House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was transportation.

Last in Parliament November 2006, as Liberal MP for London North Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resignation of Member September 20th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I truly will miss Wednesdays around here.

Mr. Speaker, thank you so much for this opportunity to address the House. You will remember that 18 years ago some of us, including yourself, arrived here in the House. I must admit that you still have some of the black hair that you had when you came here in 1988. We might even have been a few inches taller than we are today.

However, as everyone in the House knows, I am a man of few words. I rise today to inform my colleagues, my constituents and all Canadians that I will be resigning my seat as a member of Parliament. This decision has not been an easy one, however, from time to time all of us have to decide what we want to do, where we want to be and how to serve.

As I reflect on this day in this incredible place I know everyone in this room knows and believes how privileged we are to sit in the highest court of the land and, each and every day, to do our very best even though there are differences between us. The fact is that there is one common interest and that is the common interest of Canada. I know this place looks the same as it did 18 years ago and it still brings this enormous responsibility to do the best that we possibly can.

I have always said that this is not a job, it is a calling. It is a calling by a number of people who wish us to serve. Therefore, I would hope that in the future this institution is given respect and that we give each other respect. Albeit the journalists and some people might think we are not up to par, the fact is that parliamentarians work hard each and every day, seven days a week, 24 hours a day for the betterment of their communities and their constituents and we ought to be very proud of that.

I came here 18 years ago as a young city councillor from the city of London which happens to be, I believe, the epicentre of Canada. It is a great place. All members have been there and I invite them all to come back. However I came here 18 years because I wanted to speak for the ordinary person and the women who wake up each and every day and make the economy work by protecting their homes, their families and working really hard for their communities and their country; for small business entrepreneurs who, believe it or not, pay the freight for an awful lot of people and create all the jobs; and for the newcomers in our community because I was one. In 1954 my father and mother brought us here and gave me the privilege of living in this incredible country.

Lastly, I think we have all succeeded to ensure that cities and towns, rural and urban, are appreciated for their values, for their communities and for what happens in cities and communities. I know that our government and successive governments believe that cities and communities are where things happen, and I know that will continue.

All of the things that we do around here could never occur without the support of our families. They in fact are the true heroes in this place.

I want to thank my wife, Vicky, my sons, Hugo and Michael, and my daughter, Jennifer. While we do our work, our partners, our spouses, do the hard work of ensuring our families are safe and I pay tribute to them.

None of this would happen unless we were blessed with a whole bunch of friends, supporters and colleagues from all walks of life to ensure democracy happens. I thank each and every one of those friends, supporters and colleagues here and on the other side for the great amount of support and the fact that we have been able to work so well together over the past number of years. Without their support that would not happen.

I also would like to thank my London constituency staff. We all try to take the credit for the work that is done at our constituency level but I am sure all members believe as I do that without our staff nothing would happen. They, in fact, take the brunt of the good words and everything else. Over the past 18 years I have been blessed with some exceptional people in my London, Ontario office. I want to thank my staff: Michelle Barberi, Danelia Bolivar, Jennifer Buchanan, Cathy Edgerton, Bobbie Hampton, Kathleen Keating, Mary Ludy, Louisa Oats, Ingrid Pawley, Susan Pawlek, Lissa Regan, Lisa Scafe, Lidia Solovij and Doreen Vanderweddering.

In my Ottawa office I want to thank my staff: Katherine Abbott, Michael Cairns, Tom Chervinsky, Christina Dona, Andrea Fahel, Joey Galemberti, Genevieve Georget, Chantal Gobeil, Peter Graham, Sylvia Haines, Tony Hodgkinson, Kevin Langlands, Patrick LeBrun, Susan Lindsay, Meredith Logan, Paul McCarthy, Andrew McDermott, Gio Mingerelli, Martha Murray, Carl O'Brien, Krista Pawley, Kristy Pearson, Gray Picco, Jazmina Redzepi, Humaira Somra, Perry Tsergas and Chris White.

One might think that is a lot of people but that is because they all wanted to work for me.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention that I had the incredible opportunity of working for three former prime ministers: Mr. Turner, Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin.

We all know how tough a job it is not only to be parliamentarians but also to be leaders of parties and prime ministers. With regard to the present Prime Minister and even the former prime minister, Kim Campbell, whom I had the privilege of serving, I can say that it is an immense responsibility for leaders of all parties. We know how tough it is but in Canada they are respectful of one another.

When I came here many years ago I wanted to talk about housing and about the most vulnerable in our society. I wanted to talk about working men and women. I had the opportunity as both the minister of housing and labour to talk about employment standards, wage earner protection, the homeless and the very vulnerable in our society.

Each and every day in our communities there are people who want and need help. At the end of the day all they want is a helping hand. In Parliament, decisions must be made but decisions are complex and money must be spent. However, I hope and pray that each and every day that members continue their work that they will always think of the most vulnerable in our society because I know that is how we feel about the people in our communities.

I told the Prime Minister yesterday, when he came over to say that he had heard I was going some place, that I was not sure that he had heard the last of Joe Fontana. I told him that given the opportunity, hopefully by Londoners, that I would continue to press that cities and communities be an important part in this Parliament and that I would see him, hopefully, in another way and in another venue.

