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Track David

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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

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, everybody knows that the jig is up. Canadians know what is going on. They are really not stupid. They follow this. They are aware of the kinds of tactics being used by the Prime Minister and his front bench.

They know that things are being pounded together. They know that they are being jammed through the House. They know that we are not being given ample and reasonable opportunity to debate parts of the bill that ought to be seen in different committees. They know that parliamentarians, as a result, are not able to do the job they were sent here to do, which is to try to improve things for Canadians and improve the country.

These are the kinds of tactics that were developed in Ontario in a previous regime. They are unfortunate.

The Canadian people are catching on quickly, and I think they are going to speak loudly in 2015.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, seven minutes is an appropriate amount of time. I am reminded of my contracts professor at law school who once said that it is very important to remember, unlike my colleagues on the Conservative side, that verbosity is no substitute for content.

I am going to focus on two themes today, which I think are important for citizens right across the country. The first one is infrastructure. We know that we have to invest in the next generation of infrastructure, that we are standing on the shoulders of previous generations who invested heavily in our water and waste water systems, our road systems, and our bridges. We know we are going to be dealing with even more challenges on the infrastructure front because of the realities of adapting to climate change. That is something that the government still refuses to address.

On the infrastructure side, we know that the minister regularly talks about large sums of money being available. However, here are the facts. As of April 1, there is an 87% decrease between last year and this year in terms of the build Canada fund and the amount of money available for the entire country. The government is not denying that. It is exactly $210 million for the entire country this fiscal year. We are not talking about gas tax. We are not talking about HST rebates. We are talking about the build Canada fund. For example, when it comes to my hometown, the City of Ottawa would hope to receive $65 million from the Government of Canada to help improve our water and waste water systems, so we can protect our incredible Ottawa River, the source of our surface drinking water. It would like to be able to invest in the system before the 2017 anniversary of the country, to be able to actually strengthen that infrastructure.

We know that by not investing in that infrastructure now we are compromising jobs. We are compromising giving rise to new technologies and processes for the global market that we ought to be able to do very well in. At the same time, by not investing in infrastructure, we are compromising the support for our middle-class families, who would benefit not only from the infrastructure investments, but the economic spinoffs that follow.

When the government says otherwise, we are hard pressed to believe it. Here is a letter dated yesterday, on Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Secretariat letterhead. Let me quote from it. These are the opening two paragraphs. It says:

You are no doubt aware that the federal government announced on March 28, 2014 that the New Building Canada Fund...is “open for business”. Nova Scotia, like all other Provinces and Territories, was surprised by this announcement.

It goes on to say:

The Province has not signed an Agreement with the federal government for the NBCF and no details have been released to us on the application process.

It lends credence to the notion that it is a shell game; it is a card trick on the infrastructure side.

We know in the last instance of the infrastructure investments made by the government that it forced every municipality in the country to put up a total of 9,000 vanity billboards. Canadians recognize them because it infuriates them. Then it stuck the bill to the municipalities where the billboards were actually mounted. In the case of my home city of Ottawa, former mayor Larry O'Brien confirmed, in writing, that $50,000 was spent by the City of Ottawa in putting up the vanity billboards for the government in different infrastructure settings across the region.

The second issue I want to raise is the transportation safety issue. We have seen in the budget a cut to road safety investments, marine safety investments, airline safety investments, and a marginal increase in rail safety of about a million dollars. This is a very important issue for Canadians in the wake of Lac-Mégantic. If we look at the real numbers on rail safety, we know that the government is spending more money on economic action plan advertising, $42 million this year alone, than it is spending on rail safety in the entire country.

This is at a time when the Auditor General has told us that only 26% of the planned audits for rail safety were performed; that Via Rail has not been audited in three years, when it is carrying four million passengers a year; and that only nine inspectors are in place, when we need 20.

