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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was particular.

Last in Parliament September 2017, as Liberal MP for Scarborough—Agincourt (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 52% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Amendments to Standing Orders June 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. friend for her friendship and for a fair question to the government. One of the things requested in the motion at PROC and with respect to the broader request from the opposition parties, which was to require unanimity among the recognized political parties before any changes to the Standing Orders could take place, would have essentially granted a veto to the Conservative Party on matters we were attempting to address from our campaign election platform commitments, which we knew they were opposed to and would like to see, frankly, not take place.

The government was not prepared to grant that request, as it related to the electoral platform commitment, and that is exactly what is reflected in Motion No. 18. We have withdrawn all the other ideas and concepts we wanted to have a discussion on. However, we are committed still to the ones we promised Canadians we would get done. It is unfortunate that the opposition will not be supporting us as we try to move forward.

Amendments to Standing Orders June 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of issues in the past, in different governments, including the Mackenzie King government in 1926. At that time, the government of the day did not seek prorogation; it sought to call a new election. The governor general at the time, Lord Byng, refused to do so. From my perspective, what occurred in 2008 was clearly a potentially precedent-setting event.

I am simply suggesting that there are limits on crown prerogative in the sense that the House cannot override the right of the crown to execute its function. The point of this particular Standing Order change is simply to shed light on the rationale behind a request for prorogation. It would only be controversial when we were dealing with minority Parliaments. In a majority Parliament, that request would almost always be granted as a matter of right, because there would be no potential issue of confidence.

My point is that this particular change would simply allow for light to be shed on the advice that right now is confidential between the prime minister of the day and the governor general. I recognize that the governor general would have the absolute right to make whatever decision he or she ultimately decided with respect to that particular request.

Amendments to Standing Orders June 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, last week some individuals implied that the speech I gave last week might have been my last speech. I want to disabuse them of that thought, because I am standing here today. However, in the same speech I had indicated I was not sure whether I would have the opportunity for many more 20-minute slots. Today, in that case, I will leave some ongoing confusion. I only have a 10-minute slot today because it is my intention to split my time with the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle.

While I have the floor, at this particular point, I really want to thank my hon. colleague for standing in for me when my health challenge arose again. I recognized that my capacity to actually carry out some of my House duties would be challenging. He has so admirably stepped in for me when I have not been able to perform that particular function. I want to thank him for his service and for his friendship in many ways covering much of my duty when I was not able to be here.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen to the addresses of the House leader, the opposition House leader, and the New Democratic Party House leader, along with the hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly. I will focus most of my comments in response to the opposition House leader's very lengthy address. I probably will not be able to get through all of the points that I want to deal with, but I will acknowledge that I think the opposition House leader provided fairly lengthy criticism with respect to the process that led up to this point.

I think the one thing that was missing is to back up and to look at how we got here, not just what has transpired in the last few months, but what transpired under the previous government. It is that history that I want to address a bit, which I think needs to be part of the record, in terms of how a lot of issues that are now reflected in Motion No. 18 ultimately became part of our electoral platform in response to how the previous government treated this institution of Parliament. I will deal with some of those particular issues.

The first one I want to deal with is the first major test of Canadians' confidence in this institution at the end of 2008, shortly after the election that led to the Stephen Harper government being returned with a larger minority Parliament but not quite a majority. What transpired at that time was the coalition of three of the parties, the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, and the Bloc Québécois, to potentially defeat the government on a confidence motion, which led former prime minister Harper to go to the Governor General to seek a prorogation shortly after that government had already tabled the throne speech and had barely begun the legislative session.

The point I want to make is that ultimately prorogation is a crown prerogative, and so the ability of this House to circumscribe the crown's prerogatives is fairly limited. The criticism that came from the opposition House leader's attack on the proposed change in Motion No. 18 was that she did not see it having any merit or any particular point.

The purpose of this particular proposed change to prorogation is simply to shed light on the actual advice that the leader of the government, the prime minister of the day, is recommending to the Governor General as to why prorogation ought to be granted. Ultimately, that is entirely at the discretion of the Governor General. However, what this process does is shed light on that request. That is all it can do. It has, essentially, a political consequence and nothing more. That is essentially the purpose of why this particular amendment is being proposed within the Standing Orders.

The second thing that came out under the Harper government was, of course, the excessive use of omnibus legislation, particularly related to unrelated themes or unrelated matters. That is the one thing that we are trying to change, with respect to the proposed changes under the draft section 69.1 of the Standing Orders.

I acknowledge that we could have been clearer in the electoral campaign platform with respect to budget bills because, by their very nature, all budget bills are omnibus legislation. The point we are trying to make under proposed subsection 69.1(2) is that, if the budget bill proposes to make changes to other consequential acts, those changes have to be directly related to the implementation of the budget. It would be quite inefficient to break up a budget bill into numerous component parts because it would essentially render the whole budgetary process unworkable. The key in this area is the transfer of power from the government to the Speaker to make the final determination as to whether a piece of legislation is considered omnibus legislation or not, and the discretion would then rest entirely with the Speaker.

The third proposed area that is captured in Motion No. 18 relates to the estimates. The purpose of that change is to deal with what is a backward process right now where information about the budget is not clear. The changes being proposed would give parliamentarians better information ahead the budgetary process of instead of after it.

