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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is liberal.

Liberal MP for Winnipeg North (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 35.80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we would have to agree to disagree.

Yes, there have been studies, but there has not been a national inquiry. I have to side with the victims. I have to side with the mayors and municipalities, the premiers, and the provinces, and the many chiefs. Everyone other than the Conservative government recognizes that we need a national inquiry on the issue of the missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls. Everyone is calling for it. The Prime Minister's Office needs to get a better understanding of the need for an inquiry and call for one. It would be wonderful to see that take place before the end of the year.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would highlight the fact that it is the Government of Canada that has the deepest pockets. The Government of Canada is telling all of those municipalities and provinces that it is not prepared to invest in infrastructure. It is talking about $200 million. More capital infrastructure dollars were spent on the Canada Line in Vancouver under Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin than the entire infrastructure budget of the present Conservative government. People familiar with the Canada Line from the Vancouver airport to downtown Vancouver realize the economic impact it has had, in terms of the hundreds of millions of dollars that have resulted directly from that infrastructure investment.

The Conservative government does not make the connection. It does not understand that by investing in infrastructure, we are building a nation. That is something we would put in the form of a challenge to the Prime Minister. Do not give up. It is getting pretty late at this stage in the game.

A Liberal government would invest in infrastructure because we believe in our nation.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Implemented.

The member needs to reflect on his former leader, Jack Layton, and the NDP who worked with the Conservative Party to kill the program. Therefore, it was the New Democratic Party working with its friends in the Conservative Party that ultimately killed the child care program.

The member might not like to hear the facts, but that is the reality. The NDP has to take responsibility for the way it voted.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Ken Dryden, who was a Liberal member of Parliament and cabinet minister, actually had a child care plan in place.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I respect the member opposite and her comments. Having said that, I am listening to what communities are telling us. I am not aware of a public inquiry being conducted on this particular issue.

I tried to explain the array of people, groups, and stakeholders that are calling for a national public inquiry. It is of the highest level. As I say, whether it is chiefs, premiers, different municipalities, individuals, or other non-profit groups, the call for a national inquiry has been absolutely overwhelming as people try to get a better understanding of what has happened to these 1,200-plus murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls.

It seems to me and to many outside the House of Commons that the government is not listening to the call for a public inquiry. I am not aware of others, independent of the Conservative caucus, saying that we do not require one. I have not seen a list. I suspect that if we were to canvass about it, the member might be surprised at just how overwhelming the call for a national inquiry really is.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Yes, right, it is true. That is the reality.

Now, what does the government do? It signs all these trade agreements. Great, it is nice to see some trade agreements signed. The trade agreement with Europe is something that we have indicated that, in principle, we support because we recognize its value.

I like the trade file, because it clearly shows the differences between all three political parties inside the House of Commons.

I was very disappointed by the leader of the official opposition, but it is not the first time. The member travelled overseas to France, and while there, he dumped on Canada, again. Members will remember that when he went down to Washington, he dumped on pipelines and talked about the Dutch disease, which he called an attack on western Canada, our prairies. Well, I have not forgotten that. However, in Paris, France, he starts criticizing Canada's trade and the trade agreement.

On the one hand, NDP members, at times, try to give the impression that they can be in favour of trade under certain situations. I have witnessed this, as many Canadians have. However, when it really comes down to it, we are starting to see the NDP move back to where they were. We are okay with that, because maybe they will come back into the corner over here. The NDP talks as if trade is bad for Canada, but that attitude will have a negative impact on Canada and our economy.

Canada is a trading nation. Liberals recognize that and support it. Our policy actions, whether in government or opposition, have been consistent on that file. We are the only party that has actually been consistent on the trade file, because we recognize just how important it is.

I only have two minutes, but eight or nine other points to make, so I will prioritize.

There has been a lot of discussion on the subject of veterans, and I know that it would please my colleague from Guelph and my leader if I spent a bit of time on the issue.

The government's underspending by hundreds of millions of dollars—I would suggest intentionally—has resulted in cuts to services, including offices across Canada. There is even a failure to acknowledge the need to repair memorials and gravesites, as well as other cuts that have taken place in that area. The government has dropped the file on this.

