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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was mentioned.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Oak Ridges—Markham (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code February 6th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the member, who made some good points. I would like to ask him a question with regard to drug recognition.

In my previous career in the insurance and investment business, we did a lot of medicals. The medicals could detect the presence of drugs in a person many months prior to taking the medical.

Could the member be more definitive on the way this will be tested? What amounts are being looked at in the bill for drunk driving as well as drug intoxication?

Criminal Code February 6th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I heard the hon. member mention that he had a number of issues that he had wanted to raise but that he had only brought up about five.

I am interested in hearing more about the pressing issues in his riding, as they are in my riding, when it comes to driving impaired and young people driving offensively.

Canada Pension Plan January 29th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the question begs a very biased answer, but I am not going to engage in that. It has been said quite clearly that it was in the nineties, after the Conservative government, when the Canada pension plan program was secured for the next 75 years.

In terms of attaching the Canada pension plan fund to the national debt, I have studied many ledgers. I have looked at many balance sheets. This is a new improved, I guess, Conservative plan that not too many accountants or financial planners would have any familiarity with it. When we look at our Canada pension plan fund and add it into the mix of the national debt, it creates such a big mess that is unbelievable. It is very unfair for Canadians to look at the national debt, the way that it is stated by the current government.

Canada Pension Plan January 29th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, on the first issue of the viability of the Canada pension plan, I was in private business in the nineties. I had clients come into my office to discuss the Canada pension plan. They were aware that the Canada pension plan would not be around to serve them, let alone their children.

I was not privileged to be in the House at the time and I do not know what the discussions were, but I can tell the House that on the streets in Canada the word was that the Liberal government at the time had fixed the problem of the Canada pension plan for many years. I saw that and heard it from many Canadians across the region.

In terms of the health care issue, I would agree with my colleague that the Conservatives have been unable to tackle the one issue that was put forth initially in its platform, and that was the wait times. They have been unable to gather the first ministers of health, provincial and territorial, to give them some kind of direction and to demand some kind of a timeline to fix the wait times within Canada.

Canada Pension Plan January 29th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, good ideas come from everywhere. Good governments are not around every day. We saw that in the last Parliament when the New Democrats tried to take credit for what the good Liberal government had done at the time. It takes a smart Liberal government to implement the good ideas that come from within the House.

I may not be as old as I look, but I am definitely not as old as the member across the floor to remember all the policies that were brought in by the NDP. However, I remember that there has never been an NDP government in Canada to implement any sort of policies.

Canada Pension Plan January 29th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act. I am also very happy to have the opportunity to rise in the House on the first day we are back. I hope all of my colleagues had an enjoyable holiday season. I look forward to catching up with them over the coming days.

I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of the riding of Oak Ridges—Markham. Last year I raised several of my riding's concerns on the floor of the House and I continue to work with my caucus colleagues on such important subjects as the environment, the Kelowna accord and criminal justice issues.

The bill before us today aims to make a number of changes to the Canada pension plan and Old Age Security Act. The bill will implement the existing full funding provision for new benefits and benefit enhancements. It also provides for public reporting of costs and integration of those costs into the process for setting the contribution rate. Any new benefits or enhancements to existing ones will have to be met with an appropriate increase in premiums.

Bill C-36 changes the contributory requirements for disability benefits under the Canada pension plan for contributors with 25 or more years of contributions to the plan to require contributions in only three of the last six years in the contributory period. In addition, this enactment amends the Old Age Security Act to authorize the governor in council to make regulations respecting the payment of interest on amounts owing. The enactment also eliminates the ability of estates or successions to apply for income tested benefits and ensures that sponsored immigrants are treated the same for the purpose of determining entitlements to income tested benefits.

On the whole, this is a bill that I will be able to support. I welcome the increase in accessibility to disability benefits as stipulated in this bill. I am pleased that sponsored immigrants will be treated the same for the determination of benefits.

A rich industrialized country like ours must ensure excellent standards of living for senior Canadians so that they can live out their golden years in dignity and comfort. Seniors in Canada have worked all of their lives and they should not have to worry about financial issues when they retire.

The Liberal Party is the party of the Canada pension plan and old age security. Our party continues to recognize the duty we owe to those Canadians who have worked for so many years and made so many valuable contributions to our communities.

Liberal policies in the 1990s returned the Canada pension plan funds to stability and ensured a reliable public pension system for 75 years to come, the longest we can possibly forecast. The Canada pension plan fund currently stands at over $100 billion. It is safe for generations to come. This is no small feat as just a few years ago many were predicting its demise. Due to good management by the previous government, future generations of Canadians can depend on the Canada pension plan as previous generations have for four decades.

