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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

Energy Costs Assistance Measures Act October 26th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I hear opposition members talking about how many seniors will be left out and not about how many seniors will be included. We hear them talking about not being satisfied with the delivery methods for this program. We hear them talking about Liberal accounting.

I have been in the financial business for 20 years and I have never heard such terminology as “Liberal accounting”. Here I hear it every day. Under Liberal accounting, if we take that as the Liberal Party, there has been great fortune in Canada over the last 10 years, fortune such as we have never seen before.

Would the member reverse the benefits to the higher income seniors--as opposed to the lower income seniors--if his party were in power?

Criminal Code May 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-313, an act to amendment the Criminal Code, prohibited sexual acts. Bill C-313 proposes criminal law amendments to raise the age of consent to sexual activity for some but not all sexual offences against children.

The protection of children and youth is an issue that is well-known to hon. members. The age of consent to sexual activity, as a component of this broader issue, is also not a new issue for us. Although I think we should agree that the protection of our youth against sexual exploitation is a priority for many, if not for all of us, it is clear that we cannot agree on the best and most effective ways to achieve this objective.

I cannot support Bill C-313 for it is an incomplete and ineffective approach. Bill C-313 proposes amendments that will raise the age of consent to non-exploitative sexual activity from 14 to 16 years for some but not all sexual offences against children.

The age of consent is not a term that is used in the Criminal Code, but it is one that is commonly used to refer to the age below which the criminal law does not recognize the legal capacity of a young person to consent to sexual activity. All sexual activity with persons below this age, ranging from sexual touching such as kissing to sexual intercourse, is prohibited, but any non-consensual activity regardless of age is a sexual assault.

One shortcoming of Bill C-313 is that it seeks to provide youth with greater protection against sexual exploitation by focusing, not on the exploitative conduct of the wrongdoer, as the Criminal Code does generally with sexual assault, but rather on whether the young person consented to be exploited. This is an odd approach.

Another limitation is that Bill C-313 only recognizes one factor as an indicator of a young person's vulnerability to being sexually exploited, namely the young person's chronological age. Bill C-313 appears to arbitrarily set it at age 16. Again, this is a bit at odds with the fact that most would readily acknowledge that not all 14 year olds have the same level of maturity and even that some 14 year olds are more mature than some 17 year olds.

Therefore I am not sure why the bill would not similarly consider the specific circumstances of the young person as being reasonable indicators of the young person's vulnerability to being sexually exploited.

Another significant shortcoming of Bill C-313 is that it does not propose to impose a uniform age of consent for all related offences. It does not amend the following offences: section 159, anal intercourse; section 172.1, luring a child over the Internet for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against the child; section 273.3, removal of a child from Canada for the purpose of committing one of the enumerated child sexual offences; section 810.1, peace bond to prevent a known or suspected child sex offender from frequenting places where children can be expected to congregate or from engaging in activity that involves contact with young persons, including communicating with young persons through the use of a computer system such as the Internet.

The most significant shortcoming of Bill C-313 is that it would criminalize youth for engaging in consensual, non-exploitative sexual activity even with peers. The bill does not provide a close in age exception. For example, it would be illegal for a 15 year old to engage in sexual activity with her 16 or 17 year old boyfriend, even though such activity may have been legal immediately before his 16th birthday and importantly, even though we all know that such activity is common. Turning these persons into young offenders does not provide them with better protection.

I do not support Bill C-313 for its approach. Instead, I think the better and more effective approach is the government's approach as reflected in Bill C-2, protection of children and other vulnerable persons, currently before the justice committee.

Bill C-2 proposes to create a new category of prohibited sexual exploitation of a young person who is over the age of consent for sexual activity; that is, who is 14 years of age or older and under 18 years.

Under this new offence, courts would be directed to infer that the relationship with a young person is exploitative of that young person by looking to the nature and circumstances of that relationship. The bill would direct the court to consider specific indicators of exploitation including: the age of the young person; any difference in age between the young person and the other person; the evolution of the relationship; and the degree of control of influence exerted over the young person.

Simply stated, Bill C-2 would recognize chronological age as well as other factors as indicators of vulnerability. It would recognize that the particular circumstances of some youth, including 16 and 17 year olds, may put them at greater risk of being exploited. It would recognize that the way in which a relationship develops, for example, secretly over the Internet, can also be an indicator.

Under Bill C-2 all youth between 14 and 18, not just 14 and 16 years as proposed by Bill C-313, would receive increased protection, irrespective of whether the exploitation was at the hands of someone who was much older or close in age.

