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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

Petitions December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in this place in the last opportunity before the break to present yet another petition from members of the GTA who are very concerned about the whole issue of precarious work.

More and more workers are working jobs that are short-term, contract, or freelance, are self-employed, or work multiple part-time jobs; and some, especially young workers, are working for free. They have very little protection, no job security, no pensions, no benefits.

We need to take this issue seriously. The people who have signed this petition call on the government to enact a national urban worker strategy. It is an honour for me to present this on their behalf today.

Citizenship and Immigration December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, yesterday 28 countries made new commitments to resettle Syrian refugees, but to our shame, if not surprise, Canada was not one of them. The minister appears deaf to the pleas of the UN, and certainly blind to the plight of millions of Syrian refugees about to face a very harsh winter. Sweden has resettled 30,000 refugees while Canada has agreed to take in only 1,300 and has failed to meet even that small commitment.

Will the minister stop playing these games with the numbers and start to do his part?

Motor Vehicle Safety Act December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, those who are listening to this debate may be surprised to see the government doubting the research, the evidence, and the very credible voices speaking out in favour of side guards. It is just as it was when the members of the current government denied the existence of climate change for many years, and have only recently awakened to that fact. This is a government that does not like evidence and hard facts. The way the Conservatives have spun their opposition to this balanced and reasoned private member's bill by my friend, the member of Parliament for Brossard—La Prairie, is to say that there is emerging technology that might be better. Therefore, they will not save lives now but rather wait for research to happen with respect to emerging technologies and groovy new mirrorless transportation systems.

It is the role of those of us in this place as parliamentarians to protect the lives of Canadians. When we come across a simple solution that would save some lives, the government refers it to the municipalities. It beats up the municipalities and hectors the provinces instead of standing up and taking responsibility for the areas it has responsibility for. That is one of the reasons this bill is so important and the government's opposition to it is so incredibly galling.

I am a little emotional about this because Jenna Morrison was killed in November of 2011 when she was pulled under a heavy truck on the border between my riding and the riding of Parkdale—High Park. She was killed at a turn that I often make on my bicycle. Jenna Morrison was the exact same age as my own wife, who just had a child a month ago. As we all know, Jenna Morrison was also with child at the time she was killed. For me it is also a very real reminder that we have cyclists and heavy trucks sharing the road.

It is true that we need better, stronger and more comprehensive transportation throughways for cyclists. I will remind those listening that many members of the government are quite friendly with the former mayor of Toronto who spent $300,000 in taxpayer dollars to paint over a bicycle lane after he announced that the war on the car was over. Apparently there was a war but no one knew it. What I am getting at here is that the government cannot help but play politics with even the most simple solutions to some very important problems.

When I think about Jenna Morrison's young son and her partner whom she left behind and the way in which their lives have been turned upside down, and others' lives too right across the country, I think it is incumbent on us to take the matter seriously and not to try to dodge the issue. We know that side guards are mandatory on many heavy trucks in the United Kingdom. Japan and the European Union are other examples. It is not as though this was an idea that came out of the ether. This is something that we know works. Instead, the government is saying that we should find some other technology. Maybe we need to check the logs of the lobby registry to see how often the trucking industry has lobbied the government to oppose this bill. In cities like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, St. John's, and Halifax, in fact in cities right across the country, we have built roads for cars but we have more and more cyclists on the roads.

We absolutely need to deal with that change in road use. We have had a colossal battle over the last several years in Toronto to start to deal with it. They are complex issues and they are going to take a significant amount of political will.

However, I want to ask the members opposite how much political will we need to require mandatory side guards. It amazes me that we could not have all party support for the bill. I listened very carefully to the members opposite who said there were only a couple of deaths in the country, so it is not that big a deal. I think most members here would agree that if we in this place can save even one life by implementing safeguards and standards that are not going to cost the treasury a dime, it is incumbent upon us to take the issue seriously and pass this piece of legislation.

I would like to congratulate my hon. friend for tabling a bill that was initially put forward by our good friend Olivia Chow. I am honoured to stand here on behalf of the good people in the riding of Davenport, in the great city of Toronto, to support the bill.

