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

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 30.83% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Privilege April 17th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. In the April 13 edition of the Sing Tao newspaper in Vancouver, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity said, “The member for Richmond, when interviewed by the Chinese media, claimed that the Immigration Act amendment is a terrible matter, but voted yes in Parliament”. He went on further to say, “This is a serious credibility problem”.

The secretary of state's claim is completely baseless and false. I voted against Bill C-50 at second reading, a fact that is on the public record. This is clearly recorded in Hansard and in the House of Commons Journals of April 10.

It is unbelievable that the secretary of state thinks that such a blatant misrepresentation and perversion of the facts would be accepted. It is being outright dishonest, and such spiteful and deceitful behaviour is unbecoming to the House.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for your ruling that the secretary of state is in contempt of the House by misrepresenting House proceedings, and demand for him to take the honourable step of immediately issuing a public apology and retraction of his comments.

Afghanistan April 11th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, Canada needs a balanced three-prong approach in Afghanistan: security, development and democratic peace building.

Our troops have been doing brave and honourable work. It is now time that Canada's NATO allies shouldered their fair share of the mission's weight.

Canada has lost 82 of its bravest citizens and seen more than 300 wounded from this conflict. With the military price tag skyrocketing under the Conservative government, Canada must shift its focus.

NATO countries must deploy substantial numbers of troops to Kandahar to allow Canadian troops to focus their efforts on training the Afghan army and police authorities. In parallel, Canada must help facilitate a democratic peacebuilding and reconciliation process between warlords and different religious and ethnic factions, recognizing that there is no military based solution to the conflict. We must also shift our focus to reconstruction and development assistance.

Only with a balanced approach can we be successful in bringing peace to the Afghans.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the biggest problem with this amendment is that it would change a transparent, open, rules-based, democratic system into a dictatorial, undemocratic decision making process under the control of the minister.

One of the biggest problems with our immigration system in the old days was that it was not transparent. It was not democratic. It was not fair and it was not equal for every ethnic group or even every area of the world. As a result, only a select few, primarily from the European countries, could come to Canada.

It was not until 1967, when the right hon. Lester B. Pearson saw the problem with the system and corrected it with a new points system. It became transparent and equal for everyone. The system began allowing people from other ethnic groups to come to Canada. For the Conservative Party to now propose a system that would go back to the dark ages is not right and we must stand against it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I rise to debate Bill C-50, the budget implementation bill, which also includes the amendment to the immigration act. I will focus my debate on the immigration act.

I represent the riding of Richmond, an island city just next to the city of Vancouver where the Vancouver International Airport is situated. The riding is composed mostly of immigrants. It has a very booming economy. We have the privilege of having a farming community. We have a dike that is very close to the city. At the same time, we have the convenience of the metropolitan facilities.

Richmond has a very low crime rate and a booming economy. The lifespan of our citizens is one of the longest in Canada. Therefore, we can demonstrate from our experience in Richmond that immigrants contribute a great deal to the lives of Canadians.

The Conservatives have said that the new immigration policy is aimed at reducing the backlog of immigration applicants. They have said they want to expedite selected classes of immigrants and focus their resources on desirable immigrants, but their methods will not work and they are wrong.

The amendment tabled would destroy a democratically based immigration system, which has been hailed as a model for other countries to follow, and replace it with dictatorial system, allowing the minister to cherry-pick who is allowed to come into our country.

The amendment to section 87.3(4) states:

If an application or request is not processed, it may be retained, returned or otherwise disposed of in accordance with the instructions of the Minister.

Giving the minister the discretionary power to dispose of applications is an illogical way to reduce the backlog of applicants. The government is implying that if we have a huge backlog, we should give the power to the minister to hand-pick a few and then outright reject everyone else. To me, this is not only unfair, but illogical.

The amendment allows the minister to unilaterally and arbitrarily dispose of applications without any recourse, so applicants would be unable to appeal their cases. This is very unfair. The proposed amendment to section 81.3(c) states, “The Minister may set the number of applications or requests by category or otherwise to be processed in any year”.

