House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was national.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Don Valley West (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Elections Act November 15th, 2007

First of all, Mr. Speaker, we did not ask for this bill, with its illogicality. Second, what we said in the procedure and House affairs committee was that we should consider the matter. That is what we are doing. We are considering it.

Having considered it, we will reject it, because we actually take on board new information. That is our job as parliamentarians. We have thought about it, reflected and consulted, and now we realize this is not the way to go.

Canada Elections Act November 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, three things are behind my comments. First, as Paul Valéry said, “Stupidity is not my strong suit”. When I see a silly bill, I have to speak out against it.

Second, I do not like the myth that there is a problem caused by Muslim women.

Third, I represent my constituents, and my riding has the highest proportion of Muslims in Canada. I can say that there is no problem during byelections, provincial elections or federal elections in my riding. I know this community well, and I am here to defend them against myths.

Canada Elections Act November 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, part of our duty as parliamentarians is to reflect on things, to take in additional information and to ask ourselves, with a little time, whether this makes any sense, and that is what we are doing. We are looking at it. We have the bill before us and now that we have looked at it we see that it is not logical. No problem is being solved by this and it has this dark side of discrimination about it, which is why we are opposed to it.

Canada Elections Act November 15th, 2007

This is not a veiled threat. This is a real opportunity because I am a sharing kind of guy.

Since we cannot insist that all Canadian citizens have a driver's licence or any other standard visual identification, there is no connection between showing one's face and the forms of ID that are available to people. People may as well be told to show their left foot or their belly button. None of them make any sense. We are not here to promulgate laws that are unnecessary nor are we here to deal with illogicality and a lack of principle.

Finally, if we want to get into the general oddity of this bill, there is what I call the English patient clause. For those who saw the film The English Patient, they will remember the guy lying in his little villa covered with bandages. Apparently, we are worried about him. There are four references to The English Patient in the bill. One is “bandaged people”. Bandaged people will not be treated like anybody else. There will be discrimination between people who are bandaged and those who are not.

The bandaged people will need to produce a piece of ID saying that they really need the bandage. One has a sort of strange image of people getting off their deathbeds, crawling out from their Italian villas, like in The English Patient, and casting their vote. However, it does not treat all voters the same, so why do we have The English Patient exception and yet we go on about this other non-problem?

All in all, this is a silly bill. It is silly and dangerous because it promulgates a false idea that there is somehow a problem and that problem is somehow associated with Muslim women, the very people we are trying to get to be citizens, along with everyone else in this country.

We should not be passing the bill. It is unnecessary, silly and illogical.

Canada Elections Act November 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am so glad the member for the Bloc explained his principles, his good sense, his logic and his understanding of the problem. The problem is that there is no problem. He just told us that in the Quebec general election a grand total of four people showed up wearing veils and they were dealt with under the existing law. Where is the problem?

He says that we are going to correct the situation. What situation? There is no situation.

The problem is that we are being asked to pass a law that is entirely unnecessary. It makes no sense. It was not a problem during the Ontario general election, which has exactly the same rules. It was not a problem during the Quebec general election nor during the Quebec byelections. We do not have a problem.

We have a method of dealing with it. We ask for pieces of identification, which do not need to be photo ID. We ask, in case of doubt, that people take an oath that they are who they are and they will suffer the penalties if they are not who they are supposed to be. We are not here to pass unnecessary legislation where there is no problem.

Worse than that, we are not here to pass coded legislation, legislation that singles out only one group. People often use the phrase “the veiled voting bill” as opposed to the visual identification bill or whatever other Orwellian phrase we are currently using.

It is singling out a specific group of people, Muslim women, who are not part of a problem, who have not asked for this and who are now being asked to say that even though they did not ask for it, they will go along because they want to go along. Why should any group of innocent people in Canadian society who are being singled out for a non-problem be asked to swallow themselves whole simply to get along? What we want is for everyone to participate in society as full members, certainly for newcomers, including Muslim women, veiled or unveiled.

Meanwhile, there are real problems. One real problem is being addressed by Bill C-18, which is leaving a million people off the voters lists. That strikes me as a bit of a problem and yet we are investing all of this energy in a non-problem that has the sideswiping effect for a group of innocent women in this country.

This is a totally ridiculous bill and it is, of course, completely illogical. People can vote by a postal vote and there is no problem at all. People can vote stark naked. They can vote with a blanket over their heads. They can vote under water blowing bubbles as long as they do not get water on the paper. They can do all of that and there is no connection with visual identification. We cannot insist that every Canadian needs to have photo ID because there is no photo ID that all Canadians are required to have.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley East, who has much to say on this point.

Canada Elections Act November 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have a few questions for the hon. member. He spoke of the need to correct the situation, but I want to know what situation he is talking about. What is the problem he is trying to resolve?

I would like him to tell us exactly how many incidents there were during the general election in Quebec in the spring and during the three byelections in Quebec in September. How many times did the legislation fail in terms of elector identification? How many people, whose faces were covered, ran into problems when they cast their vote?

Where is the sense in asking someone to uncover their face when it is not necessary and is even impossible to have a universal photo ID card across Canada? It does not exist. We cannot ask citizens to get a driver's licence just to vote. There is no mandatory photo ID for the entire voting population. What happened to common sense? What is the link between a photo ID card and the need to uncover one's face?

The hon. member spoke of principles, but what principles? Does he mean the principle of nonsense? There is no link between uncovering one's face and the need to produce photo ID, since such universal cards do not exist in this country.

Quite frankly, what is the situation he is trying to correct? Let him elaborate on specific incidents and tell us what principles and common sense he has in mind.

National Sustainable Development Act November 13th, 2007

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-474, An Act to require the development and implementation of a National Sustainable Development Strategy, the reporting of progress against a standard set of environmental indicators and the appointment of an independent Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development accountable to Parliament, and to adopt specific goals with respect to sustainable development in Canada, and to make consequential amendments to another Act.

Mr. Speaker, I think the rather lengthy title speaks to the content of the bill. Its timing is designed to be a response to the environment commissioner's recent report on the state of sustainability reporting in the Government of Canada, which the commissioner found to be totally inadequate. I believe that this bill would go a long way in responding to that, while establishing once and for all the independence of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

The Environment October 30th, 2007

With the power to negotiate, Mr. Speaker?

It is sad to see Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger devoting all his efforts to the fight against climate change, while our Prime Minister only pretends to care about the environment.

The climate change crisis will not be resolved until all governments around the world join forces and get to work.

Why did the Conservative government shirk its responsibilities to Canadians and refuse to attend this important meeting?

The Environment October 30th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the governments of 15 countries, 13 U.S. states, British Columbia and Manitoba met yesterday in Lisbon, Portugal, to expand their fight against climate change.

Thirty governments have signed the International Carbon Action Partnership, which allows big industries to reduce greenhouse gases cheaply by allowing them to trade emission credits, but Canadians living outside of British Columbia and Manitoba are not being represented because the government took a pass on this meeting.

Why did the Conservative government not even bother to show up?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply October 18th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, unlike most academics, I will need to talk much faster then.

I certainly agree with the thrust of the remarks by the member from Dartmouth. If we are to have this economy of the 21st century, it is crucial that people are equipped to deal with it. If we are to have innovation, we need to do it with the help of the labs, the work and the research that takes place in Canada's universities.

I certainly think that if we are to have a fair and just society that we need to make post-secondary education more accessible to people, which is the whole idea behind the Millennium Scholarship Foundation. I would very much support a reinvestment in that foundation.