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Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for North Vancouver (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 37.37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Aeronautics Act October 31st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the common theme with all the witnesses who appeared before the standing committee was the concern that the safety management systems, the SMS, would be replacing regulatory oversight. Liberal members on the committee shared the concerns of the witnesses on the SMS and worked with members of the committee to ensure that management systems would not replace regulatory oversight and that the management systems would be just an extra layer of protection.

In addition, the Liberals listened to the witnesses' concerns on the possible reduction of aviation inspectors with the implementation of this management system. If Transport Canada was going to essentially diminish the role of the inspectorate or eliminate it altogether, Liberals would not support the bill.

Judge Virgil Moshansky, commissioner of the inquiry into the Air Ontario jetliner crash at Dryden, stressed the importance of the role of the inspectorate and the consequences that could occur if regulatory oversight is replaced.

Presently, it is my understanding from department officials and going through the bill clause by clause and adding amendments that the management systems, the SMS, will not replace the role of the inspectorate or eliminate it altogether.

Clearly, the committee had a sufficient airing of issues surrounding what was in Bill C-6, now Bill C-7. We did our work.

As the official opposition transport critic, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, offered yesterday in the House, we would be pleased to see a motion from the government requesting unanimous consent to have Bill C-7 passed at third reading today and such a motion would have my support.

As the opposition critic for the Pacific Gateway, which incidentally was also a Liberal idea that has been rebranded in blue by the current government, it has even used the same minister, I can speak to the urgency with which we as legislators must act when we commit to making such sweeping regulatory changes to any part of Canada's vast transportation modes and network, be they rail, port systems, or aeronautics, as found in Bill C-7.

While the benefits of robust measures to ensure public safety in all modes of transportation are obvious, the economic benefits that can be reaped by a streamlined and effective transportation system, with public safety as an absolutely essential component, cannot be ignored.

In the case of the Pacific Gateway, our competitors in the U.S. and Mexico are not waiting for Canada to get our house in order on transportation safety and infrastructure issues before expanding operations.

Embracing the unprecedented economic opportunities for Canada and the Asia-Pacific are not served by a prorogation of Parliament, which effectively slams the brakes on important transportation initiatives such as Bill C-7.

To repeat a point I made earlier, Bill C-7 sought to establish safety management systems that, generally speaking, establish voluntary reporting measures for employees and front line workers to report safety concerns to superiors in upper management.

Following the hearings, those witnesses expressed concerns that a system such as SMS should not completely replace ministerial oversight but instead serve as an additional layer of accountability, and amendments to this effect were accepted and became part of what is today Bill C-7.

This is an example of why I was insistent on such changes because they relate similarly to an issue that I have embraced, rail safety in Canada. The issues and concerns that have arisen in my home province in recent years following the sale of B.C. Rail to CN have brought to light many rail safety concerns.

Following a motion that I tabled at committee that was coincidentally passed exactly one year ago today, our committee began an extensive study on rail safety in Canada. It led to the minister announcing a special panel review of the Railway Safety Act. I testified before that panel in Vancouver. Unfortunately, prorogation of Parliament has delayed, but hopefully not stopped, our committee's report on rail safety.

In regard to rail safety, the Conservatives have not been open and accountable to Canadians. The Conservative Minister of Transport sat on results from a Transport Canada audit of CN for over a year. Previous Liberal transport minister Jean Lapierre, who had ordered the audits, had promised to make the findings public once the audits were completed. Under the Conservative government it was not until access to information requests and pressure from the committee compelled the government to quietly release the audit findings on its website with no fanfare, media advisory, or press releases.

Amending Bill C-7, the Aeronautics Act, relates to the rail safety issue. As in the case of rail, there is clear evidence of the need for an additional layer of safety reporting that ministerial oversight provides. In the case of rail safety, some examples of needed ministerial oversight include safety audits at CN which were ordered by the minister and conducted by Transport Canada, which brought to light many important concerns and section 31 ministerial orders that compel operators to comply.

In the case of rail, a system of SMS relying solely on employee reporting would prove problematic, as in the case of CN, because Transport Canada's audits as was revealed, there is a reluctance among employees to speak out on some safety issues for a variety of reasons.

Bill C-7, as reported back to the House last spring by our committee as Bill C-6, represents a balanced compromise, one that took into account a wide array of opinions from key stakeholders and cast partisanship aside in the name of public safety and ensuring a robust and successful aeronautics industry in Canada.

I encourage members to do the work Canadians sent us here to do in this minority Parliament and finally finish the work on this bill, so we can move on to other important issues that require our attention as parliamentarians.

