Elizabeth Shaughnessy COHEN

COHEN, Elizabeth Shaughnessy, B.A., M.A., LL.B.

Personal Data

Windsor--St. Clair (Ontario)
Birth Date
February 11, 1948
Deceased Date
December 9, 1998
barrister and solicitor, lawyer

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
  Windsor--St. Clair (Ontario)
June 2, 1997 - December 9, 1998
  Windsor--St. Clair (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 37 of 39)

April 22, 1994

Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor-St. Clair)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

The government is working hard to create thousands of jobs throughout the country. The crown jewel of those initiatives is the Canada infrastructure program.

Could the minister tell the House the status of the many infrastructure project applications that have been received?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Infrastructure Program
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April 22, 1994

Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor-St. Clair)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour, pursuant to Standing Order 36, to present a petition requesting that the laws of Canada be amended to prohibit the importation, distribution, sale and manufacture of killer cards in law and to advise producers of killer cards that their product, if destined for Canada, will be seized and destroyed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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April 21, 1994

Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor-St. Clair)

Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak this evening on this important debate. I thank the last speaker, my friend opposite, for his comments as well. It is significant that our leadership has allowed us this opportunity.

Only this afternoon I participated in a panel discussion with three other members of Parliament. The discussion was on reforms to Parliament and the nature of Parliament itself. There is much criticism of the quality of debate and the usefulness of this kind of debate. I came back here to find that members of Parliament from all parties were co-operating and participating in assisting the leadership of our government in making what is a difficult and in many ways terrible decision.

Like many Canadians I am not very knowledgeable in this area. My interests primarily are at home, as you often hear me say, right there in Windsor. Quite frankly this question, while it is not one I am particularly well versed on, is one I felt prompted to speak to tonight because of calls and reactions from my constituents and because of my strong personal reaction to some of these calls.

Like many Canadians I find the ethnic fighting in Bosnia and the massacre of innocents who cared nothing for power or politics or the stakes of the game to be abhorrent. Like many Canadians I want it to stop. We have an obligation to be part of the solution. I truly trust our leadership to take the right steps to accomplish this.

However I also worry about our troops there. Only two weeks ago Ryan Hendy, a grade 13 student at St. Anne's High School in Tecumseh, Ontario in my riding, an 18 year old lad who is a friend of mine and whose parents are friends of mine, came to me. He is a member of the Essex-Kent Scottish Reserves. He told me he had been asked to go to the former Yugoslavia. His youth and his patriotism moved me to think a little more about our troops there.

Canadians in Windsor-St. Clair and everywhere in this country have taken pride in their armed forces, pride in those young people stationed in Bosnia and elsewhere in the Balkans during this conflict. Canadians watched in fear as our young military men were held as hostages last week and breathed a sigh of relief when they were released.

These anxieties are not distant. All of us in this House know we have constituents who are somehow connected with people in Bosnia. Many of us have friends or even family who are connected there. We have constituents whose children are serving there with the Canadian forces. We have constituents who are members of the forces serving there. We have constituents of Bosnian, Serb, Croatian and Muslim descent who have relatives still living in that country.

Madam Speaker, one of your own constituents sent us a letter today. Marina Gavanski Zissis is her name. She is a Canadian of Serbian descent. She warns us of the danger of these air strikes. Her greatest concern is for the Canadians on the ground. I quote from her letter: "But much more important is the safety of the Canadians already in Bosnia".

To my mind Mrs. Zissis makes a great point. We cannot ever forget the safety of these people and the situation in which they might be placed by remaining on the ground during an air strike. The American forces will be undertaking this air strike. In my opinion, for what it is worth, they do not have a good record when it comes to casualties by friendly fire.

We must consider these figures: 15 to 20 per cent of U.S. casualties in the Vietnam war fell from friendly fire and 16 per cent of U.S. casualties in the recent gulf war fell from friendly fire. On April 14, 1994, two U.S. helicopters were shot down by American jets, killing 26 military and civilian personnel.

This time it will be our troops and innocent Bosnian civilians on the ground. It is not a textbook battleground. It is not a desert where we can see the good guys on one side and the bad guys on the other. The fighting is taking place in and around urban enclaves containing thousands of civilians and our Canadian troops.

I am not a military expert. I am not even very knowledgeable about these matters, but I am a very concerned citizen and member of the House. I know we must stand with our allies. I know if we and our allies walk away we leave thousands of innocent people to a slaughter.

I have faith in our leadership. I have faith in the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister. I am satisfied that they will guide us well and ably in this decision, but I remind them to remember that it is our people on the ground and to take care of them too.

Topic:   Special Debate
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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April 20, 1994

Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor-St. Clair)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak as well on Bill C-206, an act to provide for the relocation and protection of witnesses.

As we have already learned law enforcement agencies provide protection to their sources and to witnesses where there is a threat of retribution as a result of either the source informing on the criminal activity or a witness providing crucial testimony in a criminal proceeding. Generally witness protection requirements arise out of cases involving the most serious charges and by that I mean charges which upon conviction attract the heaviest penalties. Probably we are most familiar in this area with charges such as trafficking in large quantities of drugs, murder, armed robbery, and other conspiratorial crimes involving elements of organized crime.

