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  • 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

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act January 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the critic for the Liberal Party, has had an opportunity to address the House regarding why the bill does have some value. It is a bit of a step forward, but there is also an argument to be made that the government has lost an opportunity in terms of the whole idea of parliamentary oversight. When we think of the Five Eyes security nations, of which Canada is one, there was the idea of having a parliamentary oversight committee to deal with security services.

I wonder if the member might provide the House with the NDP position on parliamentary oversight for an organization like CSIS.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act January 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, time allocation is a form of closure and can be a very effective tool in the right situation.

What we have found is that other administrations, whether they be provincial New Democrats or federal Liberals or other levels of government, have used time allocation or some form of closure to get legislation through.

What makes the government unique is the number of times it uses time allocation. Ever since the Prime Minister was given a majority, he has demonstrated a lack of respect for the House by constantly bringing in time allocation after time allocation on virtually all pieces of legislation, whether for the budget or a rather nominal bill that all parties would support. They are all time allocated.

It has become a part of the process, and that is wrong. My question is not for the minister responsible for the bill, but for either the government House leader or the Prime Minister, who should explain to Canadians why the government has chosen time allocation as a tool of standard practice to pass legislation.

It is undemocratic and and a type of abuse, as a rule, of the House of Commons of Canada.

Privilege January 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, all members of this privileged House have been afforded the opportunity to be here through their constituents with the expectation that they will be straightforward and honest in the responses and statements they make in the House. It was not all that long ago, when I was first elected, that I was told about the importance of being honest in replies to answers and straightforward with respect to questions.

It would appear that the Prime Minister has intentionally misled the House. If it is found to be the case, through the Chair, that is a very significant occurrence, and Canadians need to be aware of that.

The New Democratic Party has put forward a fairly strong case. I would like to go over question period from yesterday. We gave both the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence the opportunity to provide clarification on the matter.

Let me read the actual question put to the Prime Minister yesterday by the leader of the Liberal Party. This is from yesterday's Hansard:

Mr. Speaker, last fall the Prime Minister said that our mission on the ground in Iraq was, and I quote, “to advise and to assist. It is not to accompany.”

Yesterday, the Minister of National Defence clearly stated the opposite.

Would the Prime Minister like to take this opportunity to correct his minister?

If we read the response that was given, it was a sidestep. There was no acknowledgement whatsoever.

Later on in question period, the Liberal critic for defence, the member for Vancouver Quadra, asked:

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House, the Minister of National Defence justified front-line combat by saying, “I am not sure we could train troops without accompanying them.”

Yet on September 30, the Prime Minister explicitly ruled out combat on the ground. He said in question period, the mission “is to advise and to assist. It is not to accompany.”

Why is the defence minister directly contradicting the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister, today covering for him?

Do Canadian1s not deserve the truth?

That is where we afforded both the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence the opportunity yesterday to provide clarity on what it was that the Prime Minister meant to say back in 2014. At no point did the Prime Minister or the Minister of National Defence attempt to clear up what is obviously a significant discrepancy. That discrepancy needs to be addressed.

We believe that this is very serious, and we might request another opportunity to provide further comment on it. Ultimately it would be nice to see either the Prime Minister or the Minister of National Defence stand in their places and provide the clarity that we have been asking for for the last couple of days.

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, if we looked at it, we would see that the words of the day would be “middle class”. It is the phrase that is likely being used most often. If we compared this time to a couple of years ago when we had budget debates, I suggest we would find it was rarely being used. It was not until the member for Papineau became leader of the Liberal Party that we started to talk and focus more attention on the middle class, recognizing that the middle class has in fact been neglected to the degree that today we are focusing a great deal of time on it. We in the Liberal Party are very happy to see the Conservatives and the New Democrats finally coming on side, recognizing that we need to focus more attention on the middle class.

