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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was international.

Last in Parliament March 2008, as Liberal MP for Toronto Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 52% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Guantanamo Bay February 1st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize that respect for human rights is important for our own security and for the future of our countries and reaction around the world is telling us that actions like Guantanamo Bay are making the United States less secure and less able to fight extremism by promoting human rights.

We put it to members of the House that in failing to protest, the government makes Canadians complicit in this behaviour and, in the end, makes Canada less secure.

Will the Prime Minister now pick up the challenge and speak for Canadians and tell President Bush that we need to have that--

Guantanamo Bay February 1st, 2007

Genuine security is based on human rights--

Guantanamo Bay February 1st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, five years is different from the immediacy of what happened some years ago when we were there and we had to deal with it, and the government knows that.

Guantanamo Bay February 1st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, in a similar vein, in the last five years, the American detention centre at Guantanamo Bay has lost its legitimacy. Hundreds have been imprisoned but only a few have ever been charged with a crime. None know when or even if their imprisonment will end. Basic principles of human rights are flagrantly abused in ways that tell others it is acceptable to ignore the rights of their citizens.

Why does the government allow its perennial fear of offending the Bush administration from doing what the world calls out for, including former Prime Minister Clark, which is the closure of this unacceptable detention centre?

Points of Order December 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, may I suggest that if you sought it, I am sure you would find unanimous agreement in the House that we would support the recent declaration in respect of the birth of the hon. member's child.

Privilege December 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate you hearing this question of privilege. I know this matter has come before you once before as a question of privilege about question period and the veracity of members in the House during question period.

However, I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I would not rise on this matter if I did not believe that question period today revolved around a question which is essential for the security of Canada, the security frankly of the western world, and the security of individual citizens in our country. This is an extremely grave matter when the government members in this House believe as if they were reading from a textbook written by Mr. Goebbels when he was preparing for power in Germany. It is absolutely shameful.

Yesterday the Prime Minister alleged that this party and myself as foreign minister did nothing. He said that we did not utter a peep in respect of Mr. Arar. Today he repeated that allegation and the Minister of Public Safety did the same and sought to distort the evidence before the House and yourself, Mr. Speaker.

The O'Connor report clearly shows the following facts: that I attended on the minister from Syria at the United Nations, that we had regular phone calls, and that I attempted to write a letter to the minister himself, but was unable to do so because of instructions from the RCMP to the solicitor general at the time.

This matter was only resolved because of the intervention of the then prime minister, Mr. Chr├ętien. While all this was going on, all these efforts being made to get Mr. Arar out of jail, we were unable to do so because of the actions of the RCMP and egged on by the present public security minister who in this House alleged that we were helping a known terrorist. He said it on the floor of this House. It is disgraceful to have him stand up and say what he said today. It is dishonourable.

Some of us here have spent our lives in honourable service to our country and to this House of Commons. To have dishonourable allegations of that nature made on a file of such importance to the security of Canada and Canadians is not acceptable to the House. It is not acceptable to the country. It is not acceptable to our decorum and I suggest it affects the privileges of all members of the House.

It is just not possible to have a question period in which hon. members are allowed to distort the truth so much and tell lies about what took place on the public record. It totally destroys the credibility of this House of Commons and I raise it as a personal privilege.

Marriage December 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, that was the point of my answer to the hon. House leader when he made the point that the Supreme Court of Canada had not ruled.

What the Supreme Court of Canada said in its advisory opinion was that this matter had been ruled on by eight provincial Courts of Appeal and that they had no intention in any way of suggesting that their judgment would interrupt the rights that had been conferred on Canadians by those judgments, thereby clearly saying that they agreed with those judgments.

I, therefore, totally disagree with the interpretation that was made by the hon. House leader, which takes us to the nub of the question asked by the hon. member. One hundred and fifty-five jurists have told us that no government could introduce any bill purporting what the government is talking about in this motion without accompanying it with the notwithstanding clause because the Supreme Court was clear in its ruling. Eight provincial Courts of Appeal and territorial judgments have been clear that we cannot possibly overrule the rights that have been conferred upon Canadians and are expressly now interpreted as being in the charter without employing the notwithstanding clause.

My understanding is that the government has rightly said that it will not apply the notwithstanding clause. I applaud it for that and I would assume it will stick to that. When it does, it must recognize that this motion is something that we are debating in a purely theoretical sense because it could not possibly come to fruition without such a draconian measure. In no way would it be justified to take away the rights of Canadians and use the notwithstanding clause in our charter. It was not designed for that purpose. It was not in any way designed to be used in such a matter as this.

I totally agree with the thrust of the hon. member's question.

Marriage December 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out in my opening remarks, the problem with this debate is the nature of the motion. It is a motion to have a debate about a debate. Of course everybody agreed that we could not take up an enormous amount of House time around that issue.

My original point stands. If the government had been serious about this, had really wanted to get rid of it completely and had brought in a clear law that would change the definition now established by our courts and our law, it would have given an opportunity to the House to have a debate and to actually turn it down. However, the government did not want to take that risky course. It tried to use this subterfuge instead, which is why we are in this rather unusual grey zone.

All I am saying to the government spokespeople is that we agree here in the House that this is it. When we have the vote tomorrow, we will live with the consequences of it and it does not come back at us. That is the point we must all understand.

Marriage December 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is a very serious one and it is one that all of us have looked at.

The hon. member mentioned his church. In my last speech in the House I mentioned that I am a member of the Anglican Church. My church has a very active debate going on about whether or not, from a religious perspective, my church would participate in such marriages. I know that other churches, like the United Church, have said that they will perform such marriages. We know that within religious groups in our country there are differing views.

However, I would respectfully suggest to the hon. member, as was suggested in the question by his colleague, that predictions that this would be a threat to traditional marriage have not turned out to be right. The divorce rates in this country among heterosexual couples are not related to the fact that we have allowed gay and lesbian marriages. Anyone who would pretend otherwise would be absolutely crazy, any more than it can be claimed that the alarming divorce rates, some would say, are a direct result of the fact that we have recognized common-law relationships over the years.

The same people came to committee and said that this would do to traditional marriage what common-law relationships would do and I suggest one cannot draw that link. It is just not there.

Marriage December 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid the hon. member is asking me a question on which I am not sufficiently learned in the law to be able to give him an answer.

However, I have met with members of the first nations communities, certainly in my own riding and in others, that have told me that they totally support this change and that some members of the first nations communities wish to move on as well.

My first reaction to the hon. member's question on the issue of marriage on reserve, with off reserve, obviously, being another subject, is that it be governed by the federal law of the land because it is federal law that governs reserves and, under the Constitution, it is clearly a federal matter. I assume that what we do in this House will govern what takes place on reserves. If the hon. member consults with members of first nations he will find that they too are searching for a way that we can move into the future.

In fact, if I can help the hon. member with this answer, I met with some members of the first nations of Ontario who told me that they are seeking to develop laws for relationships on their reserves and are including a change to their own proposal that will specifically recognize same sex relationships. The first nations communities are moving on with this and I would suggest that we follow their example and move on with it in this House.