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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was kind.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as NDP MP for Burnaby—Douglas (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply November 18th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the remarks of the hon. member. I know that he has been very active with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. I found that out while speaking to him when we were riding over here on the little green bus to the debate this afternoon. I wonder if he could share with us some of his experiences in working for that organization, because I know that it has been doing excellent work on this issue and many other issues related to heart disease in Canada. Could he share with us some of his experience of that discussion within that organization?

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act November 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I just want to reiterate that we have seen that a lot of the economic development in Canada is focused on the private sector, on small and medium size businesses, which is a good thing because they generate a lot of economic activity in our country.

However, what we are trying to emphasize today is that community economic development needs to be an explicit part of the mandate of an agency such as this one. Local communities need to have more of a say in the kind of development that happens in their areas. The people of the community need to have more involvement in the actual project. The communities need to have more learning and capacity building to do the kind of economic development work that is most important for the people of those regions.

We think the government needs to pay more attention to community economic development all across the country. Now that we have the opportunity, with the establishment of this agency, it needs to be an explicit part of its mandate.

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act November 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to participate in the debate on Bill C-9, an act to establish the economic development agency of Canada for the regions of Quebec.

It is my understanding that the purpose of the act is to promote the development and diversification of the economy in the regions of Quebec.

The NDP supports establishing the economic development agency for the regions of Quebec as an individual legal entity. We think this is making the move from a program in Industry Canada to being a stand-alone agency.

The federal government's ability to bring money into a region and decide what organizations benefit from it for many areas can be the most public example and sometimes the most controversial example of government policy. Most of the government's economic development is focused exclusively on the private sector, but there are many other organizations that can contribute to a region's prosperity.

We in the NDP would argue that Bill C-9 could be improved by specific reference to community economic development, which is what I will be focusing my remarks on this afternoon.

I did appreciate hearing from my Bloc colleague who spoke previously about some of the larger and more specific issues facing the regions of Quebec, issues like transportation, infrastructure and employment insurance polices. We in the NDP are also very concerned about addressing those issues, but this afternoon I want to talk about community economic development in particular.

In the last budget, the government promised $132 million for community economic development across the country. Community economic development is not a short term project, however. Unfortunately, that is how most government funding is promoted, in the short term category. Seventeen million dollars of the funding that was announced are planned for a two year capacity building pilot project so that the government can learn more about community economic development.

As Mike Lewis, the director of the Centre for Community Enterprise said, “This should be a part of a long term strategy, not short term project based funding if the government truly wants to build capacity in a community economic development sector”.

Focusing on short term project based funding does create capacity but it does not create trust or cooperation among community groups. What is needed instead is an integrated policy relationship where ministries and agencies allow the groups that have already done the research to educate the bureaucrats instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on short term projects that will not produce long term gain.

Now it is the chantier de l'économie sociale in Quebec that will deal with this funding through the new organization that we are debating creating today.

Community economic development is known as social economy in Quebec and has proven very successful. Overall in Quebec the social economy sector, without even counting financial co-operatives, the two largest agricultural co-ops or the community action networks, is made up of over 6,200 co-operatives and non-profit enterprises that employ 65,000 people and generate over $4.3 billion in sales. It is an important sector in the economy of Quebec.

Community economic development improves the whole community and not just the business sector. A stronger community leads directly to a stronger economy.

Community economic development uses triple bottom line accounting. It considers the environmental, the social issues and the economic factors when doing economic planning. This is a far more holistic approach to economic development.

We would like to thank the centre for community economic development at Simon Fraser University, which is in my riding of Burnaby--Douglas, for its descriptions of community economic development which we used to prepare our remarks today.

Community economic development can be described as a community based and community directed process that explicitly combines social and economic development and is directed toward fostering the economic, social, ecological and cultural well-being of communities and regions.

Community economic development has emerged as an alternative to conventional approaches to economic development. It is founded on the belief that problems facing communities, such as unemployment, poverty, job loss, environmental degradation, economic instability and loss of community control, need to be addressed in a holistic and participatory way.

The background information that the government sent out to accompany Bill C-9 talked about small and medium sized enterprises. This is a recognition that in smaller communities, unless there is a resource nearby to exploit, it will not be a large corporation that brings in the jobs but many small businesses. There is already an emphasis in the bill on smaller enterprise and that makes a connection to community economic development even more possible and, hopefully, more likely.

The following principles underline community economic development, which is an evolving and ongoing process.

Equity: Community economic development is based on the principle of fairness and the belief that community members should have equitable access to community decision making processes, resources and the benefits of community economic development projects.

Participation: Community economic development encourages the active participation of all members of the community in the planning, decision making and benefits of community economic development initiatives and works to remove the barriers that limit the participation of marginalized citizens.

Community building: Community economic development seeks a sense of community by fostering relationships of acceptance, understanding and mutual respect.

Cooperation and collaboration: Community economic development recognizes that there are important linkages and connections between communities and regions and that many problems cannot be addressed in isolation. Community economic development, therefore, encourages relationships based on cooperation and collaboration.

Self-reliance and community control: Community economic development builds on local strengths, creativity and resources, and actively seeks to decrease dependency on invulnerability to economic interests outside the community and region. Furthermore, community economic development supports decentralized, non-hierarchical decision making processes that strengthen the autonomy of the individual, the community and the region.

Integration: Community economic development recognizes that the healthy development of communities requires a holistic approach that addresses the social, economic, cultural and ecological dimensions of community well-being.

Interdependence: Community economic development recognizes that the local community exists within the context of a larger complex web of relationships and that its decisions can have an impact far beyond its own boundaries. Therefore, community economic development embraces strategies that aim to benefit the local and the larger community.

