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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was housing.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as NDP MP for Ottawa Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

David Dingwall October 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

For two hours yesterday, David Dingwall, responding to questions from the Conservatives, from the Bloc and from ourselves, said time after time that he was after his entitlements. It became very clear for him that meant getting severance pay. He said that he would take the money and run if it were offered.

Considering Canadians do not believe he is owed one cent in severance, would the Prime Minister get up and make it clear that he will not get severance pay?

Lobbyists October 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am amazed the government takes pride in being ahead of mostly developing nations in the Americas as opposed to the overwhelmingly industrial nations in Europe which we used to compare ourselves with.

The Minister of Industry said yesterday that when it came to lobbyists, he was going to aggressively “recover contingency fees paid illegally”.

My question for the Minister of Industry again is about action rather than just talk. Will he first acknowledge there is nothing in the act that prohibits anyone from taking a contingency fee, and second—

Democratic Reform October 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

When the Liberals were elected in 1993, among 17 industrial nations when it came to concerns about corruption and transparency, Canada ranked fourth from the top. There has been steady decline since, until today's report where we are fourth from the bottom in 17 nations.

When is the Prime Minister going to stop the general phrases about clean government, democratic deficit and transparency? When is he going to do something about it?

Lobbyists October 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry.

The minister said on the weekend that he would take into account the NDP seven point proposal for ethical and accountability reform. I have sent him a copy. My question is about what he can do today.

Will he put an end to the David Dingwall lobbyist loophole? Specifically, will he bring in a measure that will make it illegal for a lobbyist to accept contingency fees? Will he accompany it by a requirement that if this happens, there will be a $35,000 fine and a sentence of up to two years in jail? Will he take some action?

Canada Elections Act October 17th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I have no comment at this time.

Canada Elections Act October 17th, 2005

Madam Speaker, it is indeed a question of integrity. Two points were clear. First, the minister was not only involved in private discussions with myself but of course with members in his own caucus and with our colleagues in the Conservative Party who were on the committee. All of us understood that the minister had seen these proposed timelines for acting, along the lines I just described. It could have been done within this Parliament, even before an election came down and that is why we put the dates in there that we did.

We wanted to prepare a report that could be acted upon. We did not want it to go off somewhere in the dim distant future and so the commitment was made. There was an understanding.

The second point I made was that I did not know if the minister himself, frankly, went to cabinet and said that he promised members of the committee, including members of his own caucus, that the schedule of events over the summer, if they were started in July, could be done. Did he make the case and was then defeated by his own cabinet? Did the cabinet say, too bad, Mr. deputy House leader, that he may have made the commitment on behalf of the government back in June but that cabinet would turn it upside down? At the very least, that is what has happened.

I do not know if the minister was responsible himself, whether he changed his mind over the summer and reneged on the commitment, or if it was the cabinet that changed his mind for him. One way or another, as my colleague pointed out, there is an integrity issue here.

When ministers of the Crown make commitments to members of the House about a certain course of action, we have every reason to believe those commitments will be lived up to if there is a sort of honour and integrity in politics. I for one am deeply disappointed that we have seen in this case, as we have seen in others, that there seems to be a complete disregard of the normal consideration of ethics and probity in politics in this chamber. It is not acceptable.

Canada Elections Act October 17th, 2005

Madam Speaker, we do not differ. As he pointed out, we both work on the committee that produced the report on electoral reform. I indicated that given the performance of the government in response to that committee's report, and on other matters, we are quite skeptical about its commitment to now act promptly.

However, I must separate the question of whether or not the government will act promptly with the question of the substance of the bill. We agree with the idea and are saying we are very dubious that the government will act on it. The idea is fine, but I share the hon. member's skepticism completely about the speed with which we can expect the government to act.

Canada Elections Act October 17th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I rise to support the measure before us. The only point I will make and extend to other concerns in my brief comments is that in the view of the NDP, there is an urgent need to get on with a review by the proposed committee.

To understate it considerably, the government has not demonstrated any real capacity to move with speed when it comes to democratic reform. I want to use my time to deal with that issue and to put it in the context of the government's earlier commitments to deal expeditiously with parliamentary reform, and specifically electoral reform.

