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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

G20 Summit June 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the government hopes that if it keeps piling on the paperwork, Toronto businesses will eventually forget about seeking G20 compensation and just quietly go away. Toronto businesses inside and around the G20 zone suffered millions in damages and they are not going away. It has now been a year without compensation and these folks are still suffering.

The minister claimed he is ready to move forward and expedite this, but after a year the question is, when?

G20 Summit June 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, a year later and Toronto is still waiting for the government to accept full responsibility for the fallout of the G20 mess. Some Toronto councillors are pushing for long-term solutions, but the immediate financial needs still require action. Last week, New Democrats met, for example, with the owner of the Horseshoe Tavern which is one of the businesses still waiting for compensation.

When will the government stop stonewalling, treat Toronto with respect, and get their compensation out the door quickly?

The Budget June 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his congratulations and congratulate him for his victory.

I am not sure if we are talking about the same seniors. When I am talking to seniors in Davenport, they are thinking that a less than $2 a day increase in their pension is simply not a poverty reduction strategy. It is not going to lift a single senior out of poverty.

Across this country, our seniors, who built this country and made it the great nation it is today, a nation for which we now have the responsibility of continuing to further that legacy, are wondering where the commitment from their government actually lies.

The Budget June 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, when I was knocking on doors during the election campaign, I met many seniors and one woman in particular stood out. She was an elderly woman who had immigrated here from Portugal. She had worked at the same factory for 23 years. She was a faithful, hard-working woman. She raised a family in Toronto and after 23 years the company closed up shop, and she was out of luck, with no pension. She is now working at Wal-Mart, one of the job-creation strategies of the government. She is having a very difficult time getting by.

I heartily concur with my hon. colleague here that, indeed, it is the government's responsibility to ensure that companies honour their commitment to workers, just as workers have honoured their commitment.

The Budget June 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank the phenomenal folks of Davenport for according me this great honour of bringing their voices, issues and stories to this House.

I would also like to acknowledge the former member for Davenport who served this House and the riding with great dignity and grace.

I would like to thank my family. This has been, and will continue to be, a family affair. I could not do this without my partner, my love, my wife Michelle and my children, Sam, Charlie and Lucy Rose, as well as our extended family.

Like other members of this House, in Davenport throughout the election and in fact for about a year before the writ dropped, we knocked on many doors. We hear so often that Canadians are disengaged, removed and cynical about politics, but in Davenport we found, and I imagine most of the members in this House found, the opposite to be true.

When at someone's door, the conversation we open ourselves up to is profound, and I daresay life-changing. It certainly changed mine. I would like to thank the people of Davenport. I would like to thank them for their time, patience, good humour, and their engagement at the door.

I know we interrupted people. We interrupted them a lot. They were having their dinner when we knocked on their door. They were housecleaning or talking on the phone or feeding the baby, sometimes doing all of those things at the same time. We interrupted people when they were renovating their homes or having birthday parties. We woke their sleeping children, which is not a great vote-getting tool.

We caught people as they were rushing out to work or rushing home from work. And since so many people in Davenport are freelancers and are self-employed, independent contractors, small shopkeepers, entrepreneurs, we also interrupted them while they were working.

We knocked on doors and found a father who was sitting in the kitchen wondering when he will ever find a decent paying job again. We knocked on doors and found seniors who no one ever visits. We knocked on doors and found refugees who were fearful of unexpected knocks at the door.

There were new immigrants struggling to get a handle on life in Toronto. We found middle-aged women looking after elderly parents and young children. We found seniors who could not afford to live in the city they helped to build. We found students graduating from college or university with a debt that in my father's day would have been called a mortgage.

We found labourers who had just put in 12 hours, working outside, exposed to the elements, exposed because they have no disability insurance, no sick leave, and no extended health benefits. We found single moms who, every day, squeezed onto the Dufferin bus, who needed better and more affordable public transit but instead got rate hikes and service cuts.

We found urban workers with no workplace pension, no benefits, no job security, and no access to EI. We found middle-class families in debt, unable to afford or even find child care. We found families that could not find a decent, affordable apartment to raise their families.

We found Torontonians just barely getting by with little or nothing in the bank at the end of the month. We see banks recording billions of dollars of profit and they are recording this profit not once a decade, not once every few years but every three months.

