those with lawful authority to arrest that person.

The bill amends section 494(2), which applies to the owner or person in lawful possession of property or a person authorized by the owner or lawful possessor. At present, such a person may arrest without warrant a person whom he or she finds committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property. But the amendment goes on to allow such a person to make an arrest within a reasonable time after the offence is committed. Such an arrest can be made if the person making the arrest believes on reasonable grounds that it is not feasible in the circumstances for a peace officer to make the arrest.

In addition, a new section 494(4) is added to the Criminal Code, clarifying that a person who makes an arrest under section 494 is authorized by law to do so for the purposes of section 25 of the Criminal Code. The purpose of this amendment is to make it clear that use of force is authorized in a citizen’s arrest, but that there are limits on how much force can be used.

The government says that it is bringing forward this bill in order to make necessary changes to the Criminal Code that will clarify the provisions pertaining to self-defence and defence of property. The changes will also clarify the reasonable use of force.

We are very pleased that the Conservative government has decided to clarify the changes to citizen's arrest, especially since we had introduced a similar bill to that end.

Just like the Conservative government, we do not want honest Canadians who are victims of crime to be victimized again by our judicial system.

We support the amendments to the legal provisions on citizen's arrest, particularly because various courts have indicated that there are problems with the interpretation of the law. For example, they have said that the Criminal Code provisions concerning self-defence are too complicated and confusing. The provisions have been subject to much criticism. In R. v. McIntosh, Chief Justice Lamer wrote that sections 34 and 35 “are highly technical, excessively detailed provisions deserving of much criticism. These provisions overlap, and are internally inconsistent in certain respects.”

The judgment of the majority in R. v. McIntosh has been called “highly unfortunate” for further muddying the waters around self-defence provisions.

However, we believe that a more in-depth study will be required, given the complexity of this issue, as the courts have indicated. We must ensure that the bill clarifies the sections of the Criminal Code to help the justice system do its job. We will also have to look at the impact and consequences of this bill to ensure that these clarifications are acceptable to the Canadian public. We want to avoid having the clarifications to the Criminal Code encourage self-proclaimed vigilantes. In addition, we do not want people to put their lives in danger. We know that that is not the objective of this bill. However, a number of concerns about this have been raised by some of our constituents. That is why it will be important to allow parliamentarians to properly discuss this bill in committee.

We are obviously asking the Conservative government not to limit debate in committee, as it did with Bill C-10, for example. Bill C-26 will have serious repercussions on Canadians who must defend themselves or their property. That is why it is so important to properly debate this bill in committee.

I would like to remind the House of the facts that gave rise to the recent legislation on citizen's arrest. On May 23, 2009, David Chen, the owner of a grocery store in Toronto, arrested Anthony Bennett, who had stolen something from his store. After being caught in the act on security cameras, Mr. Bennett went back to the store about an hour later. At that time, the owner and two employees managed to tie Mr. Bennett up and held him in a delivery truck. When the police arrived, they charged Mr. Chen with forcible confinement, kidnapping and carrying an edged weapon—a box cutter, a tool that many merchants have in their possession. The crown attorneys later dropped the charges of kidnapping and carrying an edged weapon, but they maintained the charges of forcible confinement and assault.

According to the Criminal Code as it is currently written, a property owner can make a citizen's arrest only if the alleged wrongdoer is caught in the act. Mr. Chen and his two co-accused were found not guilty of the charges of forcible confinement and assault on October 29, 2010. In August 2009, Anthony Bennett pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

At present, the citizen’s arrest authority is very limited and is authorized only when an individual is caught in act of committing an offence on or in relation to one's property. Accordingly, this bill authorizes an owner, a person in lawful possession of property—or a person authorized by them—to arrest a person within a reasonable amount of time after having found that person committing a criminal offence on or in relation to their property.

The bill authorizes a citizen’s arrest only when it is not feasible in the circumstances for a police officer to respond, which is often the case in the event of shoplifting, for example. The time it takes for the police to respond is often too long and they arrive much too late. Furthermore, this bill stipulates that the use of force is authorized in a citizen’s arrest. However, a person is not entitled to use excessive force.

In addition, the person making the arrest must take the risk factors into account and ensure that their safety or the safety of others is not threatened. They must also ensure that they have correctly identified the suspect and their criminal conduct. Furthermore, reporting the incident to the police remains the best solution.

I would like to point out that thousands of Canadians work as security guards in buildings or businesses. Many of those guards have told me about the problems they have properly protecting the property of the merchants. They have to catch the criminal in the act and that is not easy. Often, they discover the crime after the fact, after reviewing the security camera footage. However, that is often done after the fact and the security guards cannot take any action against the wrongdoer. The worst part is that some wrongdoers return a number of times to commit theft and the guards hired by the businesses cannot do anything about it even if they saw the individual in question commit a crime before.