Earlier this year, at a cost to the taxpayers of thousands of dollars a committee of the House sent members from all parties to New Zealand, Australia, Germany, England and Scotland. The committee produced a report in June. After consultation with the deputy House leader, who was then the minister in charge of democratic reform, a series of concrete measures were proposed. There was broad consensus from all parties on most of the items. Then there was a question of implementation dates. There was consultation with the minister responsible. It was agreed and the committee acted with the dates in the report after consultation with the minister. It proposed a set of dates for action and then the committee adopted the report. What has happened since?

I first want to say very precisely what the committee report was intended to do. It was to get the federal government to catch up with five of the provinces that have already embarked on serious reform of the electoral process in Canada. Those five provinces represent well in excess of 50% of the population of Canada and they have already done this. It was hoped that the process would be started in this Parliament and at least partially completed in the event that an election took place early in the new year. That is why the dates were discussed with such care with the minister involved and by members of all parties on the committee.

We wanted to have a process that would ultimately lead to where the other provinces are going. That is a representation system that more or less corresponds to what 90% of the democracies across the world have, either a mixed form of representation with individual constituencies and a major element of proportional representation like there is in Germany, New Zealand, Scotland and many other countries, or a pure form.

We are among the few countries in the world left with an electoral system that originated in a pre-democratic era that had nothing whatsoever to do with democracy. We have carried over into the age of universal suffrage, a system in Canada that under-represents women and ethnic minorities and produces caucuses on both sides of the House of Commons that do not resemble the kinds of votes in different parts of the country. This negatively affects national unity.

We have serious problems, as the Pépin-Robarts commission pointed out about a quarter of a century ago. I do not need to remind many members of the House that Mr. Pépin was a distinguished former Liberal cabinet minister, and John Robarts, of course, was a distinguished former Conservative premier in the province of Ontario. We are playing catch up. That commission's recommendations came a quarter of a century ago.

The minister promised to get on with a process that would start by October 1 this year. It was doable. If it had gone to tender early in July, a company that was competent to undertake the citizen engagement process that the committee wanted could have been picked. It could have started, I repeat, on October 1 if that had been done.

The work could have proceeded with a parallel committee of members of the House looking at proposals that many provinces have already looked at by doing consultations across the country. It could have had a joint session partway through the process and then a citizens engagement. This is a crucial point. All members of the House had agreed on a citizens engagement process to find out what Canadian citizens, regardless of their political preferences on a partisan basis, wanted in a political system.

It was concluded that this engagement with citizens to find out what values they wanted in their electoral system could have been finished by January 30. That date was not a coincidence. It was well known to all members of the committee and the minister responsible that it could be before an election, or it could be right in the middle of a general election. The point was it would be a citizens engagement process. It would become a public document. In either case, in the middle of an election campaign or if it came up before one, we could have had a debate on those principles in the election. My party fully wants to have and intends to have that debate. It would put all parties on the spot to indicate whether or not they were going to go along with what the people of Canada want.

That was deep-sixed, to put it directly. I do not know what the minister's personal final position was on this, but there is no doubt what it was last June. He was in support of the committee process. We have now got a report from the Government of Canada which vitiates and totally kills the possibility of having electoral reform in this Parliament. This is a disgrace. It is a betrayal of a promise that was made in the throne speech. It is a betrayal of the committee's work last June. It totally undermines the credibility of the government when it comes to talking about making democratic reform a priority.

We are going to keep talking about this issue. I repeat that over half of the population of Canada lives in provinces that are already embarked on serious electoral reform to get a more representative system and to get one that corresponds to most of the world's democracies. We are going to keep talking about this issue. One day we will finally get it through the House of Commons.

Public Service of Canada October 7th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for Democratic Renewal.

The head of the Public Service Commission revealed yesterday that 35 former Liberal staffers have received preferred, non-competitive access to well paying public sector jobs.

This continuation of cronyism undermines competitiveness and objectivity in the public service. It is not allowed in Britain. It should not be allowed in Canada. What is the minister doing to put an end to this undemocratic practice?

Technology Partnerships Canada October 5th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has promised to clean up public wrongdoing.

There is a major loophole at the heart of the regulations pertinent to lobbyists. It works like this. It is illegal for a company to offer a profit-based payment to a lobbyist, but a lobbyist like Mr. Dingwall can accept $350,000 in such a payment without it being illegal.

Will the Prime Minister clean this up and ensure that if it is illegal to give such a payment, it ought to be illegal to receive it?