The fourth element that is proposed within Motion No. 18 deals specifically with parliamentary secretaries. In the previous Parliaments under the Conservative government, particularly in the 41st Parliament, in many but not necessarily all committees we saw the parliamentary secretary of the day dominating the agenda and denuding the broad capacity of all members of the House, particularly on the government side, from seriously looking at legislation that was coming through. The proposal we are putting forth in the Standing Orders would clarify the role of a parliamentary secretary. Parliamentary secretaries would still play an important liaison role with both the minister and the ministries they represent, but we would take away their capacity to be part of quorum and to vote. However, they would still play a very important liaison function with respect to dealing more rapidly with any of the issues that may arise at committee, through their participation. That is the fourth purpose in Motion No. 18 as to why the proposed changes are being advanced.

With respect to the last item, which has not made it into Motion No. 18, with respect to a prime minister's question period, the government has chosen to advance that particular measure by way of an established practised convention. I hope that we would give some serious consideration to following the United Kingdom model where the big difference is that, unlike the model we are executing now, the questions are tabled two days in advance by the opposition, which gives the prime minister of the day the opportunity to have a more fulsome response. This is as opposed to playing gotcha, as we are seeing right now with respect to question period.

I want to wrap up by simply saying that there has been some suggestion that there is an underhanded attempt by this government to ram through changes to the Standing Orders. I am a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. If the House leader had every intention of ramming things through, rather than presenting the discussion paper that was brought forward to PROC, she would have simply tabled a motion directly to the House to change the Standings Orders and to ram everything through that the government wanted, which is probably what the previous government would have done. This government did not do that. I want Canadians to understand that was never the intent or purpose behind the discussion paper. The intent was to solicit honest feedback. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was already doing very good work on a number of fronts, and this was to expand some of the other ideas that we felt merited discussion.

I am happy to take questions from any of my colleagues.

Father's Day June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I began my day at the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Walk with my family, raising money for cancer research, which is obviously very important to me.

We then proceeded to join with my mother and father to celebrate Father's Day at a Father's Day lunch. I know last week was a particularly momentous week for my father, given the journey that he has been through over the past few years.

I then went back home to prepare packing to come to Ottawa. I got a surprise from my three children as I was leaving. They presented me with a book called “How Much I Love You”, little notes that they basically wrote to me. However, I did not have a chance to read it until I arrived in Ottawa and got settled into my room. By the time I had finished reading it, I was an emotional, quivering mess, even though I am not normally an emotive person.

Let me say, on behalf of all fathers and their children, as their children are thinking about their fathers, they cherish the bonds between them for that incredible love.

A happy belated Father's Day to all fathers everywhere.

Changes to the Standing Orders June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. friend from Victoria for his contribution to the debate today on Motion No.18. Let me start with an expression of regret that the opposition parties cannot move forward in support of Motion No. 18, in spite of the fact that if we think about it, what really drove our attempt to bring the discussion paper forward, and many of the ideas for changing the Standing Orders, were the excesses of the previous government in terms of its overstep of its powers and our reaction to it, which ultimately made its way into our campaign platform for 2015.

As the official opposition House leader and the third party House leader were giving their narratives of the proposed changes to the Standing Orders, it seemed that the real reason they are opposed to them is that they object to the entire process. From my perspective, the substantive changes we are trying to advance actually strengthen the opposition's capacity to keep the government to account, as opposed to weakening it.

Does my friend actually believe that we are driven by some capricious, underhanded attempt to make this place less accountable?

Criminal Code June 12th, 2017

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-359, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (firearms).

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to table an act to amend the Criminal Code of Canada in respect of firearms in order to create a new aggravated penalty for the selling, trading, renting, or loaning of a firearm that had been previously used in the commission of an offence and is subsequently used in a subsequent offence.

The purpose of this legislation is to give law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and jurists a new optional, consecutive penalty of up to five years to deter trafficking in these illegal firearms. This bill, however, is in no way intended to compromise or target legitimate, responsible gun owners. This bill would instead require criminal intent and purpose.

In particular, I want to give a very quick shout-out to Sergeant Derek Byers of division 42 and the community safety response team and the major crimes unit that service northern and central Scarborough for the concept behind this proposed legislation.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Business of Supply June 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, let me first thank the member for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas for her generosity in the most personable ways. Only she knows what this means.

My advice is simple. We should use our heads, but follow our hearts. It is as simple as that.

Business of Supply June 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. The member simply knows the esteem in which I hold her. The words she has just said simply speak for themselves. and I will let them stand.

Business of Supply June 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, let me thank my friend from Victoria and the third-party House leader for his very generous comments.

From my perspective, it cuts both ways. It was in fact his generosity, as the New Democratic Party justice critic who was willing to come to speak in a government member's riding on a highly controversial bill, Bill C-14, that demonstrated the strength of this House. If members actually look at our voting records, we voted at almost opposite ends on all the amendments and the main motion throughout, yet we could engage in a civil debate in my constituency and engage with constituents who had a diverse array of views on that particular subject matter.

That is exactly the point I was trying to make earlier. Parliament is a place of disagreement in terms of the debate, but we do not have to be disagreeable. My friend from Victoria is a shining example of exactly that, and I thank him for his friendship.

Business of Supply June 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Durham, a friend indeed, and also, unfortunately, a fellow trekkie or trekker, depending on one's characterization. I unfortunately have not had the pleasure of visiting Vulcan, although I wish I could be teleported to that place someday. Others might argue that the blood that runs in my veins probably is a different colour than red, but I would argue otherwise. Let me simply say that I am deeply grateful for my colleague's friendship. More important, from my perspective, and this is in no way to disrespect the leader of the official opposition, I personally am glad that he is not currently the leader of the official opposition.