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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was rights.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Richmond (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 June 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, each time the Conservative Party chanted “more, more, more” during the unveiling of the Conservative budget, we watched the fabric of our great nation unravel. Under Conservative leadership, Canada is moving from a “we” nation to a “me” nation. Instead of investing in the lives of Canadian children, students, families, businesses and seniors, the Conservative government offers small cash allowances and tax breaks and says, “Do it yourself”.

The Conservative budget has failed Canadians on child care, climate change and environmental initiatives, research and development, health care and wait times, tax relief for low and middle income families, and fiscal responsibility of the government to all Canadians.

The federal government's role and responsibility is to manage the country's affairs and to design economic and social policies for the betterment of Canadians now and in the future. Budget 2006, however, is a shameful masquerade of political opportunism that is designed for short term political gain to the long term detriment of the country.

This budget exploits the most vulnerable Canadians by raising the lowest income tax rate and then attempts to buy votes with a 1% reduction in the GST. It is absolutely ridiculous that the government intends to make up lost revenues by increasing the taxes of those who are most in need.

Do members want more poor Conservative planning? The Conservative government has cancelled the early learning and child care agreements with the provinces and replaced them with a taxable monthly allowance. Shame.

The national child care strategy was designed to ensure that all Canadian children were given the same opportunity to succeed in life. This is the type of national strategy that Canadians want, not a nearsighted political tactic designed to buy votes.

The Conservative child care scheme offers families under $3 per day. This is not a solution to the increasing need for affordable child care spaces or the need for a national early childhood education strategy.

As if $20 a week for child care is not bad enough, low income parents will be losing the young child supplement of the Canada child tax benefit. The Conservatives are cutting $1 billion from the CCTB, which was supposed to reach $10 billion next year.

Through the early learning and child care agreements, the previous Liberal government designed and implemented a solution to these growing concerns. It is incredibly sad that instead of using a good policy and dealing with the real issues of child care in Canada, the Conservative government has opted for a band-aid solution and political engineering.

Do members want more poor Conservative planning? The budget fails to address the issue of climate change. The government has eliminated climate change programs and has cancelled Canada's commitment to the Kyoto accord. Shame.

Its transit tax credit is costly and ineffective. It will cost almost $400 million over two years and increase transit use by only 5%. This translates to a cost of $2,000 for each tonne of carbon dioxide saved, which is 10 to 100 times the cost per tonne under our project green plan.

The Liberal Party of Canada believes in investing in the environment and climate change programs, not the elimination of 15 made in Canada climate change programs.

Do members want to hear about more poor Conservative planning? The budget fails to make any significant investments in education and innovation.

Budget 2006 has cancelled more than $3 billion worth of funding on education over the next five years, all of which would have gone directly to improve access to post-secondary education. Shame.

Additionally, the Conservative government has cancelled more than $2 billion in funding over five years to increase support for granting councils, research programs and internships.

The Liberal government had a concrete vision that would have helped put us at the forefront of competitiveness and innovation. This lacklustre and visionless budget contains virtually nothing in this regard.

The Liberal government believed strongly in positioning Canada as a leader in the world by investing in innovation and research, education and increasing Canada's productivity.

For example, for university research, our last fiscal update provided $2.5 billion. The Conservative budget provides $200 million, less than one-tenth of our commitments. For student aid, our plan would have provided up to $6,000 per student for tuition over a four year program. The Conservative plan provides only $80 for textbooks.

The bottom line is that budget 2006 and the Conservative government are simply not committed to a long term investment strategy in education, innovation, research and competitiveness.

Do members want to hear about more poor Conservative planning? The budget fails to address the real needs of seniors.

The Conservative budget continues its policy of buying votes and not dealing with the issues that greatly affect Canadians. The Conservative plan offers a mere $155 per eligible pensioner. There are no measures to allow for RSP income splitting between spouses, income securities or investment in long term care facilities.

By 2021 seniors will form 18% of Canada's population and we need responsive policies, programs and services to support this growing segment of our population. The Liberal government earmarked $1 billion for a national caregiver strategy and a comprehensive national home and community care program.

The simple fact is that the Conservative budget does little to help Canada's seniors, especially those living near or just above the poverty line.

Canada needs a government that plans for a better future. The Conservative government has shown a constant theme through its budget and governance: buy votes, avoid tough issues, and when the press is negative, silence them.

Canada needs a government that will look to the future and tackle tough issues, not one that governs for its own future political gain.

Motions for Papers May 31st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Notice of Motion No. P-7 asks for a document to which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister claimed to be referring to in question period almost a month ago. If the parliamentary secretary were telling the truth, the government must have the document at the ready. I cannot understand why the government is not prepared to deal with this matter now.

