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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forces.

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

Won his last election, in 2000, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply March 24th, 2003

When talking about war, one has to be very careful. Look at the damage and terrible things that are happening in that war now. If we could have avoided it through further work on disarmament, and I believe we could have, then that is what we should have done. That is the principled position taken the government. That is the principled position which is supported by the people of Canada in majority.

Of course if one examines Mr. Bush's remarks, he has never been clearly on the path of disarmament. That was the United Nations' endeavour. He talked about regime change. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator. There is no doubt we want him to go. There is no doubt that the Iraqi people will be far better off without him.

If regime change is what this is all about, then it begs the question, who is next after Saddam Hussein? After all, there are a lot of brutal dictators still left in this world and a lot of people who violate human rights. I thought it was absolutely atrocious that the head of the country of Libya, who violates human rights, should become the head of the human rights commission. There are a lot of such people who exist in this world.

There is North Korea. I consider North Korea to be a more clear and present danger, as the words go, than Iraq. Iraq in this conflict has not shown a very strong ability to defend itself or to attack. It has not attacked any of its neighbours. One of the things that was feared was that it would probably launch scud missiles against Israel, but it has not done that. In fact it has lost a lot of the territory from which it could launch them. Obviously it is not quite the strong danger that some people have tried to make it out to be.

Who is next is one of the questions. Then the other question is, who decides? Quite obviously the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the U.K. have decided to go around the United Nations process. I know the United Nations is not a perfect institution. It does need reform but it is our only institution for international discussion, for keeping things within a multilateral process and, as such, is quite vital for us. I believe we have to continue in that process. Otherwise, might becomes right. In other words, the countries that are the strongest go off and do what they want to do. I do not think that is in the best interests of the people of this world at all.

Therefore, who is next and who decides are important questions. Those are things that I think are very much in question as a result of this action by these countries that are part of the coalition.

I want to point out, as we talk about our friendship and our trading relationship with the United States, that yes, the United States and the American people are very close friends of ours, they are allies of ours and that will continue. That will not stop. We are very committed to the campaign against terrorism. We have committed more troops to Afghanistan than many of these 35 or 40 countries have committed to the Iraq effort, which the United States lists as supporters. We have been there with them. We have lost troops. We have had casualties in Afghanistan.

We are working with our United States allies in terms of the defence of this continent, Norad being one of the best instruments of that, with the smart border programs and all the things we are working on together to help ensure the safety of the people who live on this North American continent.

They will continue to be our friends and allies. I know that some of them are not very happy with our position on this but friends do disagree. We disagreed before. We did not go Vietnam. We disagreed with them on that, we disagreed with them on Cuba and we disagree with them on this one. On many other occasions though we have stood shoulder to shoulder, as we continue to do in the campaign against terrorism and in particular the effort in Afghanistan.

Some people talk about the trading relationship. The trading relationship is driven by the business communities in our two countries. I can tell members that they will want to keep it going. Regarding United States businesses, we are their biggest customer, far bigger than any other country in the world. They will continue to want to export their goods and services into our country. They will not want to stop that.

In terms of what Canada exports there, bear in mind that we are the number one foreign country in terms of the provision of energy to the United States of America, whether it is oil, natural gas or electricity. That trading partnership will continue. Yes, there are always problems with softwood lumber or this or that, but they all predate this kind of decision about Iraq in any event. I think we will get through all of this and still be great friends and great allies.

We hope and pray that the war will be quick and that the amount of suffering and casualties will be kept to a minimum. So far that looks to be the case. It is going rather quickly but we do not know, of course, until they get to Baghdad just how much opposition might occur.

After the war is over, winning the peace may prove to be more difficult than winning the war. There will be a long period of time to try to establish a civil society in Iraq and to try to establish some form of democracy in a country that really has not had it and to try to deal with the ethnic divisions within that country. Initially it would appear that there will be a military governor from the United States and that will create a lot of controversy in that entire region. Let us hope that this conflict can be over quickly and that it can be contained so it does not spread to other parts of the region or become a conflict of civilizations.