Citizenship and Immigration December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the worst humanitarian crisis the world has seen in decades. Yet, despite pleas from the United Nations, calls from Canadians, and warnings from groups like Amnesty International, and despite his own department telling him that Canada could do much more for many more Syrian refugees, the minister sits idly by and does nothing. This is unconscionable.

How can the minister justify his refusal to act when so many lives hang in the balance?

Rail Transportation December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, for years I have fought alongside west-end Toronto residents to get the provincial and federal governments to listen to concerns about using dirty diesel trains on the UP Express. Diesel is a known carcinogen. The WHO ranks it right up there with mustard gas and arsenic, yet Liberals and Conservatives are prepared to roll the dice on the health of our children and our elderly.

Now, due to our community pressure, Metrolinx on Thursday will announce a date for electrification. However, let me be clear, this line should have been electrified in the first instance and must be electrified as soon as absolutely possible.

It will also announce a price for riding what is being called a “boutique service” for out of town business people. Rumoured to be between $20 and $30, this is yet another slap in the face of Toronto. With only two stops along the 23 kilometre route, this train will not even connect to TTC service.

We paid for this train and it must be clean, electric, affordable, and available as public transit for the people of Toronto.

Portuguese Community in Canada December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, tonight Casa dos Acores of Ontario will host a very special visit from His Excellency Dr. Vasco Cordeiro, President of the government of Azores in Portugal. The majority of Canada's 400,000 Luso-Canadians come from the nine beautiful islands that make up the Azores, and the visit of Dr. Cordeiro gives us an opportunity to reflect on this remarkable community.

What started as a small group of Portuguese workers who first arrived here in the early 1950s has blossomed into one of Canada's most influential communities, contributing greatly to Toronto's reputation as a global city and sowing the seeds for the current generation of Luso-Canadians, who are leaders in every single facet of Canadian society. Portuguese influence in Canada dates back to the 16th century; in fact, Labrador was named after the Portuguese explorer Lavrador. However, perhaps most important, Luso-Canadians have strengthened the institutions and values that define who we are as a country: hard work, caring for one another, and building a society that is fair and equal for all.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, when we had officials from Citizenship and Immigration Canada before committee on the measure in the BIA that would allow provinces to implement residency requirements for refugees, they said that there was no data to suggest that this measure would act as a deterrent or save any money.

Why would the government want to implement a measure it says would do both of these things and then limit debate? Why not pull that measure out and have it as a free-standing bill?

Petitions December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, about 50% of all workers in Toronto cannot access a full-time, stable job. What does that mean? They are working part time, they are working freelance, they are self-employed, many are working for free as unpaid interns, and they have no access to a workplace pension, benefits, or job security.

The folks who have signed this petition come from all over the greater Toronto area, and they are urging the government to support a national urban worker strategy that would build up a broader and stronger safety net for precarious workers in Canada.

Petitions November 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there is a youth employment crisis in Canada right now. The rate of unemployed youth is twice the national average. Oftentimes, what young people are finding from employment is short-term contracts and part-time jobs. Some young people are working for free. Currently, there is a patchwork of rules that govern and oversee unpaid internships across the country.

The people who have signed this petition call on the government to enact a national urban worker strategy. They call for, among other things, increasing enforcement and strengthening labour standards to prevent the exploitation of workers, including young workers and unpaid interns.

Petitions November 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, about half of all workers in the GTA cannot access a full-time permanent job. This is particularly difficult for young workers. Currently, the unemployment rate for young workers is about twice the national average. Many are working precarious jobs, and many still are working as unpaid interns.

There is a patchwork of rules across the country. Some provinces have strong regulations and others have none. For federally regulated industries, there are absolutely no rules governing the use and legality of unpaid internships.

This petition, signed by people from all over my riding, in fact, all over the city of Toronto, calls upon the government to enact a national urban workers strategy which would, among other things, strengthen labour practices and standards to prevent the exploitation of workers and unpaid interns.