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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was housing.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as NDP MP for Ottawa Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 41.05% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Question No. 220 November 28th, 2005

With regard to the conduct of the government towards Talisman Energy Inc.: ( a ) what were the results of the 2002 study by the Foreign Affairs Minister on Talisman Energy Inc.; ( b ) what action was taken by the Department of Foreign Affairs at the time; ( c ) was the Department able to take legal action against Talisman Energy Inc.; ( d ) what laws were in place at the time to govern the conduct of Canadian corporations abroad with respect to human rights; ( e ) what laws are in place now to govern the conduct of Canadian corporations abroad with respect to human rights; ( f ) why did the Department of Foreign Affairs choose to send diplomatic notes to the U.S. Department of State in July 2004 and in 2005 rather than filing an amicus brief; ( g ) were contacts made with Talisman Energy Inc. regarding these diplomatic notes, and, if so, what contacts were made; ( h ) did the Department receive or solicit legal advice from Talisman Energy Inc.; and ( i ) does the government believe that corporations should be subject to international human rights laws and globally agreed upon environmental standards?

(Return tabled)

Child Poverty November 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, today in the House of Commons the government House leader said that the best thing to do about child poverty was to produce jobs. He is flatly wrong. About 48% of the children living in poverty today live in families where both members of the family are working.

Given that the Liberal government abolished the federal minimum wage in 1993, will it bring it back and--

Child Poverty November 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have about half of those new commitments because the NDP forced the government.

Child Poverty November 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, 16 years ago today the Prime Minister and his party committed themselves to the abolition of child poverty by the year 2000. In the subsequent years, child poverty increased almost every year, while the finance minister was boasting of an accumulated surplus of $60 billion.

With the new figures out today showing that more than a million kids are in poverty, how can the government justify this disgraceful broken promise?

Criminal Code November 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I have a question and an observation for the hon. member. I too would like to praise everyone who has taken part in this debate. What is at root here is the profound importance of historical memory in relation to culture in the shaping of human identity. What we are all about as human beings at this point in the 21st century is, in one sense of the term, kind of an inevitable product of what has gone on in our past, broadly speaking, our cultural past.

Is the hon. member aware that in this context the bill amends the Criminal Code to make it an offence for Canadians abroad to indulge in theft of cultural property. For me that is a remarkable change in Canadian law and consistent with what we did in terms of the sex trade. Canadians can no longer go to any other country and abuse children.

In that context, recently in the House we adopted a recommendation of the foreign affairs committee that says that Canadian corporations in the mining sector can no longer do abroad what they have been stopped from doing here. It extends the Westray principle of health and safety, which is now embedded in Canadian law from Canadian corporations at home to Canadian corporations abroad.

I praise the government for extending our domestic law into these realms: cultural protection, sexual protection of children and the protection of workers abroad. I am sure the hon. member agrees with me on that.

Parliament of Canada Act November 21st, 2005

That may be another reform we will come to one day, Mr. Speaker.

I expect the Prime Minister chose his candidate over the local democratically elected candidate.

I was glad to hear that my Conservative friend, the hon. member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, is likely to vote for the bill. I am encouraged by that.

He made a references to unions somehow financing the NDP and that this is somehow a pernicious activity. I make the point that financing to the NDP was always done by democratic vote by the unions. Any member could have his or her funds democratically withdrawn from the supported party if he or she wanted to, and unlike the corporate donations to the Conservative Party or Liberal Party in the past, the union members had a say in it. Corporations decide unilaterally, whether or not the shareholders agree.

As for my friend from the Bloc, I listened with care and he said that the Bloc Québécois could not have come into being the way it did if the process my colleague is advocating had been in place. I say that is right, and so be it. It is democratic. Back in the 1990s the appropriate thing to have done, in my view, if those members were elected from other parties, was to do what my colleague has said; they should have resigned from the party they were in, in good conscience, sat as independents and then went back to the electorate that had voted for them as Conservatives before and had byelections.

That is what the bill is all about. It is bringing democracy as it affects MPs' behaviour in the House of Commons into the 21st century. We are proposing a change. There have been New Democrats who have crossed the floor, Liberals who have crossed the floor, Conservatives who have crossed the floor. Indeed, the Bloc came into formation because of it.

We are saying that the people of Canada in every constituency do not vote for the man or woman as an individual. I know we are all overcome by high levels of modesty as MPs. Every political scientist who has studied the situation knows that citizens vote 80% to 90% for the party. They believe in the party's program on the one hand or they disbelieve in another party's program and they want to vote against it. The key point in my colleague's bill is that these democratic wishes should be respected.

