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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

Questions on the Order Paper December 14th, 2016

With regard to the government considering the purchase of the Ambassador Bridge: (a) when did the current government opt to investigate this possibility; (b) when was this intention communicated to the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA); (c) what specific instructions were given to the Interim Chair of the WDBA insofar as this potential objective is concerned; (d) why did the government consider the potential purchase of the Ambassador Bridge as falling within the scope of the WDBA; (e) what does the government consider to be the current value of the Ambassador Bridge; (f) has the government assessed the future value of the Ambassador Bridge, after the Gordie Howe International Crossing is built and in use and, if so, what are the details of that assessment; (g) if the government has not assessed the future value of the Ambassador Bridge, after the Gordie Howe International Crossing is built and in use, why has it not; and (h) does the government plan to proceed with the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project if it acquires this infrastructure?

Automotive Industry December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we are getting our clocks cleaned internationally on this file, even under the agreements we have signed. For example, in the last three years Mexico has created five separate new plant developments. Meanwhile in Canada, we do not have a greenfield site in the last decade.

That is an important fact, because we do not have these opportunities despite, I would argue, our being in the dawn of a new age for the automotive sector with the advancements the parliamentary secretary noted. Yet as he said, we are just continuing the auto innovation fund. We are not even putting the money into the fund like we should.

That is just a continuation of the Conservatives, and Harper's policies. If the Liberals are happy to keep Harper's policies on a lifeline to 2021, that is not enough for the industry. That is not enough for workers. That is not enough for Canadians.

I would say that when we look at our competition and what is happening, we are being negligent. I would point more recently to Volkswagen, which is influenced and financed by the German state. It is getting an advantage and Volkswagen is in lawsuits right now in the United States because of the products being sold when they should not have been, similar to the situation with other products being dumped into Canada.

We need a national auto policy, a national auto strategy. Workers are paid throughout for their fine work and they have negotiated that opportunity, but seize it now while we can.

Automotive Industry December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to talk about the auto industry. I was in the chamber during question period and I asked the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development about our auto industry. In particular, I was calling for a recognition and support for a national auto strategy.

Canada has gone from second in the world in terms of auto manufacturing to 10th. We have slipped behind Brazil, India, China, and a series of different nations that now occupy the space that Canada used to have. It is interesting, because as we have signed more trade agreements, the current government and previous governments have used auto as basically the canary in the coal mine for many other industries.

I would point to the most recent agreement, the TPP, where the auto industry would be getting only a five-year window of transition, whereas the United States would be getting a 25-year transition, despite our having basically unified auto manufacturing and regulatory practices, and integrated industries to combine themselves to actually produce and manufacture cars, which creates an untold precedent of problems. It is sad that even Malaysia out-negotiated us. It has a 12-year exemption for integration versus Canada's five years and the United States' 25 years. Malaysia, being the powerhouse negotiator that it is versus Canada, apparently, has more than doubled its integration into this new system.

Thank goodness the TPP looks as if it is doomed because of the concerns of both the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates—and now, unfortunately, the Republican who won. However, it was a doomed trade agreement for many reasons. How could an issue like this ever take place?

I want to point toward a national auto strategy, because we know that the industry is calling for it; manufacturers are calling for it, which goes beyond the assemblers; and the unions have been calling for it for more than a decade—in fact, the CAW formerly and now Unifor. I want to thank its members and negotiators, Jerry Dias and his group, which goes all the way to my local community, for creating an opportunity for $1.3 billion of auto investment.

It is important that we recognize what the workers—the men and women who create the product and actually do the work necessary—chose at negotiations. They said they didn't want a pay increase at the expense of getting further investment into their communities. They did not ask for an immediate return. They asked for an opportunity for more Canadians and more investment for the future, and not just for themselves. They turned away an opportunity basically for self-greed, to create this $1.3 million opportunity for economics. For one auto job, we get nine other jobs. This creates a windfall for others.

Therefore, I ask that the government consider continuing the auto strategy that we used to have. We need a national auto policy for that, and the government should come along and do that, because it has been long sought as the last chapter to actually get us back in the game. We cannot get back in the game without a plan, and a national auto policy would do just that.

Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I think our concern will be how we work within the current context right now, with internal and external pressures on Ukraine, and how issues like human rights, for example, are dealt with in this actual relationship as we continue to work with it.

It is important that we recognize those conditions. As we work through the trade committee, hopefully we will be able to strengthen some of those elements to help protect Ukrainians for those elements, because we know that the situation with Russia is highly complex, to say the least. We also know the types of repercussions that have been forced upon them, the injustices that have taken place; so how do we make sure we do not contribute to further propagate those types of things?

That is one of the key elements we have as New Democrats, looking at how labour is enhanced and how rights are protected. It might mean that we actually support and help develop those elements, so that further injustices and further exploitation of Ukrainian citizens is not taken advantage of by Canadian trade.

Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the excellent question. Let me personalize that a little bit, because I think it really is the crux of the difference between what we see as trade and maybe what some others see.

I think about people like Leisha Nazarewich and Petro Mycak from Windsor, who have been active in trading, not only in their community but also in Ukrainian relations across this country. What is important is that I want to be able to go back to them and talk about something that is helpful for both our countries.

