House of Commons photo


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

The Economy September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the government remains out of touch with the needs of middle-class Canadians. In Ontario, families are struggling to make ends meet, and even the government's so-called favourite economist, the Prime Minister, says that employment has flattened recently.

As I stated yesterday, the minister of state for economic development has only spent $79,000 out of his $177-million budget to stimulate Ontario's economy. When will the minister acknowledge his inaction plan and do something? If not, will the Prime Minister replace him?

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his contribution to the debate with respect to what this agreement would mean to the fishing industry.

My question to him is actually in respect of investment in South Korea, in particular as it deals with the highly integrated chaebol system in South Korea. I would like to get the parliamentary secretary's comments with respect to whether there would, in fact, be an appropriate balance between Canadian companies being able to invest in such a highly integrated industrial economy like South Korea's compared to South Korean firms that would be able to invest here in Canada.

Employment September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's last-minute change to the agenda of the visiting EU delegation meant that Canadians had to swallow $300,000 to fly the delegation home on a government Airbus. Meanwhile, hard-working families in southern Ontario are struggling to make ends meet, yet the minister of state for economic development is missing in action. Despite a budget of $177 million to help create jobs, the minister has only invested $79,000 this year.

When will the minister finally do his job and address the unacceptably high rate of unemployment in southwestern Ontario?

National Health and Fitness Day Act September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate my hon. friend from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for introducing this bill in the House, and to also thank members of the Senate and Senator Nancy Greene Raine for introducing this important bill in the other place.

My question to the hon. member relates to this particular issue, which in many ways follows upon the earlier question. There were reports from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who by the way is a well-known runner herself, about issuing a directive to her minister of education, as part of her ministry mandate, to encourage young people to have at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.

Would the hon. member like to comment on whether this is an important initiative that should be extended across all provinces, and perhaps something that should be considered by all education ministers across the country?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard, and I thank her for her comments.The government has often taken an approach with respect to legislation such as this in focusing on the punitive or investigatory aspects of its legislation. However, the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard I thought raised a particularly important point, which is to focus on the preventive or protective aspects of this legislation.

What would the hon. member suggest should be included to make the bill more palatable?

Reform Act, 2014 September 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise for the first time in the House to join the debates, and I do so with a profound sense of humility. I wish to express my tremendous appreciation to the residents of Scarborough—Agincourt for the distinct honour of representing them as their member of Parliament.

As this is my inaugural address in the House of Commons, I am mindful of the sense of history of this place. In my youth, I fell in love with Canadian history, and when I finally had the opportunity to visit Parliament, I realized why this place was so important. Not only is this where we make our laws and establish our government, it is this place that symbolizes the fundamental value of our democratic freedom. This is a freedom that flows through our evolved relationship with the Crown and with the institutions of sovereign and colonial power.

I have deliberately chosen this legislation to rise for my first time to join the debates in the House of Commons because I recognize the very important symbolism that the bill has come to represent across our country. There is a fundamental sense that democracy in our country, and across all democratic countries, is gradually eroding. Participation rates in elections have been steadily dropping. Canadians are increasingly developing a sense that our democratic institutions do not matter.

As members of Parliament, we each owe a critical duty to arrest this development and to increase confidence in our democratic institutions.

I look to my recent by-election and that of my fellow three colleagues who were elected on June 30. In that by-election, we saw participation rates drop to incredible lows. Sadly, in my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt less than 30% of electors chose to cast a ballot. My colleague in the riding of Trinity—Spadina probably had the best turnout in having approximately one third of the ballots cast by those who were eligible to vote. In the two Alberta by-elections, we saw voter participation drop to roughly 19% in Macleod and 15% in Fort McMurray—Athabasca.

We have seen participation rates in successive federal and provincial elections continue to drop. This is a broad question that all of us, as members, need to ask and, ultimately, to be concerned about.

To that end, I would like to pay tribute to the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills for the intent behind his private member's bill, Bill C-586, entitled simply “Reform Act”. In reading his backgrounder on this bill, I noted that it was his intent to reinforce the principle of responsible government. It was also his intent to provide checks against the exercise of executive power over the legislature. In particular, my friend sought to ensure that party leaders maintain the confidence of their respective caucuses.

This is a laudable goal and it is an attempt to bring back the normative practices of our Westminster model of government. However, when one actually examines the substance of the bill, I have to admit that I find somewhat of a disconnect between the aspirational aspects that the member for Wellington—Halton Hills is proposing and the practical outcomes of his bill. It leads to a series of questions and concerns.

In his backgrounder to the legislation, my friend from Wellington—Halton Hills attempts to address four broad reforms: first, restoring local control over party nominations; second, strengthening caucus as a decision-making body; third, reinforcing accountability of the party leader to caucus; and fourth, reforming the institution of Parliament.

