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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

Forestry December 13th, 2004

Madam Chair, I am pleased to speak to the issue of the federal government's action plan with regard to the mountain pine beetle epidemic in western Canada. I believe this currently is one of the biggest challenges to the strength of the B.C. economy. It is for that reason that I was pleased to meet the Premier of British Columbia last week and to meet with the B.C. ministry of forests a few weeks before that.

It is sad for me to hear in the debate tonight that all the opposition is doing is trying to play politics on a very important issue that affects our province of British Columbia.

It is amazing. This issue has been dear to my heart, even before I was re-elected to the House of Commons. As a private citizen I was so concerned about this issue that I took the initiative to contact our colleagues in the government in B.C and to call the minister himself and meet with him. Before I became a member of Parliament I met many times with the minister to talk about this issue.

It is amazing that the opposition members, even though they know it is such an important issue and have been long time members of the House, have not initiated a call to the minister to deal with it. What is wrong with members of Parliament representing those ridings raising the issue with the minister in charge?

Instead they play politics. They just call the political minister in B.C. and say that they have done their job and that they have asked questions in the House. Instead of seriously asking for a meeting to debate the issue and perhaps come up with some proposals to the minister, they did not. They try to confuse the issue about this plan.

The government under the leadership of the Liberal Party has been on top of this issue since 2002. It has been in consultations with the provincial government and they have come up with a plan. We are working on it with a $40 million project to help alleviate the problem. They want to mix that up. If they are talking about this plan that we initiated back in 2002 or in the 1999 period, of course there is a plan.

However when we talk about a new plan, I met the premier last week. He has a plan for mitigation. He asked that we all work together to support the provincial government in finding new solutions. Maybe forest fires can come back again. There is a plan for that but there is not a plan to fight the pine beetle. Everybody knows that the way to fight the pine beetle is either to deforest them or we wait for the cold weather.

If the opposition member has a plan we would like to see it. He claims that the provincial government has come up with a plan and that we have ignored it. The allegation all night long has been that the provincial government has a plan that asks for our support and yet we have denied it the opportunity. That is not true.

They are playing politics. Ever since 2002 we have had a $40 million initiative to try to help with this issue. It was announced in October 2002 and a major program was designed to directly assist the efforts of private woodlot operators to work on beetle control and on post-beetle rehabilitation of their forest lands.

As I indicated, I am interested in drawing the attention of the House to the support of British Columbia's private land owners in this very important area.

In addition, the mountain pine beetle initiative provides assistance for beetle control and forest rehabilitation on first nations reserve forest lands, and in the federal parks along the western side of the Rocky Mountains and for major federal forest land holdings in central and southeastern British Columbia.

A second major focus of the initiative is to deliver the research required to ensure an effective response to this beetle epidemic. These research needs were identified through a series of regional forums with hundreds of B.C. land managers.

All the mountain pine beetle initiative programs are fully operational and a wide range of B.C. landowners and researchers have become involved and many of them in the ridings represented by the hon. member and his colleagues in and around the city of Prince George in B.C.'s central interior.

The Canadian Forest Service has located staff in Prince George and Kamloops to assist private forest landowners to develop proposals to identify forest beetle infestations, to take management steps to control the beetle and to subsequently reforest these lands.

The Canadian Forest Service has also stationed a research group with three scientists and technical support at the University of Northern British Columbia to work with university and provincial government researchers in providing a cohesive and targeted flow of information in meeting the challenges of this beetle epidemic.

In addition, UNBC and provincial government researchers in Prince George have been awarded almost $1 million in mountain pine beetle initiative funds.

These are responsible and laudable actions on behalf of the landowners.

This issue is of utmost importance to us in British Columbia. We will continue to work with the provincial government, the affected landowners and our minister to find long term solutions to this very unfortunate situation. But I think that just playing politics is not going to do the job.

Chinese Canadians November 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has done a lot to ensure that justice has been done and that the Charter of Rights is in place. We have been talking to the Chinese community to find some solutions to address some of the issues that we have felt sorrow about in the past.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act November 29th, 2004

moved that Bill C-24, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (fiscal equalization payments to the provinces and funding to the territories), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Supply November 16th, 2004

Mr. Chair, first I would like to congratulate my colleague. He has impressed me. His knowledge about the multicultural program and the policy was so thorough that I am speechless. He is a new member of Parliament and yet he knows so much about what we believe in and what this country is all about. He is the first member of Parliament of Portuguese descent, and I must congratulate him and welcome him to this House.

