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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleagues.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Ottawa Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Divorce Act March 25th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, going through the court system to settle family split-ups can be costly, lengthy, strenuous and taxing.

What is the Minister of Justice doing to address this problem?

Supply March 25th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I heard the member say that he is in support of gun control. I want him to stand up and tell his colleagues to state the same thing for the record and I will observe how the member votes when the issue appears before the House later on today.

It is extremely important to divide the issues. He is having a problem with some of the administration of it. We agree that some of the problems need to be fixed. In fact a number of measures have been taken by the government to address those concerns. I never knew why the gun control legislation and the registry had to be with justice and why it was not part of the Solicitor General's office. It is an extremely positive development that it is now under the auspices of the Solicitor General. By doing that we will have proper management of it.

I want my colleagues not to fear registration. People register their cats, dogs, cars, a lot of things. Registration is a good thing at the end of the day. If there are problems, and there are problems in the system, we have to fix them. For my colleague, I commend him. He is indicating there are problems with it. We have committed to take action and correct them.

Would the member stand up for the record and tell me and his colleagues that he would support it?

Supply March 25th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this motion. I will go back in time to look at the objectives of the legislation when it was first introduced in 1995 as the Firearms Act. The act had several objectives including the deterrence of the misuse of firearms, the licensing of all firearms, registration, tracking and transfer of all firearms, and the prevention of smuggling of illegal firearms.

Under the act all owners and users of firearms had to be licensed by January 1, 2001, and all firearms had to be registered by January 1, 2003. There are approximately 2.46 million firearm owners and approximately 7.9 million firearms in Canada. Of those 2.46 million owners, 90% are now licensed and over 70% have registered their guns.

In the debate today there are two things taking place at the same time. There are concerns by my colleagues on this side of the House as well as on the other of the House on the way the whole management of the firearms registry and how it is shaping up. Some of those concerns and the debate makes sense. I would suggest that the government is listening and has been listening since the introduction of the legislation back in 1995.

This is a legitimate debate; people want answers. There have been some problems in the system and people want the problems to be fixed.

Mr. Speaker, as you already know, the government has responded to those concerns. A number of measures have been taken by both the Department of Justice and now in the Attorney General's office to respond to those concerns by taking action, addressing those concerns, and dealing with them.

However, there is another issue in the House and that is the whole notion of whether or not we want to have gun control legislation and a registry. This particular debate is bothersome to me personally and to my constituents, and to the vast majority of Canadians, because Canadians have spoken on the issue. Over and over again Canadians have told Parliament and members of Parliament individually that they support gun control and they want to see the government enact gun control legislation in the House. They want to see the government implementing gun control legislation.

I do not want to go back in history, but I want to bring this to the attention of my colleagues so that at least we will have an understanding of why we should put this debate aside for now about whether or not gun control should be in place because Canadians have spoken.

For the record I want to put on the floor of the House a quote which is attributed to the then member of Parliament who is presently the leader of the Canadian Alliance. When the issue was debated in the House on June 12, 1995, he said:

Specifically, on moral issues and on the issue of gun control, I have made a particular commitment to discover and to vote the wishes of my constituents.

He went on:

Consistent with that I supported Bill C-68--

That was the gun control legislation.

--at second reading despite my own misgivings about some elements of it... In the end the households that replied indicated about 60% overall disapproval of the bill. I reflect that in my vote. From my own personal standpoint I believe there are elements of gun control and specifically of this bill that could be helpful.

After having been either on the campaign trail or about to become the leader of the Canadian Alliance, the same member said that there had been some confusion as to his position on gun control. He said that he would repeal the Liberal gun registry and that he personally always opposed Bill C-68 and the Liberal approach to gun control.

These are two completely opposite statements by the very same individual. Let me be clear, people have the right to change their opinion and have the right to be confused from time to time about their stand on a particular issue. However, we cannot take Canadians for granted and we cannot use the same technique to confuse Canadians. Canadians have spoken and they have told us specifically that they support the legislation. In fact, 74% of them support it. According to an independent Environics poll taken back in January, they support licensing and registration.

This legislation is supported by the police who are the people on the front line, as my colleagues have clearly stated a little earlier. It is supported by the Chiefs of Police Association as well as by public health, safety and victims organizations across the country. There is widespread support for the legislation all across the land from different sectors of our society, from different neighbourhoods, and from different communities.