As a member of Parliament I often meet with seniors in my riding. Seniors in Oak Ridges—Markham are worried about their pensions, savings, health care and day to day living issues. Unfortunately, many seniors in Canada are nervous about the policies of the Conservative government. I wish to explore these areas of concern.

The first is an issue with which the House is very familiar and that is rural mail delivery. In October the House unanimously supported my motion to have rural mail delivery restored. Losing one's mailbox delivery is inconvenient for anyone, but it is especially hard on the elderly. Elderly Canadians rely on mail delivery for communicating with friends and family and for receiving their pension cheques and other important material. Elderly Canadians were disproportionately affected by the cessation of rural mail delivery.

I am pleased that the government has directed Canada Post to reinstate this unique mode of delivery. The minister has set a timeline of an additional 18 months before delivery is back. It has already been 12 months since my constituents lost rural mailbox delivery. This is much too long a period for elderly Canadians to wait.

The second matter I wish to raise this afternoon that has greatly concerned seniors is the government's income trust decision on October 31. The decision to tax income trusts wiped out more than $25 billion in savings overnight and reversed a key Conservative campaign promise. Many seniors invested their money based on this promise and their faith in the Conservatives cost them thousands of dollars of their hard-earned savings. This kind of move really hurt the trust and confidence seniors have in the government. Many do not believe that the government has their interests at heart.

The third Conservative policy that is of concern regards what this bill fundamentally involves and that is the Canada pension plan. The Conservatives cannot claim to be the defenders of a sound public pension system. The Minister of Finance launched an attack on vital Canada pension plan funds with his net debt goal announced last fall. It is unwise and potentially dangerous to tie the Canada pension plan account to the national debt.

I fully support reducing Canada's national debt. Reducing the debt frees up interest payments and allows us to make important investments in Canada's social safety net and to decrease taxes and to make sure that Canadians are able to enjoy more of their hard-earned dollars. That being said, I do not believe that Canada pension plan funds should be used to lower the national debt.

The net debt announcement attaches Canada pension plan funds, the contributions of taxpayers, to our national debt to artificially balance the books. This is another attack on the security of pensioners. That money is not for debt repayment or future collateral to borrow funds. It is for pension payments. Future payments from the Canada pension plan fund represent a massive liability on the fund, a liability that was not considered by the minister in his net debt policy move.

The previous Liberal government reduced the debt, lowered taxes and ensured the long term sustainability of the Canada pension plan. Why is the Minister of Finance so determined to attack the Canada pension plan? Why does he want to use it for ends for which it was not intended? A balanced approach ensures the survival and sustainability of taxpayers' pensions while reducing taxes and investing in the priorities of Canadians.

I am pleased that we have Bill C-36 in front of us. It allows us an opportunity to debate and to discuss the overall theme of pensions. I welcome what the government intends to do in this bill, but it must remain mindful of its responsibilities toward Canadian seniors. This means ensuring they have a decent quality of life, have access to sound investments over which promises are not broken, and can fully depend on all pension plans.

I look forward to hearing the comments of my colleagues and following this bill as it makes its way through Parliament.

Petitions December 13th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, petitioners from Oak Ridges—Markham urge the Government of Canada to send a strong message to the government of Sri Lanka to cease its military offensive immediately, to allow international relief agencies to enter Tamil areas to provide humanitarian aid to the affected civilian population, to stop shelling and bombing civilian habitat, and to allow international monitors to investigate the massacres of Tamil aid workers as well.

Oak Ridges—Markham December 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to speak in tribute to two long serving mayors from my riding, both of whom did not seek re-election in November after many years of public service.

Mayor Don Cousens of Markham was elected mayor in 1993 and Mayor William Bell of Richmond Hill was first elected mayor in 1988. They were both involved in politics even before then, and have a combined total of almost 60 years of public service to York region.

I send out my deepest appreciation and warmest wishes to former Mayors Bell and Cousens and wish them good health in their retirement years.

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate three newly elected mayors: Dave Barrow in Richmond Hill, Frank Scarpitti in Markham and Wayne Emmerson in Whitchurch-Stouffville. I look forward to working with them in the coming days.

Canada Post November 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, rural Canadians should not need to travel long distances from their homes to collect their mail. Group mail box locations were intended for urban areas, not rural Canadians. This issue is high on the minds of rural Canadians and the government's inaction tells me that rural Canadians are second-class.

When will the government start protecting public safety and take real action to protect traditional rural mail delivery?

Canada Post November 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on October 25, a unanimous motion passed in the House calling on the Minister of Transport to use his powers to direct Canada Post to maintain traditional rural mail delivery and protect public safety when rural constituents are required to collect mail at designated group box locations which are often a long distance from their homes.

Since then we have seen no action from the Conservative minority government. When will rural Canadians receive their mail?