I believe in the position we have taken and therefore I cannot support the first part of the Alliance motion. I wish we had an opportunity to support the other parts but we have been denied that.

Supply March 24th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, that is very disappointing. There is a lot of support for parts of this motion, but if the Alliance were serious about getting that support, it would not be playing the kind of political games it is and which it now has denied that to happened.

The Alliance members like to say that they support the people and that they reflect what the people want. Yet on the weekend we saw in two polls. In one poll, 71% of Canadians support the position of the government with respect to Iraq. In the other poll, two-thirds of Canadians support the government. That party clearly does not reflect what the majority of Canadians want. The majority have clearly indicated their support for the government in this matter.

I strongly support that. It is a principled position and it is an important one. The war is unnecessary, certainly unnecessary at this time and probably very unnecessary at all. War should always be a last resort and there was progress being made to find a peaceful solution. The United Nations was clearly on the track of disarmament. The chief weapons inspector, Mr. Blix, was doing his job and indicated that in fact progress was being made. He did not say the work was all done. He said that progress was being made and more time was required. I am sorry that more time was not given.

Supply March 24th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the motion before us from the Canadian Alliance is in four parts. The first part is the part which all of the discussion has been about today, where there is a difference of opinion, but I think there is a lot of support, maybe not unanimous support but a lot, for the other three parts. The second part of the motion talks about support for Canadian servicemen and servicewomen. Of course we support them. The third part talks about the innocent people of Iraq and suggests support and sympathy and the desire to be involved in reconstruction. The fourth part of the motion talks about humanitarian assistance, which I am again absolutely sure that every member of the House wants to see happen.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you if the House would perhaps give its consent to the four parts of the motion being voted on separately. If there is unanimous agreement, then let us have the opportunity to vote.

Supply March 20th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, while Canada is not participating in the war against Iraq with any of its military personnel in that theatre of operation, we are committed to the campaign against terrorism and have been from the beginning. We were one of the largest and earliest contributors to the campaign in Afghanistan.

Do I take it by the member's amendment that he would have our troops withdrawn from Afghanistan? In the commitment that the government has made to Afghanistan in the campaign against terrorism, would he have us remove those troops? He has said in his amendment “the entire region”. I understand he is trying to prevent any involvement in Iraq, but surely he is not suggesting that we would pull back our troops from our campaign against terrorism in the region.

Situation in Iraq March 17th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Cambridge.

Approximately an hour ago President Bush gave a 48 hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein and his regime. Do we not all wish that he would take him up on that and that he would depart Iraq. He is a brutal dictator and certainly the Iraqi people would be much better off without him. But I do not think that will be a great possibility, as much as it would be wished.

The next step the president intends to take is one that involves military action. I believe that is a mistake. I believe that the inspection regime was producing results. Yes, we must all admit that to a great degree it was because of the very pressure President Bush brought to bear on the Iraqi regime, but that does not justify taking it to the next step of war because, as Mr. Blix has said, progress is being made. More time is needed by him and the inspectors. There can be containment of the situation by the United Nations.

Indeed, the agenda of the United Nations is one of disarmament. That is not the agenda of President Bush. He has made it clear that it is one of regime change. He has said that right from the beginning. The United Nations believes there is not a clear and present danger to the world or to the United States from Iraq and that inspections should be allowed to carry on.

The position that was put forward today in the House by the Prime Minister is the correct position. It is one where we will not become involved in the conflict in Iraq because it does not have the sanction of the Security Council. We must be a part of and support the United Nations and its Security Council process. Yes, there are imperfections. Yes, there is a need for a lot of reform in that system. But it is the one international forum we have to try and maintain peace in the world and I think we must respect that forum.

Mr. Bush tonight said that it had failed to act and he indicated his disappointment in the Security Council. I do not believe we should allow him to attack the credibility of the United Nations because he did not get his way, because there are many countries that simply do not agree with the next step that he wants to take. Canada will continue to support the United Nations and the Security Council process, and that is what I believe most Canadians would want Canada to do.