Living within ecological limits: Community economic development recognizes that the social, cultural and economic well-being of the community depends on healthy local, regional and global ecosystems and that there are real ecological limits to human economic activities. Therefore, community economic development encourages processes, structures and initiatives that respect these ecological limits and supports work that is sustaining, regenerating and nurturing of both the community and the earth.

Capacity building: Community economic development contributes to self-reliance by encouraging the acquisition of relevant skills and the development of supportive structures and institutions.

Diversity: Community economic development contributes to self-reliance by encouraging economic activities that are diverse and appropriate to the express needs within the community and region. As a result, community economic development looks different in each community.

Appropriate indicators: Community economic development monitors and evaluates its progress through community derived and appropriate economic, social, cultural and ecological indicators rather than through conventional measures and standards.

That is a long list but I think it indicates how community economic development approaches are perfectly suited to the needs of a regional economic development agency.

It might seem like a bit of a digression but I want to talk briefly about the issue of literacy. We celebrated National Literacy Day just a few weeks ago. Improving adult literacy skills is one area of community economic development that needs more attention. We think that should be part of the mandate of all of Canada's regional development agencies.

The skills that a community workforce needs change as the community moves from a resource or farming economy to one based on knowledge or tourism. Overall, workers from agriculture, fishing and forestry occupations have shown lower literacy skills than other working age adults. In some parts of Canada nearly half the working age adults do not have the necessary literacy skills to work in knowledge economy jobs.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has reported that 33% of Canadian businesses reported training problems because of low literacy rates. How can any community build its overall economic social and environmental capacity when half the people available to make that happen do not have the needed skills. It is a national shame that we do not work harder to provide all of our citizens with the training they need throughout their lifetime when we expect all workers to continually upgrade their skills.

Regional development agencies should be empowered to help train adult workers in literacy skills in both of our official languages. Education and training are part of the building blocks to building a strong and prosperous economy.

In conclusion, let me reiterate the NDP's support for the establishment of the economic development agency of Canada for the regions of Quebec. We also urge the government to ensure that community economic development, the social economy, is central to the activities of the agency.

My colleague, the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, will be working hard on this legislation and looks forward to continuing the discussion on the bill in committee on behalf of the NDP.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act November 5th, 2004

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-272, an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (sponsorship of relative).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this private member's bill which would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. It is seconded by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre but also strongly supported by my colleague from Windsor—Tecumseh.

This bill, which we prefer to call the once in a lifetime bill, would allow any Canadian citizen or landed immigrant to sponsor, once in their lifetime, one family member from outside the family class as defined in the act. Specifically, this could be a son or daughter who is not a dependant and who is over 22, a brother or sister, an aunt or an uncle, a niece or a nephew, or a first cousin.

This bill would ensure that family reunification is key to immigration policies. The bill is similar to one introduced in the last Parliament by the member for Vancouver East; however, eligible family members are now more clearly defined.

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

Transport November 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, rather than treating all workers as potential criminals, the minister should deal with criminal activity that actually occurs.

This proposal includes other questionable requirements. Workers will have to report their complexion, their past travel outside of Canada, and information on their spouse and even their in-laws. Denial can lead to loss of their job. The only appeal is to the minister himself. Will the minister immediately withdraw this proposal and go back to the drawing board for a plan that respects and protects the basic rights of Canadian workers?

Transport November 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport. Currently security clearance policies are under development with the marine facilities restricted access program. Longshore workers who are suspected of being associated with a criminal organization, suspected of being associated with the misuse of port facilities, or suspected of having been associated with anyone who has done those things could be denied clearance to work.

Will the minister abandon this course and ensure reasonable security considerations based on actual criminal convictions and not mere suspicions about a worker's character?

Citizenship and Immigration November 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the government has failed to implement the merit-based refugee appeal division provided for in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

In response to sanctuary situations, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has suggested that churches accept a mechanism for a ministerial review for only around 12 failed refugee cases a year.

Why is the minister presuming to limit the carefully considered justice actions of churches while at the same time showing contempt of Parliament by refusing to implement the refugee appeal division proposed by the government and passed by this House?

Financial Administration Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, setting up an agency to do human resources work in the public service would not necessarily change how human resources work would be done in the public service. Does the minister know whether there are new directives around how this work will be done? Is there a possibility for new creativity in the system? If it is the same old, same old, that would not address the needs and the importance of the work that is done by so many dedicated public servants in Canada.

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's speech and his reflections about some of the historical sites that are in his riding and nearby and I wanted to ask him a question about those. I know the bill contemplates transferring responsibility for those sites to Environment Canada and that it has been back and forth a little between Heritage Canada and Environment Canada.

I also know that the Minister of Public Works has contemplated selling off some of the government's holdings in terms of buildings and other public facilities. Just this morning I had a phone call from one of my constituents who was very concerned about that possibility. He believes that those facilities are part of the birthright of all Canadians and that they should remain with the government, not be sold away only to be rented back or to be part of some other arrangement.

Does the member believe that this arrangement might actually protect historical sites, if transferring them to the Department of the Environment was a way of protecting them and ensuring they are part of the future of all Canadians?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the speech by the member for Ottawa West--Nepean. I heard her remark about her pride in the national child benefit.

Over the period that the national child benefit has been in place, child poverty has actually increased in Canada. A commitment was made in the House back in 1989 to eliminate child poverty by 2000 but in fact it has increased over that period. It does not seem like the most effective program. I would like her to comment on what can be done to address the issue of child poverty in Canada.

She also mentioned the Canada learning bond. I do agree that it is great to encourage families to save for their children's education but it seems to ignore the crisis in post-secondary education that we are facing right now with incredibly high student debt and high tuition fees. I do not see anything in the Speech from the Throne to address those important issues. I would like the member to comment on that as well.