Along with the fact that unprocessed applications can be disposed of, this amendment would allow the minister to set a cap on applications.

Capping the number of applicants only superficially reduces the backlog by temporarily not allowing potential immigrants to make their application. How will forcing applicants to pay for re-applications year after year help reduce the backlog? These are situations which senior officials from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration agree would happen.

Reducing the backlog is not about prioritizing some and ignoring others. The Conservatives' rhetoric seems illogical. They have said that they can set priorities, but does that not mean there will be lower priorities? Even so, how does this reduce the backlog? Just because we focus on cleaning up the kitchen first, it does not mean the rest of the house gets any cleaner any sooner.

However, the worst and the most worrisome change that the Conservatives are pushing for is the change of a single word, from “shall” to “may”. As it stands right now, if an immigrant passes the bar, then it is clearly stated in section 11(1) that he or she “shall” be granted a visa. The amendment would change this so that someone who has already fulfilled the requirements only “may” be granted a visa.

Why is the Conservative government trying to subvert the immigration process? If a reason is found as to why a visa should not be granted, then make it a part of the evaluation. If immigration applicants cannot be certain, even after they have passed all requirements, why should the apply and how will this help reduce backlogs?

Time and effort would need to be spent in the processing of their applications. I see this as yet another opportunity for the minister to cherry-pick again, even after the applicants have escaped the first round of cherry-picking by the minister.

None of the proposed amendments are aimed at clearing up the backlog or reducing wait times for applicants. It is about letting the minister choose who is and who is not a desirable immigrant. Again, this is an unfair method.

The Conservatives' cherry-picking in the darkroom, dictatorial approach will destroy our well hailed rules based democratic and transparent immigration system. This will lead us down a very dangerous path.

A senior immigration official was quoted on Wednesday in the London Free Press saying, “There is no right in the law—and there never has been a right in the law—to come into Canada”.

This is wrong. It is because of this kind of attitude that led our forefathers to create a racist immigration act, better known as the Chinese Exclusion Act. After the Pacific Railway was built with Chinese labourers, they were no longer desirable. A head tax was exclusively applied to Chinese immigrants. When that did not stop Chinese immigrants from coming to Canada, they were totally excluded.

Yes, being allowed to immigrant to Canada is a privilege. However, we must apply that privilege fairly, respecting the core values of democracy, rule of law and equality. The bill eliminates the rights to equal opportunity for every application to be given fair review and consideration, regardless of background, country of origin or skill set.

Even after Paul Martin Sr. amended the Canadian Citizenship Act in 1947 to allow ethnic Chinese to become Canadian citizens, in general, we Chinese still cannot have the privilege to come to Canada. It was not until the Right Hon. Lester B. Pearson changed the Canadian immigration system into a race free, transparent, point based system in 1967 that most Chinese could come to Canada.

This continuing and worrisome trend by the Conservative government must be stopped. Canada's race free and transparent immigration point system is hailed as a model for other countries to follow. It should not be tossed aside so lightly.

The Liberal government committed $700 million in 2005 to cleaning up the backlog, which the Conservatives cancelled after becoming the government in 2006. After ignoring the problem for more than two years, they now claim to have allocated $100 million to fix the problem. It is far from enough.

We must not allow the Conservatives, under the excuse of solving the backlog problem in our immigration system, to lead us away from fundamental Canadian core values of democracy, the rule of law and equality. I will vote against it.

Ethics March 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Prime Minister, three people who knew and loved Chuck Cadman have told their story. His wife, his daughter and his son-in-law all tell the same story, exactly the same. They all said Chuck Cadman was offered a $1 million life insurance policy by the Conservative Party in exchange for his vote.

Why would they all lie?

China March 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, China has suffered from severe cold weather to an extent not seen in hundreds of years. In Bijie, located in the province of Guizhou, the already very difficult lives of the people living in this mountainous region have been further complicated by the extreme weather conditions.

