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Last in Parliament March 2008, as Liberal MP for Toronto Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 52.23% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resignation of Member June 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, my notes tell me I am to say that it is with considerable regret and some emotion, but I think the emotion has betrayed me.

Mr. Speaker, I have advised you, Sir, that I will be standing down as member of Parliament for Toronto Centre, effective July 2. I do not wish to take a lot of time of the House to share that notice with you, but I did want a chance to say thank you to my electors.

The electors of Toronto Centre, known as Rosedale when I first ran, had perhaps the good sense to turn me down the first two times I ran. So, I learned something about democracy. They subsequently elected me five times. There will be members of the House who will think they were right the first time. Others will think they were right the second time. That is what makes a great democracy. I want to thank them for having had the chance to represent one of the great ridings and diverse ridings of our country.

I would like to thank my wife, Cathy, my children and my family and friends who have supported me. We all know we would not be here without that support.

I would like to say that it is a privilege to be elected to one of the best Parliaments in the world. It is a great privilege to sit in this House, It is very hard for me to imagine that I will no longer have access to this place that is so sacred to us all.

I would like to extend many thanks to the Clerk of the House and all the parliamentary staff. Far too often we go about our business without recognizing the work they do for us here and in committees.

Our capacity to do our jobs and represent our constituents is enormously enhanced by their work, and I thank them. I know from their applause, members thank them from their hearts as well.

I had the opportunity of serving as foreign affairs minister and defence minister. I could not leave this place without being thankful for the extraordinary efforts of the representatives of our foreign service who do us so proud as they work for us around the world, tirelessly and selflessly. I also could not step down without recognizing the fantastic privilege to have been the defence minister and to work with our young men and women in uniform, who every day risk their lives for us and their country and do it so well.

It is the Prime Minister's privilege to call a byelection. The people of my riding, I hope, will understand why I believe it is important that they be represented by a future voice rather than someone from the past. All parties in the House have representatives now nominated to run in that riding. I would ask that they have the opportunity to be represented in this place as early as possible for the sake of our democracy and our future.

In closing, I want to say one thing about the civility of this place. There has been a lot in the press recently about the lack of civility in the House. It may be attributable to the minority situation we are in and it may be attributable to a lot of causes, but surely we owe it to ourselves to disagree without being disagreeable. We do not need to do that.

I believe everyone in the House carries within him or her the desire to serve our country and, whether one has that desire or not, the capacity to affect the future lives of every citizen of this great land, and to some extent others around the globe. Let us treat each other with the respect that thought brings. In what we bring to this place, let us respect one another and, in so doing, I believe our fellow countrymen will respect this institution and respect us for the work we do.

Afghanistan May 14th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the consistent approach of the member and the government is to stifle legitimate debate about this mission and impugn the motives of members of the House, who are every bit as patriotic as the Prime Minister and every person sitting over there.

I call on the Prime Minister to change his approach before it is too late. His attacks are undermining the foundation of our democracy, which is informed debate in the House. Our troops know that. They are fighting in Afghanistan for those principles.

Do they not realize the ultimate betrayal of their sacrifice is to stand well back, not hide behind them, but stand so far back? They know how far back—

Afghanistan May 14th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the hon. House leader can do his best to brush this matter off, but the fact is we know in the House that the highest loyalty to our troops is if we do our job here to hold the government to account for the very mission that they risk their lives for every day.

Does the Prime Minister not realize that his consistent partisan attacks on the patriotism of those who sincerely support our troops while having legitimate concerns about how the mission is being managed are undermining support for the mission in this country and failing the very troops that the Conservatives use as a cover to stifle debate on this crucial issue?

Business of Supply May 1st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her speech and also for the elegant and powerful voice she brings to the House on behalf of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. She is a remarkable representative of such an important part of our community. When she speaks on this matter, she speaks with authority.

Having listened to the debate, I am reminded of the powerful testimony of the effect of aboriginal schools on people in the wonderful work by Tomson Highway, Kiss of the Fur Queen. Mr. Highway is a constituent of mine and a very respected member of our community. When he describes the suffering of his people and his personal suffering, we can understand that, just as we can understand in this House when members, like the last member, speak and allow us to see these issues through the lens of their own experience.

I would like to ask a specific question about the relationship between compensation and an apology. It seems to me that the Government of Canada has now accepted the compensation issue. It seems to me that churches like the Anglican Church of Canada, which was led by great primates like Ted Scott, Michael Peers and Archbishop Hutchison have accepted not only the issue of monetary compensation, but a responsibility and apologized.

