House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

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

Consumer Protection June 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the only thing standing between now and the end of unfair pay-to-pay fees is these Conservatives right here.

While I appreciate their support for the motion, let us be clear. If the government is serious about standing up for hard-working people, will the minister pass legislation before the summer that stops banks from picking the pockets of Canadians with these unfair fees?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I pulled a short letter that a constituent sent to me regarding this issue. She writes that she has multiple accounts with TD, has been a customer there for 30 years and that it has charged $2 for each account statement. She has opted for online billing, but needs to print her copies for her records, so she ends up paying for ink and the paper to print her own bills. As she says in the letter, “Either way, I lose”. She also goes on to say, “I have my own business. I can only laugh at the idea that my customers would be agreeable to me charging them for printed invoices”.

Could my colleague share with us some of the realities in his riding and how a ban on pay-to-pay fees would help many of the people he represents?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for an excellent speech. Earlier, I spoke too soon.

I want to ask my hon. colleague, given the importance of, as he described it, financial literacy, especially among young people, and given that it is difficult for many Canadians to even find the time to switch banks when the big five banks are largely moving in lockstep on many of these fees, does he think it is important for this Parliament and this government to move quickly to ensure that the intention we express today around pay-to-pay fees is fast-tracked with legislation so that when the House recesses, we have a law on the books?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, while I find the train of thought most interesting and potentially edifying, it is not the question that the House is seized with today. We are talking about a motion to ban pay-to-pay fees and introduce a mandatory code of conduct in this regard for the banking sector. I would encourage the member to speak to the motion.

Consumer Protection June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the government for supporting this motion, but let us be clear. When the NDP forced the government to ban pay-to-pay fees, the Conservatives made an exception for the banks. As a result, Canadians got their pockets picked to the tune of upwards of $180 million this year alone. We can get the job done now.

I have a simple question for the minister. Will he agree to pass legislation before the summer so no Canadian will ever be charged a pay-to-pay fee again?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. colleague for his comments around these fees. I wanted to clarify that a pay-to-pay fee is a fee one has to pay to pay a bill. That is what a pay-to-pay fee is. It does not matter whether it is a bill that comes in the mail or one that the banks charge. This is what RBC was charging but backed down due to pressure from consumers and the NDP.

The hon. colleague seems to be concerned about ensuring that the banks have the ability to charge fees for things. I wanted to get his opinion about this. Today, RBC announced that it was charging a new $5 fee for its high-interest savings account. Every time customers go over one transaction they will have to pay $5 to put money into their savings account. The member was talking about how important it was for banks to charge transaction fees. Is he in favour of this fee?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting, listening to my colleague opposite talk about the concern he and his government have for consumer protection. If there was that concern, why did the government not ban pay-to-pay fees for banks in the budget of 2014, when it did that very thing, under pressure from the NDP, and banned them for telecommunications and phone companies?

Additionally, I would just like to clarify that the term “pay-to-pay” was coined by a young volunteer in my office in Toronto when we were building this campaign and working to come up with a name. This young man, who was just in high school, said that it is a fee to pay a bill and that we are paying to pay our bills. That is how this whole issue got rolling.

I would like to ask the member opposite why the government did not ban pay-to-pay fees for banks when it had the opportunity? It could have saved consumers $180 million this year. It could have done that. It could have put that money back into the pockets of hard-working Canadians, but it did not. It allowed the banks to go on their merry way. Why is that?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for that speech and support for the motion.

I would like to get some clarification. The motion calls for a mandatory financial code of conduct to protect consumers with regard to pay-to-pay fees at the banks. We would note that when the government had the opportunity to ban pay-to-pay fees in budget 2014, it excluded banks. That is why we are here today.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague to clarify that the intention is to bring in a mandatory code of conduct that would ensure these fees are banned and ask when we would see that.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I completely agree. It is not only dumb; it is unfair and it is wrong.

We have to set this situation in context, and the context is the government's refusal to act and its refusal to tighten up the rules.

The Conservatives expect Canadians to play by the rules. Why do they not expect the same thing from the big banks?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, one of the first speeches that I attended with Jack Layton was around the issue of capping ATM transaction fees. We have long called for a cap on those fees, and the cap should be 50¢. We have done a lot of work on this aspect and we know that 50¢ is a fair fee, both for the institutions and for the consumer. I think that should have wide support here in this House.

However, today we are focused on pay-to-pay fees. We are focused on these because they are particularly egregious and really do target vulnerable communities, and it is just plain wrong and unfair.