House of Commons photo

Track Brian

Your Say

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is things.

NDP MP for Windsor West (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Textile Labelling Act. April 23rd, 2018

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-400, An Act to amend the Textile Labelling Act (animal skin, hair and fur).

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have the member for Victoria second this bill. It is Bill C-400, an act to amend the Textile Labelling Act (animal skin, hair and fur). The bill will require that a textile fibre that includes the manufacturing use of animal skin, fur, and hair be identified when imported into Canada. In particular, the labelling of cat and dog fur and hair is important, because it is a consumer choice, at the end of the day. People have a right to know what they are purchasing.

Every year approximately two million dogs and cats are killed for their fur, and their skins are used to make trim on coats, toys, hats, and figurines. These are products often originating in Asia and exported all over the earth. The U.S., the European Union, Great Britain, and Australia have similar legislation. Companies that manufacture and produce these items should be accountable so that consumers know what they are purchasing for themselves and their loved ones.

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

Net Neutrality March 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the motion on net neutrality, which is very important for a number of reasons for Canadians.

Net neutrality is important to how we set our mark in the world, especially with regard to the United States and its decision under President Trump to move away from net neutrality toward the telecommunication giants for the management of Internet traffic. This is very important for so many different things, not only the business aspect, but also the personal and democratic aspects of it and the innovative side of using the Internet.

The previous member highlighted one of the more important aspects of this, that perhaps we have taken this for granted in Canada. Many countries in the world do not have net neutrality like we have today. The mere fact that we do have Internet service providers, ISPs, that rely upon American servers and infrastructure will mean we are affected no matter what. In fact, there is also a consumer-driven element to this of cost, which no doubt will be borne by the consumers. In fact, we have some of the highest prices right now.

However, we receive some solid services. Therefore, it is not necessarily just a one-way street to the customers here. For a country of our size, our demographics, and the challenges we have, there has been a footprint of the industry that is very important for all Canadians, and it has been successful in many respects in employment and moving net neutrality and services to Canadians.

We just came from the industry committee in which we are studying the issue of rural broadband. We will have recommendations to table in the House very soon. Although I cannot get into the full report right now as it has yet to be tabled, it does get to the heart of the matter, which is the fact that net neutrality is important not only for urban areas but rural areas as well. We also have the obligation of moving online government services to that area.

Net neutrality and the spectrum it travels on is a public service. It is owned and part of a national asset. The previous Conservative government and the current Liberal administration, through spectrum auctions, have received over $8 billion in revenue. However, there is a responsibility of the government and the providers to Canadians who own this natural resource. Canadians have supported net neutrality from the birth of the service in Canada, and we would like to see that continue.

We have seen so many challenges in this file, but net neutrality will affect more things in the future. I will point to one of the more practical things we have, which is streaming users to certain services, products, and marketing. Some of that, without net neutrality, would also incur a cost. For example, if an Internet service provider wants to stream users to a particular advertisement, or a particular page, or a download, or something of that nature, that will part of the data package and that will cost. The users will then have to break out of that or have that incurred cost of data management in their system. Alternatively, they could seek a different product by going to different sites, which would use more data, just to try to find what they are looking for. It could be anything from online shopping, news information, sports entertainment, or a series of different things. It affects not only our democracy, but our purchasing habits as well.

It also affects small and medium-sized businesses, which should not be forgotten in this debate. They will get eclipsed by the larger operations, some of them international conglomerates, and that will stymie small business. As we try to include small business as a more innovative part of our Canadian society and business strategy, they will have trouble in a dominated non-neutral market.

This will affect everything, from people looking for entry into the business market, such as our youth, as well as people with second careers and those who have just developed work in an industry, to more sophisticated operations, where we have some of our creative and well-known talent in Internet web design services and other things that would, in many respects, be put at a disadvantage trying to compete.

The U.S. decision to follow in this vein as well gives us a strategic opportunity to capture some of that technology and workers in that area, as well as an economic advantage. Although we have a much smaller market to deal with, it does provide an opportunity for us as Canadians to take advantage of that type of restrictive and planned market, where access is going to be dominated by the dollar and not necessarily by the principle of being on the platform.

There are a number of things that are happening with this motion. Because the government, in budget 2017, reopened the discussion on this, the motion is appropriate to speak to today. It is something that is beneficial for the House. It is something that we as New Democrats will support. Having never wrestled with the concept of net neutrality, we believe that it is important not only for consumers but for our democracy.

It goes further and deeper. Very soon, I will be working on and launching a digital strategy platform that covers several different aspects. One of the things that connect to net neutrality here, as was implied in my previous question for the author of the motion, is the example of Facebook. There are different ways to undermine the principles of net neutrality. Where we really want to see a difference right now is in the enforcement through the CRTC board, which is more like a reactive model. We would rather see a proactive approach so that the CRTC could enforce the different types of penalties against ISP providers if they decided to throttle, skew, or change things. That is important, because it allows for a less defensive approach, where the onus is on one to play the game with one's competitors in that field, and at the same level.

