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

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act November 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I listened very intently to my hon. colleague across the way comparing Canada, as the government often does, to other G7 countries.

The U.K. just announced that over one million young people in the United Kingdom cannot find a job. Thirty per cent of the young people in Italy cannot find a job. It is a bit rich for the government to be comparing Canada with economies that are in dire need.

I know the member opposite is a businessman himself. He understands these issues. He comes from the GTA. How many of these mythical jobs that the Conservative government has created are jobs that come with pensions, jobs that come benefits, jobs that we could see raising a family with, especially within the GTA?

Can the member opposite confirm that we can raise a family on a $10-an-hour job, with no benefits, with no pension, with no job security? I would like him to answer that question.

Business of Supply November 17th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I listened very intently to the hon. member. However, this is not just an issue for aboriginal people in Canada, although it is a crisis in their communities, it is also a pan-Canadian issue and an environmental issue, which will not get the attention it needs if the government continues to cut Environment Canada, putting water inspection at risk.

We understand that the frontbench of the Conservative government did the same thing when it was the frontbench of the Harris government in the province of Ontario. It cut water inspection there and that led to the tragedy of Walkerton, which is known to this day. We will look very closely at whether the government will take the issue of water seriously.

Her party was in government for 12 years. Why did it not address this issue? How can the House really believe that the Liberal Party will be serious about this issue now when it certainly was not on its agenda when it was in government and could have actually done something about it.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 17th, 2011

With regard to the Toronto Airport Rail Link: (a) what is the total volume of correspondence received by the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and by departments for which the minister is responsible calling for the electrification of the rail line from (i) individuals, (ii) organizations, (iii) elected officials; (b) what is the total number of petition signatures received by the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and by departments for which the minister is responsible calling for the electrification of the rail line; (c) what are the names and addresses of all organizations in (a); (d) since 2006, what reports has the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and the departments for which the minister is responsible produced or received regarding (i) the health impacts of diesel trains in urban centres, (ii) the benefits of electrification of the urban rail, (iii) the noise pollution of diesel trains; (e) what, if any, federal funding has been provided for the Toronto Airport Rail Link; (f) if federal funding was provided for the Toronto Airport Rail Link, were any conditions put in place requiring the electrification of the rail line; and (g) what is the government’s position on making the electrification of urban rail lines a condition for receiving federal funding for transit projects contained within an urban area?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 17th, 2011

With regard to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada funding in the riding of Davenport for the last five fiscal years: (a) what is the total amount of spending by (i) year, (ii) program; and (b) what is the amount of each spending item by (i) Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership (ASEP), (ii) Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, (iii) Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund, (iv) Adult Learning Literacy and Essential Skills Program, (v) Apprenticeship Completion Grant, (vi) Apprenticeship Incentive Grant, (vii) Career Development Services Research (Employment Programs), (viii) Canada--European Union Program for Cooperation in Higher Education, Training and Youth (International Academic Mobility Program), (ix) Canada Summer Jobs (Youth Employment Strategy Program), (x) Career Focus (Youth Employment Strategy Program), (xi) Children and Families (Social Development Partnerships Program), (xii) Contributions for Consultation and Partnership-Building and Canadian-Based Cooperative Activities (International Trade and Labour Program), (xiii) Disability Component (Social Development Partnerships Program), (xiv) Employment Programs--Career Development Services Research, (xv) Enabling Accessibility Fund, (xvi) Enabling Fund for Official Language Minority Communities, (xvii) Federal Public Service Youth Internship Program (Youth Employment Strategy Program), (xviii) Fire Prevention Grants, (xix) Fire Safety Organizations, (xx) Foreign Credential Recognition Program, (xxi) Homelessness Partnering Strategy, (xxii) International Academic Mobility--Canada--European Union Program for Cooperation in Higher Education, Training and Youth, (xxiii) International Academic Mobility--North American Mobility in Higher Education, (xxiv) International Labour Institutions in which Canada Participates Grants (International Trade and Labour Program), (xxv) International Trade and Labour Program (ITLP) Contributions for Consultation and Partnership-Building and Canadian-Based Cooperative Activities, (xxvi) International Trade and Labour Program (ITLP) Grants for Technical Assistance and Foreign-Based Cooperative Activities, (xxvii) International Trade and Labour Program (ITLP) International Labour Institutions in which Canada Participates Grants, (xxviii) Labour-Management Partnership Program, (xxix) Labour Market Agreements, (xxx) Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, (xxxi) Labour Market Development Agreements, (xxxii) Labour Mobility, (xxxiii) New Horizons for Seniors Program, (xxxiv) Occupational Health and Safety, (xxxv) Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, (xxxvi) Organizations that Write Occupational Health and Safety Standards, (xxxvii) Sector Council Program, (xxxviii) Skills and Partnership Fund--Aboriginal, (xxxix) Skills Link (Youth Employment Strategy Program), (xl) Small Project Component (Enabling Accessibility Fund), (xli) Social Development Partnerships Program--Children and Families, (xlii) Social Development Partnerships Program--Disability Component, (xliii) Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative, (xliv) Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, (xlv) Technical Assistance and Foreign-Based Cooperative Activities Grants (International Trade and Labour Program), (xlvi) Work-Sharing, (xlvii) Youth Awareness, (xlviii) Youth Employment Strategy--Canada Summer Jobs, (xlix) Youth Employment Strategy--Career Focus, (l) Youth Employment Strategy--Federal Public Service Youth Internship Program, (li) Youth Employment Strategy--Skills Link?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act November 16th, 2011