The member made reference to the issue of the government making the decision to hand out a $2 billion income split when less than 15% of the population would benefit. It was the leader of the Liberal Party who came out right away indicating that we do not support it and we would reverse it. Perhaps the member could expand on what her party's position is on it and why it took them so long to adopt the Liberal Party's position on the income split policy.

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the member, and I would like to continue on the same stream.

We need to recognize that the current government and Prime Minister have actually been an absolute failure in dealing with the debt issue. Even though they were provided with a surplus budget, they quickly turned that into a deficit situation, at a time in which we were not in a recession. For years now, every year the current government has brought forward a deficit. Now we hear the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance saying that they are going to have a surplus budget this year.

However, by the time the public accounts committee gets to deal with whatever it is the government comes up with in April—or whenever the Conservatives decide to bring it to the House—there is no real accountability as to whether it may be a made-up surplus. There is no evidence. The Conservatives do not have any history of showing that they can actually provide a balanced budget or a surplus. Why should we even believe them, given that this is an election year, if they were to fix the books to create the impression that they have a balanced budget?

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to re-emphasize a point I made earlier today, that a fundamental responsibility of the federal government is to instill a sense of confidence in the economy. One of the ways it does that is by providing a national budget in a timely fashion.

For the government, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Finance to say that they do not know what is happening in the oil sector and as a result they are going to have to delay the budget is irresponsible and disrespectful in terms of the important role the government has in presenting a budget, for a great many reasons.

I wonder if the member would like to provide additional comments on the disappointment of Canadians in the government's inability to present a budget to Canadians through the House of Commons.

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member might want to provide further comment in regard to the government's inability to provide a national budget in a timely fashion. It does very little to restore confidence that the Government of Canada actually knows what it is doing. The government is trying to give the impression that it wants to have balanced books, or even possibly a surplus in 2015-16, when there is actually no tangible indication that it has the ability to balance the books. It has demonstrated that, as the Prime Minister has added to our debt year after year.

Further to that, she might want to comment on how unfortunate it is that the government has not seen the merit of reversing its position on income splitting. We are talking about a $2-billion commitment that will benefit less than 15% of the population. That money is going to be coming out of the middle class. The government is really off track on so many fronts, the very least it could do is announce that it will have a budget and that it will be presented on such and such a date.

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, to be very clear, it is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government to instill a sense of confidence in the economy. There is absolutely no question about that.

We have fluctuating oil prices, and that in part seems to be the driving decision factor for the government, for the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, in indefinitely delaying the introduction of a budget. This provides a great of discomfort and uncertainty about Ottawa and our economy. There is a sense that the government is missing the boat by not coming forward and stating when the budget is coming down in a timely fashion.

Could the member tell us how important it was for the government to have come to this House and indicated when the budget was to be presented, and to do so in a timely fashion?

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, a number of New Democrats will often comment about the previous Liberal administration, but there is nothing really to compare it with, because the federal NDP has not been in power here. However, we can take a look at the provincial NDP in Manitoba.

According to a quote in a Winnipeg newspaper, the leader of the official opposition says that “I'm going to do whatever I can to keep the Manitoba government in place to help keep the NDP in power in Manitoba.” He praises the Greg Selinger government for its financial prowess and how well it manages the Manitoba economy.

Let us take a look at the provincial debt. The debt was $10.6 billion in 2007 and it has increased every year, to $16.3 billion in 2012. Then last year Greg Selinger actually increased the provincial sales tax in Manitoba, from 7% to 8%.

Does the NDP have any appreciation or understanding of the need to balance the budget and, second, is it part of the NDP platform to increase—

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on a commitment by the Prime Minister to give hundreds of millions of dollars—I believe the total is $2 billion—in a tax break to some of Canada's wealthiest people, less than 15% of the population. This is the income splitting. It is a commitment that needs to be reversed. The government is in essence taxing Canada's middle class, with $2 billion going to support less than 15% of Canada's population.

Would the member like to comment and put on record very clearly that the NDP would in fact reverse the income-splitting tax commitment.