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Results: 1 - 15 of 59
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, today I want to acknowledge the tremendous work of representative Winston Wen-yi Chen, the tenth representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada since it was established in 1992. He is a friend of many parliamentarians.
Representative Chen assumed his duties in Ottawa four years ago, and it has been a fruitful partnership ever since for both Canada and Taiwan. Representative Chen is now assuming a new post, and I would like to thank him for his friendship and his dedicated work in nourishing and promoting Taiwan-Canada relations.
Representative Chen has been serving in various roles in Canada for over 10 years. He helped launch the exploratory discussions on the Canada-Taiwan foreign investment promotion and protection arrangements. He also facilitated timely and generous donations of masks and gowns from Taiwan to Canada in response to the pandemic. These are just a few highlights.
I know that for representative Chen, Canada has become more than a job. It has also become his family. He was married in Canada, and his children were born here. He fell in love with both our land and country.
I thank representative Chen on behalf of all of us, as part of the friendship group, and wish him the best of success and many more years of service to come.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 107(3), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the liaison committee, entitled “Committee Activities and Expenditures: April 1, 2021 - March 31, 2022”. This report highlights the work and accomplishments of each committee, as well as detailing the budgets that fund the activities approved by committee members.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am very proud to rise in this House today, especially following my illustrious colleague, who never seems to run out of words and manages to fill the time slot all the time.
I represent a riding that, like many others in a large urban centre like Toronto, has a tendency to have a lot of violence, and the majority of that violence is gun violence, so I am very pleased that Bill C-21 is on the table.
The part that bothers me about Bill C-21 is the fact that we will not get it to committee and back before the House rises. I, and some of my colleagues, would have been more than happy to remain until the middle of July or the end of July to pass this bill, but it takes consent to do that, which was not available. We will get the bill as far as we can in this session, and as soon as we come back in the fall, I hope this will be the first item the committee deals with, understanding its importance. I wonder how many more lives could have been saved had we been able to get the bill through, but there are a lot of things that governments do, and there is a lot of legislation that is important. I am glad that we finally got as far as we have. Let us hit the ball home and get this through committee and back to the House.
We have a very close relationship with our neighbours to the south. Clearly, whenever we see what is going on there, we know it is going to happen here. It is just the way it is. We are a smaller country, and these things tend to be exposed later, but we follow the U.S. in so many ways.
I think I speak for all of us as parliamentarians when I say that we are sick and tired of turning on the news and feeling heartbroken at yet another act of gun violence. The common response from all of us as elected officials is to send our thoughts and prayers. However, as time goes on and these instances of violence continue to occur, the overwhelming response is that thoughts and prayers accomplish nothing and that we need action. I have been hearing this in my community for the 30 years that I have been elected to office, and several members of my own family have been victims of gun violence. We have been waiting and pushing and asking when we are going to get tougher on illegal handguns.
This is certainly not about hunters, God bless them, who can go right ahead and do their hunting. I have family who hunt deer, moose and all of that, as well. That is not what we are talking about with this bill. We are talking about gun violence, handguns. That is what is doing the killing in my riding and throughout the city of Toronto.
Last Sunday afternoon, there were four separate incidents of gun violence. Thank God, none of it was in my riding, which is always my first thought, selfish as it is. It was in other parts of our city, but there is a lot of it. This bill is just one more tool that we have in the tool box. It will not do everything we want it to do, but at least it tries to address the number of guns that are flowing. There was a shooting yesterday from a car window, which missed the person evidently, but again, this is becoming just like in the U.S. Whatever we can do as parliamentarians here, and whatever our government has the courage to move forward on to try to tackle this issue, is what we are elected to do. We are elected to deal with the tough issues, and this is one of them.
I am very proud of the government, and while some may have wanted this legislation later, I would have liked to see it sooner. I am tired of responding with thoughts and prayers, of saying “I feel sorry for you.” I am sorry for the families who have gone through this and yes, I will do what I can, but we do not do enough. Frankly, I do not know what is enough, but this is at least another step forward, which is why I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to say some words today.
Since 2015, when our Liberal government came in, we have banned AR-15s and 1,500 models of assault-style firearms. These kinds of weapons do not belong in the homes or on the streets of this country, or any country, unless they are in a war, as in Russia or in Ukraine, but there is no reason for them to be needed on the streets of this country of ours.
Cracking down on illegal trafficking by investing in law enforcement and enhanced border security is another key part of it, because it seems that no matter how much more security we get at the borders, somehow the guns are getting smuggled in. They are coming from somewhere. We are not manufacturing all of these handguns here, so they are coming across borders and we are not doing enough to prevent that from happening. I know we have put millions more into CBSA, and here and there, but it never seems to be enough. This is, again, one more step to try to decrease the number of guns on our streets.