Now that that matter is not there, and as the government has accepted the responsibility to compensate, why would it not make sense for the government to also take the step, being a human step, of apologizing on behalf of the Government of Canada? We, the members of Parliament, I am sure will adopt this resolution tonight to do that very thing in the House of Commons. Perhaps the member could provide her view.

Business of Supply April 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have a comment and a question. The hon. member started his comments by suggesting to members of this House and to the Canadian public that by having this debate we are somehow being disloyal to our troops and giving comfort to the Taliban.

I would suggest to him that if that logic takes place, we will never be able to ask in committee a question of the Chief of the Defence Staff as to whether or not the operational tempo of our troops is being stretched. We will never be able to ask a question of any of our operational leaders as to what the nature of the success of the mission is. It will always be hidden under the pretext that we are giving comfort to the enemy.

I would suggest to hon. members that as members of this democratic institution we will have lost this war today if we give to the Taliban the control as to what we can debate in this House of Commons. We should never allow ourselves to go there.

This motion recognizes the fact that our troops are often stretched in these missions. We have committed, as our leader said, for the longest period of time. It is a reasonable proposition for us to debate.

Here is what I would like to ask the hon. member to say from his departmental point of view. If we had the commander of the forces in the south in this House or before the committee, would he say that CIDA is delivering the type of aid and the amount of aid necessary for them to conduct an anti-insurgency operation?

Our understanding is that we are not delivering the level of aid necessary to do that, and while we can say that there are some successes, those successes are not sufficient to allow us to win what is not a military war but an insurgency matter, which requires an approach of aid, of diplomacy, of governance and of winning the war against opium trafficking and corruption and all the other issues in the Afghan government.

If we do not have that coordinated approach, we will never succeed at this, because it is not a military operation. Our leader made that clear in his speech and that is the thrust--

Judicial Appointments February 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, one thing we like about our police officers is they are telling the government it should maintain the gun registry that was put in place to protect them.

However, if the minister wants to know, democracy is rightly concerned when police exercise control over the judiciary. This is not about respecting our police. It is about respecting our democracy and how it functions, and the importance that an independent judiciary plays in guaranteeing our rights. It is about respecting the independent judicial system that makes this country a model to many others throughout the world.

Why can our justice minister not understand that basic nature of our democratic functioning system in this country?

Judicial Appointments February 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, today Canadians are faced with the spectacle of a Prime Minister who will not admit he is wrong, even when prominent jurists are forced to speak out.

In recent days two former Supreme Court justices and even the current Chief Justice have condemned the Prime Minister's stacking of the judicial appointments process as threatening the independence of our judiciary, a cornerstone of our Constitution. These protests are unprecedented, but they were provoked by an unprecedented threat to our judiciary.

Will the Prime Minister finally, as the public safety minister said, listen and act for the good of our country and restore independence to the naming of our judges?

The Prime Minister February 21st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, that answer, unfortunately, seeks to move the question away.

What I am asking is that the Prime Minister restore civility in the House and restore the sense of dignity of politics in our country and to speak for all Canadians and for what Canada is about, which is decency and respect for one another as we seek to resolve essential issues of the day.

What we want is a Prime Minister for Canada, not for partisanship, every day in the House.

The Prime Minister February 21st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I rise with considerable difficulty, given the decorum in the House today, but I believe it would be obvious to you and to all members what caused it.

I would add my voice to those who would ask our Prime Minister to speak with the voice of Canada, to speak with the decency of politics, to speak with the consideration that members of this House have always shown for one another and apologize and withdraw what clearly was going to be a drive-by smear against a young, hon. member of this House who is seeking to represent his constituents and his country.

Will he do the decent thing and speak up?

Homelessness February 13th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the supporting communities partnership initiative, SCPI, is an internationally acclaimed, award winning Canadian program to fight homelessness. It was selected as a best practice by the United Nations and has been incredibly successful in enabling local municipalities to address the issue of homelessness.

Despite the success of SCPI, the government has cancelled it in favour of a plan that is short on specifics but very long on its political agenda. Delays of up to six months before the start of funding under the new scheme are faced by agencies across the country. In my riding, agencies such as Street Health and the 519 are today forced to cancel programs because transition funding has not been established.

For the sake of homeless people in our country, the government must commit today to provide transitional funding so that municipalities receiving SCPI funds can continue to fund this vital service. The homeless in Canada should not suffer because the government is playing petty politics at their expense.