House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was workers.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Davenport (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions November 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, about half of all workers in Toronto cannot access a full-time, stable job, and this particularly affects young people. The youth unemployment rate is twice the national average. We have graduates at home trying to find that first job in their trained profession and are unable to access that kind of job.

The petitioners who signed this petition are calling for a national urban worker strategy that would, among many things, increase enforcement and strengthen labour standards to prevent the exploitation of workers and unpaid interns.

Citizenship and Immigration November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, talk about responsibility. The UN has called the flood of refugees in Syria “a mega crisis”. Just to put it in perspective, if Canada were Syria, it would mean that the entire population of Toronto right now were internally displaced.

The minister was told by his own department that Canada could accept thousands more Syrian refugees. Instead, the minister has accepted just 200. His inaction is inexplicable. It is unacceptable.

Canada should and could be saving lives right now. Why is the minister not acting?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the issue of civilian oversight of CSIS and our security apparatus is crucial here. Again, it is fundamental to the protection of civil liberties and to the foundation of a liberal democracy to have that civilian oversight. This is not just the opposition speaking. Privacy commissioners across Canada and senior members of the Canadian legal establishment have said the same thing.

We have seen this government steamroll through legislation and in a very determined way not listen to any advice from the opposition. I really hope, especially in light of the tragic events of the last month, that the government does not use those events and the feelings and concern they have created among Canadians to make some serious mistakes with this bill. We will all be working very hard in committee to ensure that this does not happen.

I hope the government proceeds in the spirit of doing what we need to do to preserve, nurture, and enrich civil liberties while maintaining a rigorous security understanding of what we need here in Canada.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very important work on issues of human rights and civil liberties.

Indeed, I have not heard the government speak once about the importance, if we expand the scope of CSIS, of expanding its oversight. This is a very clear gap in this legislation. It is one we will need to close. I believe that we will be advocating quite strongly for that if this bill goes to committee.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place on behalf of the good people of Davenport in the great city of Toronto.

The people in my community are watching this debate very carefully. I think it is fair to say that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are watching this debate carefully because we are in an era where we have a government that believes we can treat our civil liberties as a secondary thought to security. The position of New Democrats has always been that we must treat both in equal measure and be as vigilant in protecting civil liberties as we are in protecting security. It is not a question of balance; it is a question of what our values are as Canadians and who we believe we are. These values, which are the foundation of a liberal democracy, are what we are trying to protect and secure. We cannot trade them away in that pursuit.

The NDP's questions around some of the issues in this bill are around oversight, and the questions on oversight exist because we believe there is not a trade-off. This is not an either/or situation. It is not that we have to find a balance, that in order get security right, we may have to clamp down a bit on civil liberties. We do not believe that is the case, and Canadians share those concerns.

I want to focus on a couple of elements of the bill, which are concerns for the community I represent. This flows from other decisions that the government has made around the creation, in a way, of two-tiered citizenship in Canada, where people in Canada could be stripped of their citizenship. The government often says that the NDP is soft on these issues, but in fact, when people break laws in this country, they should go to jail. If they are citizens of Canada, they should go to jail.

I am proud to represent a riding in the west end of Toronto that has huge communities of immigrants. More than half of those who live in Toronto were born elsewhere. They take their belonging to Canada very seriously and are very proud of it. The notion is of grave concern that down the road their status in Canada, through no fault of their own, could be somehow diminished or lessened by legislation and the direction of the government. I hear it in my office; I hear it out on the street; I talk to people all the time who are really very concerned about the government. I am talking about immigrants in Toronto who are very concerned about the government's fixation on picking off certain communities and creating a climate of concern and fear. Quite frankly, it is our role as parliamentarians to elevate the debate, bring out the best in who we are, and bring people together.

The changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act in Bill C-44 would not really provide any major changes, other than accelerating the timelines for citizenship revocation for dual citizens involved in terrorist activities, the process for citizenship revocation that we debated in the House and I am proud that my party opposed. They remain unchanged; it is just the speed with which this can be achieved.

Our citizenship is a precious thing. We have laws in our country to deal with those in our society who break them. Our position has always been that our tinkering with citizenship is a slippery slope, and it is not what we should be doing, especially given the history of our country, the history of immigration in this country, and the successful history of our immigrant communities in Canada. We have a phenomenal story to tell. Our immigrant communities have a phenomenal story to tell.

In light of recent events, the Muslim community in particular in my riding is concerned about being targeted. It is a disturbing reflex of the Conservative government to try to place responsibility for individuals on a whole community. The concern in the Muslim community I represent is real. These are hard-working, honest, proud Canadians, and they abhor violence, just like anyone else in Canadian society. What we are talking about today connects to that concern. It is spoken about in a number of supporting documents, which I would like to underline.

I want to particularly point out comments made by former Justices O'Connor, Major, and Iacobucci at the October 29, 2014 conference called “Arar +10: National Security and Human Rights a Decade Later”:

Retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci, who investigated the overseas detentions and torture of three Muslim Canadians...warned that history has much to teach legislators....

