- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament May 2004, as NDP MP for Burnaby—Douglas (B.C.)
Lost his last election, in 2006, with 28.67% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Question No. 54 April 1st, 2004
With regard to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) survey tests of domestic and imported aquaculture fish: ( a ) what drugs, chemicals, contaminants and pesticides were included in these tests; ( b ) what are the tolerance levels for these compounds under current Canadian regulations; ( c ) when were these tolerance levels last updated; ( d ) what scientific research has been conducted on potential impacts from PCBs since these tolerance levels were first established; ( e ) what is the number of fish tested annually in CFIA surveys; ( f ) what is the percentage of imported fish tested in these surveys; ( g ) what percentage of Chilean farmed salmon imports is tested for malachite green; ( h ) what percentage of Chilean farmed salmon has tested positive for malachite green; ( i ) what is the percentage of fish tested in relation to the amount imported/exported; ( j ) what are the Canadian standards for allowable residues of malachite green; ( k ) what percentage of Canadian farmed salmon and trout is tested for malachite green; ( l ) what are the Canadian standards for antibiotic residues in farmed fish; ( m ) what percentage of Canadian farmed salmon is tested for antibiotic residues; ( n ) how many times has the CFIA recalled farmed fish because of elevated levels of antibiotic residues; ( o ) what are the Canadian standards for levels of the therapeutant emamectin benzoate in farmed fish; and ( p ) what percentage of Canadian farmed fish is tested for emamectin benzoate?
Foreign Affairs March 25th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. Next month, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be visiting Canada to conduct religious teachings and to meet with parliamentarians, including the foreign affairs committee.
I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he will agree to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as almost half the members of the House from all parties have requested of him, and will he agree to consider serving as an intermediary in talks between the People's Republic of China and His Holiness the Dalai Lama?
The Budget March 25th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, we have never denied the existence of the Quebec nation. The NDP has recognized it very clearly and I have no problem recognizing it today.
It is a question of leadership on the part of the federal government. Obviously, in many issues, there is a lack of leadership by the federal government. There is a great imbalance when it comes to Quebec and funding in national programs; that is certain. We recognize this, and our leader, Jack Layton, spoke eloquently about this issue. That is why many more Quebeckers know that there is an alternative progressive party in Quebec, which will produce very interesting results in the next election.
The Budget March 25th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, obviously, I support increasing the budget for international aid. Still, let us not forget that it was the Prime Minister who, when he was finance minister, made massive cuts in foreign aid funding. The cuts were so deep that we dropped to 17th place among OECD countries. The rate is 0.26%. That is shameful. The Prime Minister is the person responsible. It is as if someone stole your money and now says that he will give you a little back to make amends.
Obviously, we will support the increase. Still, the basic question remains. Why has the Liberal government, why has this Prime Minister, refused to accept the unanimous recommendation of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade to triple our contribution to the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria? That is the question. The hon. member did not answer the question.
There was this recommendation. At the leadership convention, Bono asked the Prime Minister to make a commitment to triple the contribution. There is nothing, not a cent. That is truly shameful.
The Budget March 25th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I should indicate that I will be dividing my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Churchill.
It is a privilege to rise on behalf of the people who I have the honour of representing in Burnaby—Douglas and speak today to the government's priorities, because that is what the budget is ultimately about. It is about values, about priorities and about vision. On each of those benchmarks, the government and the new Prime Minister have failed miserably. Not only have they failed my constituents in Burnaby but they have failed all Canadians, and beyond that. They have shamefully failed to respond to the desperate plea of the international community for Canada to show leadership on a whole range of issues.
In the brief time that I have to speak to the budget this afternoon, I want to concentrate on two or three key issues. My colleague from Churchill will speak passionately about the shameful failure of the government to show any leadership whatsoever with respect to the concerns of the first nations people, the aboriginal peoples in Canada.
The Speech from the Throne held out the hope that perhaps the government might at last recognize the destructive impact of its policies on first nations and aboriginal peoples, both urban and rural, but there was nothing. Despite the call for additional resources for housing, for health care and a whole range of other issues, the government has miserably failed aboriginal peoples.
Indeed, in the area of aboriginal and first nations health, the throne speech called conditions on reserves shameful and acknowledged the immediate need for the federal government to remedy this problem. The reality is that this budget has done nothing whatsoever to respond to the health concerns of first nations people.
The government's non-insured health benefit program to provide health care to first nations is notoriously underfunded and is hindered by all sorts of Byzantine regulations, basically with Health Canada bureaucrats nickel and diming first nations people at every step and the regulations for providing travel services in isolated communities. I know my colleague from Churchill will be speaking to this, but the program is appalling and has become worse, not better. There is no hope whatsoever for aboriginal peoples in this budget.