They have to again catch the wrongdoer in the act and they cannot arrest him for the previous offence. What is more, the complexity of a citizen's arrest makes security jobs risky. Security guards have to be 100% certain of what they are doing because if they are not, there could be legal consequences for their company and their own job could be on the line. It is very important that the provisions on citizen's arrest be clear so that these security guards are in the best position possible to protect businesses and the property of the merchants.

The new provisions on self-defence will also help these guards enforce the law, because the current provisions are too restrictive. Many security guards have told me that when they intercept an individual who committed a criminal offence, the individual generally becomes aggressive and does not want to be arrested by the security guard on duty. For a number of reasons, that individual will simply be asked to leave the premises, because the guards do not want to risk their safety or the safety of others. They would not want to risk being tried for assault. As a result, the individual who commits the crime gets away with it.

In summary, we support this bill at second reading so that it can be sent to committee and some of its provisions, which are quite complex, can be examined in greater detail. That is why the opinions of experts and legislative drafters will be key in the examination of some provisions of this bill. I would like to emphasize the importance of not limiting the debates, as the Conservative government has a tendency to do. I am asking the Conservative government to let parliamentarians do their job properly.

Canada-U.S. Relations November 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the fate of Canadians detained abroad is not the only problem. After spending months turning in circles without making any announcements, the government is now prepared to sign the border agreement with the United States. No one knows what is in that agreement. The Privacy Commissioner is concerned about the way the information will be shared with the Americans, but the government refuses to talk to her.

I have a very simple question: will the government commit to presenting the agreement to Parliament?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police November 29th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the lines prepared for the minister do not conceal the reality. The government's plan includes cuts to the RCMP. This has been confirmed by the Auditor General. The government's aggressive approach has already forced the RCMP to make cuts to investigations into organized crime, drug traffickers and white-collar criminals. The government's plan for the RCMP does not make sense.

Why sacrifice the quality of police services in Canada? Why ask the RCMP to do more with less?

Multiple Sclerosis November 24th, 2011

Madam Speaker, multiple sclerosis is a very complex, unpredictable disease that often disables those who suffer from it. The chance of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in Canada is among the highest in the world. Women are three times as likely to get multiple sclerosis as men. This disease is most often diagnosed in young adults between 15 and 40.

Multiple sclerosis affects 2.5 million people around the world. Studies show that the further away from the equator, the greater the incidence of the disease and Canada is no exception. Between 55,000 and 75,000 people have this disease in Canada, and more than 1,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, or three new cases a day.

Multiple sclerosis is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults in Canada. This disease also affects children, some as young as three years old. The impact of the disease is felt by everyone around the person suffering from it. The effects of MS are unpredictable and vary greatly from one person to the next. Between 80% and 85% of people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing remitting form of the disease. Over time, from 50% to 70% of people originally diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS will worsen into secondary progressive MS, and will gradually become more disabled.

This disease affects vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. In addition, this disease has physical, emotional and financial effects that are life-long, which considerably impairs the quality of life of MS patients. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease; only treatments to alleviate the symptoms. However, in his studies, Dr. Zamboni apparently established a link to chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency. CCSVI is an anomaly caused by the narrowing of the veins that drain oxygen-depleted blood from the brain and the spinal cord. The theory behind the link between CCSVI and multiple sclerosis is that poor drainage of the oxygen-depleted blood could cause a back-flow to the brain, which would lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain and deposits of iron in the tissue. That would trigger an immune response associated with multiple sclerosis.

There is not enough evidence to conclude that CCSVI is the cause of multiple sclerosis. It is only possible to indicate that in some people multiple sclerosis may occur in association with impaired venous drainage of the central nervous system. For now, the data published about venous anomalies that could play a role in the occurrence or spreading of multiple sclerosis are contradictory. It is a subject that requires a clinical study.

The goal of the clinical study will be to determine if MS patients show venous abnormalities that differ from age-matched controls. The goal will therefore be to define, based on conclusive evidence, mechanisms of how venous drainage from the brain might be of relevance to MS, an issue that has not yet been adequately explored. Clinical studies are usually conducted on human subjects. Given the complexity of a research protocol, we need to ensure that it is as rigorous as possible, so as not to skew the results, but above all, in order to protect the health of patients and participants. We understand the importance of this issue for people who are suffering from MS.

However, we must be very careful in order to ensure the safety of everyone participating in the clinical trials. As a result, we need to establish the protocol in a responsible manner as soon as possible, but without compromising patient safety. The research protocol must ensure that the financial resources needed to conduct the study are available and must seek out new collaborations with various experts. This will require significant collaboration among researchers. These experts and researchers must come not only from the field of medical research, but also from organizations such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Furthermore, we must not forget the important role of the provinces and territories. We must establish the number of patients to recruit, the frequency of consultations and imaging tests, the kinds of data to record, as well as detailed procedures for each phase of the study. This stage will ensure that all participants will be subjected to the same protocol, in an effort to strengthen the results of the research.

