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Liberal MP for Ottawa South (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 44.00% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Infrastructure June 19th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the most efficient way to create jobs is through infrastructure investment. David Dodge, the World Economic Forum, the Australians, and the British, they all get this.
The FCM says the building Canada fund is rife with red tape. It will cost property taxpayers way more money.
Now provincial ministers of finance are unanimous, blasting the minister for confusion, delays, and misinformation. No contribution agreements have been signed, not one. No shovels are in the ground. Projects are delayed.
It is June 19. Jobs are on the line. What are the Conservatives waiting for?
Petitions June 19th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I rise today to table yet another petition regarding the devastating cuts in service and the huge price increases at Canada Post.
I am pleased to table this petition on behalf of many concerned Canadians.
I look forward to the government's response.
Instruction to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs June 19th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the government knows it has let go, either through attrition or outright dismissal, some 47,000 employees from the public service of Canada. Conservatives know that there is a freeze in hiring right now in the federal public service. They know that their existing bill does not meet the same criteria as the bill in the United States, which allows for more preparation and training not just for public service jobs but for private sector opportunities, where so much of the growth is in Canada.
Can the member help Canadians understand why the government would persist in putting forward what is clearly an incomplete bill?
Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am looking for unanimous consent this afternoon to table three documents.
The first is the budget document from Australia, which tables building Australia's infrastructure—
Infrastructure June 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the government continues to ignore major structural problems plaguing the Canadian economy. Our decline in competitiveness has hurt our exports. Highly indebted households will not sustain past levels of domestic demand. David Dodge tells us to invest much more in infrastructure that will stimulate demand and increase our competitiveness, especially at a time when low interest rates make infrastructure investment more affordable than ever.
Instead of cutting infrastructure investment by 90%, why is the government not acting?
Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act June 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I spoke to this bill at an earlier stage. It is clear that, in many respects, this bill has a piecemeal or what we might even describe as an incoherent approach to transportation safety policy in Canada.
At the transportation committee, of which I am vice-chair, we are seized right now, for example, with the whole question of safety management systems, rail safety, and other important foundational issues. We could describe this bill as a technical amendment bill, as it would amend so many statutes.
Underlying all of these, if we look at the public accounts, the important thing for Canadians to remember is the money, because they are wise and they know that they should follow the money. When we look at the money, which underpins transportation safety in Canada, the last set of public accounts that were rendered public are conclusive in that they are all being cut. The only area that is not being cut, with a marginal increase, is rail safety. However, road safety is being cut, marine safety is being cut, and air safety is being cut.
Could the member help us understand how the government can, frankly, have the audacity to describe this as the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act when, if we look at the money that underpins the audits, the inspection, the enforcement, and the follow-up, everything but rail safety is actually being cut?
Georgian Bay Channel to Lock 45 – Port Severn June 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Simcoe North for bringing forward this important motion. It is one that we will be supporting.
It is a local issue about which his community clearly cares. The member for Simcoe North has kindly shared with me support letters from arenas and other businesses, as well as property owners in his riding. As he rightly points out, this about is $24 billion worth of property, 160 dams, 50,000 residences and property owners, and more.
By way of background for those who are not as familiar with Ontario as I and the member, we are talking about the channel that links the Trent-Severn Waterway to Georgian Bay. It is a winding, narrow passage chiselled from the rock floor of Georgian Bay, immediately south of Lock 45 in Port Severn, Ontario. It is a hazard for recreational vessels because it is, first, rock-faced. Second, it requires fairly sharp turns. Third, it is not wide enough for larger vessels to pass each other. Finally, it suffers from unexpected swift currents from the release of water from the locks.
The channel becomes even more difficult to navigate safely during low water level conditions on Georgian Bay, a condition that has now prevailed since 1999. The bay is currently 35 centimetres below its long-term average for this time of year. The hazardous nature of the channel has deterred boaters from using it, resulting in lost business for services, arenas, retail sector, food services and more on Georgian Bay.
As an environmental lawyer, I fully understand that water resources support Canada's social fabric, underpin our biodiversity and are central to our economic prosperity.
Now, while I support the motion, I also think the government has a responsibility to take action when environmental challenges pose threats to our environment and our economy. This is a perfect demonstration project or case of how we should hand the realities we will face over the next 50 to 100 years.
For the past 20 years, I have been calling for a detailed national climate change strategy for Canada, a strategy to both mitigate and help adapt to climate change.
