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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was terms.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Brampton West (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act March 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I previously spoke on the bill in the last session. This emanates from a 2007 Department of Justice Canada report. At the time, I said that this should be a government bill. I complimented my friend, and he will recall this, for taking the initiative and trying to fix the Conservative government's omission in not bringing this forward as part of its own legislation. At this point in time, I think he will agree with me that this is an important issue. It should go to committee. It should have been studied, and I support it.

He must be as disappointed as I am that this is not further along. This could have been much further down the road if Parliament had not been shut down. Does he share my extreme disappointment that Parliament was prorogued and that this legislation was delayed because of that.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act December 8th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to state that I respect my friend greatly. I have had a chance to get to know him on the public safety committee.

He will agree with me on two points. The first is that this was instigated by the Conservative government. In the Ontario example, it agreed to pay $4.3 billion, and in British Columbia I believe it is $1.5 billion. Second, we are all suffering through the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. We have lost 500,000 full-time jobs across the country, thanks to the government.

The point is this: the provinces have the right to try to do something to try to create jobs. In Ontario the experts say that through this HST, approximately 600,000 new jobs will be created. I am going to ask--

Points of Order December 1st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief because the argument has already been put forward. I do not understand how it could possibly be a ways and means motion in circumstances where what is attempted is simply the limiting of income that can be paid to such an executive, period. I do not even understand the logic of this proposal the government has made and I implore you to act on that.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act November 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by simply summarizing what the bill is trying to accomplish.

If we look at subclause (2), it simply states:

Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than ten years less a day.

Then it simply states:

No person shall possess, produce, sell or import anything knowing it will be used to produce or traffic in a substance referred to in the [schedules]....

We have no problem supporting the bill going to committee for study. However, I have some preliminary concerns. We want to ensure that people are aware that they will be violating the law if we look at subclause 7.1, “possess, sell or import anything knowing that it will be used to produce”. A lot of detail, presumably, will need to be put in the regulations but that is something that we will need to work out and study in some detail.

Once again, we support the bill going to committee but my main point today is why now and why in this particular context.

These recommendations in the legislation actually emanate from a Justice Canada report from 2007. That is fine. However, if this is so important at this time today, why is this not in a government bill? The government has had no difficulty pursuing a law and order agenda. I would like to go through that and talk about why it has done that.

We have had the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and the response of the Conservative government has been law and order legislation. We have had the loss of approximately 500,000 full time jobs and the government's response has been law and order legislation. We have had an isotopes crisis so Canadians cannot get the testing they require for cancer treatments. The response from the government has been law and order legislation. We have had the reduction of Canada's place inside the G8 and the best GDP to the worst. The response of the Conservative government has been law and order legislation.

We have had an EI crisis and the government's response has been legislation that divides Canadians between the good workers and the bad workers, between the long term workers and the short term workers and nothing for seasonal workers. The further response of the government has been law and order legislation.

We have an H1N1 pandemic crisis. We have a failure of the government to have a national pandemic plan in place as confirmed by Canada's Auditor General. The response of the government has been law and order legislation.

We have an Afghanistan torture scandal and the response of the government has been law and order legislation.

Why do we keep going to law and order legislation?

I want it to be clear that I support the member's efforts in terms of this legislation, but this is one that should have been far up on the law and order agenda. Why did it take a private member to introduce this? Why was this not already introduced and passed earlier? It should have been because we do have serious problems in Canada.

In terms of these particular drugs, we have high emergency room rates, deaths, the permanent alteration of a human's brain and psychiatric disorders. The statistics from an American study show that 2.3% of all eighth graders, which I find shocking, have tried these drugs, 2.4% of tenth graders and 2.8% of twelfth graders. Therefore, there must be something similar in Canada, although we do not have those studies.

Once again, I support this legislation but if it had been government legislation rather that a private member's bill more could have been done. Where is the money for prevention? Where is the money for education?

So that everyone understands, when it comes to private members' legislation, and I am not criticizing my friend who introduced this, he is not allowed to put provisions in a private member's bill that involves the spending of money, so it is not his fault. However, if the government had introduced this legislation, there could have been spending on these issues: crime prevention, drug education, education in schools for children and treatment programs, all of that for the sufferers who take these drugs and for the prevention to try to avoid this.

My friend's bill would have been far superior, once again, no fault of his own, if this had been government legislation but it is not.

I have the honour of serving on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, so I am aware of some of the statistics. Eighty per cent of criminals who are incarcerated in our prisons have either substance abuse or mental health issues. That means that a huge majority of people who commit crimes and are eventually incarcerated already have these problems. What is the government doing to prevent that, to try to help and cure them before they actually commit crimes? If this had been government legislation, it could have done something, but it is not.