The hon. member has asked a very important question about the very important issue of racism. I am the minister in charge of multiculturalism, which is one very important task, a very important mandate. I take it very seriously. Even though Canada is multicultural and there is so much harmony in our society, yes, racism does exist in our society. We must be very vigilant in doing everything we can to combat racism. It is to our peril if we do not do that. Racism is a deterrent to participation. If we do not deal with that issue, we will not be able to build this country with all the resources that we have.

With multiculturalism, one of the most important mandates is to make sure that all Canadians can participate fully in our society economically and socially, as well as politically. Only when we do that can we can make use of all the resources in Canada, particularly human resources, to build a strong country and to be able to compete with the rest of the world.

Many people thought that multiculturalism was designed for ethnic visible minorities. This is not true. When multiculturalism was designed back in the 1960s and the 1970s, the visible minorities were a very small percentage of Canada's population, probably less than 1% of the total population.

When I came to Canada back in 1969, there was only about 15,000 Chinese Canadians in Vancouver. We would hardly see another Chinese person on the street. Every time we saw another Chinese Canadian we would be so happy, we would say hello, shake hands, take out our address books and take down each other's phone number. Now there are 400,000 Chinese Canadians in Vancouver and we hardly say hello to each other.

We have to do our best to work together to build this country. It is amazing that from time to time when I reach out across Canada these days to talk about multiculturalism, many Canadians of European descent say, “Make sure that multiculturalism includes us as well”. Of course it does.

This is why I am so happy to see our first member of Parliament from Portugal, and other members of Parliament who descend from other parts of the world. It is amazing that over the years multiculturalism has worked so well.

I went to Saskatchewan and participated in a round table with the Ukrainian community. The Ukrainian leaders were so proud, when we talked about the history of multiculturalism, to tell me how it started. They said, “It was when the right hon. Pierre Trudeau had to deal with the inequality in Canada at the time. Even though the francophones in Quebec were the majority in the province, they had a hard time competing with the anglophones. Even though they were the majority, the economic control and political control in Quebec was in the hands of the anglophones. In order to have a level playing field for the francophones, the right hon. Pierre Trudeau started talking about two official languages for Canada. He brought people together to talk about how we could give all people in Canada a level playing field”.

When Mr. Trudeau talked about a level playing field for the francophones and the anglophones, the Ukrainians said, “How about us?” They are present in Canada. Of course in the 1960s and the 1970s, there were many ethnic groups in Canada, the Ukrainians, the Italians, the Jewish, the Germans.

Canada was multicultural in reality even back then. Multiculturalism evolved because of all these ethnic groups. All should have a level playing field and our party and the right hon. Pierre Trudeau believed in that. This is how the policy came about.

The visible minorities contribute a lot to Canadian society right now. It is important, as mentioned by my colleague, that the source of immigration has shifted. About 60% or 70% of the immigrants coming into Canada are from Asia. The visible minorities are going to build up to a high percentage in Canada. Right now they constitute about 12%--

Multiculturalism October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that this government will always work to ensure that Canadians in all ethnocultural communities can participate in and contribute fully to our society. We will continue to remove barriers such that all Canadians can contribute and take an active part in Canada's social, cultural, economic and political affairs.

I will also strongly uphold the balance of equal opportunity and work to eliminate racism as laid out in the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Canadian Heritage October 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the speech that the minister delivered in Banff was about the CRTC, the importance of CBC, the importance of the Canadian television fund and how important Canadian culture was.

I hope the opposition will spend more time telling Canadians its position on those very important issues to Canadians.

Canadian Heritage October 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the minister was there to talk about policies with the CRTC, the importance of the CBC and how important Canadian culture was.

As I understand it, all her expenses followed the Treasury Board policies. I hope the opposition will spend more time telling the Canadian public about its position on those policies.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the member opposite has been doing for the last few months. Our government has paid a lot of attention to the agricultural sector. Just on the BSE problem alone we have committed more than $1.5 billion to help the growers of this country.

Not only have we helped farmers but we have negotiated strongly with the Americans to open up the border. We are now in the process of restructuring our industry to provide more processing capacity so that we do not have to depend on the Americans for our meat processing.

My Province of British Columbia has been faced with the problem of avian flu and the government moved quickly to deal with the issue. The minister of agriculture at the time met with poultry farmers in British Columbia and provided support for them. They are now happy that we have dealt with the problem and we are moving on to a much stronger industry.

On behalf of my colleagues on this side of the House, I can say that the Government of Canada has made agriculture a very important sector for Canadians to enjoy.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The throne speech was a balance between fiscal responsibility and social development. It outlined our commitment to balancing budgets and reducing debt. It also promised to reduce the health care waiting lists, investment in child care and cities. We are taking care of a lot of issues that have been raised by Canadians. At the same time, we are continuing to hold a tight control on the finances of the country.