As my colleague from Guelph pointed out, the Minister of Employment and Social Development came up with a few million dollars to hire some people to deal with EI issues. Where is the Minister of Veterans Affairs? He has gone missing in more ways that one, I must say. It is time that we replace the Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Also, Canada Post made an announcement to cut door-to-door delivery, which was a wrong and bad decision. However, the Conservative government supports that bad decision. I believe it was most inappropriate for the government not to recognize how valuable the services are that Canada Post provides to Canadian, including door-to-door delivery and so forth. At the end of the day, it will come back to hurt the government politically, because it was a bad decision that is affecting our communities across this country.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Good question. “Which is?” I could not have planted a better question than that.

Quite frankly, it is a very simple program, an EI program that would in fact generate tens of thousands of jobs in every region of our country. It is an EI premium break for every new hire that a small business takes on.

Again, independent sources outside of the Liberal Party and outside of the Liberal caucus have acknowledged that it is in fact a program that would make a difference and that thousands of jobs would be created as a direct result if the government incorporated the Liberal plan.

I am disappointed that the government did not recognize that, but I am not overly surprised. We see it in committee, where Liberals will often bring amendments to improve legislation and the government will turn them down, even if it means going to the Senate, where Conservatives will amend it in the way Liberals tried to amend it in committee. The Conservatives did not want to be embarrassed in House of Commons committees, so they had to let the Senate clean up their mess.

We shared a very good idea. Who would have benefited from the EI premium break? It would have been Canadians as a whole. As I said, tens of thousands of jobs would have been created in every region of our country had the government taken and followed the lead that was demonstrated by the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Let us talk about infrastructure. Infrastructure is important to our economy and to our social fabric. Where is the government on infrastructure? It has gone missing. Conservatives talk about committing billions of dollars to infrastructure programs, but it is over 10 or 20 years. In reality today, it is an 85% cut at a time when we should be investing in infrastructure. It is an actual 85% cut, year over year, in terms of expenditures.

Members can think of the impact that is going to have on virtually every community in every region of our country once again. It is a big mistake. The Conservatives have the audacity to say that they are committed to infrastructure when nothing could be further from the truth.

Then we have trade. Again, we hear a lot of discussion about trade going back and forth. It is interesting. The Conservatives came up with the European trade agreement. The Liberal caucus has always been very supportive of the idea and the principle of trade. We have consistently been there to support that idea.

In fact, it was the Liberal Party that handed the current government a multi-billion dollar trade surplus.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak on this bill this afternoon. I have a number of thoughts that I would like to share with the House.

I will start by following some comments from the Conservative Chief Government Whip regarding the DNA data bank. It is tragic that well over 1,200 aboriginal women and girls have been murdered or have gone missing across Canada. There are stakeholders from virtually all regions and areas, including chiefs, municipalities, provincial premiers, and many other individuals.

Earlier today, the Assembly of First Nations met in Winnipeg. A brave young girl, Rinelle Harper, survived a horrific incident, and we give her full credit for having the courage and strength to survive what many would never have been able to. Left for dead after being sexually assaulted and beaten along the Assiniboine River, today she came out in a very bold way and asked for a national inquiry. The Prime Minister has been challenged on numerous occasions to call for that national inquiry. I am not aware of any stakeholder outside of the Prime Minister's Office who is against having a national inquiry. If we were to have a free vote on the issue of calling for a national inquiry, I suspect a number of Conservative members of Parliament would acknowledge the need for it.

The Chief Government Whip was correct at the beginning of his comments. I did not get it all written down, but he said in essence that it is heartbreaking when a child goes missing. What parent would ever want to hear those words from a police authority, or see day after day go by without not knowing where their child might be?

This is something that has happened far too often in our communities, particularly within the aboriginal community. There is a need for a public inquiry into the issue. It is more than just a crime. We have had two serious high-profile incidents in Manitoba, in Winnipeg. One was at the Red River, where a young girl was not as fortunate and was deceased when she was pulled out. Then we had Rinelle Harper.

I believe that the Prime Minister should be calling an inquiry, and there is no better time to do it than before the end of the year. I have heard appeals for an inquiry being initiated by individual provinces and two first nations, and I suspect that it even goes beyond that.

In my own riding of Winnipeg North, young girls and women have been murdered or have gone missing. By one count, I believe it was at 12 or 14 girls and women of all ages.