It is obvious that the more serious the offence and the stiffer the penalty upon conviction, the greater risk to an informant or witness. As the threat becomes more serious to the witness of course, the more comprehensive must be the protection of that witness.

Witness protection programs are a valuable tool in law enforcement and in some areas an invaluable tool. They have been developed in varying degrees across the country by different police forces and services. The types of services available under a witness protection plan also vary according to the individual case. They vary as well according to the resources that an individual police department may have.

Examples of these services which are currently available in Canada include psychological counselling, escorts to and from the court house or the prosecutor's office, guarding a witness' residence at crucial times or on a full time basis if need be during a trial, documents in a witness' name, housing upon relocating a witness to a new location, transportation of the witness' private property to a new home, payment of basic living expenses to a witness for a period of time or assistance in obtaining employment.

In Canada, depending upon the capabilities of the individual police force, these services have provided some degree of protection to informants and witnesses but again administered individually through different police services.

Of all of these programs however the most comprehensive is the RCMP source witness protection program. It was originally established in the early 1980s for the RCMP to use, but now it is increasingly used by other police forces and services across the country.

The need for RCMP assistance would arise primarily when an informant or witness must be relocated to another province and where that police force needs to obtain some form of federal assistance, such as federal documentation in a new name for the witness or source. The RCMP has offices in every province and every territory. They have an extensive witness protection capability. It is easy to see why other agencies seek the assistance of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

There is no other department and no other agency in Canada that can facilitate and co-ordinate the various aspects of assistance and protection that are involved in a witness protection relocation.

These considerations of witness protection are not just going on in Canada. In fact, world wide there is a growing interest in the criminal justice community in the enhancement of witness protection services and the creation of national witness protection programs. This is in part most likely a result of the global growth in organized criminal activity and increased reliance on the use of informants to obtain convictions.

Here in Canada we too are examining existing witness protection services in light of increased organized crime and shrinking law enforcement budgets. To that end in 1992 a survey was undertaken of all police forces in Canada. This survey had a twofold aim. First, the government wanted to obtain information on police witness protection capabilities in general. Second, the government wanted to know to what extent provincial and municipal police services seek and obtain assistance from the mounted police source witness protection program.

Questionnaires were sent to 393 police services across the country and responses were received from 284. Only data for three years prior to 1992 was requested.

The great majority of police services, in fact 88 per cent of them, said that they had not used the RCMP witness protection program over the three years preceding the date of the survey. They had not done so primarily because they just did not have cases in which protection was necessary. This comes as no great surprise to the government because most cases involving witness protection occur in large urban areas.

The survey also shows that a very small number of provinces either have or are considering developing a standardized provincial witness program within their province.

We have to bear in mind that regardless of individual provincial programs, there will always be a need for an agency such as the RCMP to arrange out of province relocations. For example, should Nova Scotia wish to relocate a witness to British Columbia, it is probable that the provincial program would not have the reach and would not be able to provide for witnesses' various needs in British Columbia. As it stands, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police source witness protection program can and does accommodate relocated witnesses from one end of the country to the other.

The survey also revealed that 15 police services can provide some degree of witness protection. Again, this protection does

not include out of province relocation and is limited according to the availability of personnel and other resources.

Twenty-three police forces indicated that they had used the RCMP program in the past three years, primarily to facilitate name change and relocation. Of these, over 50 per cent were satisfied with existing witness protection arrangements including their own arrangements and those within the RCMP program.

The greatest concern of those expressing dissatisfaction with existing witness protection arrangements was lack of resources, in particular personnel. Another concern was the need for standardized witness protection procedures that are clearly understood by all local police services.

Finally, the survey pointed out that mainly due to a lack of resources, witness protection is not equally available to all police services.

Based on this preliminary survey it is clear that an effective witness protection program is a crucial part of the law enforcement community's response to growing incidents of organized crime and other types of serious crime. Further, this is a matter that requires close attention to the various needs of the general police community who are the potential users of this service and we have to pay special attention to their financial capabilities.

I believe that particularly in these times there is a requirement on the part of the government to further only the most cost-efficient and effective programs in co-operation with all the relevant players. I would submit that there is yet some work to be done before the government proceeds with legislation on this issue. I am thinking here of further consultations with the relevant players to define the parameters of an effective witness protection program.

Once these issues have been explored and decided on, the government will be in a much better position to bring forward legislation on witness protection services.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Witness Protection Act
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April 18, 1994

Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor-St. Clair)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Young women are smoking at a much higher rate than are males of the same age. This is especially disturbing in light of the news that U.S. tobacco companies are adding some 600 chemicals to their cigarettes, 13 of which have been proven hazardous to human health.

What steps is the minister taking to ensure that Canadian cigarette manufacturers make the public aware of all such additives in their products?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Tobacco Products
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