House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was years.

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

The Budget May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the member is assuming too much when he comments that I do not know the facts. If he were to revisit last year's program that the Liberal government delivered, he would see that it was within 14 to 16 months that we delivered the Kyoto agreement, child care and the Kelowna agreement for communities and cities. It only took the Conservations one month to cut all of those programs.

We worked very hard for Canadians to ensure the Kyoto protocol would be enforced within a short time and the new government took only a few days to cut that very program that would have helped Canada and Canadians.

The Budget May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, instead of focusing on dollars for prevention, the Conservatives are focusing on more law enforcement and more prisons. This is definitely not what Canadians want. The Conservative approach to crime is clearly one of hang them high and hang them higher.

Residents of my riding of Oak Ridges—Markham are very concerned about environmental issues. After all, my riding contains much of the famous Oak Ridges Moraine. The Oak Ridges Moraine, for those who do not know, is an ecological treasure and a natural habitat, providing a home to numerous species and a system that acts as a powerful filter for the millions of people living within and around its domain.

Nothing in the budget gives Canadians hope that the Conservative government places any importance on Canada's environment or its environmental jewel like the moraine. The budget does nothing to address present environmental concerns. The budget only mentions that $2 billion would be allocated over five years for this made in Canada climate change initiative that is still under construction.

The Conservative budget represents a 93% cut to environmental funding and does nothing to reassure future generations that Canada is a mindful custodian of its environment. The budget represents a 100% cut in funding for climate change ensuring that Canada will be unable to meet its Kyoto commitments.

The Conservative budget is a lot like the Conservative Speech from the Throne. It offers no real vision for the country. The throne speech focused on a few narrow priorities at the expense of other areas that require leadership. The budget focuses on misguided tax cuts, destroying signed child care agreements and lip service to the environment. The budget does not advance Canada in any way and does not offer an overarching plan for Canada's future.

Nonetheless, I am pleased to offer my comments on the budget today and I look forward to debating it further with my colleagues.

The Budget May 3rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Eglinton—Lawrence.

I am pleased to speak today to the Conservative government's first budget. A budget is both a beginning and a focal point of a government's economic policy and I am very happy to have the occasion to respond.

For more than 20 years I was in the financial services industry. I have sat at the table with families struggling to make ends meet and families looking to maximize their investments. This background and awareness gives me a unique perspective on the Conservative budget.

No budget document is perfect and no budget document is all good or all bad. Unfortunately for Canada, this particular budget seems to have missed the mark in a number of important areas. This is a shame because the government has an enormous amount of potential that rides on the Liberal financial coattails.

This is an important point. This contrasts the Canadian financial picture from late 1993, after nine years of Conservative rule, with the present financial picture. Let us consider this. In the 1990s, Conservative spending was on a roller coaster. The deficit was close to $40 billion. The debt had ballooned to nearly 70% of GDP. The unemployment rate was in double digits. Consumer and business confidence was very low. There was no real economic growth. I know how bad it was. Canadians had no work or they were underemployed. People were sick with worry and uncertain about their future and the future of their families. Canadians were worried about their CPP.

Canadians lost confidence in the Mulroney and Campbell governments because of poor financial management. What a difference a decade makes. Canada's books were balanced in eight consecutive budgets. The federal debt was reduced. Taxes have been reduced by more than $100 billion since 2000. Canada's unemployment rate is at a 32 year low. Indeed, on this final point, the finance minister said in yesterday's Hansard:

Canadians have reached a level of accomplishment few other countries can rival.

I could not have said that better myself. This is the same Minister of Finance who, under Mike Harris was cutting, slashing and burning, and who is now swimming in surpluses but offers no reassuring vision for Canadians.

How are Canadians supposed to have faith in the present finance minister and his budget? The budget is not up to par and risks putting Canada in a dangerous fiscal position.

There are some positive aspects to the budget as well: tax cuts for small businesses and tax credits for workers. However much of the rest of the budget leaves much to be desired.

First, I am outraged that the government has decided to raise the lowest tax rate for Canadians from 15% to 15.5% while the Conservatives say that they are decreasing it. The basic personal exemption is decreased by $200 after the Liberals raised it. For the Conservatives to state that this is a tax cut budget is not accurate and a misrepresentation of the facts to Canadians.

The biggest losers will be low income Canadians. With such a robust economy and a projected surplus, these tax increases were not necessary. Instead, we will see a cut to the GST. I think that is a meaningful tax cut but it is not the best tax cut for most Canadians. This tax will only benefit Canadians who spend more money on goods and services. The more money we spend, the more tax we will save.

For example, for many Canadians, most of their pay cheques are spent on rent, tuition and groceries. There is no GST on these items, so how will the GST cut benefit Canadians who need it the most? Unfortunately, this is undertaken for purely political reasons. This is a flashy campaign strategy to deceive Canadians that their taxes will go down while the government puts their income taxes up at the same time. This is a political and poor policy.

