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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

The Environment November 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, like the reversing falls in Saint John, New Brunswick, the Conservatives are cascading backwards on the environment. The government will go to Kenya next week with a climate change plan in which it proposes to do nothing for 20 years and then think about what it will do for the next 25 years after that.

No wonder the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment are afraid to show up at international meetings. They are making Canada a laughingstock on the environment.

Would the Prime Minister agree that what our country needs is a plan that kicks in one week from now, at the world conference in Nairobi, and not 2,300 weeks from now in the year 2050?

Business of Supply November 7th, 2006

Mr. Chair, the minister would agree that it was never contemplated to use tanks at the beginning and that the use of tanks is an indication of the nature of the change in mission. That takes us really to the question of aid which will be my last question.

We are concerned that aid be delivered in the Kandahar region in ways which will support our troops. We heard in the Senate hearings that some $1.9 million of the military's own money was being spent for local aid in the region. We recently heard in the House about the doubling of discretionary aid to be given to local commanders.

Is the aid from CIDA coming forward in such a way that our military commanders are telling the minister and the government that they are getting the resources they need to provide villagers in the region with the help they need so that they can get the backup to make a military success of a mission? Without that they will not be successful because the local people will not have the clean water, the roads and other infrastructure they need to make a success out of this mission.

Business of Supply November 7th, 2006

Mr. Chair, I am glad the minister mentioned the suicide bombings and IEDs because there is concern obviously that the tactics adopted by the Taliban and the insurgents are starting to replicate tactics that have been adopted in Iraq. Clearly those of us who watch the situation in Iraq are very concerned about whether similar military tactics in Afghanistan would be as unproductive as they are in Iraq at present.

There are questions we need to have answered for the Canadian people today.

The decisions on military tactics that are being taken, while successful from a military point of view, are they undermining the possibility of achieving a true political resolution of the conflict?

Are we assured that the tactics of our allies who may occasionally attempt to fight an underground insurgency with tactics that are more suited to fighting a conventional military force are not unproductive?

Are we concerned that the use of our equipment, the use of tanks among the local population and particularly the use of air power, is such that it is destroying our capacity to reach out to the local population in such a way that we can ultimately achieve success with the overall mission?

Business of Supply November 7th, 2006

Speaking of aid, Mr. Chair, there is obviously considerable pressure to deliver timely aid and we cannot wait to deliver that. General Richards, the British general who is commander of all NATO troops in Afghanistan, said in September that in his view the heavy military phase of the mission was now over and it was time to focus on reconstruction. He went on to say that we have to show in the next six months that the government is on the winning side. He said that if we do not take advantage of this in the next six months then we could pour an additional 10,000 troops in next year and we still would not succeed because we would have lost by then the consent of the people.

Would the minister agree with the assessment of the general in command of our troops in that area and if not, why not?

Business of Supply November 7th, 2006

Mr. Chair, I take it, then, that we are agreed, the minister and I, and that in fact in order to be successful in Afghanistan we cannot rely exclusively on the military victory, but rather, the goal we must have is to win over the support of the local population so that people will not in the end turn back to the Taliban.

The most effective way of doing this, obviously, is through a proper balance between providing security and humanitarian and development assistance, but if we do not provide the people with the basic necessities of life, with potable water, reliable electricity and sound infrastructure, we cannot guarantee success.

My question for the minister is this. Given the reality of the situation on the ground in Kandahar today, are those reconstruction goals truly achievable?

Business of Supply November 7th, 2006

Mr. Chair, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Vancouver South. I will not be making a speech but will be asking questions. I am sure this will be of great relief to all members of the House.

I would first like to ask the minister about the primary purpose of this mission. I am hoping he will agree with us that the primary purpose of Canada's involvement in Afghanistan is not to bring about a military victory but rather to rebuild that beleaguered country, and that military activities within Afghanistan must be properly tailored to ensure that we achieve that primary goal.

Canada-EU Summit November 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the environment will be discussed this fall; that would be a good idea. The ambassador clearly told us that there was an agenda for the summit and that climate change was on it.

The Europeans, our allies, feel that it is high time to hold this summit. Either this government is completely incompetent or it is deceitful.

Why is the Prime Minister hiding his real reasons for cancelling the summit? Can he explain to Canadians why he is adding to the confusion about the environment issue? Why does he have no plan for the survival of our planet?

These are questions—

Canada-EU Summit November 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, what every member of this House knows is that those agendas are prepared weeks in advance.

The fact is that our own citizens do not know where the government is going on the environment and now our international partners no longer believe us or trust us.

Will the Prime Minister finally admit that he cancelled the summit at the last minute in the most embarrassing way possible for Canada just to avoid criticism over his failure on climate change?

Will the Prime Minister now agree to accept our offer, a reasonable, principled offer of an opposition, to go to the summit and avoid further embarrassment for our country on this important file for our country and the world?

Canada-EU Summit November 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the air we breathe, the environment on which we depend for our existence and the policies we need to deal with the most important issue of our times, the government continues to twist in the wind.

Yesterday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister directly told this House that the government had not seen an agenda for the Canada-EU summit. We now know that the agenda was set two weeks ago and climate change was on it.

Will the Prime Minister tell us whether this was an ill-advised attempt at dissimulation by his parliamentary secretary or is it just more evidence that they do not have a clue of what is going on over there?

Canada-EU Summit November 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, with this decision, the Prime Minister is turning up his nose at France, England, Italy, Greece, Spain and 20 other European countries. These special meetings give Canada a unique relationship with Europe and an outstanding economic advantage. The Prime Minister is scared to death of meeting his counterparts, only because they have a different vision of our planet and our environmental responsibility.

But since the official opposition is willing to assure the Prime Minister that his government will be in no danger of falling, what legitimate reasons does the Prime Minister have for his absence—not pretexts, as we have heard in this House, but legitimate reasons?