As the spokesperson for my party on international human rights, I want to point out the personal betrayal of the Prime Minister with respect to Canada's place in the world. We all remember Bono standing up on the stage at the leadership convention arm in arm with the Prime Minister saying “look, we'll be there”, pushing the Prime Minister, saying “if you don't come back with some significant funding to meet Canada's global commitments in the fight against HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, I'm going to be a pain in the ass of the Prime Minister”. Those were his words.
Bono must be embarrassed and ashamed of the leadership of the government because there is not one new penny of funding above and beyond Canada's shameful current commitment to the global fund on HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The foreign affairs committee unanimously called for a tripling of Canada's commitment to meet our obligation. Bono pleaded with his friend, the Prime Minister, to show leadership. The answer we got on budget day was “forget it”.
Yesterday was World Tuberculosis Day and we heard from the representatives of the world tuberculosis society about how this government has failed there. The reality is that not one new penny went into the global fund for HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
It is in the area of health care that perhaps the government has failed most miserably. It is not as if it does not have a series of important recommendations as to how to move ahead.
I must say that one of the greatest needs is for ongoing stable funding and a government that is prepared to meet its commitment of 25%. I do not think that is asking too much. Not that long ago it was 50%, but we are just calling on the government to meet the 25% benchmark that Roy Romanow urged upon the government. It has fallen far short of that. There was a one time injection of $2 billion but nothing in terms of increases in stable long term funding.
Let us put aside the question of funding for a moment and ask what the government's priorities really are. There is no doubt that the effect of starving the health care system of the resources that are desperately needed is to strengthen substantially the power of private for profit health care in Canada.
The Prime Minister has already appointed a parliamentary secretary whose responsibility is P3s, public-private partnerships. If we have any significant increase in public-private partnerships in this country that will lead to the erosion and ultimately the destruction of universal public health care. That is the slippery slope that the government has taken us down by its years of underfunding the health care system. We do not have to look very far in my own province of British Columbia.
In British Columbia we know that as a result of the provincial Liberal government there are already serious attacks on our public health care system. We have a False Creek surgical centre which clearly violates the basic principles of the Canada Health Act.
When the provincial, Gordon Campbell, government was actually going to take steps, amazingly enough, to deal with that, it brought in legislation, bill 92, under the former prime minister. What happened? The new Prime Minister became Leader of the Liberal Party and Gordon Campbell said “No problem. We are going to ditch that legislation because we've got a Prime Minister who understands the needs of private health care in British Columbia”.
I remember when the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca crossed the floor from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Party. He was thrilled. This was a member whose ideas on two tier health care were so out to lunch that even the Conservative Party said that it did not want to go there. He took his ideas over to the Liberal Party. What happened? He said that he was thrilled to be a Liberal because the Prime Minister understands that the Canada Health Act is not that important and understands that the Canada Health Act is not a sacred document.
No wonder the same Prime Minister hired the key lobbyist for private health care in British Columbia, Bruce Young, who was working for Hill & Knowlton, as his top adviser for British Columbia. What else do we need to know in terms of the priorities of the government when it comes to health care?
More important, where is the government's leadership on the issues of home care and pharmacare? How many times have Liberals promised there would be action? As we know, these were key recommendations of the Romanow commission in terms of a national drug agency. We know that drug prices are contributing greatly to the increase in overall health care expenditures in Canada.
Home care is an essential priority and yet what are the government's choices? It had a choice in the budget between putting money into home care and into pharmacare and into dealing with the concerns of young people, students who find the doors closed to them for post-secondary education.
I was door knocking recently in Burnaby on Spruce Street and met with a couple whose young son was told that there was no space for him in university because the average grade required to study sciences at U.B.C. was 89%. For those students who are graduating they are graduating with massive debt loads.
The government had a choice. It could have put funding into health care, into education or into reducing the ratio of debt to GDP. Not many of my constituents lie awake at night agonizing about the ratio of debt to GDP. If we had a choice between $3 billion going into health care, home care and pharmacare, into decent education, into the environment, into housing, or going into lowering the debt or going into corporate tax cuts, I can tell members that the constituents of Burnaby--Douglas would say that the government's priorities are totally wrong and they would send that message, in the next federal election, loud and clear.
Petitions March 25th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table a petition signed by thousands of people who are members of the Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala, notably Mary Ellen Davis, Nathalie Brière, Mateo Pablo, who survived a massacre in Guatemala, and a few others.
The petitioners point out that, these last few years, Canada has protected refugees from Guatemala, people who were victims and survivors of genocide, of crimes against humanity and war crimes that took place in Guatemala. They also point out that these refugees have been seeking redress for 36 years, and that impunity reigns in Guatemala.
They are calling for amendments to the Criminal Code that would allow court proceedings in absentia to be held before Canadian courts, the conviction of an individual for an offence committed abroad, and the inclusion of the term “permanent resident” in the Crimes Against Humanity Act.