Bill C-2 also focuses the law's attention on the wrongdoer instead of whether the young person ostensibly consented to that conduct. Bill C-2 says, in fact, that young persons cannot legally consent to be sexually exploited.

While some may debate whether young persons should engage in any sexual activity and at what age, the fact remains that Canadian youth, as young or younger than 12 years old, are sexually active.

It is clear that Bill C-313 would criminalize youth for engaging in normal adolescent sexual activity, even when that activity is engaged in with a peer. As I said, while one may not agree with youth engaging in such activity, there are other far more effective ways than using the state's strongest power, the criminal law power, to educate our children about their sexuality.

For all these reasons, I do not support Bill C-313.

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Chair, this short question is my last one. I know that when the minister was first elected he represented many of the people from the Italian community in his riding. Many of them went to him for assistance for visitor visas and immigration issues.

Being the first Macedonian born member of Parliament, I have many people from all over the GTA coming to me. I would like to find out if there is any regionalization of refusal or are there any certain areas of the world from which we would refuse more people? There is some discussion in some communities that there is some sort of a dislike for this country or that one, or for this part of the world or that.

I know it is not true for the Macedonian community, but maybe the minister could tell us if there is any profiling such as that of any specific geographical area in the world.

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I would like to ask the minister another question in terms of applications for visitors to Canada.

We do not accept about 130,000 to 150,000 applications for visitors to Canada, but I understand we have over 96 million visitors in Canada as well. Has this number increased in the last four to five years due to security issues since 9/11? Was that one of the factors for refusing a larger number of applicants, or is that not a factor in the decision to refuse applicants who come to Canada as visitors?

We could definitely use the revenues that they bring to Canada. If we just halved the number, we could fly 75,000 more people into Canada. Probably all 75,000 of them would go to the CN Tower and Niagara Falls and so on. It would be good for the Canadian economy. Perhaps the minister could shed some light on that.

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Chair, as I mentioned earlier, I came to Canada in 1968 with my mom and my brother. My father had come previously.

Increasingly, people are coming to Canada and are separated from their families. Perhaps the minister could tell us what we are doing in terms of uniting families or decreasing the length of time it takes for families to reunite. We were separated from my father for four years. Now that I am in Ottawa for five days each week, my wife and I see each other on the weekends. It is intolerable to be separated these days. Yet my parents were separated for five years and I was separated from my father.

Things have changed. Is it a trend that people are intolerant of being separated from their families? What is it that is going on?

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Chair, have any countries shown an interest in studying the Canadian immigration system? We are known around the world as having one of the best immigration systems.

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Chair, we live in an age of migration. People from many different cultures with many different beliefs and a wide range of backgrounds and skills are on the move from one part of the globe to another. More and more people want to seek out the best possible country in which to live. They want to choose their home.

As such, Canada has increasingly become the destination of choice for many people, such as it was for me and my family over 30 years ago. As a matter of fact, I come from a little village of 300 families in Macedonia called Brajcino. In Toronto itself there are now over 400 families, over 1,200 people, from that one little village.

Over the last 20 years, Canada has witnessed an unprecedented period of sustained high levels of immigration. Since the 1980s Canada has admitted more than 4.5 million immigrants, with 236,000 newcomers in 2004 alone. As a result, there is an increased demand for Canadian citizenship. Clearly, there are several reasons to explain this increase.

We have had high immigration levels in the early 2000s, more than 225,000 per year. We know that about 80% of Canadian permanent residents apply for citizenship after living here for three years. As well, since the permanent resident card became mandatory for travelling on commercial carriers, many long term permanent residents are applying for citizenship.

Our neighbours to the south now require more from permanent residents of Canada when they seek admission than before. Additionally, some countries, such as India, have modified their policies on dual nationalities. Finally, there are those individuals who are simply seeking to solidify their relationship with Canada. They want to formally express their allegiance to our country and become Canadian.

We value those newcomers to Canada as they not only contribute to our cultural mosaic, but also help to make Canada more prosperous and internationally competitive.

We know that the minister and those before him have initiated measures to improve citizenship processing times. However, it appears that more is required. Could the minister tell us what he has done to ensure that individuals who want to become citizens of our country or who need proof of Canadian citizenship can have their request processed in a timely manner?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 May 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, one man can only do so much, but when we put a couple of heads together, they always seem to come up with better ideas. The input from our cooperative situation in a minority government is definitely helping all Canadians deal with financial situations and plan for their future endeavours.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 May 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the House is aware that through this budget we have committed a substantial amount of resources to communities across the country to assist them with infrastructure projects which they have undertaken.

The GST is another area that has been given to communities and municipalities. They no longer have to pay GST on their purchases.

