House of Commons photo


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

Rural Mail Delivery October 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to once again rise in the House and debate this issue. Since we began the debate in the spring of the last session, we have heard from many more constituents whose mail has been stopped.

I would like to mention that constituents in my riding Oak Ridges—Markham experienced a stoppage in their rural mail delivery last January. Three routes in my riding were the first to be affected in the entire country. Their mail was stopped because of a road safety complaint lodged by Canada Post rural mail delivery carriers. That decision was subsequently supported by Human Resources and Social Development. That is why deliveries all over Canada have stopped.

Now almost all of my riding is affected, including Kettelby, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Gormley, Schomberg and routes out of the Unionville post office.

One of my constituents wrote and asked me:

--how much more dangerous is it to put umpteen cars on the road unnecessarily, in all kinds of weather? How safe is it for citizens to have to get out of their cars at the roadside location to retrieve their mail?

In fact, in total there are more than 6,600 rural suburban mail carriers delivering at some 840,000 points of mailbox deliveries across the country. More than 600 rural mail carriers have made health and safety complaints so far. Not a week goes by without several new complaints.

Almost 5,000 rural mailboxes in Canada do not receive mail delivery because of safety complaints lodged by rural mail carriers.

Rural mail delivery is as individual as we all are. When I drive in my riding, I see mailboxes made from milk containers, or hockey helmets or with the strangest faces on them. People take pride in what their rural mailboxes look like. People look forward to retrieving their mail each and every day.

Routes have now been affected in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, practically across the whole country. Stoppage of rural mail delivery has been an attack on rural Canadians. Rural Canada suffers from low population rates, migration to large centres and stagnant economies in some cases. Is it any wonder why rural residents in Oak Ridges—Markham see the delivery of rural mail as yet another attack on their unique way of life?

What are we looking for? Canadians want to see rural route mail delivery maintained and restored to affected customers. Canada Post has had 11 consecutive years of profits. It must dedicate the resources, human and financial, to ensure safe and reliable rural route mail delivery.

I thank all the members who have spoken on this very important issue for Canadians.

I see there is much support in the House and hopefully we will make sure that this comes to an end this week.

I assure my constituents and all rural Canadians that I will continue to do what I can to ensure that their rural mail delivery is restored and maintained.

World Sight Day October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to host World Sight Day 2006 on Parliament Hill. World Sight Day is on October 12. We will mark the occasion tomorrow afternoon.

My office has been working closely with Christian Blind Mission International, CBMI, whose office is located in my riding. It was after having spoken with its leadership that I decided to include Braille on my business cards.

Vision 2020: the Right to Sight is a global initiative of the World Health Organization, along with national governments and organizations. This initiative aims to eliminate unnecessary blindness to give all people, including those in developing countries, the gift of sight.

My office has issued the invitations. I hope that everyone will take the time to learn more about World Sight Day with CBMI, CNIB, Operation Eyesight, the World Blind Union and other members of the Canadian coalition.

Criminal Code October 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned in the definition of street racing that it involves two vehicles. In my riding of Oak Ridges--Markham, there are discussions of street racing taking place with one vehicle, where young people are given a message on their telephones to meet at such and such a place, that there is a bagful of money or a reward and the first one who arrives there will get it. How does the member see that helping the judges?

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 26th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I listened with enthusiasm. I wanted to make sure that I caught as much as I could of the words from my colleague across the floor.

Canadians across the country have said that the new Conservative Party is a principled party, a party of law and order. Maybe the member could tell us where he sees the law and order in this, in giving up so much money. Also, where is the principle and how is it upheld when so many tribunals and trade panels have ruled in our favour?

How are the Conservatives defending that when they are looking at being so principled and a law and order party?

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 26th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague. It has been quoted that 90% of the industry is in favour of this agreement. The last time I read the agreement there were 32 litigations against the American government. Those companies would have to sign off before the agreement takes effect. If we look at only 32, 90% of 32 is about 27 or 28. That leaves about three or four litigants outside the panel.

I would like to ask the member what he would think of the current new government looking after 90% of Canadians as opposed to 100% of Canadians. Is it the government's responsibility to look after everyone or only 90% of the Canadian population?

Canada Labour Code September 22nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-295, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, replacement workers.

The House may find that it is experiencing a bit of déjà vu, as the House is also considering Bill C-257, a bill with the same title, same principle and same goal. Nonetheless, I am pleased to speak today and address this important labour issue.

I have a bit of a different perspective than most members on labour issues. I grew up in eastern Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. The House is familiar with the strife, fighting and the unrest that existed in many former Warsaw Pact countries. The transition to communism brought much upheaval to communities all across eastern Europe. We all had to make significant lifestyle changes while living under its powerful grip. Thankfully, my family came to Canada in the 1960s. We came to a land of peace, social security and balance. I am shaped by my childhood experiences, as we all are, and I do not take the social cohesion and solidarity we enjoy in this country for granted.

Peaceful relations between employers and workers are the norm in Canada. This was the case in the 1960s and it still is today. We must do what we can to ensure that we continue to enjoy social security as well as labour, peace and stability.

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines economy as the state of a country or area in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money. We often equate the economy with finances but it is much more than that. It is a human construct of perimeters that include a whole range of human activities.

A stable economy, in my view, brings with it peace, security and an environment in which people may gain a livelihood. People may work, enjoy leisure time, spend time with families and friends, pursue hobbies and engage in sports, academics or whatever they may choose.

