Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was budget.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Ottawa—Orléans (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario June 6th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the local television station, CJOH, and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario held their 22nd annual telethon yesterday in a spirit of overwhelming enthusiasm and generosity. They raised over $4.537 million, exceeding the $4.112 million raised last year. Congratulations and cheers to the organizers and, of course, our donors.

The national liberal caucus golf tournament, held last summer, succeeded in raising $40,000 for sick kids at CHEO.

Finally, many thanks to the pages of the House of Commons who volunteered their services during the telethon and who wore bright yellow sweaters to become real yellow pages for the event.

Ottawa is a wonderful place to live. Congratulations to all.

International Cooperation June 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we have recently learned that new cases of polio have been reported in Yemen and in Indonesia.

Could the Minister of International Cooperation tell this House what steps Canada and its partners are taking to combat this terrible disease?

Petitions June 1st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition from some of my constituents asking the government to maintain the traditional definition of marriage.

International Biology Olympiad June 1st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, Ottawa—Orléans can claim the honour of having one of Canada's brightest young scientific minds.

Seventeen-year-old Andrew Holt, a grade 11 student at St. Matthews Catholic High School in Orléans, is one of the four students from across the country and the only one from the city of Ottawa who has qualified to represent Canada at the 16th International Biology Olympiad that will be held in Beijing, China, from July 10 to 17, 2005.

The International Biology Olympiad is an annual event for the top secondary biology students from around the world. It provides young people an opportunity to explore science as a career choice, as well as to promote the importance of biology in the world.

On behalf of the Ottawa—Orléans community, I congratulate and wish Andrew good luck. We will all be rooting for him.

Infrastructure May 9th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has allocated $12 billion to infrastructure since 1993. In addition, gasoline tax revenues will mean allocations of $5.8 billion for municipalities over the next five years.

Would the Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities tell the House how this commitment will benefit the public transit system in this beautiful city of Ottawa?

Essay Contest May 2nd, 2005

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to announced that A&E network recently awarded $2,500 to Ms. Leah Mooney, an 18-year-old grade 12 student from Orléans.

Ms. Mooney's essay, which was chosen first from more than 1,800 submissions, won because it was “the most persuasive, creative and relevant essay on the individual who made the biggest impact on Canadian society in 2004”. For her, this person had to be Captain Americo Rodriguez, the doctor who brought 10-year-old Afghani Djamshid Popal to Canada for a life-saving heart operation.

Leah's school, Colonel By Secondary School, will also benefit. Its English department will receive a $1,000 prize along with a television, a DVD player and a collection of A&E DVDs. On behalf of the Ottawa--Orléans community, congratulations Leah.

Spelling Bee of Canada April 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw to the attention of the House the accomplishment of some youngsters from Ottawa: Alok Deshpande, Pavitra Ramachandran, Amuj Dewan, Anirudh Agarwal, Christine Leung and Amirthan Sothivannan.

These children, age 6 to 16, have placed in the regional spelling bee and are going to represent Ottawa in the Spelling Bee of Canada's provincial championship that will be presented on TVOntario.

Spelling Bee of Canada is a volunteer organization that has hosted these bees for the past 17 years. The motivation is to instill within each child the love of the language, and the power of the spoken and written word.

Many of the participants are new Canadians drawn together from all walks of life. Past participants have gone on to great success and credit their experience with Spelling Bee of Canada for giving them their first taste of success and accomplishment.

One of the children is here today, Pavitra Ramachandran. I would like to take this moment to wish her luck and to remind her to have fun.

Official Languages April 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, school management is vital to developing the full potential of official language communities.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage give us an update on the negotiations between her department and the Council of Ministers of Education for renewing the official languages in education program?

Official Languages Act April 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour and a privilege for me to rise today in support of Bill S-3 to amend the Official Languages Act by making part VII subject to the court remedies provided by this act. Initially, this bill was introduced in the Senate by the hon. Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier.

Allow me to begin by commending Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier on his tenacity and commitment to the Canadian official languages policy. Bill S-3 was the fourth bill introduced by the hon. senator, who had previously introduced Bill S-4, which died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued in the spring of 2004; Bill S-11, which died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued in 2003; and Bill S-32, which died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued in the fall of 2002.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable contribution and extraordinary work of Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier, who has always been a great defender of the rights of Franco-Ontarians and francophones outside Quebec.

I want to pay tribute to this citizen of Ottawa, who has had an exceptional career in the House of Commons and in the Senate. In addition to his work as an MP and a senator, and his involvement in the community, he was the Chair of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie from 1997 to 1999. He is a role model for all Canadians, and we thank him for everything he has done for francophone and Acadian communities across Canada.

The official languages policy is rooted in the past and the present. People have spoken French and English in Canada for centuries and, I am proud to say, they continue to do so in every region of our vast land.

The modern era of the official languages began with the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, as the federal government attempted to adapt to new realities, particularly the Quiet Revolution in Quebec.

In 1969, in light of the recommendations in the report tabled by the commission, Parliament adopted the first Official Languages Act, which recognized French and English as the official languages of all federal institutions. This legislation required such institutions to serve Canadians in the official language of their choice.

