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Liberal MP for Kingston and the Islands (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns January 26th, 2015

With regard to Statistics Canada: (a) have studies been done on how to use alternative sources of data and methods of data collection, outside of surveys, to replace the information gathered by the mandatory long-form census in 1971, and every five years from 1981 to 2006; (b) what alternative sources of data and methods of data collection, outside of surveys, were considered prior to 2011 to replace the information gathered by the mandatory long-form census in 1971, and every five years from 1981 to 2006; (c) what alternative sources of data and methods of data collection, outside of surveys, were considered from 2011 to the present to replace the information gathered by the mandatory long-form census in 1971, and every five years from 1981 to 2006; (d) prior to 2011, which foreign jurisdictions were consulted in order to assess alternative sources of data and methods of data collection, outside of surveys, to replace the information gathered by the mandatory long-form census in 1971, and every five years from 1981 to 2006; (e) from 2011 to the present, which foreign jurisdictions were consulted in order to assess alternative sources of data and methods of data collection, outside of surveys, to replace the information gathered by the mandatory long-form census in 1971, and every five years from 1981 to 2006; (f) what studies, reports or assessments have been prepared by Statistics Canada regarding alternative sources of data and methods of data collection, outside of surveys, to replace the information gathered by the mandatory long-form census in 1971, and every five years from 1981 to 2006, broken down by (i) date of studies, reports or assessments, (ii) title of studies, reports or assessments, (iii) internal tracking number of studies, reports or assessments; (g) what briefing documents have been prepared for ministers and their staff regarding alternative sources of data and methods of data collection, outside of surveys, to replace the information gathered by the mandatory long-form census in 1971, and every five years from 1981 to 2006, broken down by (i) date of studies, reports or assessments, (ii) title of studies, reports or assessments, (iii) internal tracking number of studies, reports or assessments; (h) before 2011, did Statistics Canada consider the possibility of establishing connections between existing databases in different Canadian jurisdictions containing the personal information of Canadians, with the use of any form of primary key; and (i) from 2011 to the present, did Statistics Canada consider the possibility of establishing connections between existing databases in different Canadian jurisdictions containing the personal information of Canadians, with the use of any form of primary key?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns January 26th, 2015