The second item I wish to discuss is child care. Aristotle reminds us that the success of a nation is measured by the way it treats its most vulnerable, including the young. The Conservatives are eliminating the national child care program, substituting it with monetary gifts. In so doing, it fails to build more social policies that will benefit Canadians for generations to come.

The Conservatives are reducing the number of child care spaces, yet pledging to increase the number of spaces in prisons and correctional facilities. Rather than ensure children receive quality care in their formation years, the government will put more people behind bars later on. Why not invest in children?

Steve Stavro April 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on Monday my friend Steve Stavro passed away in Toronto. Steve was born in Macedonia, as was I, and we knew each other for a number of years.

Steve's accomplishments in his adopted home of Canada were many. He began the Knobb Hill Farms grocery chain, but his love for sports was enduring. He owned the Toronto Maple Leafs and was active in Toronto's soccer scene. Steve was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1992 and in 2005 was inducted in the builder category into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.

His love for sports was only unmatched by his love for his wife Sally, four daughters, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Like Alexander the Great, Steve was great in his community charity work, to his family, friends and business associates. I know I speak on behalf of many Canadians when I say that Steve will be greatly missed. He was truly a great Canadian.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II April 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the constituents of my riding of Oak Ridges—Markham for placing their trust in me to represent them in Parliament once again. I look forward to the challenge and to ensuring that their views are expressed here in Ottawa.

On April 21 Queen Elizabeth II will mark her 80th birthday. My office is pleased to have launched a very successful initiative to mark this important milestone. I sent out hundreds of birthday cards for constituents to fill out for the Queen. We distributed more than 500 photographs of the Queen to constituents, and also organized a series of coffee and cake receptions throughout the riding.

I want to thank the people of Nobleton, King City Seniors' Centre, the Royal Canadian Legion in Stouffville and the Markham Seniors Activity Centre for helping my office to organize these receptions.

On behalf of Oak Ridges—Markham, I extend a heartfelt birthday wish to Queen Elizabeth. God save the Queen.

Business Plan Competition November 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to congratulate the students of three schools in my colourful riding of Oak Ridges—Markham who won the Markham secondary school business plan competition for 2005.

These awards encourage young people to hone their entrepreneurial spirit and potential. The students are from Brother Andre Catholic High School, Markham District High School and St. Augustine Catholic High School where two of my kids attend. Way to go on a job well done.

Also at this time, I would like to thank the constituents of Oak Ridges—Markham for having supported me in 2004. I look forward to continuing my work with them in the future.

Telecommunications Act November 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, when I recently spoke with a business that I had dealt with in the past, which is involved in telemarketing, I was quite surprised. I assumed the business would be opposing this sort of bill but after further discussing the issue with the owner, he said that the reputable businesses in the telemarketing field welcome legislation like this. He said that it was the people who were doing the dishonest telemarketing, the people who were trying to flog a product or the small operators who were against the bill.

The member opposite also mentioned that the Canadian Telemarketing Association welcomes this bill. Maybe the member can explain a little further how the bill deals with specific industries, such as windows or lawn care telemarketers that will be starting to call in December for lawn care in June and July of next year. In his view, perhaps he could tell us how the bill looks after this issue.

Committees of the House November 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament regarding the certificate of nomination of William Robert Young to the position of Parliamentary Librarian.

Canada-Philippine Friendship November 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, today I attended the Canada-Philippine Friendship reception held on Parliament Hill. The reception welcomed over 250 Filipinos across the country, as well as numerous community leaders, MPs and senators. It was the first ever Filipino-organized reception on the Hill and included a luncheon, speeches, presentations and cultural performances.

The friendship reception was conceptualized by community leaders who wanted to strengthen the Filipino collective and national interest in Canada. An important part of this effort is to support Filipino heritage and the community's relationships and ties to the Philippines. It is estimated that a half million Filipinos live in Canada.

May this reception today be the beginning of an effort to organize the Filipino community in its loyalty to Canada and pride in its Filipino heritage.

Congratulations to the organizers on a very successful event.

Energy Costs Assistance Measures Act November 1st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member a number of questions.

First, he baffled us a little when he began his speech by saying that he supports the bill in principle, and then, a little further on in his speech, he said that he supports the monitoring agencies and then, near the end, he said that he supports the retrofit program. The only area in which I see him disagreeing is that he would like to see a lot more money put into the program.

We would all like to see a lot more money put into the program but Canadians do not want to pay more taxes when they have a huge mortgage to pay off. They would rather pay down their mortgage than have their taxes increased.

I think what the hon. member across is suggesting is that we put more money into the program. The only way the government can put more money into the program is by taxing people more or by not paying down our debt and allocating the money toward this program.

I would ask the member what he would do in that situation.