Madam Speaker, yesterday, the Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress released its most recent report tracking Ontario's economic progress. The report states that Ontario lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs between 2007 and 2009 and that everyone knows that these jobs are not coming back. This flies in the face of all the numbers the Tories like to trot out. I wonder if the member opposite can speak to this disconnect between the facts and what his government keeps talking about.

Occupy Protest Movement November 16th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, protests are a vital part of our democracy. Citizens occupying public space are part of a proud tradition of non-violent civil disobedience. This is a practice that takes discipline, dedication and courage. It has been a constant presence in virtually all movements fighting for economic and social justice. Think about the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, the ending of apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Berlin wall, the Arab spring. Embedded in these historic struggles for freedom and equality, acts of non-violent civil disobedience help nudge history in the right direction.

The occupy protests across Canada speak to the fact that something is fundamentally wrong when a few individuals and corporations control most of the wealth of nations. While some seek to trivialize and shut down the Toronto protests, at its core the occupy Toronto movement is a cry out for social justice, for greater democracy and an economic system that nurtures rather than distorts the true face of humanity.

Copyright Modernization Act November 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, one of the great examples of innovation and a business model that works spectacularly is the collection of performance royalties by SOCAN. It licenses the songs. Artists become members and the organization collects that licence and disperses it to its members. It has worked for years and years and is a cornerstone of many artists' annual income. It is a very effective tool. It is one example that we would have liked the government to look at, ways in which we could license content and recoup it in a different way.

Copyright Modernization Act November 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, there is no question this is a very complex bill. It is very difficult to balance all of the interests of all the stakeholders. It does Canadians no service to listen to this overheated rhetoric around taxing Canadians, taxing artists, hurting artists, and punishing artists. Canadians want to see some constructive debate. That is what we would like to see in committee.

Copyright Modernization Act November 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am a little surprised the hon. member opposite would just wave his hand at $20 million for a sector where the average annual income is under $13,000. I think the hon. member owes artists across Canada an apology.

Copyright Modernization Act November 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening to speak to Bill C-11.

There is no question that Canada's Copyright Act is in dire need of an overhaul to reflect and to serve the needs and realities of artists, creators, rights holders and consumers in the 21st century. However, on too many counts Bill C-11 fails to meet the task at hand and for every problem that it attempts to fix, new problems are created.

We in the NDP and Canadians across the country have serious concerns about the bill in its present state, and we look forward to working constructively with the government to amend elements of the bill to address concerns that Canadian stakeholders have.

As we know, the bill was introduced in the last Parliament exactly in the state it appears before us today. This is not the first time the government has done this in the 41st Parliament. Indeed, since the election in May, it has introduced several bills that have been virtually word for word the same as the bills it put forward in previous Parliaments.

It is a bit early in the mandate of a government to show inertia, but from the recycling of bills, the omnibus crime bill, the ending of the long gun registry and the recycling of Bill C-11, this is a government that has begun to run out of ideas already. By limiting debate and railroading committees, the Conservatives have shown that they do not have any ideas themselves, and they sure are not interested in the ideas of Canadians who want to speak to the bill.

Notwithstanding the fact that the legislative committee looking at Bill C-32, as it was called in the 40th Parliament, met with over 100 witnesses who all spoke about the many serious problems that existed in the legislation, the legislation has not changed. What is more, we hear that the government is not interested in any more input from Canadians on the substance of the bill, and that is too bad. The government is missing an important and historic opportunity to craft a made in Canada copyright act that would stimulate innovation in digital industries and that would truly protect artists, other content creators and rights holders and at the same time balance the needs of consumers.

While the government does not seem interested any longer in what Canadians have to say about copyright, it certainly cares about the big boys in Hollywood and New York who want Canada to toe the line, and a deeply flawed line it is, that creative industries and consumers toe south of the border. The government's anti-circumvention position as it pertains to technological prevention measures, TPMs or digital locks, is a case in point.