In terms of treatment in prisons, there are clear admissions from various experts who appeared in committee. People need to understand that most prisoners get released into society. If they go into prison because of mental health or addiction issues, logically we would want to ensure they get the treatment required before they are released.

It would have been quite nice if this were government legislation doing something about that because experts have admitted that people in prison are not getting the treatment they require before being released. That is a public safety issue and, frankly, in order to protect the Canadian population, one would want those people to be released better than when they came in.

The other issue in terms of drugs, since that is the topic we are discussing with respect to prisons, is that there are clear admissions that the prison population is getting illegal drugs into prisons. What is the government doing to prevent these drugs from seeping into our prisons? It should be doing something.

If this were a government bill, it could have been part of a larger package to try to effectuate such changes, both in society and in the prison population. Once again, it is not the fault of my friend as he is only allowed to introduce a private member's bill.

In terms of what the government has done to further its law and order agenda, let us look at some of the examples it has put ahead of this, such as the sex offender registry. I support that legislation but it was introduced weak. It came before Parliament without the benefit of the report of the committee. Some things that should have been included based on all the experts were clearly omitted, such as mandatory licence plate registrations of convicted sex offenders.

The government and the Minister of Public Safety specifically said that they had chosen not to include that in the legislation despite the fact that all the experts recommended it and that it was logical. Even when they pursue the law and order agenda, they are not doing it properly.

In another piece of legislation we have the faint hope clause. None of the experts were clamouring for any changes to that. It was the same thing on conditional sentences: two for one, time served, mandatory minimums. None of this was a societal problem like drugs. In comparison, this is certainly a greater problem. However, the government chose not to do anything with respect to drugs on the streets and left it to a Conservative private member to introduce this legislation. He is not allowed to make any suggestions to put money on the streets, establish reforms or help in any measurable way. That is a mistake.

This legislation should have been, based on the 2007 recommendations from the Justice Canada report, at the front of the line or close to the front of the line for this law and order agenda. It was not and that was a mistake.

I compliment my friend for bringing this private member's bill forward. I support it going to committee but I question why the government has pursued, in response to all the problems Canadians are facing, a law and order agenda and then not even putting the most serious law and order issue, such as drugs on the street in this context, at the front of the line or close to the front of the line in order to help Canadians. The government has ignored that, which is a mistake. I compliment my friend for fixing the problem or at least trying to.

Employment Insurance Act November 2nd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member.

In circumstances where Canadians have lost approximately 500,000 full-time jobs since last fall under the stewardship of the Conservative government, help is obviously needed in the economy for these workers. Blame is not the issue. People are unemployed and they need help.

My question is twofold.

First, why is it fair to distinguish between what the Conservatives would call good or long-tenured workers as opposed to people who do not fit in this category? The Conservatives are essentially rewarding long-tenured workers who are now unemployed and not helping everybody else. What does he think about that?

Second, as an example, there is no help whatsoever for seasonal workers, such as people in the fishery or forestry industries. Some of the most hard-hit industries are getting nothing from this legislation. I am sure, being a person of good conscience, he must agree this is simply wrong.

Committees of the House October 29th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations in relation to the Australia-New Zealand Scrutiny of Legislation conference, July 2009.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act October 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I asked a question earlier of the Conservative member for Saint Boniface and, although I appreciated her compliments directed toward me, I did not get a straight answer. I will now ask my friend the same question.

I have no problem supporting Bill C-47 going to committee but this is essentially the same bill that was introduced by the Liberal government in 2005. It taken four years to get here, why now?

We have 500,000 full time jobs lost under the Conservatives, an EI crisis, an isotopes crisis, a pension crisis and an H1N1 pandemic crisis with late vaccines in comparison to other countries. Pregnant women in Canada right now cannot get it. We had a death in Mississauga just recently. I cannot believe that we are dealing with this legislation four years after we introduced it, rather than dealing with all these other serious issues.

I would like my friend to comment on why we are dealing with this now rather than on what truly matters to Canadians right now.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act October 27th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I support the bill. It is something the Liberal government introduced in 2005 and this bill is virtually identical.

My question is, why now? Why did it take this long to bring this forward and, specifically, why now, considering that we are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?

We have lost 500,000 full-time jobs. We have an EI crisis. We have an isotopes crisis. Our H1N1 vaccine is late in comparison to other countries. We have a pension crisis.

Why is the government introducing this criminal legislation now rather than dealing with these other problems? Why did it take four years and what changed to make this an emergency now rather than dealing with these other issues first?