With regard to the Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America to Improve International Tax Compliance through Enhanced Exchange of Information under the Convention Between the United States of America and Canada with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (the Agreement), the government’s Policy on Tabling of Treaties in Parliament (the Policy), and the statement of Peter Van Loan, Government House Leader, in the House on Monday, April 28, 2014, that “in this case, the fact is that the government, the cabinet, actually did grant such an exemption to the tabling policy. As such, the very words of the policy, the requirements of the policy, have been followed. The processes for obtaining the exemption were obtained. As a result, the requirement that it be tabled in the House 21 days in advance of the legislation being introduced is not necessary and the policy is fully complied with” (the Statement): (a) was an exemption to the government’s Policy granted with respect to the Agreement; (b) what is the difference between an “exemption” and an “exception” in terms of the Policy; (c) if the word “exception” is substituted for “exemption” is the Statement accurate; (d) on what basis was the Statement made; (e) how was the Government House Leader informed of the exemption or exception being granted to the Policy; (f) what documents or memos were created regarding this exemption or exception and what are their access or control numbers; (g) who was involved in this decision to grant an exemption or exception and at what stage were they involved; (h) what was the process, step-by-step, by which this Agreement was granted an exemption or exception; (i) who reviewed the decision to grant an exemption or exception, (i) when, (ii) why, (iii) how; (j) does the Policy apply to the Agreement, and how; (k) between what departments does correspondence exist regarding the tabling of the Agreement under the Policy and what are the file numbers for these documents; (l) on what date was the Agreement concluded; (m) on what date was the Agreement tabled in Parliament; (n) on what date was the Agreement ratified; (o) when was the House made aware of the text of the Agreement; (p) how was the House made aware of the text of the Agreement; (q) when was the House made aware of the granting of an exemption or exception to the Policy in the case of the Agreement; (r) how was the House made aware of the granting of an exemption or exception to the Policy in the case of the Agreement; (s) when and by what means is the House usually informed that an exception has been granted to the Policy; (t) in the absence of the point of order prompting the Government House Leader's response, how and when would the House have been informed of the exemption; (u) what steps and measures are in place to ensure that Parliament is informed of exceptions being granted to the Policy; (v) what steps are in place to ensure that Canadians are informed when exceptions have been granted; (w) what steps and measures are in place to ensure that Parliament is informed of exemptions being granted to the Policy; (x) what steps are in place to ensure that Canadians are informed when exemptions have been granted; (y) what does “urgent” mean in the context of the Policy; (z) how was the ratification of the Agreement determined to be urgent; (aa) who made the determination in (z), (i) how, (ii) on the basis of what information, (iii) with what authority, (iv) under what criteria; (bb) how was the decision in (z) reviewed, (i) by whom, (ii) how, (iii) when, (iv) by what criteria; (cc) who are or were the lead ministers with respect to the Agreement in terms of the Policy and how was this determined; (dd) when and how did the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the lead ministers seek approval from the Prime Minister for an exemption to the treaty tabling process; (ee) when was the approval in (dd) granted and how; (ff) what correspondence is available – with file and control number--to corroborate the information provided in response to (dd) and (ee); (gg) was a “joint-letter that clearly articulates the rationale to proceed with the ratification, without tabling in the House of Commons” created; (hh) with respect to the letter in (gg), (i) who created this letter, (ii) when is it dated, (iii) how can it be obtained, (iv) who has access to it, (v) to whom is it addressed; (ii) was the letter drafted in consultation with the Treaty Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the relevant Secretariat in the Privy Council Office; (jj) what documentation exists – with file or control number for each document--to corroborate the information provided in response to (ii); (kk) who is responsible for retention and access of such joint letters; (ll) with respect to the Agreement, were the responsible ministers and the Minister of Foreign Affairs aware early on of the need to request an exemption to the treaty process prior to obtaining Cabinet authority to sign a treaty; (mm) how is “early on” defined for purposes of the Policy; (nn) how is “aware” defined for purposes of this provision in the Policy; (oo) was a request made in a Memorandum to Cabinet, seeking policy approval for the Agreement; (pp) what Memorandums to Cabinet exist relative to this agreement, (i) what are their dates, (ii) are they subject to privilege, (iii) who made them, (iv) what are their record or control numbers; (qq) which document in (pp) can be said to “clearly articulate the rationale for the exception to the treaty tabling process”; (rr) what is the rationale for the exception to the treaty tabling process with respect to the Agreement; (ss) who determines the rationale per the Policy; (tt) what is an acceptable rationale per the Policy; (uu) how is rationale defined in terms of the Policy; (vv) is there a minimal level of sufficiency for a rationale per the Policy and if so what is it; (ww) when was the exception granted; (xx) did the Minister of Foreign Affairs “inform the House of Commons that Canada has agreed to be bound by the instrument at the earliest opportunity following the ratification” per the Policy; (yy) when did the actions in (xx) occur and how; (zz) in 2014, how many exemptions or exceptions were granted under the Policy before the Agreement; (aaa) in 2014, was the Agreement’s rationale for exception unique; (bbb) in 2014, was the Agreement the only item determined to be urgent in terms of the Policy; (ccc) is the Government House Leader always informed of exceptions and exemptions under the Policy and, if so, how; (ddd) is the House always informed of exceptions or exemptions under the Policy and, if so, how; (eee) how early could the Agreement have been tabled in Parliament; (fff) how was the date in (eee) determined; (ggg) if the Agreement could have been tabled earlier in Parliament than the date in (o), (i) why was it not, (ii) what decisions were made in this regard, (iii) who made these decisions, (iv) how, (v) on what basis; and (hhh) if the Statement could have been made sooner in the House than Monday, April 28, 2014, (i) why was it not, (ii) what decisions were made in this regard, (iii) who made these decisions, (iv) how, (v) on what basis?

Infrastructure December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, let us picture ourselves stuck in traffic again, wasting time. In Ontario, we remember how the Prime Minister will not meet with our Premier to talk about infrastructure.

Let us picture ourselves needing a better job and remembering that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create jobs in the Ring of Fire. In Ontario, we need all levels of government to get together on major infrastructure to create jobs, make us more competitive, and improve life for our families. It does not have to be a whole fishing trip, but why will the Prime Minister not meet with the Premier of Ontario?

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to comment on my hon. colleague's speech. I would say that she is right that it is important to have that strong language in a better bill, which we do not have here today, to make sure that the ecological integrity of Rouge national park is respected and so we can work together with the Province of Ontario so that it can transfer provincial land to make a much larger park. Preserving a larger area, and not breaking pieces of land up into little bits, is important. That is a factor in terms of ecological integrity and the ability of species to survive the inevitable fluctuations in any sort of ecology.

The Liberal Party, when we take power next year, will be fixing the problems in this bill so that we can create a better Rouge national park.

I would bet that the other opposition parties would feel the same way. There is no particular reason to be too partisan here today, but I would ask my hon. colleague to comment. I know that she talked about a private member's bill. It is probably not going to make it through this Parliament, but perhaps my colleague from the NDP would like to say what the NDP would do if it were to form the next government.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, since we are about to impose time allocation on report stage debate in the House, I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask about the committee's work on this bill.

The first point is that it does not seem to me that the committee properly considered the fact that there is very little for veterans in Bill C-43. I would have thought that the committee would have spent more time on omissions in the bill as well as the things that are wrong about the bill.

The second point I want to make is about something that is a little more detailed and that I do not believe the finance committee considered. Bill C-43 contains some changes to the Industrial Design Act. Budget 2014 said that there would be legislation to implement certain treaties, and one particular change in the Industrial Design Act says that a design is registerable if the design is not contrary to public morality or order.