I am very happy that there are specific gains for Richmond and British Columbia in the Speech from the Throne, with the provision of gas tax revenues through the new deal for Canada's cities. My constituents can rest assured that I will keep my eyes on the ball and work to ensure that Richmond and British Columbia are well represented in Parliament.

It is a great honour to speak today in response to the Speech from the Throne. It is a privilege to speak on behalf of my constituents from the beautiful city of Richmond. As Minister of State for Multiculturalism, I am particularly proud of the Speech from the Throne.

The Speech from the Throne places a great deal of emphasis on this government's efforts to reach out to all Canadians. These efforts underscore our commitment to foster an inclusive society. The government is truly committed to multiculturalism.

The speech outlines seven principles that will guide the government's actions on behalf of Canadians. Among them are three that I would like to speak about.

The government will defend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and be a steadfast advocate of inclusion. It will demand equality of opportunity so that prosperity can be shared by all Canadians. It will pursue its objectives in a manner that recognizes Canada's diversity as a source of strength and innovation.

These principles lie at the centre of this government's approach to building a strong, innovative, resilient society, a society that is built on the contribution of all, regardless of background, race or ethnicity.

The government is determined to continue to defend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to be a steadfast advocate of inclusion and a champion of the concept of shared citizenship. For Canadians, this means common core values such as pluralism, fairness, inclusion and respect for others, shared rights, supported by a strong legal framework, and a shared responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society.

All of this rests within the fundamental framework provided by our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other laws targeted to guaranteeing equality. However, laws are not enough. The challenge is not to only adhere to the letter of these laws, but also to embody their spirit in every way we can.

The government opposes racism and the incitement of hatred, and will work to ensure the safety and dignity of all Canadians. In the months ahead I will put forward a series of significant measures to combat racism and to reinforce our multicultural values. Meeting this commitment is one of my top priorities.

As the Prime Minister pointed out in his response to the Speech from the Throne, we must be vigilant in this respect, otherwise the satisfaction with which we present ourselves to the world as a country of inclusion will erode.

Our goal is to ensure that there is a place for everyone in Canada, that all barriers to achieving full potentials are broken down. At the same time, all of us share an obligation to do what we can to contribute to the well-being of our society. With rights come responsibilities.

The second guiding principle I wish to elaborate on is the government's commitment to equality of opportunities so that prosperity can be shared by all Canadians.

The government understands that the Canada of today is not the Canada of 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. Canada's strength in the years ahead will depend more than ever before on its ability to draw on the skills, talents and experiences of all of its citizens. In the Canada of today, almost 20% of us were born outside of Canada. In my riding of Richmond, almost 60% of residents are immigrants.

As we all know, at a time when Canada's need for skilled workers is on the rise, our system of recognizing foreign credentials, while improving, is still not where it should be.

As someone familiar with many newcomers to this country, I can say unequivocally that these efforts are critically important to ensuring strong families, strong communities and a strong economy.

The government is determined to address this issue in close collaboration with our provincial partners. I will be working very hard with my cabinet colleagues to advance this commitment.

The third guiding principle I wish to elaborate on is the government's recognition of Canada's diversity as a source of strength and innovation. When Canadians of diverse backgrounds are able to share their talents, perspectives and experiences, our economy benefits, our society benefits, and our families benefit. We all benefit.

I was struck earlier this week when Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella spoke eloquently of the possibilities that Canada offers. She told of her parent's journey, a journey that started in a displaced persons camp in Germany and in one generation ended in the Supreme Court of Canada.

As someone who came to Canada at the age of 17, I related to Justice Abella's comments in a personal way. I came here from Hong Kong as a teenager, obtained my education in this country, and was fortunate to find success in business.

Wishing to give back to my country that has given me so much, I became involved in politics. I was honoured and privileged to become the first Canadian of Chinese descent to be named to the Privy Council.

I am proud to be the Minister of State responsible for Multiculturalism, but I am prouder still to belong to a country that welcomed me as a newcomer, encouraged me as a professional engineer and an entrepreneur, and then allowed me to give back to society.

I am proud that 33 years ago Canada became the first country in the world to adopt an official multiculturalism policy, but I am prouder still that multiculturalism in Canada is much more than a policy. It is who we are, an inclusive, pluralistic country whose embrace of diversity is seen as a model for the world. The government is committed to moving Canada forward and creating an even better tomorrow for our children by drawing on the strengths that our diversity offers.

I invite all Canadians to join us in this worthy pursuit.

Manitoba Claim Settlements Implementation Act September 26th, 2000

moved:

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-14 be amended by deleting Clause 14.