House of Commons photo

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

Hanukkah December 2nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, tonight is the fourth night of Hanukkah. One of the beautiful dimensions of Hanukkah is its universal message of religious freedom and tolerance. The light of the Hanukkah candles bestow their warmth and inspire us to reach ever upwards, like the bright flame of the candle, in an effort to spread the spirit of generosity and respect.

I would like to therefore invite all members of the House to the 13th annual Menorah lighting ceremony on Parliament Hill this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. in room 237-C. I also would like to take this opportunity to recognize the children of Shmuel Zahavy Cheder Chebad Choir who have travelled here from Thornhill to sing in this ceremony.

Mr. Speaker, I wish you, all members of the House and all Canadians a very happy Hanukkah.

Privilege October 24th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I too accept the apology given by the Leader of the Opposition, and I hope we can get on with the business at hand.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I certainly share the hon. member's concern about child poverty. Back in the eighties, I believe, the House did say it would eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Obviously that has not been done. I applaud the Prime Minister for making child poverty a priority in terms of the throne speech, to do more, and more needs to be done.

There is no doubt about the difficulty of funding everything Canadians need and want. The government, though, has done a terrific job in terms of finding the right balance of things and we will continue to do that. There is no doubt that child poverty has to be dealt with, and our military has to be dealt with as well.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I do not recall speaking on either one of those issues. I am not sure that the throne speech debate is the appropriate time to discuss them. As I indicated, there is an investigation going on with respect to this matter. I think that all members of the House have to adhere to a high ethical standard. There is absolutely no doubt about that. As I have indicated, when it came to the rules I abided by those rules. I think we will hear more about the case involving Mr. MacAulay.

Meanwhile, we do have a throne speech here--

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, trust and ethics are important issues. I have given comments with respect to my own situation in that regard, as the Solicitor General has with his. The matter is now under investigation by the ethics counsellor, who will subsequently report on this matter for the edification of the entire House.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, this is the first occasion that I rise in the House, not as a minister but as a member of Parliament for York Centre, to give some perspectives I have on the Speech from the Throne.

The Speech from the Throne is a solid blueprint for dealing with the challenges that face the country and the people of Canada at this time. It talks about the need to reform health care and reform the justice system for our aboriginal people. It goes on to say how Canada must be a leader in terms of innovation in learning, and it commits and recommits to the concept of dealing with child poverty, one of the issues that I hope to spend more time on in this session of Parliament.

It deals with the Kyoto protocol which we all want to see put in place in a reasonable way that helps to meet our obligations with respect to the environment while at the same time continuing with a strong economy which we have enjoyed for some time in the country.

How much of the blueprint will be put into action will depend upon another document to be tabled in the House at a later date and that is the budget. It will contain the resources that will be needed to implement many of these things. It will determine how much of it can be put into action at this time.

We have for a number of years had as a firm policy the desire to keep our fiscal house in order, not to go back into deficit. We spent a number of years getting out of deficit. We want to ensure we never do that again. We want to ensure that the debt continues to reduce as a percentage of our gross national product.

We want to ensure though that at the same time we can put in place for Canadians a balanced approach for dealing with these many challenges which are incorporated in the Speech from the Throne. That will have to be determined as we determine what financial resources are available.

I will focus on two parts of the Speech from the Throne. Neither one of these should be of any surprise to members of the House because they deal with my experiences over 30 years in public service and elected office.

First is defence. I was Minister of National Defence for some five years and was grateful to see in the Speech from the Throne the notation that Canada's military be equipped to fulfill the demands placed upon it. That is a principle that has to be implemented as quickly as possible. Now there is more defence program than there is defence budget. These two things have to be brought in balance. We can no longer afford a roughly $13 billion program but a $12 billion budget. There has to be a reconciliation. We must recognize that the demands on our troops have increased the operational tempo over the years since we last did a review of the defence program in 1994.

At that point in time we thought 60,000 troops would be enough coming out of the Cold War. Since then we have had more peace support operations than we had during the entire 40 years of the Cold War. We should continue to meet that operation tempo because we have built a solid reputation for this country when it comes to peace support operations around the world. Countries of the world and the United Nations look to Canada to be involved in those peace support operations. It is our forte in terms of our contribution militarily to the international arena.

In order to be able to do that we will have to add troops to the Canadian Forces to keep up that kind of operation tempo. Otherwise we must cut back on the operation tempo. We must do the same with equipment. We need to add to the equipment. We need to replace the outworn and outdated equipment as quickly as possible.

