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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

Criminal Code May 31st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I very much respect my colleague from Surrey Centre's rather broad survey of some of the jurisdictions around the world that have brought in medical assistance in dying. I particularly appreciated his detailed analysis in terms of giving us a framework in which we could construct our particular legislation that is currently before the House.

My question to my friend is this. We have certainly heard comments coming from the government, particularly from the Prime Minister, that have suggested that this particular legislation is simply an initial step. Are there aspects in some of the research he has done with respect to the other jurisdictions that he thinks would be helpful in contributing to the dialogue moving forward?

Income Tax Act May 19th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance not only for his presentation here today but for his excellent work, along with the Minister of Finance, particularly at the beginning of this year, when they went coast to coast to coast around the country under a very difficult timeline to consult with Canadians on what was ultimately budget 2016.

I listened carefully to his presentation with respect to many of the tax measures that are included in budget 2016 and how it would improve the lives of middle-class Canadians. Some of the things I did not hear, which I want to give the parliamentary secretary an opportunity to expand on and are particularly important to my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt, are the strategic investments, particularly in infrastructure, and in particular as it relates to public transit.

We have had some interesting announcements that have taken place in, for example, the Toronto area. I would like to give the opportunity to the parliamentary secretary to further elucidate as to how it might impact my particular region of the country.

Criminal Code May 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice.

I have heard the official opposition suggest that the deadline of June 6 imposed by the Supreme Court is an arbitrary one and is wondering why the government has not gone back to seek a further extension.

Of course, the government originally sought a six month extension of the suspension of the offending sections of the Criminal Code but was only granted a four month extension.

Does the minister believe that there is actually any substantive merit to the new legal issues that would actually allow the Supreme Court to revisit this particular issue?

Serenata Singers May 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to highlight a truly remarkable organization from my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt.

The Serenata Singers have been providing Canadians with the sounds of choral music for over four decades. This year marks their 40th anniversary as a community and charity-based group who revel in singing four part choral music.

This fine group of 65 seniors, under the direction of the accomplished Joshua Tamayo, continue to share their talents with the community at many annual events throughout the calendar year.

I would like to mention some of the charitable organizations that receive important assistance from the Serenata group. They include: Sleeping Children Around the World, the Canadian FOP Network, and the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention one very special member of this group. Margaret Taylor is the only original member of Serenata and in this past October celebrated her 100th birthday.

I would like to invite all the members of this House to join me in congratulating and thanking this terrific organization for the tremendous work it does in our community.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016

Madam Speaker, I want thank my friend, the member for Portage—Lisgar, for her contribution.

I want to go back to the beginning of her contribution, where she talked about the potential application of section 33 under the charter. It was actually part of the context of my own remarks when I talked specifically about its use and application. Of course, this Parliament has never actually used section 33 yet, to apply it to any particular piece of legislation. I am wary about its use, given that we are ultimately talking about where there has already been a determination by the courts and certain individuals' rights protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would then be subject to a legislative override under section 33.

Is there a particular test that my friend, the member for Portage—Lisgar, thinks should be applied, in terms of helping parliamentarians assess when it would be appropriate to use section 33?

I had suggested that we would use the same kinds of tests that would be found under section 1, in particular, trying to minimally impair the rights of someone where their charter rights have been protected.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016

Madam Speaker, I know there is a complaint that we are not allowing debate on this particular matter, but we have certainly extended the courtesy and opportunity for all members who want to participate in this particular process to do so.

The deadline of June 6 is one that was imposed by the court. We as a government and the Minister of Justice asked for a longer period of time. The court denied it and decided that June 6 was the deadline with respect to Parliament having an answer to the Carter decision.

I ask my friend how we ultimately get around this particular problem of the deadline that was imposed when his party was in government and did nothing last year.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016

Madam Speaker, I want to get to my final point which is personal.

Not only am I a member who has to decide as a parliamentarian, but I am also a member who was recently diagnosed with recurrent cancer. I may in fact be someone who may have to, potentially, depending on how treatment goes, avail myself of this option. It is not one I would like to contemplate, not one that I think is a choice I would like to make, but it is a practical reality of something I might have to face.

We simply have to have an honest conversation with our constituents. In fact, I commend my colleague from Victoria, who has offered to come and do a joint presentation in my riding to explain the practical realities of this bill. At the same time, we need to hear from Canadians and understand why they have objections.

At the end of the day, the point I want to make is when there is not societal consensus on a particular issue, we ultimately have to make sure that any bill that is put before us is constitutional and does not trample on the rights of individual Canadians.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his generosity.

I was simply getting to the issue of mature minors, to say that I do have some additional trouble and am concerned about appropriate safeguards. That was my other particular area of concern.

Let us get back to the question that my friend posed with respect to ALS or other conditions where the body is sound but the mind is not and the person may not be able to express the issue of consent. Again, I think the key is the particular regulatory framework that is put around the issue of advance consent.

Clearly, a person, knowing that at some point in the future he or she will be losing his or her mental capacity, would have to have expressed it extremely clearly in an unreserved fashion that would ultimately meet the regulatory framework set out, with two physicians concurring that in fact consent was given in an express manner, and setting out the clear guidelines, the clear situation in which he or she would be prepared to be administered with medically assisted death.

If we could create that kind of a framework, I think that would address the concern the hon. member may have.

Criminal Code May 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-14, the government's response to the Carter decision that we have recently dealt with by tabling this particular piece of legislation.

I wish to state at the outset that I will be supporting the bill, but with some reservations. I will explain why I believe the bill deserves support, but by the same token, I believe that somehow in a future Parliament the bill could go further.

I intend to engage in this discussion by going through three thematic components in the brief 10 minutes I have to make my contribution to this important debate. I know this has been at times an emotional issue for parliamentarians, but in the three thematic components, I wish to give my rationale for my support at this time.