Criminal Code October 22nd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of persons who might be listening at home, I would like to simply start with the bill.

The summary of the bill says the following:

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to clarify that suicide bombings fall within the definition “terrorist activity”.

This is a very short bill. It is essentially one paragraph.

It says:

Section 83.01 of the Criminal Code is amended by adding the following...:

(1.2) For greater certainty, a suicide bombing is an act that comes within paragraph (a) and (b) of the definition "terrorist activity"...

If people suspect that suicide bombings would already be illegal under the Criminal Code, they would be right. The question is really why this is occurring.

I want to be clear that I do support this. I am not challenging that this is happening. I think it should be happening, but I think we have to ask why it is happening.

I think it is happening because we want to bring attention to the fact that suicide bombings are so horrible. One particular statistic shocks me. Between the years 2000 and 2004, there were 472 known suicide bombings in 22 different countries resulting in more than 7,000 people killed and tens of thousands wounded.

To highlight this, and I think my friend is correct, I do believe we are the first country in the world to do this. I think doing this is a positive step. I support it fully, and it should go to committee.

I also want to ask why this is occurring. I do not think it is enough to simply say we should outlaw this or change the definition. We need to really address the root causes of this in the first place. There are many victims. I have read about this. I think there are larger questions as to why it is occurring and what to do about it.

Let us look into that. People are not born to be suicide bombers. They are not born to do this. They come to this point through education, poverty or whatever the reasons may be, but this is not a natural state. Why does this happen? Part of it is pure education. People are taught to hate by some people. We need to do something about that.

The fact that we are actually amending our legislation to change the definition is something that should be noted and should allow us to be a leader in trying to educate people around the world about what a tragedy this is for many people.

I have read stories about children who are essentially bought to be suicide bombers for money. They have poor families. They do this and their families get paid, and they then get respect.

We, of course, are not supporting that in any way, but that is a tragedy as well. We need to do something on a larger scale to solve these problems. Education is part of that, and I think Canada should take an initiative.

Something that we have forgotten, in my view, is Canada's traditional role as peacekeepers and those who assist with development. I would like to see Canada go back more to the Lester Pearson days of doing that sort of proactive work in various countries to prevent things like this. We will never stop it entirely, but we could improve the situation, to make the world a better place and, by definition, a safer place.

How do we do that? I have already mentioned education, but there is also the alleviation of poverty. In particular I would like to quote from my own experience. I have two law degrees, one from Toronto and a Master of Laws from Leicester University in England, the latter in European Union law.

The first thing they taught us was why the European Union was formed. It was not for economic purposes, although it started as the European Coal and Steel Community. It was to avoid further conflict. They became unified and they started the long process, because they had gone through two horrible world wars and lost millions of lives.

We, in my view, should be developing a department of peace or a subcommittee or a sub-ministry, whatever it may be. Canadians should take a lead to help with development. I decided not to be partisan in this speech but I will say one thing. One of the reasons I am so disappointed that the government cut the funding to Africa is that we should be doing more development, not less. That is one example of how things need to be changed.

We need to have our representatives going abroad throughout the world trying to help in difficult situations, creating peace and also developing the world's economy so that states beside each other can have something to lose. Right now, the European states could never think about going to war against each other, which was the purpose of the economic union.

We want that between neighbouring countries, which, for this particular terrorist activity, would, hopefully, alleviate some of the things that occur. Within poorer countries, where suicide bombers originate, we want to try to raise the level of their standards of living. We want them to have something to lose. I do not believe that the ordinary state of persons is to commit evil. It is to live productive lives, but we need to help them do that.

In short, I support this initiative because it is worthy. We need to do whatever we can to show how much we stand against this sort of activity. I compliment the people responsible for bringing this forward. In addition, Canada has an obligation to do more than we have done, and certainly more than we have done in the last four years. We need to help with development. We need to become re-engaged in the peace process and the development process to help make this a better world and to reduce the sort of criminal activity that does take place.

Ending Conditional Sentences for Property and Other Serious Crimes Act October 20th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, my question is based on the true reason we are dealing with this issue at this stage. As we know, we are dealing with the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression. We have a GDP that has gone from first to last in the G8. We have lost approximately 500,000 full-time jobs. EI is in crisis. We have a potential pandemic on the horizon with a vaccination process that is lagging behind other western countries.

Could my hon. colleague please explain exactly what the Conservatives are trying to correct at this stage, what percentage of sentences are actually conditional and what kind of serious problem it is or is not, and why we are dealing with this now rather than dealing with the economic crisis?