Iacobucci cautioned about “the spillover effects” that any rush to expand police powers could have on freedom of religion, association and expression; the possible “tainting” of Canada's Muslim community, and the risk of “overreaching” by security intelligence agencies when sharing information in a global fight against terrorism.

It is important for us to bring the issue of what Justice Iacobucci refers to as tainting Canada's Muslim community close to home.

A couple of days after the shooting that took place here, I visited the mosque in my riding. As members may remember, Torontonians were in the middle of a municipal election in Toronto, and Muslim candidates in that election had signs vandalized that day. Muslim candidates were facing threats at public meetings.

It is incumbent upon us as legislators here in the Parliament of Canada to ensure that all Canadians, all people living in Canada, feel safe and feel that their civil liberties are protected and are as important as every other consideration in security.

Citizenship and Immigration November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister's pretend outrage cannot hide the fact that he keeps changing his numbers, showing his disdain for the basic Canadian value of helping the most vulnerable. He is refusing to live up to his promises on Syrian refugees, refusing to drop his expensive court battle against refugee health, and now he wants to take social assistance away from refugees.

When will the minister finally stop these blatant attacks on refugees?

Citizenship and Immigration November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we know the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration does not like refugees, but yesterday he demonstrated his utter contempt for all Canadians. Instead of acknowledging his failure to meet his government's promise to bring 1,300 additional Syrian refugees, the minister back-counted refugees from three previous years. Instead of admitting he broke his promise, he bizarrely claimed he “overfulfilled” it, whatever that means.

Will the minister abandon his mean-spirited attempts to mislead Canadians and finally live up to Canada's promises?

Petitions November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, across the country there is a patchwork of rules governing unpaid internships. Provinces have different regulations. Some provinces have none, and there are no clear rules at the federal level.

This petition, on behalf of dozens upon dozens of people in Toronto, calls upon the government to support a national urban worker strategy that would provide much clearer rules around unpaid internships, among many other measures.

Committees of the House November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I could see the disappointment on your face when you came to the realization that I have only six minutes to speak on this issue tonight.

There was a time in the history of our country when young people could finish high school and look with hope and optimism to the future. They could get jobs with employers they would potentially work for over their entire working career. Then they would retire with pensions that would keep their senior years dignified.

All that is changed today. For young people, that change has been a matter of increasing concern. As I look at the members present tonight, I can imagine that many of them, in all parties, either have adult children or know adult children of friends who are very qualified, who have worked hard, who have taken some great financial risks in the form of student loans, and who are still unable to get a foothold in the labour market so that they can, as we say in the vernacular, launch.

What the government fails to see in many of its boastful statements is the harm this situation is causing to the long-term prosperity of the Canadian economy. There is a cohort of young people who, first of all, are working for free. This is where we are in the Canadian economy. We are compelling young people to work for free.

Again, as I look at the average age of our members here tonight, I think most people launched in an era when that would have been bizarre. There are and always have been apprenticeships, but most of them have been paid. There have been internships, and many of them have been paid too.

What we are seeing today is an economic climate in which employers know that it is a buyer's market out there for labour. No one gets hurt as hard, and hit as hard, by this reality as young people.

We know that the official unemployment rate for young people is twice the national average, but what the statistics do not show are all those young workers, desperate for that full-time job, who are working part time and often working multiple part-time jobs. They are working in casual labour without a set schedule. Their hours are undetermined. They are working on short-term contracts. They are even working for free.

We are letting down a generation of young workers in our country by failing to act in a focused and determined way to ensure that our young people get paid. How is it that we can generate an economy in which the unemployment rate for young people is twice the national average, and we have a government that boasts about that situation?

Members on the government side rarely explain to Canadians what those jobs are that they say they are creating. Do those jobs come with a pension? Do those jobs come with benefits? Are those jobs full time? Do those jobs have a living wage attached to them?

For most young people, the answer is no. These new jobs that are apparently being created do not come with those things.

Therefore, their value for young people is diminished.

We are in an era of what many people call intergenerational inequity. In the very same company, we have young people who will never have access to the benefits and job security that older workers have, and we have a government sitting on the sidelines.

On behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party in the House of Commons, we are happy that the government has finally listened to us around the issue of unpaid interns and has put some money toward creating more paid internships. That would not have happened without the pressure, work, and the fight from New Democrats on this side of the House. I will give credit where credit is due on that one.

Committees of the House November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest. I want to congratulate my colleague on her excellent work on the issues of protection and on creating a stronger framework for looking at internships and unpaid internships.

However, what I wanted to ask and talk about right now is the fact that we know that for young people, the job market is precarious. We know that the jobs that are available are often part time and often on a short-term contract. They usually provide very little in the way of job protection or benefits. In other words, they are not the kinds of jobs that a young person finishing a post-secondary degree would imagine launching his or her adult life in. As a result, what we see is that more and more young workers are delaying some of those other markers, such as the buying of a house or potentially starting a family.

One of the measures that we are focused on is the issue of access to child care. Could my colleague speak to why that is so important for young workers?