The first of the three themes looks at the moral considerations that many members and much of the broader public have expressed. Second, I want to discuss perhaps more fulsomely our duty as parliamentarians to respond to issues of constitutionality, particularly when they are challenged in the courts. Third, in the short remaining time I will have, I wish to express some personal thoughts on this as it impacts me directly.

First, I want to thank many constituents in my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt for their interventions on this subject. This has been an emotional matter, and I would have to state on the record that the overwhelming majority of constituents who reached out to me are opposed to the government introducing Bill C-14. That has been primarily on moral grounds. They feel that allowing physician-assisted death is essentially tantamount to murder.

In the opportunities I have had to discuss this matter with my constituents, I made it clear that Parliament is under a positive obligation to respond to the decision in the Carter case. If Parliament does not present some form of legislation, the consequence of its failure to do so would mean that the provisions of section 14 and subsection 241(b) of the Criminal Code would no longer be operative as of June 6. We would essentially be left in the situation of a legislative vacuum. It is important to put a regulatory framework around physician-assisted death.

As I pivot from the issue of morality to the issue of our responsibility as parliamentarians, I want to raise the point that while morality is important, and this has been a theme discussed in the House, ultimately we as parliamentarians must first make sure that we put in laws that pass the constitutional test. Where the Supreme Court of Canada has rendered a decision indicating that something is not constitutional, that it is a breach of some form of the constitution, whether on jurisdictional grounds or on grounds under the charter, Parliament needs to respond. In my view, that is what the government is doing in Bill C-14, under a very difficult timeline. That is perhaps why there has been a decision to introduce Bill C-14 in a relatively controlled and restrictive manner. It is reflective of the fact that we are under a very tight time obligation.

Therefore, I understand why the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health and others, who have done yeoman's work in this regard, have taken initial steps to make sure it meets the constitutional test set out by the Supreme Court of Canada. However, in my view, it does not necessarily go far enough.

I want to pay tribute to the ministers and to all the other many parties and Canadians who have contributed to the debate. I note that there was incredible work done by the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, led by Senator Ogilvie and the member for Don Valley West. I want to pay tribute to all the members who participated in that committee.

I want to note the contributions of the federal external panel, the provincial-territorial expert panel, and the many stakeholders and Canadians who have contributed to this very difficult debate.

I would note, though, that not only have many of my constituents expressed concerns with respect to this particular bill, but in some specific instances they have asked us to consider invoking the section 33 notwithstanding clause found in the charter, which of course is the legislative override provision. I would view that as a more sophisticated way of saying they oppose it and that ultimately parliamentarians should please consider overriding the charter rights of certain individuals by invoking or using the notwithstanding clause.

I would say to those individuals who have expressed that particular feeling that this is something we have to do and tread upon very carefully, particularly where we are potentially treading on rights that have been protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I would submit respectfully that it is important we do so in a manner that follows the tests that are similarly found in section 1 that were ultimately articulated in the Oakes decision that deals with the judicial override clause that is found in the charter.

Under Oakes, there are essentially three tests that need to be met, and if any one of those tests fails, namely in dealing with the judicial override, then one would not be able to invoke section 1, and I would argue that one would have to use the same principles under section 33 in exercising the legislative override. Those three tests basically deal with rational connection, that the impairment is done in as minimal a way as possible, and that we look at the deleterious effects and salutary benefits of any limitation that is imposed under section 1.

Typically, in application of section 1 of the charter in most instances, the failure falls under the second test, that the impairment is not as minimal as possible. Certainly, that was the basis in which the section 1 test was applied in Carter and which the court found that the proposed absolute ban on physician-assisted death did not meet the minimal impairment test. The court had carefully gone through the trial judge's analysis and concurred with the trial judge's position with respect to the application of section 1.

In terms of whether we would consider invoking section 33, as I mentioned already, this Parliament, this House of Commons, has never exercised section 33 as a legislative override, and I would argue that we too should be extremely careful. That is the test that we need to apply as parliamentarians in terms of determining whether we feel it is appropriate to use the legislative override.

As I mentioned before, the bill seeks to meet in a very expedited fashion a court-imposed time challenge and to deal with the suspension of the declaration of invalidity under sections 14 and 241 of the Criminal Code of Canada. We must do so by June 6.

As I have indicated before, I will be providing my support for the bill, but I would argue that there are a couple of additional things that we as a Parliament need to consider in the future. These were articulated quite clearly in the report from the special joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons.

My first issue is that the bill currently does not deal with the issue of advance directives. I am sympathetic to those Canadians, particularly those who are suffering from diseases like ALS and others, who may still be in quite good shape at the present time, but at some future point, when they are getting close to their end-of-life situation, will not be able to express their particular consent. In my view, the issue of a clearly articulated regulatory framework that allows for advance consent should be considered.

I am also—

Criminal Code April 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague, the member for Victoria, for a very impassioned speech and a very important contribution to the debate. I particularly take note of his objections, despite the fact that he has expressed his ultimate support for the legislation that the government has introduced in Bill C-14.

I want to specifically get to one of the objections that he raised, which deals with the question about the foreseeability clause.

He noted that the lead counsel in the Carter decision, Mr. Joseph Arvay Q.C., raised concerns with respect to the constitutionality of the proposed Bill C-14. I want to ask my friend what proposed changes would be necessary so that the definition of reasonable foreseeability, currently found in proposed paragraph 241.2(2)(d), would deal with the legal standard. I believe that is the nature of his objection.

I would add the caveat that, as I recall the Minister of Justice's presentation at the time, the determination of reasonable foreseeability would be left to physicians. Is there some amendment you could propose that would in fact address the legal standards, which I think is the nature of the objection?