At the same time, we must recognize that we are the closest friends of the people of the United States. We are tied very closely economically to the United States. Our neighbours have gone through a very traumatic experience with the attacks of September 11. We must be careful in dealing with our friend and ally that we bear that in mind as we go through the troubled times ahead.

Some mention was made of the legality of going into this conflict, whether resolution 1441 in fact does provide, as the president has indicated, the sufficient justification to proceed with conflict, with a military attack. I think lawyers will argue for a considerable amount of time whether in fact it is legal. Meanwhile, whether it is or is not, regardless what the lawyers may say, a military action is about to occur.

Canadian troops were mentioned today in the House. I do not believe that any Canadian troops should be a part of any action in Iraq. If we are not participating in that war, our troops should neither be involved in direct combat nor in a support operation where the maple leaf is on their shoulder and they are participating in any way in the Iraq conflict.

There are other roles which they could play with the United States, Britain or our other allies around the world, that may well not come within that category, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Nor is it wrong for our troops to be involved in the war against terrorism. Indeed the campaign against terrorism is one that we have thoroughly supported. We are involved again in sending troops to Afghanistan and that region as part of the effort to bring about greater stability in that country. Our Canadian troops should not be part of the conflict in Iraq.

There is also the question of a humanitarian disaster which is looming for the people of Iraq, the innocent civilians of Iraq. Half of the people of that country, some 60 million people, depend upon the government for food supplies and half of them in turn are children. There are many children that are undernourished, many children that are already going without clean water. Disease is already a factor in their lives. How much worse is it going to be when the conflict begins?

Unfortunately the United States and the other countries that are involved in the conflict have not put enough time and attention into how they are going to relieve that kind of pain for the very people the President of the United States said tonight he was not attacking. He wants to help them. He wants to liberate them. Hopefully he and his country will be able to do more to help relieve the pain that might result from any attack.

It is not going to be the people who become, in the jargon of war, collateral damage. It is the people who will suffer from starvation, disease and other factors that are going to be part of this humanitarian catastrophe.

There is also the risk of instability in the entire region. There must be great caution in terms of not inciting the potential for a clash of civilizations, Muslim versus the west. Nobody wants that. When we get into war, when we get into this kind of conflict and the kind of instability that could be created in that entire region, there are always risks that have to be watched. Hopefully as any military action progresses, the world community through the United Nations will keep an eye on the situation to help ensure that this war, this conflict does not spread beyond what the President of the United States says he wants to accomplish in terms of regime change.

Post-war governance again will be an issue that will require a lot of attention. It is probable that there will be a military governor from the United States who will be in Iraq for some period of time. We do not know what length of time that might be, but again that can cause a lot of anxiousness, a lot of resentment for many other people, not only in Iraq but people in the surrounding areas. We only hope that out of all of this, if there is going to be war we end up seeing the people relieved of so much pain they have been through and that we end up moving toward the kind of democratic institutions that I believe they deserve.

It would have been better to go the other route. It would have been better to contain the conflict. In fact the more clear and present danger probably comes from North Korea. The President of the United States says that we can solve that by diplomatic means, but somehow we cannot solve this by diplomatic means. I believe that he is making a mistake in the plan that he is about to unleash.

One can only hope that if this is going to happen, that it be mercifully short. I think there is a very high risk of it being quite dangerous, quite messy and a high risk of it going on for some period of time, a high risk in it spreading beyond where the President of the United States thinks its limits are.

One of the lessons of history is that wars do not very often go according to plan. They become something far different than we had ever imagined. We only hope and pray that will not happen in this case and perhaps in these last moments somehow war will totally be avoided.

Situation in Iraq March 17th, 2003

You're getting picky.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act February 25th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am voting in favour of the motion.

Supply February 6th, 2003

If it is that serious maybe that is what should be moved.

Supply February 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the reference just now to the questions I asked this morning by the hon. member.