Just last weekend, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released some numbers showing that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was now well over 400 parts per million and holding. Why is that important? It is important because we are trying to maintain the projected temperature increases to 2°C going forward. If we continue to climb in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it will be very difficult to contemplate holding that temperature increase to 2°C.
Why is this so important? It is important because we now know that the Great Lakes are in long-term decline because we have seen an ever-increasing temperature increase in them for a few reasons, mostly evaporation because of temperature increases.
We have also the effects of the dredging of the St. Clair River, and we have seen other effects of climate change right across Canadian society: storms, flooding, and the frequency and severity of these are going to continue.
If we had a national climate change strategy for Canada, it would help address the low water levels. It would help many waterways in Canada become safer and easier to navigate, without having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a piece for dredging.
That makes it all the more difficult to understand why the Prime Minister, last week, with the Prime Minister of Australia, once again, positioned the economy and the environment in isolation from each other, saying that we could not afford to address the climate change challenge. He could not be more wrong.
Last year, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan hit their lowest January water levels since record-keeping began in 1918, following more than a decade of below normal rain and snowfall, and higher temperatures that increased evaporation.
Furthermore, at a time when we need more and better science, one would think we would want to know, for the 50,000 property owners along this waterway, what might be coming.
At that very time, we found out that the Conservative government was cutting funding for environmental science. It has cut funding to the International Joint Commission, leading to Lana Pollack, the U.S. co-chair of the IJC, commenting, “We have always depended on good collaboration with agencies in both the governments. When those agencies get cut, we feel it, the lakes feel it”.
For the Conservative members who might want to listen, in the report on plans and priorities over the next two years, the government plans to decrease Environment Canada's budget by one-third, 30%. That is $300 million cut from a $1 billion budget.
In 2014-15, again in the report on plans and priorities, climate change and clean air programs are being cut 70% between now and 2017. I would think the member, in this important motion, would want to work internally in his own caucus to remind the Prime Minister that we need to help these property owners. We need to help companies in the private sector to adjust to these new realities.
Instead of embracing the economic opportunities that are inherent in the adaptation mitigation that is to come, the government continues to divide the two. International climate change and clean air funding will be cut 45% and staffing level will be cut by over 80% by 2017. That hardly sounds like a country getting ready to adjust to the realities of climate change and all of the economic opportunities that are inherent in addressing climate change going forward.
We will continue to put pressure on the government to also drive forward on a national water resources strategy, a comprehensive water strategy, working with the provinces, municipalities, territories and beyond, and, when necessary, with the government of the United States. Our waterways are interconnected, our land masses are connected, our oceans are contiguous. We are going to have to work together.
Finally, this is a wonderful opportunity, a wonderful case, where if the government had not eliminated the national round table on the environment and the economy, the national round table could have worked with the member, with private businesses, with aboriginal groups, with environmental NGOs and with orders of government to come together with a better, more comprehensive approach to deal with the watershed management challenge.
It is unfortunate, but it is an important moment for the government to stop, drop the rhetoric, drop the partisanship, drop the ideology on climate change, and understand that we can, as one person once said, do a lot of damage to the planet by running down its capital. Imagine how much more money we could make by actually replenishing it.
Committees of the House June 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities entitled “Interim Report on Rail Safety Review”.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 9th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I also want to pick up on the minister's gratuitous remarks about the Canadian Bar Association. I do not know whether that is because the minister is not a member of the Canadian Bar Association. I do not know why he would want to cast aspersions on the hundreds of thousands of lawyers.
However, I want to remind him that under section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act, the Minister of Justice is compelled for every bill introduced in or presented to the House of Commons by a minister of the crown, that would be that minister, in order to ascertain whether any of the provisions thereof are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The minister, in conjunction with the Minister of Justice, shall report any inconsistency to the House of Commons at the first convenient opportunity. In other words, the bill has to be constitutional.
Could the minister please stand and table the legal opinions rendered by the Department of Justice lawyers, which actually prove the bill is in fact charter compliant and constitutional?
Petitions June 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition calling on the government to establish an ombudsman for responsible mining. The petition was submitted by Development and Peace, a very worthwhile organization that promotes alternatives to unfair social, political, and economic structures, educates the Canadian population about the causes of poverty, and mobilizes Canadians toward action for change.
I am very pleased to table this petition. I look forward to the government's response.