House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was respect.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for York South—Weston (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House March 1st, 2011

Madam Speaker, the member has referred to the Canada-Ontario transfer agreement, which will expire. The provincial government has stepped in and has said that it will keep those groups going, because of need, while it renegotiates the Canada-Ontario agreement.

Would the member suggest that this is the opportunity to slow this thing down and to renegotiate that agreement and maintain the stability in the system? Would this not be the appropriate approach in the process of governance?

Committees of the House March 1st, 2011

Madam Speaker, I received a press release put out by many of the organizations the member has spoken about. It is called “Fair Start--Let New Canadians Succeed”. That press release pointed out that the number of staff that will be dislocated is almost 1,000 of the organizations that were not consulted and the number of people those organizations served is over 100,000.

My question is this. Does the member think there is some sort of a non-partisan way we can transcend the kind of rhetoric that often creeps into these kinds of issues and that perhaps the committee could look at the issue again? We have a bit of time because the province of Ontario has stepped in for a short period to provide some interim funding to these organizations.

Armed with that action by the provincial government, could we not assert our concern to the committee and have it review this decision?

Committees of the House March 1st, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague with respect to her overview of what has been described as a desperate situation that exists in Ontario, particularly in the greater Toronto area and Toronto.

The member has given some statistics with respect to this impact. The predication upon which these cuts have been suggested is that immigrants are, in fact, not coming to Ontario at the rate they have in years gone by.

I would like to point out that the number of new immigrants coming to live in Ontario actually increased in the last census period by 109,000 to 580,740 or 23%, and yet, as the member has pointed out, we are making cuts to organizations that are delivering skills upgrading, employment search tools and language training.

It is, in fact, taking away the capacity for those people to either re-enter the job force or to enter the job force for the first time. This is creating havoc.

I would like to ask the member a question. She has outlined that there were principles that the committee had agreed on. Was there any discussion, prior to these cuts being made, with the committee where the government took the committee recommendations into its consideration when looking at those principles saying, “Look, here are the objectives we have. We are going to apply the principles, and then we will make a policy directive in a rational and informed manner”.

Did that happen? The impact is absolutely desperate in the Toronto area.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 4th, 2011

It is a good question, Mr. Speaker, and it gives me an opportunity to applaud the outreach of some of our former parliamentary colleagues.

We all know about corruption and the implications of corruption in other countries from a perspective of what we can do with respect to sharing what the member has described as our growth in democratic and humanitarian terms. We have colleagues who as part of an organization travel throughout the world and talk to activist groups, non-governmental organizations, government and parliamentary associations in other countries, sometimes at great risk to themselves. They attempt to graft onto those political situations the kind of institutions and institutional experience we have had over the growth of our parliamentary traditions. I laud those members. They come from all sides of the House.

That is a role Canada can play not only in a governmental sense but in a non-governmental sense. We can have a pervasive impact on developing respect for fundamental human rights and mirroring that in democratic institutions. Those efforts will make that kind of outreach more than cosmetic. They will be deep instruments of progress and a better legacy for Canada internationally.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is a red herring.

There are the sidebar agreements. The issue with respect to criminal activity is one that is of huge concern. It is equally concerning that our colleagues in the New Democratic Party have, from time to time, concentrated on the whole issue of human rights, labour relations, the right of free association, and so on and so forth. The sidebar agreements are not stand-alone silo agreements. They must come under the principles of the international federation of labour and the International Labour Organization.

I am confident that the professionalism, capacity and expertise of those organizations and the opportunity to use them in the manner in which labour organizations and activists have indicated is a good match. We should help them in that respect because it will reinforce the principles of the free trade agreement as they relate to on-the-ground implications and the impact on the citizens of Panama.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to add my own reflections with respect to Bill C-46, the bill to engage in free trade with the Republic of Panama.

For just a moment I would like to reflect anecdotally on my insights on the role I think Canada should be playing in a hemispheric sense.

The globalization of capital reminds us that we live in a very competitive economic environment where the barriers to the flow of capital and investment should be reduced. The economic and fiscal corollary is that is necessary for us to reduce barriers to investment in our own economy. Traditionally, we have had high tax barriers as part of our national policy. Those particular approaches cannot be part of the character of a modern economy.

As a young person, I had the opportunity to work in the Caribbean and to travel extensively throughout Latin America. As a result of that experience back in the mid-1960s, it was my perception that because Canada was not a colonial power and not a country with a reputation for exploiting economies and people, as had been characteristic of history, we had a natural affinity and responsibility, in fact an opportunity, to develop hemispheric relationships, particularly with the Caribbean, Latin America and South America, whereas European countries had a natural affinity, a responsibility and accountability for development in Africa and Asia.

I do believe that the free trade agreement and the movement to free trade had their roots in those perceptions, those senses of what Canada's role could be in developing the kind of relationships that were more in keeping with the 20th century, the 21st century and, in fact, the future.

I will give the government credit for its outreach to the Caribbean countries, the conferences that have been held with CARICOM, the development of relationships that are non-exploitive in an historic sense, which are opportunities for the Caribbean, and now for Latin American and South American countries, to start to deal with the very issues that are residuals of the isolationism that we have had in a hemispheric sense.

Thus, while I acknowledge the points that have been made with respect to labour and human rights legislation, I also acknowledge the irrelevancy, the acrimonious base, in fact, that is established through tax haven approaches, which have been very competently described. These are the residuals of tax regimes and outlooks and viewpoints that have created the kinds of problems that have existed in social, humanitarian and criminal terms.