The fundamental principles of the current official languages policy are enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 and the Official Languages Act of 1988. This legislation has three main objectives: to ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada, and ensure equality of status, and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all federal institutions; to support the development of English and French linguistic minority communities and to encourage the acceptance and use of both English and French in Canadian society; and to set out the powers, duties and functions of federal institutions with respect to the official languages of Canada.

Part VII of this act also sets out the government's commitment to enhancing the vitality of francophone and anglophone minority communities and supporting and assisting their development; and fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

To do this, the Government of Canada seeks to collaborate with other partners to ensure the advancement of the official languages in Canadian society. This legislation makes the Minister of Canadian Heritage responsible for promoting a coordinated approach to the implementation of the federal government's commitment, in consultation with the other federal institutions, the other orders of government and the agencies representing the different sectors of society.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage is the one responsible for taking such measures as she deems appropriate to support linguistic minority communities by supporting the various groups that work for these communities and by facilitating the contribution of other organizations and federal departments to their development.

The Department of Canadian Heritage enters into agreements on official languages with the provinces and territories in order to enable them to provide minority communities with education in their language and services in English and French in the regions of Canada in which these minorities live, as well as enhancing opportunities for all Canadians to learn English or French as a second language.

The legislation also aims to promote English and French within Canadian society by providing support to the various groups helping to recognize and implement the use of both official languages, and to strengthen understanding and dialogue between Canada's anglophone francophone communities.

Look at the progress made in education. Recent statistics indicate that young people from linguistic minorities represent the same percentage of university graduates as other young Canadians, which was not the case 30 years ago.

Thanks to the support provided to minority language education, the Department of Canadian Heritage works to ensure full participation by both language groups in all spheres of life in Canada. Not only do these programs foster the vital cultural contribution of anglophone and francophone minorities, , they also give them access to economic development.

So the progress that has been made in francophone minority education has played a key role in reducing illiteracy and the number of school drop-outs, while increasing the rate of participation in post-secondary education.

Thirty years ago, not only was the quality and accessibility of French education for francophone minorities a major challenge, it was also a major obstacle to the development and survival of these communities across Canada. There has been a considerable change since then.

In 1982, official language minority communities won the right to be educated in their own language and, a few years later, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed their right to run their own schools. We built schools, school-community centres, and colleges where there were none.

We worked with the provinces and francophone parents from one end of the country to the other. The economic value of quality public education in their own language for 1.9 million Canadians living in an official language minority community, cannot be underestimated.

The Official Languages in Education Program and the collaboration between the provinces, territories and the federal government allows more than 250,000 young people in official language minority communities to study in their own language in some 700 primary and secondary schools across the country.

All Canadians benefit from minority language education programs. Without them, as the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism pointed out, “these Canadians could not contribute fully to Canadian society”.

The Official Languages in Education Program helps fund a network of 19 francophone colleges and universities outside Quebec and supports 94% of anglophones in Quebec studying in English-language schools. These programs also allow 2.4 million young Canadians—more than 313,000 of whom are in immersion classes—to learn a second official language, which increases significantly the number of Canadians familiar with the French language and culture. Clearly, the education partnership works well.

Accordingly, the logical next step for Canadian Heritage as facilitator is to encourage its other partners to do more in order to help official language communities flourish.

The action plans the department puts in place must take into account the requirements of the minority official language communities and be formulated following consultation with them, so that departments and agencies include these considerations in planning their activities. The plans together with a report on the results achieved are submitted annually to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who then submits a report annually to Parliament on the realization of the government's commitment.

We recognize a lot of work remains to be done. For this reason, the government is currently implementing its action plan for official languages, announced on March 12, 2003, which adds $751 million over five years to the official languages budget and which will benefit all Canadians seeking better access to our rich linguistic duality.

Ambitious and realistic, the action plan truly provides new momentum for Canada's linguistic duality. A new accountability and coordination framework has been developed and will consolidate the Government of Canada's policy, administrative and financial activities. One of the desired effects is to have federal institutions implement the Official Languages Act in a concerted and consistent manner and to report more transparently to the public. This accountability and coordination framework is designed to show the Canadian public the seriousness with which the Government of Canada treats this important matter.

Let us return, however, to S-3. Given the importance of the proposed amendments to the Official Languages Act, we must take the time to examine all of the options open to us before we continue. This is a serious matter. The implications of amending an act are many, and all must be taken into account. Therefore, the aim of Bill S-3 is certainly the logical evolution of the Official Languages Act and the bill should not be taken lightly. It is important not only for official language communities across Canada, but for Canadian society as a whole.

International Day of La Francophonie March 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as mentioned, yesterday we celebrated international day of La Francophonie and the 35th anniversary of this forum. I am proud to say that Canada has earned pride of place in the Francophonie and has played a lead role in establishing this important international organization consisting in 63 member countries and governments sharing a common language, French.

Over the years, Canada, the second highest financial contributor after France, has actively participated in creating and developing the numerous institutions of the Francophonie. Canada has hosted two summits, one in Quebec City, in 1987, and one in Moncton, in 1999. The Gatineau-Ottawa region also hosted the Jeux de la Francophonie in the summer of 2001. These events have contributed to promoting the international Francophonie to Canadians and Canada's cultural diversity to the world.

Canada's window on the world remains open with the first ministerial conference of La Francophonie on the mandate to protect and with the 12th Francophonie summit in 2008, the year of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City, one of the most beautiful cities in the Americas.