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Liberal MP for Guelph (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 43.40% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Main Estimates 2014-15 March 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
I understand that the agreement was on votes 1 and 5, and I am asking if the House leader for the government side could confirm that it is not 1 and 9, but 1 and 5.
University of Guelph March 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to recognize the 50th anniversary year of the University of Guelph. Founded in 1964, the U of G came together through uniting the long-standing Ontario Agricultural College, the Ontario Veterinary College, and the Macdonald Institute into a premier academic institution whose mission is to change lives and improve life.
The university's exceptional reputation of academic and research excellence lives on through the outstanding work of more than 30 Canada Research Chairs, groundbreaking programs like the barcode of life, and the many experts who appear before our parliamentary committees who hail from the University of Guelph.
This great university is a cornerstone of our community in Guelph. Its staff and students and the residents of our community have created a co-operative and caring environment, fostering a spirit of compassion and intellect and making our community one of the best in the country.
I congratulate the students, staff, faculty, and alumni on 50 incredible years as we look forward to an even brighter future.
His Highness the Aga Khan February 27th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, today we were truly fortunate to welcome and hear a moving speech from His Highness the Aga Khan, a man whose great example of compassion, tolerance, inclusiveness, and respect for human dignity inspires not only the thousands of Ismaili Muslims here in Canada and millions more around the world, but all people across the globe, myself proudly among them.
In his 57 years as the Aga Khan, he has sought to highlight the importance of humanitarianism, the necessity for education and development far and wide, and the absolute need for understanding that different cultures, religions, and languages are not a threat but a gift.
Here in Canada, we strive to meet his example. It is a sign of his deep esteem for Canada that the Aga Khan established his Global Centre for Pluralism here in Canada. That he was awarded honorary Canadian citizenship in 2010 is a sign of our deep esteem for him.
On behalf of the Liberal caucus and all members of this House, I wish to extend my sincerest thanks to His Holiness the Aga Khan for honouring us today.
The Budget February 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance should be using the budget to finally make significant investments in a stronger middle class. Instead, he appears to be using it to bully and advance his own political vendettas against the Province of Ontario. While the minister has never hidden his disdain for the Government of Ontario, it is Ontarians who are now facing a $641-million cut in transfer payments with no funding to help bridge the shortfall.
Ontarians have always paid their fair share, so why is the Minister of Finance now trying to balance the books on their backs?
Fair Elections Act February 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it has been over a year now since the Conservative government pulled the first draft of this bill off the table, I suspect because there were clauses in it that frightened Conservatives themselves.
I am speaking specifically to wishes expressed by Elections Canada to have teeth in the bill, teeth to be able to compel testimony and demand the production of documents whenever there have been violations of the bill, particularly in the case of violations similar to those in over 200 ridings in Canada where people were deceived by someone purporting to be from Elections Canada, someone who had use of the Conservative membership lists.
I am wondering if the hon. member could speculate on why there are no teeth in the bill that would given Elections Canada the opportunity to find the culprits, convict them, and punish them.
Agriculture and Agri-food February 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the member's answer shows his dissociation with reality and how it has devastated farmers.
Today is not the first day the Conservative government has heard about the United States' plan to solidify country of origin labelling into law the President will now sign. Today is not the first day the Conservative government has been asked to act. Yet the government is still fiddling while farmers in our agricultural sector lose billions.
The Conservatives have gotten really good at threatening to act. When are they going to act and finally protect Canadian farmers?
Winter Olympic Games February 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, today marks the beginning of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, which will see thousands of athletes from 88 nations come together to participate in nearly 100 events to see who may fulfill the Olympic motto of “Faster, higher, stronger”.
From the opening ceremonies today right through to the closing ceremonies on February 23, Canadian athletes from coast to coast to coast will take part in these games in the spirit of not just competition in athletic excellence but friendship, multiculturalism, and inclusion across race, creed, and orientation. All the way, the folks back here at home will be right there with them, if not in body then in spirit, as we cheer on our Olympians.
I join with all members in this House in wishing our athletes and athletes participating from all over the world a happy and safe Winter Olympics. We cannot wait until our athletes return home, their luggage just a little bit heavier from the weight of their medals.
Fair Elections Act February 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member's comments entirely. The Conservative Party is like those soccer players or hockey players who are indeed guilty of infractions who feign falling to the ice. They pretend that they have somehow been victimized and that it was someone else's fault.