Aeronautics Act October 31st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a member of the transport, infrastructure and communities committee to speak in support of Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

This was formerly known as Bill C-6 and Bill C-62 before that. It was previously worked on by the transport, infrastructure and communities committee. I am pleased it was brought back to the House and that our extensive efforts at committee were not wasted.

The bill deals with integrated safety management systems, SMS for short. It also authorizes the designation of industry bodies to certified persons undertaking certain aeronautical activities. Other powers are enhanced or added to improve the proper administration of the act, in particular powers granted to certain members of the Canadian Forces to investigate aviation accidents involving both civilians and a military aircraft or aeronautical facility. This enactment is a proactive measure to assist in preventing airplane accidents from occurring.

Bill C-7 is yet another example of Liberal legislation from previous parliaments being brought forward by the Conservatives, albeit with a new name and minor cosmetic changes. Under the previous Liberal government, Bill C-62 began the dialogue on the issues that eventually became Bill C-6 and now Bill C-7.

The transport committee worked well on this bill. I commend our committee chair, the member for Brandon—Souris , for his excellent work as a chair who facilitated an open and generally positive exchange of ideas in the committee. I suspect the member for Brandon—Souris was not one of the Conservative committee chairs given the secret committee guide book on obstructing and controlling committee proceedings, as our committee was an example of how a minority Parliament should work, and that is what Canadians expect of their elected representatives.

The opposition's approach at the committee table was clear from day one. Public safety was and is our number one concern, not partisan politics as we have seen permeate so much of the government's manoeuvring in the 38th and now the 39th Parliament.

In Canada today there are numerous safety issues that require examination in all modes of transportation in Canada, namely the aeronautics safety measures such as those in Bill C-7, rail safety, port security and safety and marine shipping to name a few.

An issue that gets little attention is the manner in which the Conservative government reorganized the committees after forming a minority government last year. Under previous Liberal governments, the House of Commons had a single committee devoted to transport issues, the Standing Committee on Transport, providing a clear and manageable focus for the committee. Following the 2005-06 election and for reasons that have yet to be explained, the government decided to lump several key areas together in one committee, namely what we have now, the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

Clearly there are numerous transport issues today in Canada that should be reviewed by parliamentarians. However, the government decided that transport issues should receive only one-third of the attention of the committee as they ever have before.

Coming from a municipal background, I can also speak to the importance of infrastructure needs in our cities and communities. To suggest that urgent issues such as the looming municipal infrastructure crisis deserves only one-third of parliamentary committee time shows that the government is seriously out of touch with the needs of our cities.

One only needs to look at the comments of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on this week's economic statement to see the manner in which the Prime Minister has left municipalities and cities in the lurch.

Gordon Steeves, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities stated in a press release dated October 30:

The government has so far failed to tackle this [municipal infrastructure] deficit, one of the most critical issues facing Canada's cities and communities, with a long-term plan and commitment.

He said further:

Today's actions by the government leave this [municipal infrastructure] deficit untouched and continuing to grow, and the longer we fail to tackle it, the greater the cost when we finally do.

Despite the cooperative spirit and hard work done by all members of the committee, it was unfortunate that the bill died on the order paper following the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue and hence delay resuming Parliament in order to ultimately force confidence votes on the opposition apparently in the hope of forcing another federal election, which Canadians do not want.

It is a shame that we are double billing Canadian taxpayers for work already completed. Instead, we should be moving on to other new issues, such as the renewal and strengthening of Canada's Railway Safety Act, merely an example.

The transport, infrastructure and communities committee performed due diligence on the bill. We heard from many key witnesses, as stakeholders, such as the Air Line Pilots Association, Transport 2000 Canada, Union of Canadian Transport Employees, Transportation Safety Board of Canada, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, Air Canada Pilots Association, Canadian Federal Pilots Association, Helicopter Association of Canada, Teamsters Canada, Canadian Business Aviation Association, Air Transport Association of Canada, Canadian Airports Council, International Civil Aviation Organization, DaxAir Inc., Air Canada, Canadian Union of Public Employees, National Defence officials and Transport Canada officials.

The common theme with all of the witnesses who appeared before the committee—

Aeronautics Act June 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I, along with my colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence and the Bloc member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, sit on the transport committee and we were part of the discussions that went on. We heard from the various witnesses and I would like to clarify one thing and see if the Bloc member agrees.

In our discussions and in the work we are doing with respect to rail derailments across Canada, one of the things that was pointed out to us on the committee is that the Railway Safety Act lacks the muscle and the teeth that the Aeronautics Act presently has. The suggestion was that when the time comes we will be recommending changes to the Railway Safety Act to put more teeth in it so that the safety management systems that are in place in the rail industry can be enforced in the way they can be with the Aeronautics Act right now.