All this will help communities be much better. It will help them to improve and embrace the growth for the coming years.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 May 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention a number of items before I get started. Prior to joining Parliament, I was in the financial services business for 20 years serving Canadians, helping them deal with their financial planning, from pension planning to insurance and investments, et cetera.

We live in a world where 800 million people go to bed hungry at night, where someone is infected with HIV every 60 seconds, where a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds and where someone dies of poverty every 3 seconds. It is a world where the clock is ticking and time is running out for the poor. Yet it is also a world in which Canadians from all walks of life are increasingly engaged, a world where Canada is investing considerable resources to fight poverty, a world where Canada is determined to make a difference.

Like all Canadians, I was shocked by the impact of the tsunami that struck coastal communities in the Indian Ocean last December. The scale of human suffering and devastation was beyond imagination, yet the outpouring of generosity from Canadians to those in need was also unprecedented. In response the Government of Canada agreed to match dollar for dollar the more than $210 million that was donated by Canadians. This was part of a five year $425 million commitment from the Government of Canada for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction in affected communities.

The sheer scope of the tragedy was a stark reminder of the links between poverty and devastation caused by natural and human-made events. The poor are least able to anticipate, escape or adequately respond to a crisis and when tragedy strikes, they are the most affected. However, the daily tragedy of absolute poverty occurs away from the TV cameras and the headlines. Every 10 days the same number of people die of poverty-induced maladies as were killed by the terrible tsunami, every 10 days, year in and year out.

The proposed increases to official development assistance will go a long way toward helping Canada do its share to achieve the millennium development goals, an ambitious agenda to cut global poverty in half by the year 2015.

Building a better world for all is in our best interests. Canadians recognize that what happens in the rest of the world affects us at home. The time is gone when each country or even continent could look after its own security. Canadians from coast to coast to coast recognize that Canada has done much to respond to these threats but that as a country we must do better. The millennium development goal helps Canada focus on this monumental but doable task.

What exactly is Canada doing to contribute to building a better world for all?

Canada is renewing its commitment to advancing Canadian values of global citizenship as well as Canadian interests regarding security, prosperity and governance. It is working hard to reduce global poverty through a focused approach that matches Canadian experience and expertise with developing country needs in coordination with other donors.

Since 2002, when it launched its strengthening aid effectiveness policy, the Canadian International Development Agency has been working to strategically refocus its activities. This involves building government-wide consensus on key elements of Canada's role in the world. It means coherent domestic and international policies, country-led development, sectors of expertise, countries of focus, a results-based approach, good governance and an engaged civil society. The proposed increases to official development assistance will contribute much to these important efforts already underway.

Canada is better coordinating efforts with other donors and developing country governments and it will keep doing so.

Canada is also thinking carefully about ways in which it can add value. Canada knows its strengths, sectors such as health care, private sector development, education, environment and governance. It only makes sense to offer Canada's proven expertise in these areas to other countries, countries that are well governed and can use our aid effectively.

These principles and ideas are the heart of Canada's recent international policy statement. CIDA will achieve much greater focus in its geographic programs. It will deliver at least two-thirds of bilateral aid to a core group of 25 development partner countries by 2010. These are countries that can use aid effectively and prudently and where Canadian expertise and resources can truly make a difference.

More than half, 14 of these countries, are in sub-Saharan Africa. This greater concentration in Africa is in keeping with Canada's commitment to double assistance to the continent by 2008-09 from its 2003-04 level.

That said, it must be emphasized that Canada will continue to support other countries. CIDA has earmarked up to one-third of its bilateral budget for countries of strategic importance in other countries where Canada can continue to make a difference. It will use its multilateral and partnership programming to address the plight of other low income countries.

CIDA is also pursuing greater sectoral focus. Canadian assistance will target and concentrate programming in five sectors directly related to meeting the millennium development goals, namely: promoting good governance; improving health outcomes; including HIV and AIDS; strengthening basic education; supporting private sector development; and advancing environmental sustainability. Ensuring gender equality will be systematically and explicitly integrated across all programming within each of the five sectors of focus.

With these actions, Canada is increasing both the quality and quantity of its aid, but more and better aid is not in itself enough. That is why the international policy statement reflects a comprehensive, whole of government approach. It enables Canada to harness all the tools and instruments at its disposal such as promoting greater market access, more debt relief and more support for the private sector in developing countries.

Canada is poised to reclaim its rightful place in the world. As the Prime Minister has said, “We must seize the moment to reassert ourselves on the world stage--to speak up with a persuasive voice for equality, human rights, and a fairer globalization”. Canada is already making a difference in the world. The increased funding for official development assistance will enable Canadians to make more of a difference.