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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is conference.

Liberal MP for Malpeque (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Ukrainian Interns October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, today, I have the honour to rise and congratulate the Ukrainian interns working on the Hill as part of the Canada-Ukraine parliamentary program, whose time in Parliament is rapidly coming to an end. Established in 1991, this program over time has brought almost 1,000 young Ukrainians to Canada to learn about our system of government, our history and our people.

A number of parliamentarians from all parties had the privilege of working with these talented young men and women. We sincerely thank them and hope that in their time here on the Hill they have learned from us, just as we have learned from them.

This is the fifth time I have hosted an intern and I can attest to the fact that it is an excellent cultural and educational exchange between Canada and Ukraine, as well as an opportunity to deepen our national ties.

I would like to thank my intern, Yaroslav, and wish all of them well in the future.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, this is one bill and one step forward. I think it is certainly a step in the right direction that will improve the lot of inmates who are in the prison system.

As I said, in the bill we will also improve victims rights by getting the recordings. It may not go as far as the member opposite wants to go, but I think it is a fairly major step forward.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I guess that is the difference in approach that we take on this side versus the opposite side of the House. We do not make laws based on one or two exceptions. We make laws on the population as a whole. I think that is what we have to do.

There are exceptional cases. There is no question about that. The member made a point on the Pickton case and it is a valid point. However, this particular bill does not give Pickton more rights. He is still in the system and, yes, he may be provided more mental health services.

I do agree with the member opposite that this is for protection. In most cases, it is for protection of the inmate themselves and also for protection of the correctional officers. I did not say that offenders are put in there because of the vindictiveness of correctional officers. Rather, they are put in there because they broke the rules within the system of Correctional Services Canada.

However, we do have to recognize that the old system of solitary confinement, which I think is a better description, is not working. It is challenged in the courts. It does nothing in most cases for better mental heath and better rehabilitation and it has to be changed. What is put forward in this bill does it in a realistic way for all matters intended.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act. The key point in this legislation relates to Correctional Service Canada's policies, especially the practice of administrative segregation.

I should point out at the beginning that the bill would do four key things. One, it proposes to eliminate segregation, based on recent court decisions, and it introduces more effective structured intervention units. Two, it would better support victims during parole board hearings by, as my previous colleague mentioned, providing audio recordings of those hearings. Three, it would increase staff and inmate safety with new body scanner technology. Four, it would update Correctional Service Canada's approach on critical matters like mental health supports and indigenous offenders' needs. There are fairly extensive policies in this bill on both those latter points: mental health and indigenous offenders' needs.

There has been much criticism of the policy on administrative segregation within the Correctional Service of Canada, and rightly so. I have listened to the debate on the other side, and some have said it is a necessary tool. I do not necessarily agree with that, but something certainly has to be done. In the previous Parliament, I was a critic for public safety and at one time served as solicitor general and was in charge of the Correctional Service of Canada, so I have read a lot of the criticism related to administrative segregation. We have to understand in this place that administrative segregation was there for very legitimate reasons: to protect the inmates themselves from the general population if they were causing trouble; to protect others in the general population from things that those people put in administrative segregation might otherwise have done; and to protect correctional officers from possible harm by moving these inmates to segregation. I understand those key points.

I do not know if many people in this place have seen those segregation units in many of our federal penitentiaries and prisons. I have, and it would not be a great place to spend days on end without mental health services. In fact, as my colleague from Central Nova mentioned earlier, we have to understand that our correctional system in this country is not just about throwing somebody in a cell and throwing away the key. Our system is based on the premise of rehabilitation, and that is the ultimate objective. Yes, there have to be penalties, and severe penalties, for crimes done and, yes, some people stay in the system their whole life after they have committed a crime. However, we must keep in mind that many people, the great majority we hope, will come out and be productive citizens in society. That is what we have to attempt to do.

Therefore, what this particular bill proposes is basically to try to put a new system in place, called a “structured intervention unit”, where people who have to be separated from the mainstream inmate population, generally for reasons of safety, will be assigned to a secure intervention unit but not in the same style as in the past.

In addition to being assigned to that secure intervention unit, or cell, Correctional Service Canada would be mandated to provide them with rehabilitative programming, mental health care, and other interventions and services that respond to the inmate's specific needs. That especially relates to those with mental health problems, for whatever reason, and especially applies to the indigenous population, which has different customs and patterns. I have heard a lot of talk in this place about healing centres. The fact of the matter is they work, and we need to keep that in mind too.