I regret that the Conservative Party has avoided, not just missed but intentionally avoided, the opportunity to give this legislation the teeth and tools Elections Canada requires to find, convict, and punish perpetrators of fraud during elections. The omission is quite intentional.
Fair Elections Act February 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, no doubt the member opposite would love to discuss the error that caused my riding association to pay a fine to the CRTC. It was about a third of the fine his own member, the member for Wild Rose, had to pay for the same infraction. It was much less than the fines the Conservative Party had to pay for similar infractions under the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications legislation. Those errors, repeated by many in the House, were a result of accidental omissions. They did not put a name, address, and phone number on their calls.
However, that pales in comparison to the fraudulent day calls on May 2 made by that party to people in my riding telling them to go to the wrong place to vote. It was not just in my riding; it was in 200 ridings across this country. This matter was brought before the Supreme Court, and what did Mr. Justice Mosley say? He said that while he could not definitively make the connection, because there was not absolute evidence, he knew that it was Conservatives who did it, because they had access to their information system.
He dares stand in the House and accuse others of violations when that was the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on Canadians in election history.
Fair Elections Act February 7th, 2014
I cannot square away how the members of the current government believe that a freer hand comes from changing the position of the commissioner to a government appointment and making him accountable not to Parliament but to the Attorney General of the day.
One can only hope that this is not a result of the frequent examinations of the Conservative Party by Elections Canada and its commissioner, be it on the in-and-out scandal; the sad tale of the former Conservative minister, the member for Labrador; the ongoing tale of the Prime Minister's former parliamentary secretary; or even the Conservative Party's connection, as stated by Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley, to the fraudulent election-day calls from the Conservative Party's CIMS database. From comments made by the minister and other members, it would almost seem as if they do not believe that the Chief Electoral Officer is impartial, something he is statutorily bound to be.
It was this paranoia that led the minister to proclaim that, “[t]he referee should not be wearing the team jersey”, as if it is some invisible bias that caused Elections Canada to enforce the provisions of the Elections Act when Conservatives did wrong. In effect, what the Conservatives are doing is punishing the guy who caught them, or at least his office.
Mr. Mayrand put it best yesterday, when he stated that these changes are taking the referee off the ice, sidelining him, so he cannot see what infractions may be going on. However, this is no surprise, coming from a party whose leader has called a former chief electoral officer “a dangerous man”, and whose members have accused the impartial body of carrying out a “vendetta” against them.
Perhaps we should have seen this coming when the Conservative government started cutting the organization's budget. When did it do that? It was in the midst of its robocalls investigation.
With the impending addition of 30 new ridings, already austere resources have been further constrained by these cuts. Perhaps that was all part of the plan, seeing as this piece of legislation also purports to muzzle Elections Canada's ability to promote voter turnout among youth, seniors, and other marginalized groups, which, on their face, represent the groups that tend not to vote Conservative when they vote.
It boggles the mind that Conservatives do not see increasing voter turnout as a priority but instead feel that mobilizing their own partisans is paramount, and they want to legislate this. It astonishes further that this advertising-happy government would restrict the ability of an impartial organization to communicate accurate, truthful, non-partisan information while it continues to roll out the Brink's trucks for its advertising campaigns on its non-existent job grant program. It is unfathomable that this bill would inhibit the organization we trust with the administration of our free and fair elections from communicating vital information that might encourage Canadians to fulfill their civic duty.
For all their hockey analogies, what the Conservatives would do is change the rules of the game without consulting any of the players, officials, or spectators, and they appear to be changing it to suit their own purposes. There are elements of this bill that are common-sense, balanced reforms, but to include them with so many cynical attacks on Elections Canada, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the investigative process is not legislating in good faith. Somewhat predictably, though sadly so, this was reinforced when the government moved closure on the bill the day after it was read for the very first time. It seems as if the current government is as disinterested in consulting the people's representatives as it was in consulting the Chief Electoral Officer.
I certainly hope the Conservatives will accept amendments to this bill, should it reach committee, and that it might be open to more and better consultation with Canadians than they have had so far. Perhaps this was the only version of the bill that could satisfy the fears of the Conservative caucus. However, if the Conservatives and their minister are truly interested in reform, they will consider truly consulting with electoral experts, including the Chief Electoral Officer, and we can reshape the bill in the best interests of Canadians.