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

Copyright Modernization Act November 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it appears that there is a conflict in terms of intellectual property that would be applicable to educators, the teaching profession and those involved in long distance learning, and so on. On the other hand, the copyright law is trying to establish a broader umbrella to protect those who are the initiators of creative musical and artistic property. Does the member think the committee can come to a resolution?

I must say that I lean on the side of those from the educating field who are saying that in terms of intellectual property and the ability to use in the classroom that which has been created to the benefit of students is an extremely important objective and concern that has been raised. Would the member please address the question of whether the committee in fact can deal with the elements of that issue?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act November 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to have a few words at this point in the debate over the budget implementation bill.

First there is the overall situation within which the budget is being considered, and then there are the issues that the budget is silent on, where it could deal with some of the confidence issues that I think Canadians are very concerned about at the present time.

The budget implementation bill is within the context of a stimulus approach that the government initiated with the support of all parties in the House, I believe, certainly of this party. The objective of the stimulus package was to look at infrastructure in particular from coast to coast to coast, with municipal levels of government, the construction industries and the future needs of the country, to invest in literally thousands of projects. These projects would add value and create confidence. Investors and those looking particularly at small business expansion would see this as a background for the confidence needed to make their decisions. The stimulus package, to some extent, has been successful in doing that.

However, there are some ominous signs. Even against the added value that has been created, there there are some signs that Canadians are worried about the future. Let us look at a few of those signs. The unemployment rate today is 2% higher than it was a few years ago, but that does not really tell the full story. We have heard others speak about the erosion of full-time career-type jobs, which are being replaced with the creation of short-term contract jobs. Particularly for young people coming out of university and trades apprenticeships, this has given them a sense that there is not the same stability and continuity that would allow them the quality of life that their parents and their parents' parents had. This is creating a great deal of uncertainty within the present and future generations.

Also, in real terms the economy is seasonally adjusted, sort of like the weather used to be. In real terms, the economy in July shrank. When we think about the objective of the stimulus initiatives that were taken under the action plan, the hardest hit have been in the area of construction. Their percentage of GDP has shrunk. The overall economy has shrunk, but the percentage occupied by the construction industry has disproportionately shrunk. That has to give all of us concern.

The budget talks about adjustments to the capital tax allowance, which would allow a more rapid writeoff of capital equipment. It is a good thing, but on the other side of that, we mention the green energy plan. There are no incentives to the consumers that would be the variable in the equation that would, in fact, absorb those green products that are being created.

On the one hand, yes, those in small businesses, in green technologies, and so on are being encouraged to write off capital equipment sooner. However, on the product they produce out of that, there is no incentive to the consumer to participate in the economic activity that would create more jobs and sustainability in that field.

It is sort of an opportunity that is there as a result of one part of the capital plan in the budget but not offset by an operating infusion of money that would put money into consumers' pockets that they could then go out and use to purchase green technology and green equipment, be it heating, air conditioning, different automotive products or whatever.

One of the areas that I found extremely concerning in that light was that from coast to coast to coast there has been an absolute understanding of the role that rapid transit, high-speed transit and transportation systems, plays. We are a tremendous exporter of transportation technology into the rest of the world. It always befuddled me somewhat that while we are a grand exporter of the best that Bombardier can produce, we are not the highest user of those same goods.

So I link the absence in this budget of the opportunity to create, for example, electrified technology that would in turn deal with issues related to climate change, urban and inter-urban transportation, and converting the older diesel technologies into electrified technologies that would in fact add value and deal with the issues related to climate change.

I use that as an illustration because every so often we have a chance to link government policy, supported by the House, to an issue that is very top of the mind in our ridings. The whole issue of expansion of rail corridors, the use of those corridors to relieve the congestion on the roads and for the transport of goods and people is looked at as an absolute objective that we want to achieve, but on the other hand, we have not invested in the technology that grabs the confidence of the cities and commuters to be participants in a very firm strategy to create those systems.

Another thing that shows a great deal of lack of confidence is that it appears that consumer confidence has declined for the fourth or fifth straight month. Again, that has to do with the taking away of some of the incentives that people have to participate in the purchase of green goods, and so on and so forth. There is no mention of that in the budget.

Household debt has apparently climbed to all-time high levels. We have been privy to what happened with respect to the disastrous decline of the economy in the United States, the fact that because of borrowing policies laid out by the federal government and state governments, the elasticity was so great that there was actually a point where people where paying for mortgages on their debit or Visa accounts.

We have to be very careful, obviously, that we do not reach that point. As has been said, there has been government support for a strong banking and financial institutions regime. Perhaps that is a counterbalance to the kind of thing that could happen in Canada and mirror that situation that happened in the United States.

It is an ominous sign that while the budget attempts to stimulate confidence, there are some indicators that this is not happening.