However, I think it is also fair to say, and the member from the Bloc may comment on this, that all members of the transport committee have expressed a high concern for air safety in terms of the passengers, the crews, the pilots and in terms of the safety issues that are referred to by air safety at the airport, just generally the whole concept of air safety, and that was the nature of the discussions that occurred.

From what I can see, the amendments that the NDP has proposed really restate issues that were raised in debate among all the committee members following the presentation of information from the witnesses. They were debated in the committee, voted on and decisions made. Therefore, this is a re-entry.

I think the government's Motion No. 2 does attempt, as has been said by both my colleague and the Bloc member, to change the nature of the bill and we will not be supporting it.

Criminal Code June 13th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill. I had not planned on that when I asked my question, but I certainly appreciate the opportunity because, as I said earlier in my comments, the motion picture industry is very important to Canada.

It is very important to the provinces, as well as cities, because when these productions occur in the cities and towns across Canada revenue comes in that would not otherwise. In the case of foreign films, it is almost like tourist dollars. In the case of domestic films, it helps build the base for a quality industry in which we have skilled technicians who are recognized, for example, the world over as being the equal of the best that there are in Hollywood. Canada is an attractive place for films to be made.

We have competition now from around the world. There is competition from Ireland, Europe, some of the former Soviet territories and the United States. Individual states are very aggressively pursuing the motion picture industry. We have competition from Mexico, Australia and now even from Asia. It is important that we look at the motion picture industry as a package and the areas where we are able to assist the industry in Canada. One of the areas, aside from that which I mentioned and will refer to again, is having confidence that we are going to take steps to protect the quality, quantity and pricing of these films once they are produced.

My colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, the Liberal justice critic, made reference to the costs involved. She mentioned the loss of annual revenue at $118 million U.S. to Canada while the annual consumer spending loss to the economy is estimated for 2005 at $225 million in total. Not only that, the tax revenues that were lost as a result of piracy in Canada in 2005 was estimated at $34 million. That is money directly out of the economy. It is not only hurting our image as a film producing and distributing nation, but it is hurting our economy directly.

I have some interesting quotes. For example, we have support for this bill, dealing with video piracy, from the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters, the Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada, ACTRA, IATSE, which is the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Directors Guild of Canada. These are the businesses whose products and professionalism are being pirated and discounted by virtue of this.

Doug Frith, who is the president of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association and provided some of these figures earlier, said:

Canada has a serious intellectual property crime problem, and clear action to strengthen Canada's IP enforcement system is long overdue.

In 2006 overall, Canadian camcorders were the source of approximately 20% to 25% of all illegally camcorded films from the major motion picture studios that appeared either online or as illegal DVDs around the world.

Despite the gravity of the problem, Canada has failed to enact specific legislation to effectively deter camcorder thieves...But we cannot be successful without laws that act as a deterrent and ensure authorities to take effective action to stop movie theft and send a message that criminal activity will not be tolerated in Canada.

As a further example, a movie that was produced and created in Canada entitled Bon Cop, Bad Cop. It was produced in Montreal by Kevin Tierney, the Montreal based producer. He said:

A man was caught last year selling illegal copies of Bon Cop Bad Cop door to door in Montreal, ahead of the date the movie was available on DVD...The man had 2,500 copies of the movie when police picked him up.

Those 2,500 copies are stolen. It means that money is not only stolen from me—it's stolen from the actors, writers and directors and rights holders for Bon Cop.

That is the kind of action that hurts the willingness of these companies to come to Canada and produce here. It also hurts their willingness to come and distribute their product here. We saw the potential that some of these movie chains were in fact not going to have the opportunity to release these films in Canada.

Certainly, I would again compliment the member for Perth—Wellington as the chair of the heritage committee, the action by the heritage committee, and the action by our justice critic. As I have mentioned, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, and the member from the Bloc also shared an interest in this.

This is something that I believe is important to Canada. It is important to members of this House because the film and motion picture industry is important to Canada. I have already indicated the figures in my previous comments and how important it is to Canada, with $4.8 billion to our economy. Just under 125,000 full time equivalents are employed. I mentioned British Columbia and why it is important to me because it represents $1.2 billion to the B.C. economy. It represents $100 million alone to the economy in my riding.

I know how hard the industry has worked to build itself up in Canada to be credible, not only in the production end but in the distribution end as well.