The other issue is, why do we have so much gang violence? In my riding, as in others, I deal with a lot of families that have had tremendous trouble, and we need to look at the root cause of why they would pick up a gun and decide to take somebody else's life. In a round-table session I had a few years ago with young men and women, I questioned them and said, “You know who these people are on the street. Why would you not discourage them from using a gun?” They said, “Why? You don't value my life, so I don't value your life.” I never forgot that statement, because I do value their life, but they do not seem to think that we as a society value their lives. That is important because people need to understand that every life is valuable. Every life matters to all of us, but to think “I don't care about you because you don't care about me” leaves a real challenge.
Since I had that conversation, I have gone out of my way, to the extent possible, as an elected official to make sure that the people in my riding and everywhere else know that we do care and we are trying to help them, but they have to help themselves. This is not a one-way street, where we are out doing everything for them and they are waiting to see what we are going to give them. It takes all of us working together. If people are having issues, they should talk to somebody, reach out and get the help they need, just not think that their life does not matter.
The ability to trace guns is another issue we have talked about for some time, looking at how to better identify where those guns have come from. The red flag laws are another important thing that should have been on the books a long time ago. It is really important.
I have to thank my staff for putting a speech together that somehow I never got to.
I am proud that the government is doing this. We all need to work harder at decreasing gun violence in a variety of ways. This is one more tool in the tool box, and we owe it to the people who have sent us here to reflect their views and thoughts and do what is necessary to decrease gun violence. I hope we get this to committee soon, make some changes and improvements to it and move forward together on this legislation.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, unfortunately, whatever happens to the south of us ends up being duplicated here in Canada, whether it is a month later, six months later or two years later. When we look at the killings and those mass shootings in the schools, when there are 19 babies killed, those were not done with a handgun. We have already banned some of those, but the handguns we are talking about are the illegal handguns.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I want to acknowledge the continued great work that the member is doing as a member of Parliament.
I was very focused on so many people in my particular riding who have been asking for such a long period of time for more to be done to eliminate handguns in our communities. If we did an analysis, we would probably find that one in four is carrying a gun in my riding of Humber River—Black Creek. That is very frightening. People are asking for action.
In the same way, we are moving forward and taking more action to protect more indigenous women, as well as all women in Canada. Indigenous women have certainly experienced a lot of sorrow and violence, and we are looking at trying to eliminate that as well.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, when it gets referred to committee in the immediate future, there will be an opportunity at the committee level to discuss all the options on the table, including the issue of buyback.
Whatever we can do to get guns off the street is something I am very supportive of.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, today I would like to honour the memory of a passionate teacher, a dedicated volunteer and a great community leader, Ms. Sothymalar Paramsothy. Ms. Paramsothy arrived in Canada, along with her two sons, as a refugee.
Like most Tamils, she balanced several jobs to make ends meet as she integrated into a new place. A teacher by profession, she worked part time in Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board while teaching Tamil in various boards under the international languages program. Apart from work, she was passionately involved with fundraising for humanitarian relief efforts to the internally displaced in Sri Lanka's north and east. Following her retirement in the early 2000s, she returned to Sri Lanka to continue her humanitarian work on the ground.
I remember the day of awarding Ms. Paramsothy with the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for service. I will always remember her for her strong spirt, big heart and visionary mind. Until her last breath, she continued to encourage work on improving Sri Lanka's social and economic conditions. It is a painful loss for all of us and for Canada. We are forever grateful for the legacy she has left behind.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-284, An Act to establish a national strategy for eye care.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am very happy today to have the opportunity to introduce this bill calling for a national strategy on eye care, something that, for many years, Canadians have been calling for, and something that the government has promised many times before that.
I want to acknowledge that I am introducing this bill in memory of my grandmother, Annie Steeves, and I continue to see my aunt Ruby Gentile and my long-time friend and mentor Paul Valenti, who suffer from blindness.
There are over eight million Canadians living with a blinding eye disease that could be prevented. Research has shown that, if it is diagnosed early and people have access to treatment, blindness can be prevented. I ask all of my colleagues to just imagine how their lives would change if they lost their eyesight. We take it for granted, and we do not stop to think enough. Over eight million people currently live with a blinding eye disease that puts them at risk, and these numbers are expected to grow to almost 14 million people.
Many of us currently in the House may also develop macular degeneration, and I would like to see February designated as macular degeneration awareness month.