There is a need for us to have the inquiry. I appeal to the Prime Minister to recognize that need and to join with everyone else who seems to understand that it is more than just a crime that has taken place and that we need to get to the root of it. A public inquiry would go a long way in addressing a great number of the concerns that have been raised on this issue.

Today we are talking about a budget implementation bill that is very wide in its scope. I have listened to a lot of the speeches with respect to this particular piece of legislation. The speeches dealt with everything from tax credits to infrastructure to old age supplements. The discussion has been very wide and quite often very specific on certain aspects of the legislation. For example, an earlier speaker talked about the DNA data bank that would be created.

It is important that we recognize that this piece of legislation, like other budget implementation bills presented by the current majority Conservative government, goes far beyond a traditional budget implementation bill.

We have seen in the chamber that the attitude of the majority Conservative-Reform Party government towards governing has been very disrespectful to democracy. We have seen record numbers of time allocation. Is it any surprise that this bill is under time allocation? What do we mean by “time allocation”? It means that the government is invoking closure. Time allocation is a form of closure.

There is no doubt that in majority government situations, and even in minority situations, time allocation is sometimes necessary. However, never in the history of Canada have we witnessed a government incorporate time allocation as part of the normal process of passing legislation, nor have we witnessed a government that has used thousands of pages in a few budget implementation bills in order to pass entire legislative agendas.

The government, and the Prime Minister and his office, has been riding rough over individual members' abilities to have the dialogue and the debate that is important to take place inside this chamber.

In fairness to the government, I do recognize that the official opposition has also played fairly loose with respect to its positioning on the issue of time allocation. I was very disappointed by the New Democratic Party, as the official opposition, preventing standing committees from even meeting or being able to travel in situations when there was a need to travel. As an official opposition, the NDP has not recognized that.

In the comments that have been provided by members on both sides of the House, what are the big issues that continue to come up? I have had opportunity, through questions and answers, to talk about it. The issue of the middle class is something that the leader of the Liberal Party has raised consistently ever since he became leader.

If we attempt searches with respect to that issue of trying to raise the profile and the importance of the middle class, we would find that the member for Papineau has made it a core issue, not only as an issue for today but as an issue that we are going to fight for.

Then we have this recent budget, as my colleague from Montreal pointed out, with the income-splitting program. We had a Conservative member stand and say that this is Mr. Flaherty's last real contribution in a tangible way, in the form of a budget implementation bill that would put into place his budget.

What did Mr. Flaherty actually have to say about the income split? We know that he opposed it, and he opposed it for good reason. Like the Liberal caucus, he recognized that the middle class of Canada should not have to foot the $2 billion bill as a result of 15% or less of Canadians receiving the tax benefit.

That is why Mr. Flaherty opposed it. We in the Liberal Party agreed with him. We believe it is not an appropriate way to provide more than $2 billion in tax breaks, because there is a cost. Who is going to be paying that cost? It will be the middle-class taxpayer who will be footing the bill, and that is wrong.

I have heard numerous questions from the opposition to the government in regard to the EI program. The government talks a lot about the small business grant that it is issuing. It announced the tax break for small businesses back in September. What we have found out is that there was never any analysis done of it. We have no idea of the number of jobs it is going to create. In fact, in a very perverse way, some small businesses will be provided with an incentive to fire people, to reduce their payroll in order to be eligible for the grant.

It is not just Liberals who are saying that. Even editorial columnists and other stakeholders have said that. The Liberal Party responded to that.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the member's comments regarding infrastructure. This has been a significant issue. At a time when the government should be investing in infrastructure, there has been a significant cut in actual infrastructure expenditures this year. It has been in excess of 85%.

My question to the member is just to reaffirm that investing in infrastructure makes good economic sense and that the government is not spending and allowing for infrastructure growth to take place in this fiscal year. Conservatives might talk about a huge commitment to infrastructure, but that is well into the future. The money being spent and released is actually down by more than 85%. I would ask him to comment on that.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we recognize the important role our airports play in all of our communities, both economically and socially. There are a great number of them where we have community involvement and where, ultimately, the communities try to provide good stewardship, ensuring that their own local airport is going in the right direction from the community's perspective. Again, I highlight both the economic and social importance of this.

The question I have for the member is this. To what degree did the government actually go out, prior to delivering this particular speech, and consult with the different stakeholders in regard to the need for the regulation and ultimate development of a process?