Criminal Code March 24th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, the issue here is not competence or integrity. The issue here is perception by the people of British Columbia, most important, and the people who will be appearing before this tribunal.
When the tribunal was originally established, according to the terms of reference of the tribunal, it states:
The Public Review Panel is represented by unbiased, well-respected experts appointed by the Minister of Natural Resources Canada....
How can anybody seriously suggest that a director of Talisman Energy is unbiased on this? How can anybody seriously suggest that the former mayor who lobbied actively to lift this moratorium is unbiased? These people clearly have a bias, and this makes a complete mockery out of this process. It is a stacked tribunal. Obviously the Conservatives and Liberals together are doing whatever they can, together with their friends in the provincial Liberal government of British Columbia, to move to lift this moratorium.
How can the minister possibly say these people do not bring a bias when they clearly support lifting the moratorium?
Criminal Code March 24th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, earlier this month I raised a question in the House, to the Minister of Natural Resources, concerning the biased panel that has been appointed by the federal Liberal government to review the possible lifting of the moratorium on oil and gas exploration off the west coast of British Columbia.
I pointed out that the panel includes Roland Priddle, who is the director of an oil and gas company that is involved in offshore exploration overseas, as well as Don Scott, a former mayor who actively lobbied to lift the moratorium. As well, I noted that the B.C. director general of Environment Canada warned some time ago that this panel would be seen as biased toward industry interests.
As a result, I asked the minister to fire these two members of the panel and to appoint a panel which would be clearly seen to be unbiased by the people of British Columbia. I am emphasized that perception is critically important. This is a review panel that is hearing from the public to make recommendations with respect to the possible lifting of this moratorium which has been in place since 1972 federally and since 1989 provincially.
The provincial moratorium in fact was imposed following the disaster of the Exxon Valdez , and today is the 15 anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster. I would point out that disaster, which occurred in Alaska's Prince William Sound, spilled 11 million gallons of Alaska crude oil into the ocean. Harbour seals, Pacific herring, three different species of cormorants, harlequin ducks, pigeon guillemots and a family pod of killer whales are still listed as not recovering.
A study that was published late last year in the Journal of Science found that the devastating effects of Alaska's waters and beaches from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill has lasted far longer and is far worse than first suspected.
Why has the provincial Liberal government of British Columbia, aided and abetted by the federal Liberal government now and a Minister of Natural Resources who seems absolutely determined to lift this moratorium, overlooked the devastating consequences of lifting this moratorium?
They overlooked as well the implications in terms of the rights of first nations people in that area. Indeed, today and tomorrow in the Supreme Court of Canada, the Haida Nation and the Taku Tlingit Nation are in court seeking an affirmation by the court that their fundamental rights must be respected. This process rides roughshod over the rights of the first nations in that area.
This is a magnificent area with great biodiversity. I would point out as well that oil and gas development contributes to climate change. Far from expanding the oil and gas industry, we should be investing in alternate energy sources and certainly not nuclear energy as the minister is pushing on a regular basis.
It is essential that the Liberal government recognize that the people of British Columbia wish to maintain this moratorium. They recognize that lifting the moratorium will not provide many jobs to the north coast. Instead we should be diversifying the economy there. It is a biased panel. We should maintain the moratorium.
I call on the government now to do the right thing and fire these two people who clearly are not perceived as being unbiased by the people of British Columbia.
Toronto Jewish Community March 23rd, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of my New Democrat colleagues to condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent anti-Semitic attacks in the Toronto area.
It is an outrage to witness anti-Semitic hate messages and swastikas sprayed on Jewish homes, synagogues and schools, and the desecration of Jewish graves. I call on all parliamentarians to support the recent OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Berlin Declaration condemning all anti-Semitic violence in the OSCE space and seeking aggressive law enforcement by local and national authorities.
There must be zero tolerance for hatred and violence targeting all vulnerable groups in our society, including on the basis of race, colour, gender and gender identity, religion, sexual orientation and ethnic origin.
B'nai B'rith has documented an alarming increase in anti-Semitic attacks in Canada in recent years. These despicable and cowardly anti-Semitic acts must be denounced by all Canadians.
As Senator Jerry Grafstein recently said, “...words of incitement against Jews are always followed by discrimination against the 'other'. This is the pathology of hate. This is the oxygen of violence”.
Petitions March 23rd, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by residents of British Columbia and Alberta. The petitioners point out that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people are common targets of hate crimes across Canada and are currently excluded from federal hate propaganda laws.
They also note that in some cases gay bashers rely upon the discredited homosexual panic defence, claiming they were justified in committing murder because the victim came on to them, and that federal justice ministers since 1999 have promised to make the changes needed to the Criminal Code to protect gay and lesbian people under hate propaganda laws.
The petitioners call upon Parliament to amend hate propaganda provisions in the Criminal Code to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, and to reform provocation law so that gay bashers can no longer rely upon the so-called homosexual panic defence.