The Canadian Council of the Blind, Fighting Blindness Canada, CNIB and countless other organizations have been calling for an eye strategy for Canada, to move forward with the commitment made previously to develop a national eye strategy that will protect the eye health of all Canadians.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the wonderful member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
I am pleased to speak to Bill C-5. I have to reference the previous speaker's speech. All of us come to the House to make life better. We have different opinions on how we achieve that goal, but after listening to the previous speaker, so much of what is on this side of the House is on all sides of the House. We all care very much about trying to make a difference in the lives of so many people. In some areas we agree, and in other areas we do not agree, but clearly we all feel that some changes need to be made, and we are moving in a direction we hope will improve public safety and make life easier for people.
As parliamentarians, we have specific causes that we all want to champion, and one of the most important for me, of course, is public safety and how we can not only better protect Canadians but also prevent young people in our society from getting themselves into a complete downward spiral, going in the wrong direction. When mandatory minimum sentences of incarceration were initially introduced, I was here, and I thought they would help us and that they would deter crime. People would know that, if they were to commit a certain crime, they would end up with a minimum of two years, four years or 10 years. They knew that we would throw the book at them.
That was very much how I thought, but seeing how mandatory minimum sentences have played out since 2007, especially in ridings like mine, I see that it did not help. They proved to be unjust at the end of the day in the eyes of many, contributing to systemic racism, the overcrowding of correctional facilities, delays in the justice process and people reoffending. It is very different from what everybody thought it would be when they were initially brought in.
Since the introduction, the Supreme Court of Canada has seen an influx of charter challenges due to these mandatory minimum sentences. In fact, as of December 3, 2021, the Department of Justice indicated that 217 charter challenges exist due to mandatory minimums and account for 34% of all constitutional challenges to the Criminal Code. Of those challenges, 69% related to drug offences were successful and 48% of firearm-related challenges were successful.
As far as I am concerned, anybody who uses a firearm in the process of any kind of unlawful activity, should have the book thrown at them. When they use firearms, it is a very different thing than some of the other issues we are talking about today, so why are these challenges successful? It comes down to an inequality of justice. They subject those facing charges to a punishment that may not fit their crimes and take nothing into account for the situations that led to the committing of those crimes.
Removing mandatory minimums would allow judges to do their job. Going before a judge is not just about facing consequences; it is about allowing judges to use their judgment in a case. Mandatory minimums do not allow for this and, therefore, hinder judges from fulfilling the role they have been assigned.
Mandatory minimums also contribute to the overrepresentation of indigenous and Black Canadians, and other groups of colour. Of federal offenders, 23% are indigenous, even though only 4.3% of our population is indigenous, and 9% are Black or another group of colour, while they only represent 2.9% and 16.2% of the population. There is something clearly wrong with those numbers.
Mandatory minimums mean mandatory time in a correctional facility. We know that, and we have seen from past practices, as much I sometimes support the theory of locking them up and throwing away the key so they can never get out, this does not deter crime. Much to my disappointment, it actually increases the likelihood of someone reoffending.
A person going through the Canadian justice system, including correctional facilities, is at particular risk of reoffending, and we have seen it time and time again. It is very disappointing, but that is the reality of what happens. Once they are incarcerated, they do not come out better for it, they come out worse for it. The prevalence of recontact with the police is even higher with youth. A 2019 Statistics Canada study found that “62%...of individuals who went through the full justice system into correctional...had re-contact with the police”, and this rate was 77% for youths.
In my riding of Humber River—Black Creek, it is the youth numbers that are particularly troubling. They made me stop and question the whole issue of mandatory minimums, which I indicated earlier that I was very supportive of at the time, but I have seen that it is just does not work, much to my dismay and the dismay of others.
Many youth in my riding are considered part of the at-risk community and subject to guns, gangs and pressures that many youth outside of condensed urban settings do not necessarily face. Mandatory minimums put them at risk of having their future completely destroyed, and this is not just at-risk youth, those who would be charged as juveniles. I mean those age 12-25, half of whom would be considered adults in being charged.
Mandatory minimums can cause a mistake to ruin the rest of their lives and statistically send them on a completely different path. We still believe in serious consequences for serious crime, which is why some mandatory minimum sentences will remain in place, such as the ones for murder, high treason, sexual offences, impaired driving and serious firearm offences, as I indicated earlier.
However, we do believe that cases with a sentence of two years or less, and certain other offences, would be better suited to move from mandatory minimums to conditional sentencing orders, except for instances of advocating genocide, torture, attempted murder, terrorism and serious criminal organization offences.