Canada-U.S. Border May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, if that is the case, why did the Prime Minister, in his first meeting with Mr. Bush, throw up his hands and say that it was already a done deal? Canadians are tired of the government's inaction on this file and want real answers, not Republican Party spin.

Why does the minister refuse to act while premiers and border mayors are aggressively trying to save their communities?

Canada-U.S. Border May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the previous Liberal government set the standard to speed up border crossings with programs like Nexus and FAST. The Liberal government launched a debate about the use of biometrics to comply with U.S. standards but the Conservatives loudly opposed a made in Canada solution.

Could the minister explain to Canadians why, after 15 years of sitting on their hands in opposition, they have no plan of their own to address the crisis at our borders?

Chinese Canadians November 28th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, there are so many non-factual issues in the hon. member's question. First of all, it is the opposition party's proposal in the draft legislation that asks to talk to one group only. In the agreement we have signed, we have the support of SUCCESS in Vancouver and the cultural centre in Toronto. We have the support of the Montreal cultural centre and many, many other groups across the country in the Chinese community, so we did not deal with just one group.

Transportation Amendment Act November 28th, 2005

moved that Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act, to enact the VIA Rail Canada Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Italian Canadians November 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his excellent work on this file in the heritage committee. I would also like to thank the Minister of Canadian Heritage for her dedication, advice and support on this file.

On Saturday I was proud to sign an agreement in principle with the leaders of the Italian Canadian community to make sure that this bad part of Canadian history is properly and correctly acknowledged and commemorated, and that Canadians are educated about it to ensure that this kind of thing never happens again.

Pacific Gateway Act October 31st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to acknowledge the hon. member's contribution in promoting the development of the Prince Rupert container port. The member has been instrumental in alerting the B.C. caucus as well as the B.C. ministers of the importance of the Prince Rupert port development and how not only is it going to help develop the local economies up north, it is also going to help Canada develop another channel for our exports and our economic links to Asia. I acknowledge the member for his input and his contribution to that project, which is a key part of our Pacific gateway strategy.

On the issue of the different cultural and ethnic groups in Canada, I mentioned in my presentation that over three million Canadians are of Asian descent, particularly from China. There are close to 1.3 million Canadians who are of Chinese descent and close to one million Canadians who are from South Asia. They all have tremendous knowledge of those economies. They also know how to do business in those regions and have tremendous business and cultural links to those regions.

We all appreciate that the legal jurisdictions and legal systems in those countries are not perfect for trade right now, but at the same time it depends so much on our knowledge about their culture. Sometimes in doing business in that region a handshake is better than a contract. Canadians of Asian descent could help us build tremendous business opportunities and help our businesses reach out to those economies.

Pacific Gateway Act October 31st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, this gives me the opportunity to explain a little bit on where we should go from here. After the initial infrastructure investment that we have announced in the gateway strategy announcement, there is another $400 million we have dedicated for infrastructure to improve the transportation system in B.C. and so on.

After the announcement, we will form a council with representation from all four provinces as well as the business sector, the municipalities and other experts in the field. Any other transportation infrastructure improvement will be coming from this council.

The proposals that have been mentioned by the hon. member will be considered, like the dredging of the Fraser River and the funding for the Golden Ears Bridge. As well, in Richmond, we have the Blundell exchange, where people could easily get on and off Highway 99 as well as the tunnel going down to the Delta area. All these infrastructure programs will be considered by the council that we will form and the government would then act upon its recommendations.

Pacific Gateway Act October 31st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, indeed, since 1994 the Liberal government has appointed me as the minister, the Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, to develop our connection, our business opportunities, and our cultural links in the Asia-Pacific region. Before that, under the Conservative government, there was no focus on the Asia-Pacific. We were focused so much on Europe.

I visited some of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region like India, Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines back in 1994. I was the first federal minister who ever visited those countries in eight or ten years. It was amazing how the Conservative government ignored that region.

During that time we organized trade missions, particularly the team Canada missions, to bring our businesses to develop ties with that region. We went pretty well throughout the different regions of Asia-Pacific to build those links. As a result of that, we are bringing in many businesses, trade and other opportunities into Canada. It builds up the demand of our infrastructure in the Pacific region.

That is why the port facilities and transportation infrastructure in B.C. and other parts of western Canada are so congested now with traffic. That is why this gateway strategy is timely. We have to ensure that in order to meet the challenge, we have to develop this strategy, open up the northern transportation corridor to allow B.C. and the west to fully develop our capacity as the gateway to the Pacific.