I have travelled the country and the world, as most members have, and I think all members would agree that we live in the most incredible country on the face of this world. I am sure that while our Canadian astronaut is going around and around and looking down at Canada he sees the incredible geography, but more important, he will know and understand that we built a country that other countries of the world want to be, where we have differences and where we respect one another and come together. When we think of the differences that bind us but also the common interest, the world looks to Canada to help it because it is a very troubled world.

The last thing I did as a member of Parliament was to be with the veterans on Saturday as they proclaimed Legion Week. I hope and pray again for the 100,000 veterans that have given their lives over the course of a century and a third that we have existed as a country that they have done it so that we can enjoy such a great country.

A country that allows a four year old immigrant boy to later become a member of Parliament and a minister is a country of incredible opportunity for all. That is what I hope and pray that everyone continues to do each and every day of their lives. God bless Canada.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 18th, 2006

With respect to the budget plan for 2006 distributed by the Department of Finance, which states specifically on page 85, in Section 3: “Building a Better Canada” (subsection: “Opportunity”): “Over the coming year, the Minister of Industry will be developing a science and technology strategy, in collaboration with the Minister of Finance, that will encompass the broad range of government support for research, including knowledge infrastructure”: (a) has the development of this strategy begun; (b) when is it expected that this science and technology strategy will be completed; (c) who will be or who has been consulted in developing the strategy; (d) will the Minister of Industry, Minister of Finance or departmental officials travel outside of the Ottawa region while developing this strategy and, if so (i) what are the names and titles of the traveling participants, (ii) how much will the travel cost, (iii) what will be the duration of the travel, (iv) what will be the destinations of the travel; (e) will the general public be consulted and, if so, how should they direct their concerns; (f) will Industry Canada or the Department of Finance hold public meetings while developing this strategy and, if so (i) where will the meetings be held, (ii) what is the budget forecasted for these meetings, (iii) will the meetings be advertised and, if so, how; (g) what will be the focus of the strategy; and (h) what is the total expected cost of the development of the strategy?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 16th, 2006

What projects has the government undertaken, or does it plan to undertake, in the fields of science and research from 2002-2003 to the forecasted fiscal year of 2007-2008, and, in each case and for each ministry or department involved: (a) how much was disbursed; (b) were the projects partnered with (i) private firms, (ii) public firms, (iii) academic institutions; (c) what was the specific purpose of the disbursement; and (d) what is the projected duration of the project, and, if the program has been discontinued, cancelled, suspended or not renewed since February 1, 2006, what is the reason for the action taken?

Research and Development May 9th, 2006

--the pirate, as to who took the money from Canadian astronomy?

Research and Development May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, here is another tale on Gilligan's Island, or perhaps should I say, on Harper Island.

The Minister of Industry said that he supports science and technology. The Minister of Finance talks about competitiveness and productivity, yet the Minister of Finance has gutted and cut the Canadian science and technology funds, including astronomy where Canada is ranked third in the world.

Can we get an answer from the skipper, or from Gilligan, or from--

Research and Development May 1st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's answer, but the facts are entirely different. In fact, I think that party is starting to like the smell of its own manure, because what they say during the campaign and what they commit to Canadians is not beyond the truth. Will the minister now stop fluffing this stuff off and make a commitment for research, universities and students in this country?

Research and Development May 1st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, Canadians wake up each and every morning and juggle dozens of priorities, yet we know that this government has trouble counting past five.

Let us take research, for instance, the key to our economic future. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada is calling on the government to immediately address the indirect costs of research, as the previous Liberal governments have done.

Why does the government fail to understand that research is a priority? Will the government match previous funding commitments made by the former government?

International Association of Fire Fighters April 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to welcome the International Association of Fire Fighters to our capital. I am honoured to support them as they raise public awareness of fire safety and security and the great risks that men and women take to protect the safety of the Canadian public every day.

In the fall of 2005 the Liberal government was pleased to announce that it would be supporting the creation of a memorial commemorating firefighters who had fallen in the line of duty. As minister of labour and housing, I was also honoured and committed to the creation of a heroes fund to honour all public safety officers who had fallen in the line of duty.

I can only hope that the Conservative government, which has set such low expectations for success with a mere five commitments, can find time in its busy schedule to follow through on this plan to create a heroes fund to honour the memories and sacrifices of those brave men and women who give so much every day of their lives.

Let us show our appreciation for these brave men and women, do the right thing and support them.

Housing November 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, today I announced $260 million to extend the National Homelessness Initiative, which is the responsibility of SCPI, as well as the Homeowner Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program.

These two foundation pieces of housing policy give hope for housing not only to the most vulnerable in our society but, more important, to the community organizations that each and every day help the people in our various communities deal with housing and social issues. We are committed to continuing to do that and more to help those communities.

Housing November 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am sure then that the other side and that member know that they have never supported funds for the homeless or for housing. Today, I have announced the renewal of SCPI and the renewal of RRAP which will give hope and housing to people, the most vulnerable in our society, low income seniors, low income Canadians, aboriginals and women in crisis. That is what we did today and we will continue to do so.