Twenty of our fellow parliamentarians, along with the Ice Breaking Care Society, have joined together to form the Bijie ice storm relief committee aimed at raising funds to provide emergency relief to these victims.

Mr. Speaker, we thank you for hosting a reception this afternoon to honour the efforts of the committee. I would also like to thank my fellow parliamentarians and members of the committee, some of whom are here today: George Chen, Zhao Zai Chen, Danny Ng, Michael Ching, Kim Kum Chow, Henry Hung, members of the Heart2Heart Club, Ting Ting Wang, Clara Chow, Yuen Li and the many volunteers and artists.

I thank them all for sharing their good fortune with our brothers and sisters in Bijie.

Vancouver Airport Taser Death November 29th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, on October 14, a terrible tragedy befell Canada when Robert Dziekanski, an innocent immigrant, needlessly lost his life. His death was caused by the failure of the federal system to protect him and ensure his security.

The circumstances around Robert's death have tarnished Canada's reputation as a welcoming, peaceful country and drawn into question the Conservative government's ability to competently run this country.

The Conservatives' lack of courage to take responsibility for this failure is shameful and has created a vacuum of leadership in government which has led the B.C. government to cross jurisdictional boundaries and call a full public inquiry.

Where are the ministers responsible when we need them? The ministers of public safety, transport and immigration, and the Prime Minister have proven that they are incompetent and cannot be trusted when Canadians are in need.

Youth Criminal Justice Act November 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's giving me this opportunity. What I was trying to say to wrap up my presentation is that the government has pretended for far too long that fighting crime is a priority when in fact the only priority for the government is to make hollow headlines.

It has missed an opportunity by failing to adequately address the gaps in the Youth Criminal Justice Act, by failing to listen to the call by legislators. Finally, the government has failed to address Canada's justice issues because it has not allocated a penny of new money, even though the government is awash with surpluses. Over the past three consecutive budgets, it has not allocated any new money to crime prevention, the hiring of new police officers or helping the provincial governments add more resources to the court system or hire more prosecutors.

Youth Criminal Justice Act November 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the issue. Yes, we know it takes money to train police officers and so on but we have not seen any money. It is all empty talk in thin air.

The Conservatives promised that in their 2006 election campaign platform. There have been two budgets, the 2006 and 2007 budgets, and the mini-budget which was delivered a few weeks ago, and no money at all was allocated.

The Conservatives can say that they are doing it, but if there is no money, how can they start? That is the big frustration we all have. It is not only me. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has made that public in the newspapers. The attorney general of B.C., the hon. Mr. Oppal, as well as the mayor of Vancouver, Mr. Sullivan, went public to demand that the government fulfill its promise.

Youth Criminal Justice Act November 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has played politics for far too long, shamelessly exploiting criminal justice issues for political gain.

The Conservatives have spent years trying to mislead Canadians saying that the Liberal Party approach on crime does not and did not work. However, Statistics Canada reported earlier this year that Canada's crime rate hit a 25 year low in 2006, completely contradicting the government's misrepresentations and fearmongering. In fact, in every province and territory, crimes rates have been reduced.

We Liberals believe that crime continues to be a very important concern that we need to tackle. However, the report proves that our approach to fighting crime was effective and has made Canadian communities safer. Our effort to fight crime was focused on a three-pronged approach: crime prevention, tough sentencing and an increase in enforcement.

The government has exploited crime statistics and incidences and tabled legislation that is focused on heavy punishment to generate headlines instead of dealing with the real issues and coming up with solutions. The Conservative government would rather scare Canadians instead of offering well thought out legislation.

Bill C-25, An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is a prime example of this. Instead of working with opposition parties to create meaningful changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Conservative government is once again trying to force through legislation so it can slap a headline sticker on it and call it done.

The fact is that this bill is flawed. It is flawed because it only partially addresses the recommendations made by the Hon. Merlin Nunn, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and the commissioner of the Nunn Commission of inquiry.