Going back to Facebook, and how this connects with that, its activities and manipulation not only affect our democracy, but provide an example of how a business can purchase and get around net neutrality in many ways. However, generally, at least there are some rules out there for that. They have now been identified, and Christopher Wylie and unfortunately the Liberals were caught for this, with several operators who come from their war rooms and different types of operations now being connected to this and using data simulation and data models, and we are not even sure where they are being sold, how they are being used, and what third party involvement there is.

All these things are critical, especially with an Ontario election coming up, as we do not even know the crossover effect to the fullest degree. These things are critical, because we have a skewing of the net neutral model in the sense that Facebook is using data assimilation, collection, and so forth to stream people into different brackets, to be sold for marketing.

Where I would take issue with the author of the motion is that when something is put out there, basically it is a free-for-all. The reality is that the use or the eventual purpose of this information or data is sometimes not known when it is collected. What they do is keep a reservoir of collected information, and unfortunately we see the abuse that is taking place right now. Basically, people are being categorized and inventoried, and their behaviour is set, and that information, collectively, becomes a great economic tool, and also a management tool for streaming them toward a certain content. That is the problem we have. The crossover to net neutrality starts there. If we do not have that as a foundation for the use of the Internet, then we are at a loss to begin with. That is the most important thing. If we are going to play fair in the system, everything needs to be done, at least in the beginning, on a fair and equitable level. That is one of the things that are important for Canada.

In conclusion, we can show a divergence from the United States on this by further enshrinement of that model.

I thank the hon. member for bringing this motion to the House of Commons.

Net Neutrality March 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, net neutrality is a core essence for New Democrats and we continue that to today. The member for Timmins—James Bay has been on this file for a number of years.

Net neutrality is critical, but the member needs to shed some light on fair practices on the use of net neutrality with regard to Facebook and some of the activity that is taking place. We have seen serious manipulation of people's information and data that undermines democracy. I wonder what the member's comments on that are. Does he not think that part of the problem we face is abuse of circumstances like that, which defeats the whole principle of net neutrality?

Interim Estimates March 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Rob Anders is not here, and he was the largest sleeper in the House of Commons.

Business of Supply March 22nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, I cannot say that I am unhappy that the parliamentary secretary is unhappy with the NDP or is disappointed in us. I would suggest that the mere fact that he was part of this trip should make him want to recuse himself from some of the discussions taking place here today.

Having said that, we are talking about one individual. We can see in that member's remarks that he is trying to lump all civil servants together, and we can follow this through later on. We are talking about one person in the motion today. What that member is referring to now is the entire public service.

I would suggest that having openness and transparency shed on this Liberal adventure, which was more a debacle for the rest of us, is important. It is not just the NDP saying this. The member just needs to google The Washington Post or CNN to see what the world is saying about this trip by the Prime Minister.

Business of Supply March 22nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, one of the key elements of our democracy, regardless of political party, is the standing committees of the House of Commons.

The member is quite right to note the way information comes out. There are laws that govern that and follow through on that. There is the general court system for accountability when we leave the chamber, such as when a member slanders someone. More importantly, there is committee testimony. People giving committee testimony are accountable. I will give the House an example.

Recently, all parties agreed to have Apple come before our committee to provide testimony about some of the issues it has had with regard to problems with batteries in its products. That was important, because Apple is now on the record. It is accountable to Canadians for what they should expect to receive.

It is the same thing with Mr. Jean. His appearance at committee will be the moment when we get the absolute truth, which is the only way to go forward.

Business of Supply March 22nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

The previous speaker, the parliamentary secretary, provided quite an in-depth look at some of the issues related to trade, economic connections, and social and cultural connections with India. Quite frankly, this motion does not get into all those elements. What it deals with is a parliamentary process that is key to our democracy, here in the chamber and in our committees, which is having a witness testify before our committee. What has taken place is that the Liberals have decided to use this person as an example of all public servants, apparently, in terms of their coming before this committee being seen as an attack. This is really a turning point that is going to be very much objected to by many union and non-union public servants across this country.

The mere suggestion that this would be an attack on the good men and women who serve this country every single day, whether it be at our borders or in our offices, internationally or domestically, is not only offensive but very unfortunate. It is very unfortunate that this has been characterized as an attack on the public service. I would impress upon the government that it move away from that discussion at this point. It is a rather unfortunate attempt to use the public service as a shield for problems the Liberal Party had with this trip.

The motion is about one individual, who provided information and advice, as per the job, to the Prime Minister that refute some of the public comments his own party has made on the problematic trip to India, not only from the get-go but during it and after. To use that person as a shield for the Liberals' personal and political embarrassment is insulting and certainly derogatory.

This request to have Mr. Jean come forward is reasonable and in order. It would only provide clarification. I would add that this person is probably not even representative of the hundreds of thousands of workers in the public service. There probably is a political appointment involved with this to some degree. If not, it does not matter. The Liberals should be ashamed. That they would actually politicize the collective work of our workers at their expense I think will make this a watershed moment.