If anyone is to argue that we can go forward by looking backwards, that we can go forward in dealing with these humanitarian, labour and fundamentally criminal issues related to taxation, which are in fact anachronisms in today's global community, then the place where we should begin to deal with those is in our own backyard, in our own hemispheric relationships, where we have patterns of immigration, investment and reciprocity that are stronger in human terms, in fiscal and economic terms, and in terms of our own self-interest.

If we argue that what goes on in Mexico with respect to the criminal activity around drugs is only happening in Mexico, if we argue that the issues with respect to Caribbean countries and their being used as turnstiles to subvert Canadian youth in our cities, and if we argue that those are going to be addressed by isolating those particular countries, we are in fact going in a very wrong direction.

Using that as an introduction to the premises that I hope the House will use in establishing a framework for evaluating our economic outreach, I would indeed hope that, per Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self-interest and self-preservation are at the top.

What we are doing is that we are dealing with countries in a hemispheric sense, where we have historic and huge issues that are either going to be a foundation for progress or are going to continue to drag us back, and we and our children and our children's children will suffer for that.

I look at free trade agreement with Colombia, the outreach to the Caribbean, and I look at Panama now and hope that the House was sensitive to the characterization of “losers”. I have great respect for the member and I know that in the heat of the moment, that was the characterization. I know that is out of character for that member.

Here we have a country that was subject to the criminal activity of a man who is now incarcerated but was the president of Panama and who exploited that country and who characterized all that is bad, and now we have a new, free and democratic government that has thrown off the shackles of control of the United States and the Panama Canal and has now inherited its rightful heritage. We have a country that characterizes in every way the hope and aspirations of its young people.

We hope that those aspirations do not find themselves expressed on the streets in rioting in Panama City, as they are in Egypt, Tunisia and other states, where young people look down at the United Arab Emirates, at Abu Dhabi, and at the tremendous development in technology and the luxury cars and so on, and they ask what is happening to them with the unemployment in Egypt and Cairo?

The young people are saying there has to be a change. That change in Panama has been remarkable over the last few decades. That is not to say there are not problems in Panama, but they are representative of the kinds of issues we all have to deal with.

Again, reflecting on that, here I see a treaty that I am going to call a fair trade treaty because it takes the remarkable growth in Panama and reduces the high tariffs reciprocally, as other speakers have talked about.

In terms of the labour and human rights issues, while it would be better that they were entrenched in the agreement, which we would all support, this is a starting point. This is neither the beginning of the end nor the end of the beginning. It is a threshold that we can cross with the people of Panama, as we should with many other countries hemispherically, with whom we share a huge future relationship.

The time to start that is now.

National Transportation Strategy for the Electrification of Commuter Rail Systems Act February 2nd, 2011

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-614, An Act respecting a national transportation strategy for the electrification of commuter rail systems.

Mr. Speaker, this particular issue with respect to a transportation strategy has evolved as a result of huge concerns in York South—Weston and throughout the Georgetown corridor with the Weston subdivision. They have found that the development is so close to those railway lines that the issues of safety, noise, environmental pollution and the quality of health have stood in the way of moving ahead in a progressive way with respect to using rail corridors to relieve the congestion that exists in urban areas. This is not just in southern Ontario. This is a situation that exists right across the country.

This initiative calls upon the Minister of Transport to meet with his provincial counterparts and look at the potential that exists for the electrification of urban commuter rail operations. This would add value in terms of the technology that exists that is Canadian built, would help to create jobs and would build on the legacy of our original national dream, which is to have a transcontinental railway that would aid with the building of our Canadian culture.

The new reality is to look at urban areas and look at our national dream and give it an up-to-date and future reference, which is to electrify commuter rail and to add value and instill public confidence in the fact that we can use our rail corridors to add value to our quality of life and move on with meeting the issues related to climate change and the degradation of health in our urban areas.

I hope this will find the support of the House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act February 1st, 2011

Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about judicial discretion. My question relates to linking judicial discretion or restraint and rehabilitation. My colleague makes an excellent point with respect to the culture of penitentiary life, imprisonment, and the implications that has on those who are serving us as employees in these penitentiaries. He makes a very good point that under the circumstances they will feel very insecure with respect to their own personal safety.

If the amendment giving discretion to 35 years has been turned down by the committee and is not entrenched in the legislation, what can we do with respect to the issue that he has raised? If it is now only up to judges to apply a 25-year or a 50-year sentence, there still is no resolution to the issue of those who are entrusted with the security in those penitentiaries. Under those circumstances, there is nothing that would assuage their fears. I think the quality of their life and the life of victims needs to be balanced against the issue with respect to this legislation. For me and, I am sure, for those who are following this debate, they will be very concerned about this legislation as it relates to the security in the prisons.

Never mind whether those inmates actually get out or the Parole Board makes a decision with respect to allowing them parole, it is a question of the safety in the penitentiaries. What can be done to address that particular issue?

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act February 1st, 2011

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his overview with respect to this legislation.

I wonder if the member would like to comment on the role of the National Parole Board with respect to its adjudication on issues related to victims' rights. It has come to our attention that concerns have been raised with respect to the role of the parole board, and I wonder if the member, within the context of the bill, would like to comment with respect to that particular issue.

Questions on the Order Paper January 31st, 2011

With regard to the Minister of Health, what are the exact, line-by-line details of all travel and hospitality expenses incurred by the Minister and all exempt staff since January 1, 2009?