Again, we are talking about continuing with the mandatory minimums for the very serious crimes and anything involving a firearm. These orders will allow judges to look at all aspects and assign a sentence that fits the crime, the person and the circumstances. These allow for those sentenced to remain in their communities, contributing via work, and to still be around their support systems. For some groups, such as indigenous people, remaining within that community is essential.
Conditional sentencing orders allow for the consideration of other measures for simple possession of drugs, such as diversion to an addiction treatment program. This means that, instead of facing prison, those suffering with addition can receive help, not punishment. We have seen how the opioid crisis is impacting Canadians. People of all demographics are struggling with it. In what way does putting them behind bars help them or society? The only way to help them is through addressing the trauma and addictions through treatment.
Conditional sentence orders would allow courts to focus on real rehabilitation and can ensure someone struggling with an addiction does not have their future destroyed by a criminal record. This is also vital for youth, as I have stated before. As mandatory minimums were introduced, our court systems became further backlogged. We saw fewer people taking plea deals and a forced an overreliance on correctional facilities.
Prisons were designed not as the only means of punishment for a crime, but as a way to keep communities safe. This is why we need to see reforms to our entire justice system, allowing for a more holistic and restorative approach. A 2018 report by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General says, “The criminal justice system in Ontario is struggling to address the high needs of vulnerable...individuals”.
I am thankful to say a few words on an issue that I know we all care about very much in the House. We are all trying to do the best that we can do.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I absolutely agree. Those are the areas we are trying to work in.
When there is an imbalance and we look at the fact that 9% of people who are in prison are indigenous, we have to ask why and look at the root cause. I agree with my colleague completely.
That is why I said, in response to the previous speaker, that we could be sitting down, quite possibly around this beautiful table, figuring out how to solve some of these problems, doing it together. All of us in this House are looking for the same answers to find a solution to decrease the crime in our communities.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that Bill C-21 has been introduced and very soon we could be dealing with the issues of firearms.
As I indicated earlier, anyone who uses firearms in any kind of circumstances should receive much more of a penalty, not less.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we have put millions of dollars into the issues of addictions and mental health in the last several years. I think we are finally recognizing that arresting people and putting them in jail is not going to help.
I was recently in Vancouver and was absolutely blown away by the number of people I saw living on the street, suffering from mental illness. The other day I was on King Edward Ave. here in Ottawa, and I saw the exact same thing. There are so many people suffering from addiction who should be getting help, not sleeping on the streets of our cities. We are going ahead to find ways to continue to do the investments our government is doing to help these people.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we are all doing what we are doing with the best of intentions, and in 2007, when mandatory minimums were introduced, many people thought they would really help to reduce crime and improve public safety. What we have seen is that they have done far more damage than good.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the past two years have been difficult, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but none more so than for our health care professionals, who have been challenged both personally and professionally.
Situated in the traditional lands of the Anishinabe, Humber River Hospital has cared for more COVID patients than many other hospitals in Toronto. It played a key role in keeping the northwest community safe and healthy, delivering close to 400,000 vaccines at the clinic and raising over $2 million for local COVID response. With a greater mission in mind, Humber River Hospital continued to save lives, improve patients' journeys and foster innovations, while nurturing the culture of philanthropy and playing an important role in bettering the community.
The pandemic has been tough, but Humber River Hospital employees were up to the fight to protect residents of Humber River—Black Creek, showing further leadership on how to foster a positive work environment, something that was vital for our health care professionals.
To the CEO and president, as well as every employee and volunteer at Humber River Hospital, our community thanks them. We are forever grateful.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today in memory of a great man, Maulana Naseem Mahdi Sahid, a dear friend of mine for over 30 years. He left this world last week.
Naseem was a loyal and trusting friend that I, my husband Sam and the rest of our family are honoured to have known. He was born in Pakistan, arriving in Canada in May of 1985 as head of the Canada Jamaat, and served as well in many other countries.
I first met him in Toronto, where he was already a well-respecting and loving mubaligh. He impacted thousands of families and left quite the footprint through things such as the Baitul Islam Mosque, Peace Village and the Ahmadiyya Abode of Peace. He was a champion of interfaith harmony.
Naseem believed that at the core of everything was love and peace and that by working together we could achieve this for the world. He did not believe in just co-existing; he believed in existing as one. I will never forget the work he has done, the love he has shown and the many things he has done for all of us as Canadians.
Naseem's legacy of love and community remains, and I thank him for sharing it with me and every other person who was blessed enough to have encountered him. Rest in peace, dear friend, until we meet again.
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