I was sent here to relay the voices and stories, the needs, hopes and dreams of the people of Davenport in the great city of Toronto, not to advocate on behalf of banks that have plenty of people doing that for them. I am here to tell the stories of the folks of Davenport and that is what I am going to do.

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, last year the House unanimously approved a motion put forward by my hon. colleague from Trinity—Spadina to declare June 10 Canada-Portugal Day. This Saturday's Portugal Day celebrations include a parade in Toronto through my riding of Davenport and Trinity—Spadina.

Parliament expressed gratitude for the great contribution of the Luso-Canadian community to Canada, a community whose roots in Canada date back to the 16th century. Today almost half a million people of Portuguese descent call Canada home.

On the streets of Little Portugal in my riding of Davenport in the communities north of St. Clair and the communities north of Rogers Road there is deep concern and consternation and I dare say there is anger at how the Conservative government is treating seniors in the budget.

Maybe in some areas of the country it is a little cheaper to live than others, but in Davenport seniors are barely hanging on. I have spoken to many Portuguese seniors over the last year. Many of them bought their homes in the fifties and the sixties and they raised their families in those homes. They are still living in the same homes and they are proud of that fact. Yet they can barely hang on. They can barely pay their heating bills let alone all the other utilities. If they were listening to some of the debates that have been going on in the House this week, they would be scratching their heads. They would be very concerned about the level of debate in the House around the real problems for seniors.

There are seniors in my community who have no home care, seniors who cannot get around. People say that if their home is too expensive then why not just sell it. Where are they going to go? Are they going to live in a gazebo? I do not think so. A gazebo is not a national housing strategy.

Many seniors cannot get around. We need a national transit strategy in this country. The purchase of fighter jets is not a national transit strategy. That is what we need here.

I hear time and time again from people in Davenport that there are just no decent jobs around. The government says that it has created jobs, but we need to drill down and ask it what kind of jobs it created. I can tell the House what kind they are. Seniors in my riding are working at very low paying, $10 an hour service jobs. They maybe at one point had a decent job with a pension but they do not have that job any more. These are the real issues.

People say that the economy is doing well, that the recession is over. Constituents in my riding tell me that the recession for many people is not over. The jobless problem has not been adequately dealt with by the government, certainly not in the budget.

One would think that if the government were reintroducing the budget, it might have taken some time to get a few of those things right, but that is not what happened. We are very concerned. My community of Davenport is concerned.

I started this off by talking about the Portugal Day parade. The reason I did is because so many in our Portuguese community are seniors and they are looking for some help from our government. They have contributed through their blood, sweat and tears to make this country the great country that it is and what they see from the government is a cold shoulder. This is--

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the member opposite for his historic victory.

My question is about the support the government is willing to give seniors.

In my riding of Davenport, I spent many months, in fact over a year, knocking on doors and listening to seniors every day who called this plan an insult at less than two dollars a day. When we talk about a $600 increase for seniors, it is not $600 a week or a month, but $600 a year or less than two dollars a day.

The member opposite from Toronto knows how much one can buy with less than two dollars. How can less than two dollars a day lift any senior out of poverty?

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, first, it is great to hear that the member opposite extolls the virtue of the eco-energy program because it was the Conservatives that cut it initially and our party fought to keep it. If it is such a job creator, which it is, and so good for the environment, we do not understand why it was cut in the first place.

We welcome the government's decision to put that back in the budget. However, we are mystified by the fact that it is only in it for one year.

Is this a good job creation program for just one year or is it a good job creation program? That is the question I would like to ask the member opposite.

G20 Summit June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, when it came to spending $14,000 for glow sticks, Conservatives said, “full steam ahead”; $300,000 on bug spray, a green light, but for close to $50 million, what did Toronto get? Broken glass, a fake lake and the biggest mass arrest in Canadian history.

The message is clear. Toronto is at the bottom of the government's priority list. Again, why is the government refusing to fairly compensate Toronto's small businesses?

Social Housing June 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, they are fine words, but they are just not good enough.

Instead of working to fix the problem, Conservatives actually cut housing programs. Last year, thousands of Ontario families could not afford decent roofs over their heads, and almost 70,000 of those families live in Toronto. Make no mistake that this is a national crisis and seniors bear the biggest burden.

When will the government open its eyes and address this issue? We need a national housing strategy.