We are seeing massive increases in diluted bitumen being transported by rail. We are going to have one million barrels of excess oil that cannot go in pipelines in the next decade, but the government finds the money for the vanity advertising and the “24 Seven” show, which is a joke. It is a show of the Prime Minister at work, paid for with taxpayer dollars.

I look forward to coming back to these themes and others when my time comes for my next speaking opportunity, but I did want to get these two issues, infrastructure and transportation safety, on the record and juxtapose both against some of the foolish spending by the Conservative government.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear my colleague from Burlington. When we knock on doors in my riding of Ottawa South, it is what we do here.

Is there anything in the budget with respect to housing? Is there any support for our seniors who are having a hard time deciding between bus passes and medication this month? Is there anything here for infrastructure? Are we seeing investments of a kind that we need for the next generation? Is there an innovation strategy for the country? The answer to all those things is, no, there is not.

I am not sure who the member for Burlington is speaking to in his riding, but the working people in my riding, the middle-class citizens, are looking, but they cannot find their priorities reflected in the budget.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I beg to differ with the member in his answer a minute ago. It is not true that every member of Parliament has access to this massive bill in every committee where members sit.

Furthermore, last year in committee of the whole, when the then minister of finance appeared here to defend his past omnibus bill budget, he could not answer two-thirds of the questions himself. He did not know the details, he was not briefed, and he did not have officials with him from his own finance department.

It is unfortunate for the minister to speak this way, but I have a question for him on infrastructure and B.C. Instead of playing a shell game and trying to perform a card trick with Canadians, can he tell us what share of the $210 million is available for B.C. on April 1? We confirmed today with letters from the Nova Scotia government that all that is available is $210 million for the whole country. What share does the member expect British Columbia to avail itself of, when it is such a minuscule amount of money?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed in what I just heard from the member for Oakville. I know him to be a reasonable person, but I am shocked at the extent to which he followed up hard on the heels of the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke with personal vitriol. I am shocked at the extent to which he is focusing on the leader of this party instead of focusing on the so-called benefits of his own budget. I am very disappointed in his conduct and his words.

I would like to ask the member two specific questions.

He calls himself a man of fiscal probity, of responsibility. Perhaps he could explain to Canadians why his government spent $550 million on legal fees, and over $600 million on advertising, $42 million this year alone on economic action plan advertising. How does he justify that?

The Minister of Finance wrote to all the members of this House and asked for low or no-cost solutions. I wrote to him and said to eliminate this despicable and unjustifiable advertising. What does the member have to say about that?

Petitions April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in the third petition, the petitioners call upon the government to take action to assist Hungarians in Romania.

I am pleased to table these petitions on behalf of hundreds of Canadians. I look forward to the government's response.

Petitions April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I rise today to table three petitions.

The first two petitions are regarding the devastating cuts to service and huge price increases at Canada Post.

Infrastructure April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are now facing Conservative cuts of 87% to infrastructure funds. The City of Ottawa desperately needs about $65 million in federal funds to upgrade its sewage system. Without this investment, sewage will flow into the Ottawa River every time there is a significant amount of rainfall. Can the minister explain to the 1.4 million residents affected why he is compromising job creation and putting our environment at risk?

Infrastructure April 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today is the day the massive Conservative cuts to infrastructure kick in, a staggering reduction of almost 90% in available funding, and that is no April Fool's Day joke either.

In Trinity—Spadina, for example, almost 30,000 workers, 35% of the residents, use public transit each and every day. Can the government explain to the constituents of that riding and to all Canadians, for that matter, why it will not improve their public transit, give rise to new technologies, create jobs, and help our middle-class families?

Infrastructure March 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, next week the building Canada fund will be slashed by almost 90%, and the Conservatives are trying to deny it.

Canadians know that it is nothing more than a shell game. It is just a little card trick designed to meet the Prime Minister's arbitrary deficit deadline of an election. That is what we get with a government that is focused on austerity and cuts, not growth and jobs.

Why is the government compromising public services, delaying investments, limiting opportunities for economic growth, and hurting middle-class families?