We need additional moneys, at least a billion dollars a year, in terms of the operations of the Canadian Forces to carry on this kind of programming and these kinds of services and relieve some of the pressure on the operation tempo. We need some additional dollars to go into capital equipment. We need to develop a rapidly deployable force. This is something we have been developing. However, we need to continue to do that so that we can move quickly to deal with some of the challenges that we face in the world. While we may not have a Cold War, we may not have the bipolar world that we had for a great many years. The world is still an unsafe place. There are still many conflicts. Canada has to be there to be part of making a contribution.

We continue to need multipurpose combat capability. Our troops need to be combat capable because peace support operations are not so peaceful nowadays. As we have seen in the case of Afghanistan, we can find ourselves in conflict situations which are necessary for us to provide the training and the equipment for our forces. At the same time recognizing that the operation tempo needs to be reduced.

We have spent a lot of time and effort in terms of the quality of life for our troops. However, more needs to be done to ensure we support our Canadian Forces the way they should be supported.

The second subject deals with the plight of our cities. I spent 11 years as the mayor of Toronto and well know the difficulties that cities have in making ends meet and getting the kind of tax resources they need to solve the problems that their citizens want them to solve. I was grateful to see in the Speech from the Throne the 10-year plan for infrastructure.

Infrastructure is a good contribution that the government can make to help our cities. Our cities need their infrastructure modernized so they can continue to contribute to the economy of the country. The economy of the country is, by and large, made in our cities. Over 80% of our people live in our cities. We need to ensure that they get the infrastructure needed to do that. A 10 year plan helps to ensure that our municipalities have the planning horizon they need. They cannot plan ahead by putting in funds one year and cutting them out the next. That is not the way to govern our cities. A 10 year plan for infrastructure, as mentioned in the throne speech, is a solid, good move. However, more needs to be done

There is the whole question of affordable housing. We have put money into trying to help solve the problem of the homeless. However, it is not solved. There is more that needs to be done there. There are people in my city of Toronto, thousands, waiting years in lineups to get affordable housing. There are seniors in my constituency of York Centre who are paying 50% or more of their income for rental accommodation. They do not have enough money left for food and for the other necessities of life.

We have a real problem in housing in my constituency, my city, and cities right across the country. The infrastructure program or the housing programs of the federal government must help to deal with the problem. We are not in it alone; we are there in partnership. The provinces and municipalities must be there as well. The federal government must recognize the needs in terms of our cities.

There is the problem regarding transit. In my city there is enormous traffic congestion choking the streets of Toronto. We need more put into public transit to expand the public transit system.

There are things that we can do at the federal level, for example, housing for seniors. The guaranteed income supplement, the seniors pension program, is indexed to inflation. However inflation does not cover the cost of housing in Toronto. We ought to be looking at increasing those kinds of pensionable allowances so that our seniors are not paying 50% or more of their income.

We should look at tax policies and transit. Right now, in terms of our urban municipalities, if we are driving a car we get a free parking space but if we get a pass given by our employer it is a taxable benefit. Those are things we can do at the federal level to help in terms of the plight of our cities, in terms of supplementing what we are talking about in terms of our infrastructure.

The Speech from the Throne says that this will lead us to the Canada we want. I believe we can do that, but we have a lot more work to do.

We have to provide the resources that are necessary to do it and we have to continue with very sincere follow-up to the principled statements that are made in the Speech from the Throne.

National Defence May 24th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, a business case was prepared. In fact, the auditor general said it was a good, strong business case for going this route. There will be savings. Savings are estimated to be some $74 million a year.

The people who are involved in the service now can be transferred to the company that will carry out the contract, fully 100% of them, at the same or better pay and benefits than they already have, guaranteed for a period of seven years.

It seems to me that the department wins. We get a better, stronger service, we save money and the employees are going to win in this as well.

National Defence May 22nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I would dispute those numbers.

We have invested in the Canadian forces some 20% over the last three years. We will continue to invest in the coming years. There were cuts, yes, before that so that we could get our deficit eliminated, but we are investing. We are ensuring that our Canadian forces get the resources they need to do the job.

We want to make sure that the families of those victims, those people who died, are properly looked after as well.

National Defence May 22nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may feel shameful but we on this side of the House are quite proud that we were one of the first to contribute to the campaign against terrorism. We are quite proud that we are the fifth largest contributor to the coalition effort. We are quite proud that we will continue to be represented by 1,300 Canadian forces personnel even after the battle group leaves Afghanistan. Above all, we are quite proud of the outstanding work done by the men and women of our Canadian forces.

National Defence May 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, General Eberhart, who is the commander of Norad, will also be the commander of northcom. However they are two separate organizations. Norad will continue as a binational command reporting to both Canada and the United States. We will have command and control over our own forces and our own territory as has been the Norad tradition. There will be no change in that whatsoever.

We are also looking for ways in which we can enhance co-operation for the benefit of our own citizens and our own continent in terms of co-operation in other areas involving the military.