It is also important that a monitoring committee be established to oversee the study's progress and to react to any problems that could arise in terms of research or safety. The study should also recruit and select participants and obtain their consent to participate in the study. It is important to conduct a truly randomized trial to ensure that the results are well founded and to clearly establish what link exists between CCSVI and multiple sclerosis. It is important to share the results of the clinical study so as to not spread false hope among those with this terrible disease. It should be noted, as was specified in a number of studies, that each person reacts differently to Dr. Zamboni's treatment.

It is essential for doctors and other intervenors in the medical field, as well as for the patients, that information be shared about the impact and the link between CCSVI and multiple sclerosis. Many patients feel isolated because of the lack of understanding about this disease. These people feel overwhelmed by desolation, despair, lack of understanding, guilt and shame. For some, the suffering leads them to isolate themselves and they refuse to go out for fear of what people, in their ignorance, may say.

It is a vicious cycle that results in them more and more often finding refuge in their solitude. In many cases, patients feel misunderstood by doctors who apply their knowledge without always taking into consideration the strong emotions that people living with this disease face. Patients must live alone with their body, day in and day out, and that body no longer responds. They have to live with a physical and nervous fatigue that only increases with time. In many cases, once they build up some trust, patients feel less scorned by health professionals.

Thus, it is crucial that we have clear information on the link, impact and side effects in order to be able to make an informed decision concerning patient treatment. It is important that doctors and patients co-operate fully with one another. It will also be important to update the databases of the multiple sclerosis monitoring system regularly. This system will help monitor outcomes and identify the most effective therapies. It will also help health system planners identify future needs and plan resource distribution more effectively through the system administrator.

In order to help achieve medical breakthroughs in relation to MS, it is essential that the federal, provincial and territorial governments come together, particularly in order to make the necessary decisions regarding treatment and medical services. Knowing that health care and public health coverage differ from one province to the next, it is crucial to ensure participation among all levels of government. Co-operation is needed not only among governments, but also among the other organizations and professional health associations, and the people who have this degenerative disease, namely, the patients.

Multiple sclerosis is a ongoing battle for those suffering from this disease. They count on medical advances to help cure their suffering. For that reason, it is of the utmost importance to begin the clinical trials as soon as possible, but in a responsible manner. Serious and vigorous protocol will be needed to ensure the safety of those participating in the trial. The final results of the clinical trial must show a clear and precise link between CCSVI and MS, and the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment. As a result, an overall picture will help patients to make the best decision possible regarding their treatment.

These results will also have to be compiled in the monitoring system so that they can be consulted by people with MS and shared with other countries so that true medical advances can be made in the treatment of this disease. There are all kinds of partners, and they must be consulted. They include patients, doctors, researchers, health care stakeholders and the provinces. The provinces and territories provide the care and pay for treatments.

Public Safety November 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, the chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee was forced to resign because of questionable financial transactions. We have learned that another committee member, the former Quebec health minister, Philippe Couillard, is also serving as an advisor to the Government of Saudi Arabia.

Can the Minister of Public Safety explain how the organization responsible for overseeing CSIS will ensure that its committee members are truly independent and free of conflict of interest?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police November 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the comments by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety are shocking. The last thing the RCMP needs is political interference. The RCMP must be allowed to do its job. Canadians expect the RCMP to provide accurate information, not engage in public relations. Once again, by trying to muzzle the RCMP, the government has gone too far. It is clearly intervening in the work of an independent body.

Will the minister respect the RCMP's independence and put an end to this new protocol?

Public Safety November 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is not even aware of the condition of its fleet, yet the government would have us believe that the RCMP is capable of protecting our ports. This government boasts about being tough on criminals, yet it cannot give the RCMP the resources needed to maintain its vessels.

When will this government decide to take action to ensure that the RCMP has the tools it needs to carry out its mandate, which is to keep Canadian families safe?

Fair Representation Act November 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to my hon. colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London, who spoke about the need for proportional representation. We know that the four ridings in Prince Edward Island are protected by the Constitution because a province cannot have fewer members than senators.

We also know that Quebec still has not signed the Constitution. The previous Conservative government attempted to remedy this situation by offering Quebec 25% of the seats in this chamber.

Does the member opposite realize that by continually lowering Quebec's representation in the House, he is providing Quebec secessionists with ammunition? Does he realize that?

Fair Representation Act November 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my Liberal colleague if his party would maintain Quebec's representation at 75 seats with his plan to keep the total number of seats at 308?