My questions to the minister are as follows: why did the finance committee not consider this bill in more detail, how is the government intending to regulate the industry based on this line in the Industrial Design Act, and is that change related to a treaty?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is at this point in the legislative process that the House of Commons examines the work of the finance committee. I was at the finance committee when the particular clause involving the tax credit for businesses that pay less than $15,000 in EI premiums was considered and when amendments were rejected by the government.

What I would like to complain about is the work of the committee, in that the point was made that for for small businesses that pay just over $15,000 in EI premiums, there is a very large marginal tax on the business. That is a strong disincentive for a business just below $15,000 to hire more people or to increase wages, both of which are good things. It is also an incentive for a small business that pays slightly more than $15,000 to lower wages or to reduce working hours for some of its employees.

The point is that there was no response from the government side in committee. In my view, because there was no proper debate in committee, the committee was not able to do its work. This point was not given proper consideration, especially by the Conservative members of the committee. I invite my colleague to comment on that.

Questions on the Order Paper November 17th, 2014

With regard to Service Canada, specifically to the 2008 document, “Moving Forward, Growing Service Canada in the Ontario Region”: (a) what are the dates, titles, and file numbers of any file, memorandum, instruction, directive or any other record which document (i) the decision which resulted in removing Kingston from the list of physical processing areas of hubs for the Employment Insurance business line of Service Canada since the issuance of the 2008 document, (ii) the rationale which resulted in removing Kingston from the list of physical processing areas of hubs for the Employment Insurance business line of Service Canada since the issuance of the 2008 document; and (b) what are the dates, titles, and file numbers of any file, memorandum, instruction, directive or any other record which documents (i) the decision which resulted in adding North Bay to the list of physical processing areas of hubs for the Employment Insurance business line of Service Canada since the issuance of the 2008 document, (ii) the rationale which resulted in adding North Bay to the list of physical processing areas of hubs for the Employment Insurance business line of Service Canada since the issuance of the 2008 document?

Questions on the Order Paper November 17th, 2014

With regard to Correctional Service Canada's (CSC) terminated Prison Farm Program: (a) has CSC studied the possibility of re-opening a prison farm program; (b) what studies, reports or assessments have been prepared by CSC regarding the re-opening of a prison farm program, broken down by (i) date of studies, reports or assessments, (ii) title of studies, reports or assessments, (iii) internal tracking number of studies, reports or assessments; (c) what briefing documents have been prepared for ministers and their staff regarding the re-opening of a prison farm program, broken down by (i) date of request for briefing note, (ii) title of requested briefing note, (iii) internal tracking number of briefing note; (d) what is the anticipated cost, broken down annually for the next ten years, of re-opening a prison farm program; (e) how much money has currently been budgeted to re-open a prison farm program; (f) how much money has currently been budgeted to study the re-opening of a prison farm program; (g) has the government’s policy changed regarding a prison farm program since 2010; and (h) what records exist regarding meetings at which CSC was asked to re-open a prison farm, broken down by (i) date of meeting, (ii) attendees, (iii) any internal tracking numbers assigned to the meeting’s documentation?

An Act to amend the Statistics Act (appointment of Chief Statistician and long-form census) November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was happy to read a very strongly worded editorial in The Globe and Mail today supporting the restoration of the mandatory long-form census and denouncing the actions of the government four years ago. I should mention that the writers of that editorial seemed to assume that the bill would fail and be voted down by the government.

Therefore, I offered to the government earlier in question period the possibility of a compromise, where it could choose a couple of questions from the census that the people who thought the census was intrusive most complained about. I think researchers would be happy with this compromise if we could take out a couple of questions. If the government could be happy, maybe we could reach a compromise. That is the sort of thing that we in Parliament should be doing more of. Therefore, I hope the government will perhaps take the time to address that idea.

An Act to amend the Statistics Act (appointment of Chief Statistician and long-form census) November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would say two things. With regard to the national household survey, researchers who have analyzed the data have discovered that it is of very poor quality. The income data revealed by the national household survey, because it was compared with the tax data, has been called worthless.

With respect to the planners, I would say urban planners are probably the most supportive group when it comes to the mandatory long-form census. There are five countries in Europe, as I mentioned, that do not have a census but have a different system. The problem is that everybody there has a universal personal identification number and the Privacy Commissioner is dead set against that. There are definite privacy risks. If we were to implement such a system, I would recommend that this country have a very serious discussion about the privacy implications because I am not sure Canadians would feel comfortable with that.

The safest thing to do in terms of privacy is to continue what Statistics Canada has been doing for decades, which is to have a mandatory long-form census done every five years. Stats Can works very closely with the Privacy Commissioner and is accountable to the public. As it does its work, as it asks questions and gets information from people, Stats Can is accountable to the public. There is a lot of information gathering going on across this country that is not accountable to the public.