Beyond meeting those specific needs of an inmate, keep in mind that we want to protect the individual, the rest of the prison population and the corrections officers working in the system. Under this approach, it would be done in a different way from what is currently in place, as we would address the mental health care needs of inmates and could intervene with other services where appropriate.

Beyond all of that, there are a number of reviews that have to take place. I have talked to a lot of corrections officers, and I can understand that when an inmate challenges them within the prison system, it is really hard not lose one's temper and to want to be vindictive. This is supposed to work at preventing that from happening as well. However, for the inmate, there are several reviews that would take place. There would be a review by the warden within five days, and there a couple of other reviews in place as well.

This bill tries to move away from a system that we know has been challenged in the courts. Yes, we have appealed the decision in question, because we want to keep all options open. It is a system that has been strongly criticized by the correctional investigator, and this bill tries to come up with a better system that would work. In part, that is what this bill is about.

In closing, as my colleague mentioned earlier, there is a real attempt to provide better services to victims in this bill. For example, the recordings of the Parole Board hearings would be provided so they could be reviewed in a quieter place at another time to see what was said. This legislation would add a guiding principle to the law to affirm the need for Correctional Service Canada to consider systematic and background factors unique to indigenous offenders in all the decision-making done within the system.

This bill does not change the world. Keep in mind that we have a system of penalties in this country that, overall, is designed to try to make individuals who have committed a crime, for whatever reason, better citizens when they come out of prison, not better criminals. Our objective is to make them better citizens so they can contribute to their family, their own life's work and to the Canadian economy. This bill does not change the world, but it is a fairly major step forward in how we would handle inmates, how we would work with them within the prison system and how we would try to give victims better services. At the end of the day, this is a bill that members should support.

Interparliamentary Delegations September 21st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, three reports of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.

The first concerns the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance conference in Ottawa, Ontario, from May 6 to 8, 2018.

The second concerns the U.S. congressional meetings held in Washington, D.C., United States of America, from May 15 to 17, 2018.

The third concerns the 11th annual conference of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance held in Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A., from June 3 to 5, 2018.

Interparliamentary Delegations June 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, three reports of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.

The first concerns the 72nd annual meeting of the Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Legislative Conference held in Des Moines, Iowa, from July 9 to 12 July 2017.

The second concerns the annual legislative summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures, NCSL, held in Boston, Massachusetts, from August 6 to 9, 2017.

The third concerns the 57th annual meeting and regional policy forum of the Council of State Governments' Eastern Regional Conference held in Uncasville, Connecticut, from August 13 to 16, 2017.

Employment June 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, young entrepreneurs from across Canada are in Ottawa today to receive mentorship and to learn from business leaders. I am so pleased that one of those young entrepreneurs is Coltin Handrahan from my riding. He is aggressive, and he wants to build for the future.

Would the Minister of Small Business and Tourism be so kind as to tell the House what the government has in mind to give these young folks the opportunities to build a more prosperous Canada?

Committees of the House May 28th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill C-74, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Tourism in Prince Edward Island May 28th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, winter has come to an end in most of the country and the tourism season is upon us. What better place to visit than my home province of Prince Edward Island, the garden of the gulf?

In Cavendish, as many thousands have done before, people can tour the famous Green Gables grounds, visiting areas that inspired the classic novel. Along the 1,100 kilometres of coastline are local fisheries. Inland the farms grow food as fresh as the fish caught on the coastline. Experiential tourism is taking off. On a sunny day, people can kayak out to a clam bar, harvest some clams, and then return to shore and make some fresh clam chowder. Maybe some people would prefer to build a sensational sand castle in the iconic red sand of North Rustico Beach.

Whether people want to spend a day relaxing on the beach, touring the birthplace of Confederation in Charlottetown, or golfing on courses with views like no other, as summer is near, they should come and find their island.

Allan Ling May 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to honour a lifelong friend and pre-eminent farm leader, Allan Ling, who passed away recently.

Allan, a farmer, was a tireless advocate for the farming industry. Beginning with 4H, he then organized and served with the National Farmers Union, became chair of PEI Grain Elevators Corporation, worked with the PEI Agri-Alliance, and was the long-serving president of the Atlantic Grains Council. Added to this work was his work with the horse racing industry. He was one of the founding organizers of the Grain Growers of Canada, the umbrella organization that brought together industry players from across the country.

There was not a federal minister since Eugene Whelan's time or a provincial premier since the seventies whose ear Allan had not bent on everything from research to marketing.

He served his community in many ways, but first as a first responder. For Allan, there were no strangers, only friends he had yet to meet.

His greatest joy, though, was family: his wife Jan, children, and grandchildren. Our condolences to all.