Much has been said with respect to the area of pensions. I think we have to be very clear that while there are some mechanisms in this budget that allude to the pension issue, we have to deal with the issue of actuarial solvency.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, on the one side, there are some very positive aspects of the budget, but--

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act November 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, there are two areas that I would like to ask the member about with respect to impact as a result of Bill C-47 and the budget. One is in the area of green technology and the fact that the government cancelled most of the eco-technology grants. It has suggested that in this budget there is an opportunity through the capital depreciation allowance for green technology that it will make up, but it does not really give incentives to consumers. How does the member feel about that?

The second question is about how this budget fails families. I would like the member to explore that a little, if she would not mind, for the benefit of the House. We have recent data which provides a strong rationale that the poverty gap is in fact increasing as opposed to decreasing. What does this budget do for families and could it be improved?

Unison Health and Community Services October 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in York South—Weston, York Community Services, now called Unison Health and Community Services, has been serving citizens for decades and once again has expanded its outreach to our most vulnerable residents.

A brand new satellite community health centre and hub of agencies will be offering health counselling and employment and community programs for youth, young families, seniors, unemployed and newcomers to Canada.

The hub will also include a community kitchen and rooms available to local organizations, residents associations and self-help groups. It will also provide doctors, nurse practitioners, health promoters and social workers offering a full range of health care.

The hub is looking forward to working closely with community residents to address the pressing needs in the Mount Dennis, Weston and Trethewey neighbourhoods.

I know that members of the House will join with me in saluting Unison, with the support of all three levels of government, for providing community-based and holistic services to our community.

Alzheimer's Disease October 28th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for bringing this motion forward. He is so right when he says that Alzheimer's and early dementia is touching the lives of so many in our communities.

He made mention of the Alzheimer's Society's report, “Rising Tide”. In that report, as I recall, there is an emphasis on what non-profit groups and what caregivers can provide outside of the institutional environment. We all know that there is a point where institutional care will be a part of the total care delivery system, but there is also the incentive that can be given to caregivers and non-profit organizations.

Does his bill include the analysis out of “Rising Tide” of looking at incentives through our taxation system that would provide the family members of people with Alzheimer's to continue to give care within the family environment? Are there incentives for assistance in that?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act October 27th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his overview of this legislation.

As a preamble, I would like to remind Canadians, and I think the minister and the House would agree, that our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is applied differently from any other charter in the world, as far as I am aware, offers some protection even to non-citizens within Canadian waters.

Therefore, we need not defend the compassion and empathy that Canadians, in keeping with our legislation, have demonstrated over many decades.

My question, though, is more related to what could be classified as a second or third option. The minister said that Canadian protections and the full extent of natural justice will apply to those who have landed. However, he may not have fully explored an option being pursued in southeast Asia. It has to do with neutral points of entry. Under this option, the same kind of examination would be pursued to determine who ought to be admitted to the country. It is interesting to consider how far we have gone in arriving at a United Nations or universal approach to this problem, which many countries, including Canada, will be experiencing in the next few years.

Petitions October 27th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of those Canadians, some additional 150 of them in this petition, who are requesting Parliament to pass legislation for the protection of human life from the time of conception until natural death.

The petition points out that Canada is a country that respects human rights and includes in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that everyone has the right to life. The petitioners ask that Parliament pass legislation for the protection of human life from the time of conception until natural death.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate our colleague on a very excellent overview with respect to the strategic positioning of the budget and economic policies with respect to regional development, and then taking regional development and enhancing it to become the sum of the parts of this country.

I think that is an excellent theme, and I guess my question is related to that. He talked about ACOA and what it has done with respect to regional development in the Atlantic. He has talked about the Atlantic innovation fund. The government has said that because of the decline of the manufacturing sector and those events that are taking place with respect to the automotive industry in southern Ontario, it has created the regional equivalent to ACOA.

However, the budget does not strategically outline what investments will be made through that vehicle into the region. For example, there is very little with respect to the manufacturing industry and green industry, very little with respect to community commuter and rapid transit investments; but there is with respect to border transportation.

Could the member please just give us an overview of what he would do with respect to the regional development fund and strategically how he would better place that with respect to this budget and the budget approach?

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act October 20th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am sure the House has no hesitation in supporting the spirit of what the member has laid out in terms of respect for human rights and in particular, the rights of trade unionists without being victimized. There is no argument with that.

However, when I was sitting on the natural resources committee, we listened to the forestry industry that she had cited and we had all kinds of representations before the committee that talked about the advancements that had been made by the Danes, who had taken a lesser quality fibre, had used innovation and developed new markets, and developed a very vibrant forestry sector.

The objective of these kinds of relationships is to have investment where investment is needed. Was that investment not needed in the forestry industry? I am not saying that this agreement will achieve all of that, but is it not a step in the direction to the transfers of capital and investing in Canadian industries and sectors, and reciprocally in Panamanian sectors that will benefit the have nots.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act October 20th, 2010

Madam Speaker, the--