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  • His favourite word is colleague.

Liberal MP for Kingston and the Islands (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 39.30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Justice June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, visible minorities make up 19% of Canadians, yet in the last six years, only 1.5% of federal judicial appointments were visible minorities. That is three judges, not even enough to fill a Conservative photo op.

The justice minister says that Conservatives appoint so few visible minorities because few apply. The Prime Minister recently said, “You can't manage what you can't measure”.

Therefore, will the justice minister commit to releasing data on how many women and visible minorities apply for federal judgeships?

Red Tape Reduction Act June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is great to have an accountant in our caucus to explain issues that consume time and resources for small businesses and explain what government could do to improve the situation.

In my riding of Kingston and the Islands, accountants have complained to me about the federal government's closure of a window at the CRA office so that there is no public access now.

I was wondering more generally if my colleague, who is an accountant, has any ideas on how the CRA could be improved to better serve small and medium-sized businesses.

The Environment June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the world community would agree that Canada is taking leadership on the problem of climate change. It is a problem that requires countries around the world to co-operate.

I would also say that the so-called sector-by-sector approach still has not really been implemented. We are still waiting for what the oil and gas sector is going to do. We have been waiting for many years. In fact, we are way past the time at which the government said it would have these rules in place. As my hon. colleague from the Conservative Party has stated himself, and I want to thank him for being here at this late hour to answer these questions, he and millions of other people are very well accustomed to sitting in traffic in the Greater Toronto Area, wasting energy, time, and money.

That is why I think it is time for the federal government to help out all of the areas in the country where better investments are needed in sustainable transportation infrastructure. We have the money to pay for it, especially now when money is so cheap and interest rates are so low. As I said before, one-tenth of the economic cost of traffic congestion in Toronto could service the debt on twice the amount of the government's new building Canada plan.

The Environment June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am here tonight regarding a question I asked on June 3. On that day, I asked about traffic jams in Toronto and the fact that the C.D. Howe Institute says that they cost the economy $11 billion a year. I asked why the government is investing so little in sustainable transportation infrastructure right now, in fact in infrastructure in general right now.

The minister answered in an over-simplified way, if I could just be kind and gentle. He said simply, “Because you are wrong”. That was all he said. Really. We can see from the video of those proceedings how entertaining the answer was to Conservative MPs. Therefore, the first thing I would like to say is that I hope the government takes the opportunity during these adjournment proceedings to explain how the minister could even answer a question in front of Canadians that way.

Let me talk now about infrastructure. Infrastructure spending is being held back. We know that, without even looking at the numbers, from the experience of Canadian municipalities that are looking to access federal money to work on infrastructure projects that are ready to go. My community of Kingston and the Islands has infrastructure projects that are ready to go. That is because of program delays and low levels of funding from the new building Canada plan in the first few years, funding that has been pushed back to make sure that there is a balanced budget for the Conservative Party's 2015 election campaign.

David Dodge, former governor of the Bank of Canada, says that now is the time to invest in infrastructure, because in many parts of Canada, such as Ontario, there is plentiful labour, extra industrial capacity, and most importantly, right now interest rates are very low.

Let us look at how much it costs Canada to borrow money. According to the Bank of Canada, the long-term interest rate for Canadian government bonds in June 1984 was 14%. That was the yield on the bonds. In 1994, it went down to 9%. In 2004, it went down to 5%. This year, Canada sold 50-year bonds for a 2.86% yield. That is under 3%. Canada can borrow money for 50 years and pay an interest rate under 3%. What does that mean?

In my original question to the minister, I said that the C.D. Howe Institute said that the economic cost of traffic congestion was $11 billion a year. Let us just take $1 billion a year, one-tenth of that. If we could borrow at an interest rate of 2.86%, we could service the interest payments on $35 billion of infrastructure investment. That is two times the new building Canada fund, which is only $14 billion.

To conclude, just one-tenth of the annual cost of traffic congestion in Toronto could cover the interest payments needed to pay for two of this government's new building Canada plans. That is how unambitious the government is.