I submit that my friend's intent to codify what has been the conventional practices reflects, unfortunately, a failing of members to exercise their very rights and privileges as members of Parliament. In some aspects, the changes proposed are rigid in that they seek to impose and create controls over political parties and their practices.

I have trouble with this approach. I can fully understand having parliamentary oversight over the practices of political parties, for example, as it relates to issues like financing, particularly when there are implications on our tax system or when there might be the possibility of undue influence as a result of public financing.

As it relates to the organization of political parties themselves, I am fundamentally convinced that these organizations should set their own rules and that participation by the broader public would be judged on effect, or how democratically these institutions operate. Let us leave the constitution of political parties up to the political parties themselves.

I know that the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills has consulted broadly on his bill, including soliciting input from various members of this House to address the operational concerns of his proposed legislation. I applaud my friend for reaching out. This is in fact how we should be working together and returning ourselves to a more civil time, when all members in this place were treated with honour and respect.

Let me say that here in the Liberal Party, we intend to honour the very spirit of my friend's legislation. It is our intent on this side of the House to allow all members of the Liberal caucus to vote on this private member's bill by way of a free vote.

Let me also say that despite outlining some of our concerns, it is my intention to support my friend's bill and to vote yes when it comes up for a vote at second reading. I will note that I reserve my right to reconsider my vote, depending on what transpires when the bill is sent to committee and we see what emerges at third reading.

I should also state that the Liberal Party has a different approach. I recognize that my friend from Wellington—Halton Hills may have some cause for concern about the practices within his own party or by the approach taken by the Prime Minister and the executive council, but here in the Liberal Party, we have decided that restoring trust in Canada's democracy will encompass the following reforms that have been passed, by a party resolution, by our own party. These include free and open democratic nomination of our candidates; fewer whipped votes and more free votes, requiring individual MPs to assume full responsibility for their decisions; stronger parliamentary control of public finances, including an annual deadline in the budget; accounting consistency among estimates and public accounts; more clarity in voting on estimates; a cost analysis of all government bills; and a requirement that government borrowing plans obtain Parliament's pre-approval.

We would seek an independent and properly resourced parliamentary budget officer. We would move to a more effective access to information system, with safeguards against political interference and meaningful whistle-blower protection; an impartial system to identify and eliminate wasteful partisan government advertising, like we actually have in the government of Ontario; limitations on secret committee proceedings; a limitation on omnibus bills; and limitations on the use of prorogation for the short-term convenience of the government.

We would move to adequate funding, investigative powers, and enforcement authority to ensure that Elections Canada could root out electoral fraud.

We would move to proactive disclosure of parliamentarians' expenses and a more transparent Board of Internal Economy that has proper audit rules.

Finally, we would move toward a truly independent Senate.

To that end, I would encourage my friend to also support Bill C-613, known as the transparency act, that was introduced by my leader, the hon. member for Papineau.

The goals of this bill my friend from Wellington—Halton Hills is presenting are laudable. Those on this side want a House where Parliament respects the principles of responsible government and the rule of law. I know that my friend has had challenges with his own party and with the sometimes difficult nature of the exercise of executive power.

Therefore, I challenge my friend from Wellington—Halton Hills to make the changes within his own party before we impose changes on all political parties, and if he cannot change his party, he is welcome to change parties.

Agincourt Junior Public School September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to congratulate Agincourt Junior Public School on its 100th anniversary. The school is an important architectural landmark in Agincourt. It has been a fixture in the community going back many years, since 1914, when it first opened.

At that time, Agincourt was just a small rural village, and the school consisted of just four classrooms. Today I am proud to say that this small village has grown into a large city with a diverse cultural community. The school now encompasses eight classrooms, a library resource centre, and two portables.

Agincourt Junior Public School has successfully and continuously met the needs of our dynamic community and today comprises approximately 230 students representing many different language groups and cultures. I would like to extend my personal best wishes to the school, its staff, and students on this important milestone and wish them much success in future years.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour for her contribution to the debate. I basically have two questions for her.

First, before the government concludes that it will not be supporting the motion before the House, what studies has it done to conclude that the federal minimum wage should not be raised?

Second, she noted that we are supporting high-paying jobs in the oil sands. Would she also be supportive of the same for the Ring of Fire in Ontario?

Infrastructure September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, congestion in Toronto is quickly reaching crisis levels. Experts now estimate that congestion in the GTA is reaching over $11 billion annually. Ontario's premier has said that the federal government's investment is less than one-quarter of what it needs to be, yet the government has shamefully reduced the amount that is being spent on infrastructure, including Toronto's transit system.

When will the government heed Ontario's premier and start meaningful investments so Scarborough can have its subway?