I believe that this is a very good step in the right direction and I hope that we will see more steps taken, as I have suggested in my private member's bill, which is Bill C-453, which would see the creation of a Canadian motion picture industry secretariat. This would be an opportunity for the various sectors of the motion picture industry to come together to advise Parliament on a regular basis on what steps need to be taken legislatively or other means available to the Government of Canada to ensure that we have an internationally competitive film and motion picture industry in Canada, both in terms of domestic films and foreign films.

I should just clarify that domestic films are the kinds of films we produce here in Canada. They are creatively produced in Canada. The kinds of foreign films we talk about, and some people may think they are foreign language films, are actually films, for example, from Hollywood that are produced here. They could be any one of the blockbusters that we have seen. They are produced in motion picture studios across Canada.

We have had films produced in Alberta, such as, going back a few years, Little Big Man. There have been films produced all across the country and they bring opportunities for local actors, for even local citizens, to have bit parts in the movies and earn money. They certainly stimulate the local economy.

Overall, anything we can do to help the motion picture industry, I am supportive of as is our party. This bill is certainly a step in the right direction and we are pleased to support it.

Criminal Code June 13th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, this is important to my riding. That is why I am very supportive of it.

I have introduced Bill C-453, which would call for the creation of a film secretariat. It could be called an industry advisory board, a permanent board. The idea is to bring the different sectors of the motion picture industry in Canada together in a way to work with the government, so we can help address the problems that come up and become aware of them.

In this case it is a problem they have in dealing with the distribution side of film. There are other sides relating to tax credits and the taxing of actors. There is a whole range of ways between the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Department of Finance and National Revenue that we affect the motion picture industry.

Does the minister have any other plans for assistance to this very vital industry? Does he think the concept of having some form of a major industry advisory board or a secretariat would be useful?

Criminal Code June 13th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see the bill presented. The motion picture industry in Canada is very important to our economy. Overall it brings just under $5 billion to the Canadian economy and employs a full time equivalence of almost 125,000 people.

The credibility of Canada, not only as a place to show films but as a place to make films, is important because we have Vancouver for example which is the third largest film production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York.

In fact, in British Columbia the industry accounts for $1.2 billion in the economy and employs over 35,000 people. The motion picture industry employs approximately 5,000 people in my riding of North Vancouver and it adds $100 million just to the economy in my riding. It is very important to British Columbia and important to Canada.

This bill is to come into effect this fall. Has the minister had any estimate in preparing the bill as to how much piracy the producers believe is happening? More particularly I understand the bill is answering a very strong concern that has come from American film producers who we rely on very much in terms of our foreign production and that is just like tourist dollars coming in. I am pleased to see it happen and I wonder if he has had any particular estimate of figures.

Canadian Motion Picture Industry Secretariat Act June 7th, 2007

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-453, An Act to establish the Canadian Motion Picture Industry Secretariat.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to table a bill to establish a Canadian motion picture secretariat.

This secretariat will be comprised of representatives from major motion picture industry sectors across Canada with the purpose of ensuring that the industry in Canada has every opportunity to remain internationally competitive and successful, including both domestic and foreign productions.

The secretariat would monitor the industry and make biannual recommendations to Parliament regarding any legislative or other measures that could be taken by the Government of Canada in support of this industry which last year contributed $4.8 billion to the Canadian economy and employs over 124,000 persons nationally.

In B.C., it contributes $1.2 billion to the economy and employs over 35,000 persons. In my riding of North Vancouver, it contributes over $100 million and employs over 5,000.

Film and television production in Canada has grown over the years but faces strong and increasing international competition. Canada has developed a great motion picture industry with a wealth of talented professionals, and this bill is intended to ensure it remains healthy and competitive.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Points of Order May 18th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs just made allusions to my attendance in this House. Earlier this year I was absent for a short period due to a personal medical illness. I would like to thank my colleagues in the Liberal Party for their support at that time.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that I take very seriously my responsibility to attend in Parliament and to serve here and on the committees to which I have been appointed. I ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to apologize for that remark.

Passports May 18th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, two days ago the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs was asked about the passport fiasco. He said, “We are working very hard to ensure the backlog is completed by the end of the summer”. Well, whoopee, just in time for the travel season to be winding down.

The government thought it could work out a deal with the U.S. on passports, and that fell apart. Now the next deadline requiring passports at land border crossings is fast approaching.

When will the government take serious action on a failure that continues to needlessly inconvenience Canadians and cost them time and money?

Business of Supply May 17th, 2007

Mr. Chair, very quickly, I would ask if the minister could provide the actual costs, not now, but at some point in the near future so that I can have that part of my question answered.