The commission recommended that improvements be made in three core areas: youth justice administration and accountability, youth crime legislation and prevention of youth crime. The Conservative bill only talks about adding deterrence and denunciation to the sentencing principles that a court must consider when determining a sentence for a conviction under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and using pretrial detention in cases where it might be warranted.

The bill fails to add a clause indicating that protection of the public is one of the primary goals of the act. It fails to amend the definition of a violent offence in section 39(1)(a) of the act to include conduct that endangers or is likely to endanger the life or safety of another person.

It fails to amend section 31(5)(a) of the act so that if the designated responsible person is relieved of his or her obligations under a responsible person undertaking, the young person's undertaking, under section 31(3)(b), nevertheless, remains in full force and effect, particularly any requirement to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and other conditions imposed by a youth court judge.

It also fails to address the gaps in the legislation with respect to repeat violent youth offenders.

Those are very important amendments that were recommended by Justice Nunn and the Liberal Party.

We should send this bill to committee for further review to see to it that the right amendments are made to the bill and to ensure that any changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act reflect the necessary tightening of the bill.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act works for the majority of young offenders but we must amend the act to get tough on the group of young people whose activities pose a serious risk to society.

As Justice Nunn stated:

...I must make it absolutely clear and not open to question that all the witnesses I heard—police, prosecutors, defence counsel, and experts—agree with and support the aims and intent of the act. They accept it as a vast improvement over the previous legislation. All are convinced it is working well for the vast majority of young offenders, though it needs to be fine-tuned to provide effective means to handle the smaller, but regular number of repeat young offenders.

A full review of this bill and the implementation of Judge Nunn's recommendations would fulfill the legislative requirements, but our communities need more. We need a comprehensive criminal justice plan to be effective in fighting crime. We not only need tough legislation, we also need community-based policing, preventive measures and investments in increasing the strength in our police forces and prosecutors to ensure timely processing of cases.

Tony Cannavino, president of the Canadian Police Association, has stated that there is a massive shortage of uniformed officers and that across Canada there is not a police service that has near the number of staff it should have.

The Tory government made a promise almost two years ago to deliver 1,000 more RCMP officers and 2,500 more police officers on the streets but it has failed to deliver this to our communities. The Tory government made a promise almost two years ago and yet it has not delivered.

The Conservatives did not stop failing Canadians with just their broken promises. They have failed Canadians because they simply are not listening to those who serve and protect us. Canada's own association of police has stated that the fight against criminals will not be won with just more police and bigger jails. It takes social programs that prevent criminal behaviour. This means developing social programs that address the root problems in a holistic and collaborative manner.

I agree with Justice Nunn who stated:

To meet the need for collaboration in the provision of services, I recommend that a new and more effective strategy be developed to coordinate the various services to youth of the Departments of Community Services, Justice, Health, Health Promotion and Protection, and Education and other departments and their partner agencies (including police and community organizations) to enable greater collaboration in the provision of services to youth, better and more accessible services for at-risk children and youth and their families, and more efficient use of public services.

We also need more prosecutorial services to address the demand of paperwork and to process evidence. We need to support the provincial governments to increase the resources of the prosecutors and the court system such that criminals do not plea bargain and get away with their deserved sentencing. This is to ensure that the tough legislation we put in place is in fact effective.

The Conservatives, however, are more interested in slogan smearing and fearmongering rather than fulfilling their duty to Canadians.

Today, the Government of Canada is awash with surpluses but, after two federal budgets and a mini budget, the Conservatives have not allocated any new money to hire the promised officers. Pretending to be tough on crime is not the same as doing it. Promising funds and not actually allocating money in the budget is not the same as doing it.

Our law enforcement agencies want the necessary tools and funding for an increase in the workforce to make our communities safer. When will the government deliver on its promises?

Today I stand with the growing list of legislators who are calling the government's bluff and demanding that it fulfill its promises. In B.C. the attorney general and the Vancouver city mayor have publicly criticized the Conservative government's failure to deliver on promises of federal money to hire more officers.