Does the system work? Let us see. In fact, the number of lost/missing firearms has declined by 68% from the year 1998 to the year 2001. Is that a positive thing or is it as a result of the legislation? The number of stolen firearms has decreased by 35% from 1998 to 2002. That is not a bad thing. Law enforcement agencies across the country have accessed the online registry 2.3 million times since December 1, 1998. I would suggest that at least one life would have been saved by that particular system. If that is the case, for me as a member and for my constituency, this is worthwhile notwithstanding the cost.

To date, public safety officials have refused or revoked over 9,000 applications for firearms licences. The firearms centres have received thousands of calls from people trying to find information. To that extent it has helped more than 3,000 police officers across the country who have tapped into the system to find information about potential crimes that may be committed in our communities.

In the debate, there is fundamentally one group which wants to see some amendments and some repairs to the system. We are with that group. However, there is another group which wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater. My colleagues will correct me if I am not using the proper terminology. That is totally wrong because the system does work as I have clearly stated in my statistical information to the House.

When the Auditor General appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, upon which I sit, she never stated that there was anything wrong with the administration of the system. Her problem was not with that. Her problem was whether or not there was clarification of the program when the estimates came before Parliament. The department accepted those recommendations fully. The Minister of Justice appeared before the committee along with the minister responsible for the Treasury Board and pledged to the committee that they would ensure those recommendations were implemented. To that extent I appeal to my colleagues on the opposition side, in particular to those in the Canadian Alliance, to please stand up and clarify their positions.

Also, I appeal to the Alliance members to leave the past behind and support this initiative. This initiative is necessary to save lives in Canada and to help Canadians.

Supply March 25th, 2003

He should stand up and say he is sorry, Mr. Speaker.

Exchange Students March 21st, 2003

Mr. Speaker, today I have the pleasure to welcome to Ottawa students from Guilford Park Secondary School who travelled here all the way from Surrey, British Columbia. They are in Ottawa this week on an exchange with students from D'Arcy McGee Secondary School.

These students have been given a wonderful opportunity to visit another part of our great country while practising their abilities in the secondary language.

I hope that they have a great stay here in Ottawa and I thank them for the great Vancouver weather that they clearly brought along with them.

Human Rights March 19th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am dismayed by comments from a member of the official opposition concerning the impending war in Iraq. During this period of intense emotion, it saddened me that a Canadian Alliance member resorted to a blanket statement that mocked the pain and suffering of other people.

Yesterday the member for Calgary Southeast stated on national television that the ethnic cleansing that took place in the former Yugoslav republic was modest compared to the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein.

The horrors committed by any government against their own people in no way gives anyone the right to mock the human suffering of others, be it in the former republic of Yugoslavia or elsewhere. The hon. member's comments go beyond respectable political debate. They are reprehensible, unfortunate and shameful.

Trade March 17th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

The WTO from time to time reviews the trading policies of its members. I want to ask the minister what the WTO has found in its latest review of Canada's trading policies, considering Canada is one of the four largest trading partners in the world. Could the minister tell us what it has found in its review?

The Environment February 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. The commissioner of the environment recently released a report stating that there are literally thousands of contaminated federally owned sites across the country.

Could the minister tell us when we will see some action on this file? Has his department had a chance to review it and what can he tell us today?

Pharmacist Awareness Week February 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, March 3 to 9 is Pharmacist Awareness Week. Every day pharmacists make a significant difference in the lives of Canadians by providing expert information and advice on health and medication.

As the most accessible health care provider, pharmacists are always available to answer questions, give professional advice and ensure better health outcomes for all Canadians.

It is therefore no surprise that pharmacists were recently chosen as the most trusted professional by the public at large. As we undergo health care reform, Canadians will see the role of the pharmacist continue to expand.

In the future we will see greater participation by pharmacists in medication management programs, patient safety initiatives and full involvement in new primary health care teams.

I ask all Canadians to join us in celebrating and thanking Canadian pharmacists for a job well done.

Landmines February 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, nearly every 22 seconds someone in the world steps on a landmine. Each year between 15,000 and 20,000 new victims are claimed by landmines and, of those, over 20% are children.

Today I am pleased that the youth mine action ambassador program and Mines Action Canada are organizing an event at Ottawa City Hall called the Save Our Soles Shoe Project. This important event is to symbolize Canada's role and our youth's effort in the international campaign to ban landmines.

I am proud of the fact that our youth are following up on the work of the former foreign affairs minister, Lloyd Axworthy, and others to eliminate the threat of landmines once and for all.