I understand that if someone makes available thousands upon thousands of songs, movies, or pieces of software and is profiting from that activity, that person is clearly infringing on copyright for commercial purposes. Pirated DVDs sold on street markets or making semi-conductors specifically to allow gamers to hack their gaming platform to play pirated software are other examples. Someone is making money off of the blood, sweat, tears and creativity of artists and entrepreneurs, but the creators are not getting paid, and that goes beyond the regular practices of consumers to share and enjoy content.

However, much of the scare-mongering from major record labels and film studios unfortunately has tried to conflate the practices I have just described as the common practices of music and movie fans. This has led to the bizarre circumstances that we all know of, such as grandmothers being sued for downloading some tunes on the Internet.

The Conservatives could have crafted a Canadian-made solution to this very complex set of circumstances. Instead they caved to their U.S. buddies again. On the one hand, Bill C-11 finally recognizes common consumer practices which should be for the benefit of consumers and creators, such as time shifting, recording TV for later viewing, format shifting, as well as parody, satire and education as fair-dealing exceptions. On the other hand, all of this is moot if there is a digital lock on the content since that measure in the anti-circumvention measure that is attached to it supersedes all else.

What Canadian consumers win with one hand, they lose with the other. If there is a digital lock on a CD, they will not be able to make a back-up copy. If there is a digital lock on an e-book, they cannot change its format for use on a different type of e-reader. If there is a digital lock on a DVD, journalists will not be able to use part of it under the fair-dealing rights. It does not make sense that digital locks could supersede other rights that are guaranteed in the very same piece of legislation.

What is worse, not only do digital locks prevent Canadians from fully enjoying materials that they have legally purchased, they are also backed by incredibly unreasonable punitive damages with fines of up to $1 million and five years in jail for doing something that, if it were not for the presence of the digital lock, would be entirely acceptable. It is beyond logic.

While we in the NDP have an issue with the practice of suing fans and suing consumers, I would like to point out that it is only the very large multinational media outlets that could avail themselves of this kind of protection anyway. For example, members of the Canadian Independent Music Association as a block represent 24% of all music sales in Canada, which is larger than EMI and Warner music sales combined and greater than Sony music sales. This organization is made up of Canadian-owned companies, mostly small- and medium-size businesses which include record producers, labels, publishers, recording studios, managers, agents, and so on. In other words, they are the heart, soul and bones of the English language Canadian music business.

Few, if any, of the member organizations could pursue those who under C-11 infringe copyright through the courts. It would be cost prohibitive for them. While executives at the big multinationals slap themselves on the back at how compliant the government has been with C-11, the bill really does not help the independent music industry. It does not help the small businesses. It does not help the small entrepreneurs.

There is no question the music industry has gone through a very difficult time over the last 15 years. Therefore, it is all the more pressing that we craft copyright legislation that addresses the profound need to invest in new business models and innovation in the Canadian cultural industries. Instead, C-11 takes tens of millions of dollars out of the hands of artists annually by waiving the so-called broadcast mechanical tariff and by playing politics with the blank copying levy.

Prior to my election to this place in May 2011, I derived my primary income in the arts and culture sector as a musician, a songwriter, a producer, a composer, and a journalist. I can tell the House that it is a very difficult way to make a living and raise a family. Most in that profession work terribly long hours for many years and most barely earn a dollar. Having been lucky enough to make my living in the arts, I can say it is potentially a good way to get rich, but a lousy way to make a living.

With the arrival of the digital era many believed this would herald a new day for artists, a dawning of a middle class where it was not always a feast or a famine, where new revenue streams and business models would raise the average income for Canadian artists from below the poverty line to something resembling a decent living. That is what we should be striving for always. I think it is fair to say that that dream has largely gone unfulfilled. Writers still make more money slinging burgers than they do from their work. The average annual income of Canadian artists is under $13,000.

It is important to remember that the spokespeople for the multinational music and movie businesses are not speaking for artists. They are speaking for their shareholders. Prior to the digital revolution, prior to Napster, BitTorrent sites and Netflix, artists were still struggling. Not a lot has changed for artists.

Let us be clear. Artists have always done most of the work and received the smallest share of the return. It was the same before the digital revolution and it is the same now. That is too bad, and Bill C-11 only makes the situation worse.

We know that Canadians support the arts and are willing to pay for it, but this bill wipes out $20 million in annual revenue that goes directly to artists and rights holders by eliminating the broadcast mechanical tariff. Surely in the hundreds of witness testimonies on Bill C-32 the government heard that this would be detrimental to artists and rights holders. Again, the government is very in touch with the business interests of private broadcasters and big Hollywood film studios, but it is out of touch with Canadian artists and their audience, the Canadian public, who supports them.

Bill C-11 could have set an innovative and exciting course for Canada's cultural industries and workers, the artists who create the content, as well as Canadian consumers.

In its current state, Bill C-11 would fall far short of moving Canada forward into the 21st century. However, we look forward to working with the government on constructive amendments to fix the bill.