I refer to the case of the member for Newmarket—Aurora who was elected as a Conservative and ought to have remained a Conservative. If she wanted to leave in good faith, there was an option other than crossing the floor and becoming a cabinet minister, which breeds cynicism among the electorate. She should have resigned her party membership, if she felt that way, sat as an independent and then she could have voted with integrity, if she had wanted to, for the budget. She could have voted as an independent. It should not be the right of an MP to cross the floor, unless he or she is prepared to resign the seat, go to the electorate and let the constituents once again decide.

By the way, this is not abstract talk. I repeat, members of other parties, including ours in the past, have crossed the floor. We want to change that. Roy Romanow, the former premier of Saskatchewan, did what ought to have been done. There was a Liberal member in the Saskatchewan legislature who wanted to cross the floor and join his government. He politely, I am sure, but clearly denied that opportunity. He said to the member that if he resigned his seat, he should get a nomination as a New Democrat, be elected as a New Democrat and then they would talk about joining that party in the provincial legislature. That subsequently was done. That man acted with integrity. He resigned his seat as an MLA for the Liberal Party. He got the nomination as a New Democrat, was elected as a New Democrat by the voters in Saskatchewan, and then and only then was he entitled to be a member of cabinet.

I stress that the bill is designed to combat cynicism. The most pernicious form of cynicism in political life as citizens see it is that from time to time those of us who are elected to office act not in the public good, but in our own good. We act not in the public interest, but in self-interest. That is what we want to minimize, and get rid of whenever we can, in our democratic institutions.

Now that we can all vote as individuals on private member's bills, I urge my friends in all parties to give serious thought to this private member's bill and to vote favourably on this bill that will respect a member's integrity.

If a member has problems with his or her party, the member can leave that party and sit as an independent in good conscience. If the member wishes to go to another party, he or she ought to respect the democratic wishes of the citizens, resign his or her seat and ask the constituents to elect the individual under his or her new party. If that person is elected, he or she could then act as a member of the new party. If it means going into cabinet, so be it, but one would hope that would not be the motivation. If the member was elected simply to further the aims, goals and philosophies of that party, that is good.

That is the kind of system we need in Canada and it is long overdue.

Parliament of Canada Act November 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise and speak in defence of Bill C-251. It is a bill designed to strengthen the rights of the citizens of Canada, the men and women who vote in all our various constituencies. The bill is not designed to strengthen the political authority of political parties as the parliamentary secretary said.

In fact, I was quite amused to hear the parliamentary secretary propose certain reform measures that would strengthen the role of MPs in committees. He said that the government had already done great things in this regard.

I can say to the hon. member that it is really bizarre to hear a member of the Liberal government talk about democratic reform. First of all, the reforms the member is talking about I first heard when I was here in 1968. Thirty-seven years ago the Liberals were talking about doing this, and the government is still talking about doing it.

As I recall, It is the same Liberal Party that when a candidate of Chinese Canadian background in Vancouver was all set to become a candidate through a democratic process in the recent election, the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Martin, named the president of the Liberal Party in British Columbia over--

Concert Hall Proposal November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the city of Ottawa is already the proud home of the world's largest chamber music festival. It now has the opportunity to become the home to a splendid new concert hall.

This hall has been proposed by the Ottawa Chamber Music Society and has been endorsed by the City of Ottawa which has committed $6.5 million in funding. The project is dependent, however, on both the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada matching this amount.

Many of us in Ottawa are excited at the prospect of a badly needed new concert hall. Ottawa is the only capital city in the western world without such a facility. It would be a major benefit for the cultural life of the citizens of Ottawa and for all those thousands of tourists who make Ottawa their destination.

I urge the government to decide in the coming week to provide the Ottawa Chamber Music Society with the matching $6.5 million which is essential for this important project.

Parliament of Canada November 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister or the government House leader. Every member of every party in the House knows that we are going to have an election soon. The Conservative Party has compromised. The Bloc Québécois has compromised. We have compromised.

Is it not an example of unmitigated Liberal arrogance to say, “Either it is my way or no way?”

National Capital and Gatineau Park Act November 15th, 2005

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-444, An Act to amend the National Capital Act (Gatineau Park).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce my bill, an act to amend the National Capital Act, Gatineau Park. The bill is seconded by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Skeena--Bulkley Valley.

The bill would amend the National Capital Act to establish for the first time legal boundaries for Gatineau Park. If brought into legislation, it would give legal status to the park and would recognize that one of the objectives and purposes of the National Capital Commission is to acquire privately owned real properties or provincial properties situated in Gatineau Park. It would also require owners of real property situated in the park to give the NCC a right of first refusal on the sale of the property. In short, it would ensure Gatineau Park remains a treasure for future generations of Canadians.

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