No one should underestimate the influence of the labour movement on our day to day activities and our economy in the above sense. Peace and stability in the labour movement ensures that we may enjoy our lives to the fullest extent possible.

I grew up in an environment where this was not possible because of the power of the Communist dogma and the labour unrest and discontent that it entailed. The tensions were high between the working class and the government. Trust me when I say that this is not a situation in which anyone should want to find himself or herself. That is why I chose to speak today.

An act that restricts replacement workers from being hired during a strike or lockout is important. It is important for workers, for employers and, ultimately, for all Canadians.

Anti-replacement worker legislation is presently on the books in British Columbia and Quebec. This is an important policy for ensuring that rights are respected and all stakeholders are brought to the table. Such legislation may help to end strikes or lockouts sooner. It can help bring people together to make compromises and ensures an end to the work disruption, which comes at a later time.

Anti-replacement worker legislation is about encouraging all players to come together to find common ground and find the solution. A lockout or strike inevitably entails tension, hard feelings and stress between workers and management. We must seize the opportunity to help reduce tensions and bring the parties together on some sort of equal footing.

The principle of this legislation and Bill C-257 allows the Canada Labour Code to be a progressive document. We have a duty as parliamentarians to look after both the interests of workers and employers. We can best do this by respecting human rights, ensuring an inclusive environment and a level playing field for all.

I have spent the last few minutes speaking in support of the principle of the bill. It is unfortunate, though, that the House has to deal with Bill C-295. We already have another legislative proposal, Bill C-257 on the order paper. I question why the hon. member for Vancouver Island North introduced Bill C-295 after an almost identical bill was introduced just 13 days prior to her own bill.

As a result, I question the efficiency of the House having to deal with Bill C-295. It would be much more efficient and more conducive to realize the goal of the legislation if we were to all work together and urge our colleagues to support Bill C-257 which was already on the order paper. This way the House could have spoken with one voice on this matter in a much more focused fashion.

Even the leaders of the Canadian Labour Congress want to see one piece of legislation because it means a better chance of something actually getting passed in the House. With anti-replacement legislation already on the order paper, this would have been a once in a lifetime opportunity for the hon. member for Vancouver Island North. As she knows, private members do not often get the opportunity to bring the issue that matters to them most to the floor of the House.

As I was lucky to be number eight in the private members' draw, I put a motion on rural route mail delivery before the House. In my view, she could have worked with the member for Gatineau on the replacement worker legislation and introduced another bill or motion on another important issue in her riding. After all, every constituency has several matters that deserve attention. In that way she could have had her anti-replacement worker legislation and addressed another subject of importance to her constituents.

For that reason, I find it very difficult to support Bill C-295. I support the principle but, with another similar bill ahead of it in the queue, Bill C-257, it just does not make sense, from the viewpoint of efficiency, for the House and it is not in the interest of employer-labour relations.

Let us put our support behind workers and employers in a focused fashion and speak with one voice. A legislative proposal of this kind has been before the House several times before. Let us work together in a concrete fashion, like we are urging employers and workers to do, and get Bill C-257 to committee so it can be further studied and we can hear from stakeholders and experts in the field.

I have a riding that is very much engaged with the Canadian economy. A number of head offices and headquarters are located in Oak Ridges—Markham and I have a very low unemployment rate. As a matter of fact, I am pleased to host a business seminar in my riding.

On October 11 in Markham, Public Works and Government Services Canada will be doing a seminar presentation on how to do business with the Government of Canada. I am pleased to host this seminar which would be useful for any enterprise in attempting to promote its goods and services to the Government of Canada.

I congratulate members for raising the issue of replacement workers in the House and I look forward to hearing from my colleagues in the debates that follow.

Petitions September 20th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of tabling a petition from the good people of the riding of Oak Ridges—Markham on the issue of the age of consent.

Canada Elections Act September 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, in my riding we were working on rural mail delivery with Canada Post. Canadian business owners in my riding are interested in finding out how to do with business with the Canadian government. I have asked Public Works and Government Services to hold a seminar in my riding. We are trying to work with businesses interested in emerging economies. However, in terms of October, in some parts of the country October is a--

Canada Elections Act September 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, October 4 is a good day to have an election date. That is my birthday and I do not mind taking the day off to cast my ballot.

In terms of my hon. colleague's question, I believe that if there is a vote of confidence, it should not be hastily taken in the House at any time at the whim of the prime minister whether it be the current Prime Minister or any prime minister in the upcoming years, hopefully soon.

I consider budget bills as a vote of confidence as well as money bills, but there is more. When the prime minister goes to the Governor General and asks her to dissolve Parliament, it leaves a lot more than just us voting here and having the government overturned or not giving it the vote of confidence. We need to pay particular attention to that and defining it in committee. In all sincerity we need to have the wisdom of the opposition to make the bill a great one.

Canada Elections Act September 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have spoken with my constituents and most of them want fixed term election dates.

The problem arises that there are many issues that could stop that. For example, I have been here two years and we have had two elections. Most of my constituents do not want to spend a billion dollars of Canadians' hard earned dollars within three years for elections that produce an ineffective minority such as that.

They are looking for a long term election date. When we talk about a fixed date, my comments were that we want to send the bill to committee to ensure that we have an opportunity and the government has an opportunity to have the good work of the opposition to improve the bill that has been put forth.