I should point out that everybody in the House would say that war should be a very last resort. That is the essence of the government's position which has been well enunciated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

I realize that there was not a lot of detail in answer to a hypothetical question. I certainly hope that the government is thoroughly thinking of these matters and these various scenarios. I can understand its only divulging so much publicly. I think the position of our government is the correct one at this point.

I would like to get to the motion before us which was moved by the Canadian Alliance House leader. I would like to ask the hon. member why it is that we cannot have, instead of the motion that is before us, what is already within the procedures of the House and that is a party can move non-confidence in the government if it does not like the government's decision?

The Alliance House leader is saying in his motion that the House should make some decision after the government has made its decision to confirm it. If it is a very serious matter, such as war, perhaps a confidence motion is the appropriate thing to be moving.

I know the hon. member cited the position of the Liberal Party when it was in opposition. At that time I was not there and I do not know all the rationale behind it. Maybe the Conservative government did the wrong thing in allowing the vote. I have looked into the history of this chamber and Parliament did not declare Canada's entry into World War II. This Parliament did not declare Canada's entry into Korea. In fact, there is a much stronger tradition of the executive branch, the cabinet, making those decisions.

The cabinet is in the best position to make those decisions. It has all the relevant information, including intelligence information that it cannot divulge publicly if it is getting into a conflict situation. It is appropriate for the government to make that kind of decision.

If the opposition does not like it, it can move a non-confidence motion. I see no point. Perhaps the hon. member could comment further on the need for this motion that has been put by the Canadian Alliance. There is a procedure already in place to deal with such matters.

Prebudget Consultations December 10th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I think everybody in the House has a wish list of what they would like to see in the coming budget. There is no doubt that health care is on everybody's minds, with the Romanow report just having been published. That will certainly occupy a very central part of the budget.

If we go back to the Speech from the Throne, the government has put forward a number of areas as high priority. For example, child poverty and the need to develop a child care program as part of our early childhood education, which is a tremendously good investment in our young people. There are the needs of our cities in terms of urban infrastructure. There is a long term plan that will be developed and this budget will provide the opportunity to start it.

We also need investments in transit and in housing. Affordable housing is part of strengthening our cities. The report recently published by the Liberal caucus committee on cities calls for an urban strategy. It is a good framework to develop this kind of measure. I hope we will see things like that in the budget.

I hope we will see more money for defence. As I have suggested before, we need at least $1 billion a year to square the defence program with the defence budget. I am hopeful that will be solidly addressed in this budget.

Then there is the environment. Having adopted Kyoto today there are measures that need to be advanced there as well.

One difficulty in all of this is that Canadians, while I am sure they would like us to invest in all the areas I just covered, want to ensure that we do not go into a deficit again, the kind of $42 billion deficit that we inherited from the Conservative government.

I listened to the member just a few moments ago. I found it galling of him, when we consider the kind of mess in which his government left this government and this country with respect to its finances. The Liberal government over its nine years has pulled us out of that deficit situation and has reduced the debt substantially. As a result of those good economic measures, we have seen a lowering of our interest rate, an increase in our employment rate and now we can proceed with $100 billion plan to cut taxes. That is the trick.

In summary we have to find a balanced approach. I know the Minister of Finance and the past minister of finance have excellently served this country in those portfolios. I know the Minister of Finance has very little room to manoeuvre because he said that the forecast for new surplus is not that significant in the coming fiscal year.

We will probably have to look at developing multi-year approaches. We have done that in the tax cuts area. We may well have to do it in defence. We will have to do it in health care. There is no way we can afford all those things that Mr. Romanow suggests in his report. Even if we decide to adopt all his report or even a portion thereof, it is a very costly measure over a number of years; some $15 billion. Obviously multi-year programs will be required to fund that.

We want to ensure that we continue to find that balance. We want to continue to cut taxes, reduce debt and absolutely stay out of deficit. We want to continue to invest in the kinds of things that will help spread opportunity for all Canadians, whether it is helping to strengthen our cities or our health care program, or dealing with child poverty, or defence or the environment. These are all important things and I hope they will all be addressed in this coming budget.