What has happened is that the Prime Minister's trip to India went off the rails. They admitted that 14 members and six cabinet ministers went along. They had 20 members go over there, and all kinds of things happened. These are things they are concerned about, whether it was flying chefs across the country and eventually to India, hiring for fashion design and photography, or the parties, where they ran out of booze. It became embarrassing. All those things happened, and their members were part of that and were there for that. It was supposed to be a positive public relations exercise and it has turned wrong.

The serious nature of this is the defence of the Atwal situation. We have a person convicted of a very serious crime in Canada, who went through our court system, who was put on one of these party lists. There has been controversy, blaming, and finger pointing about how he got on that list. What was serious was the blame that went to the Indian government.

They can write all they want about the positive things, such as trade with India and the cultural connections, all those things many of us experience in our ridings on a daily basis, but at the end of the day, with the finger pointing by the Prime Minister across the ocean to a foreign country, it became a very serious matter. It is one of the reasons they became an international laughingstock.

All one has to do is google this trip. For CNN, The Washington Post, and overseas media it not only became a story for the day but became a continuing story. Here we had the Prime Minister of one of the most important democracies in the world pointing the finger at another democracy, because he was politically embarrassed. That is not going to be un-watched, forgotten, or brushed under the covers. This is a pattern of behaviour. This is about a problem the government has.

Unfortunately, the government would like that to go away, but this was all done with public money. This was all done under the rules and regulations of the democracy we have, and part of that is accountability. That is what the official opposition and our party are supposed to be doing. That is part of our democracy. It is a principle element to make sure that we are going to stay true to being open and transparent. Maybe we could debate the level of that, but there are certain laws.

What happened is that we and the official opposition asked that this individual, in a key moment in diplomatic relations, which will not go away, come before committee. That is important, because he will have to give testimony, and it will have to be truthful or he will perjure himself. When people come before parliamentary committees, they have to provide the truth, or they will be subject to further punishment under the law.

The concern of the Liberals is that the person would then lose his cover, and most importantly, the Liberals would lose their cover on something very embarrassing and very serious.

Today's motion is very reasonable. The process would be televised. Canadians will be able to judge for themselves the politics of this. More importantly, the accountability of this House will be enshrined, and it will be determined whether appropriate things did or did not take place.

We have had these watershed moments in the past. I have been around here long enough to have seen everything from the sponsorship scandal to the Schreiber-Mulroney issue and any number of different things. I am working right now on the issues related to Facebook and data privacy breaches. It actually goes back to the Liberal Party, as it is one of their creatures who was involved in this.

The reality is that at least through that process at committee, there would be an accountable lens applied to our governing practices. The Liberals may not like that, but they have been on this end and they have been on that end. The reality is that this is what happens.

That is why I take great offence to the Liberals saying that this is an attack on our public service. Under the previous administration, the Conservatives had practices that I did not like and did not support. There needed to be some serious talk about what was happening to scientists and a series of other things. We have seen some of that change, but very little.

For the Liberals to suggest that the Conservatives are doing this as a broader attack on the people who get up every single day to provide services for Canadians is shameful, disrespectful, and harmful, and it further erodes the reasons people should be involved in the public service to begin with.

We are talking about a senior position. It is someone who reports to the ministers and the Prime Minister and is expected to provide information and intelligence. The Prime Minister and ministers decide what to do with that. That is now being repeated by government members with respect to the Atwal situation and whether he gets an invite or does not get an invite, and who is at fault and who is not at fault.

That has led to an international incident in the sense that we are now forever branded, under the current administration of the Indian government and our current Liberal government, as the government that is willing to point the finger and say that it does not really want to find out what took place on our soil with our own people. The Liberals will just say that it is that country's fault. That is not the way to go about work.

Business of Supply March 22nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, does the parliamentary secretary believe then that the request to bring Daniel Jean to the public safety committee to explain himself is a complete attack on all public service employees across Canada, including unionized members? How does he come to the conclusion that the request to bring one member before committee is reflective of every union and non-union public employee across the country?

Privacy March 21st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, today the President of the Treasury Board has been referring to the Liberal research bureau as if it is a credible source. Having known the member for 16 years in the chamber, I would ask him to please stop. It is simply not factual, and it is not believable.

The reality is that former Liberal employee Christopher Wylie is part of this scandal, working with former Liberal leaders Dion and Ignatieff, and the current Prime Minister. The fact that Europe and the U.S. are investigating the Canadian content in this manipulation is embarrassing to all of us.

Could the Prime Minister explain why the Liberals would even consider helping design and engineer a system that abuses democracy—

Privacy March 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, 50 million Facebook users had their data harvested by a British company. We are not talking about a small attack. It is absolutely huge. The NDP has been pushing for better protection of Canadians' personal data for years, but the Liberals refuse to act.

How many more cases will the Liberals wait for before protecting Canadians?