Drug-Free Prisons Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech. I listened very carefully, in fact. It would be inaccurate to suggest otherwise.

I would like to ask him if, instead of Bill C-12, it would have been more useful to provide Correctional Service Canada with resources to measure how effective existing programs are at fighting drug use in our prisons.

It is something that was suggested, I believe, by the Correctional Investigator, something that is not sufficiently in place presently. I wonder if my colleague would care to comment.

I think that approach would have been more useful than the measures in the current bill. As my colleague mentioned in his speech, drug tests are currently in place now and are used by the system.

Drug-Free Prisons Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, many people in my riding of Kingston and the Islands would like to see drug-free prisons or at least prisons with less drug use, because they work in the prisons.

The Prime Minister has said that what we do not measure we cannot manage. Is there any provision in this legislation to provide funds to measure the effect of the bill, to measure a baseline for drug use and the change in drug use in prisons? Is there any provision in the bill to measure its effect?

Democratic Reform June 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the so-called fair elections act needs amending. Yesterday, Liberal supporters from across Ontario received letters from the Ontario Conservatives reminding them to vote, but at the wrong polling stations. One of these letters was even signed by the assistant of the Conservative MP for London North Centre.

The letters from the Conservatives' Ontario cousins suppressed votes, just like Conservative data were used to suppress votes in the 2011 federal election. Will the Conservatives give the elections commissioner the powers he needs to protect Canadians?

Portugal Day June 10th, 2014

Today is Portugal Day, when Portuguese communities around the world commemorate the death of Luis de Camões, the author of Os Lusíadas, Portugal's national poem celebrating Portuguese history and achievements. Camões captured the sentiment of the age of discovery, when Portuguese explorers led the world in mapping the coasts of Africa, Asia, and Brazil.

In Toronto, over 200,000 Portuguese Canadians celebrate Portugal Day with a week-long festival in Little Portugal. Portuguese immigrants have helped to build strong communities and successful businesses throughout Canada. The highest per capita Portuguese immigrant population is in my riding of Kingston and the Islands. Centred around Nossa Senhora de Fátima and the Portuguese Cultural Centre, the Portuguese immigrant story is an important part of Kingston's history.

In 2010, the Portuguese Cultural Centre hosted World Cup games, drawing soccer fans from all over. I look forward to World Cup excitement and Portugal's first game next Monday.

Boa sorte e feliz dia de Portugal!

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that was an interesting response to the last comment.

It is not always the case that if people need to get a post-secondary education, they should delay it. Sometimes the right thing for people to do is to borrow some money and get that education so they can have that earning potential and quality of life.

My colleague from the Conservative Party said that there was no higher calling than raising children. I agree with that, but the problem is that many Canadians are struggling to raise their children because of their income level. The tax credits that my Conservative colleague mentioned are just that, tax credits. They are not refundable. People have to be making a good amount of taxable income to benefit from those tax credits.

If raising children is so important, and even more important for people at the lower end of the income scale who are aspiring to reach the middle class, why can we not make some of those tax credits refundable?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I know that Canadians will have listened with interest to the remarks from the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

However, just to accompany those remarks, I think Canadians also should know that I think the member's view of history is a bit coloured. He referred to the “Trudeau recession” in the early 1980s, but I think he will know that what happened was that in the United States the federal reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, decided to deal with inflation by targeting the total amount of money in the economy instead of targeting interest rates. That resulted in a sharp rise in interest rates. The prime rate got up to something like 21% in the United States, and in other countries as well, because the currencies are linked, and there was a very sharp contraction in the economy in the United States. That was the cause of the recession.

I know the member is trying to pin it on the Liberal Party. The Conservatives might as well pin all of Canada on the Liberal Party because they go back in history so often to do that, instead of looking forward and trying to decide what to do.

I just want Canadians to be aware that the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt, as sincere as he is, is making partisan remarks and his speech should be looked at carefully and analyzed with that in mind.