To answer the question, we look at Canada's trade and the agreement that is settled here. I talked about the percentages of trade earlier: 86% of Canadian tariffs would be reduced going into the Ukraine. It would hang on to a little bit of protection tariffs for its economy, in terms of Canada, but it would also have 99% of Ukrainian tariffs coming into Canada reduced, and that is because we actually have a trading surplus right now. It is an imbalanced relationship.

What we would do with this agreement is, yes, we would continue to have some tariffs on our goods going out there because we have such an imbalance, but coming in, it would then be able to develop those exports and imports at a rate that is bilateral.

I think that is the comprehensive agreement, because we see the agreement as growing for both of us, not serving some other purpose.

Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise here today to continue debate on our free trade agreement with Ukraine and what will be happening next. I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Strathcona. I am looking forward to her comments.

I think this agreement shows the connections with Ukrainians that are so evident across this country. It will be symbolic in effect, given some of the Ukrainian cultural connections we have across Canada. Ukrainians have been coming to Canada and establishing settlements here in organized civil society for over 125 years. This was celebrated this past November in particular. There were Ukrainians here before then, but the marker for the community is 125 years ago. It is important to note the history of that settlement here as we move forward. It is important to note as well that there is a great connection today with the Ukrainian community over social justice in many respects, not only because of what they have faced in their home country but also here in Canada.

I would be remiss not to note that from 1914 to 1920 Ukrainians were interned in Canada under the War Measures Act by Prime Minister Borden of the Conservatives. It is something that was noted in the House of Commons with Bill C-331. Without getting too much into the details of the debate, the bill was the result of a Conservative, NDP, and Bloc effort to push this issue forward. Importantly, it encouraged us, as part of our solid foundation, to make restitution for injustices that have taken place. We saw support for making such restitution for past events become unanimous in the House. Even during World War II, up to 10 million Ukrainians suffered, either through forced labour or by being killed by the Nazi regime. Subsequently we have seen continual problems and challenges.

One of the things we can do as Canadians right now is to continue not to hide from the challenges that currently facing Ukraine from Russia, and how we can do things we can control and support. One of these things is entering into better, more mature, and value-added trade agreements that will be mutually beneficial. As New Democrats, we support that.

For example, in the past we have often seen trade agreements that have been reached for ideological reasons and for business at the expense of people. This agreement would truly be a better opportunity for people-to-people trade, especially since there are no investor-state provisions in it that would give an edge to the corporate element and brand. The trade that could happen among our people is significant.

I think of no less than St. Vladimir's church in my riding, where we have seen people involved with Ukrainian traditions and heritage. In fact, we had a memorial for the Holodomor established in a prominent park. I want to congratulate the entire community for doing this together. We did this before, as we have done for other monuments, most recently for the genocide in Srebrenica. The Holodomor itself is genocide that this House of Commons has recognized. It is recognized in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg as well. It is truly important because the survivors are no longer with us in the numbers they used to be, but the memories and the families live on, and the tradition that we have now of connecting that to our day-to-day actions is important.

The trade agreement that we are discussing today would improve trade relations in a number of different ways. The agreement really shows the strength of the Ukrainian contribution to our country when it was new and relied upon hard labour to make its mark in the world, and continues to do so in many respects.

The issues that we have on a number of different products and goods to be traded will dissipate as our tariff levels on trade are reduced. Tariff levels are in the 80s and 90s right now, so there would be a reduction of those by up to 99%, and in the high 80s, if not low 90s, for the reciprocal. It is close to getting together.

We have iron, steel, industrial machinery, beef, pork, pulses, canola oil, fish, and seafood. My riding has steel, machinery, and industrial development. The reason the strength continues is the mere fact that we have men and women who have contributed to the social development of a society here, which is very much in tune with our collectively working together to make a difference. In my riding, it was the creation of the unions in the sense that Canada, with the auto industry, really made a difference with the Rand formula. The contributions one can make and the work they have done over the years for social justice, equality, and a whole series of different things that benefit the workforce really came from a foundation of immigrants coming to Canada who have played a role in our country to get things done. Steel, industrial machinery, and equipment are part of that. Also, when we go out west and see the word “canola”, we remember the profound farming and agricultural footprint from this contribution. What makes us part of a whole as a country is the fact that this trade continues to happen in a much more robust way.

I mentioned that the agreement is more mature. That is because, for example, on labour, there are enforceable provisions in the bill, which are critical. Those enforceable provisions come to light when we look at the trading elements that are important to us as New Democrats. Labour and environment are privileged issues to many, but for us, they are about justice. When working on a trade agreement, we will focus on the beneficial aspects of those issues, because of the strength or benefit to both trading partners from the longevity of those benefits. It is not a matter of trading for a quick return at the other's expense, because after three or four years we do not see that element coming into play.

The Liberals and Conservatives brag about certain trade agreements they have set, but we have sold out some of our industries in them. Shame on our country for selling out the textile industry on two fronts. The first front is our jobs and our workers. The second front is allowing countries like Jordan to take advantage of poor people, who are almost forced into labour camps to do the jobs they stole from workers here who actually had provisions in their agreements that provided for benefits and safe working conditions. These may not have been the best of jobs, but they were working class jobs with a family heritage that could have provided for a future. We sold them out to places where they now use migrant labour. They use the country just like a storefront, or, as the Liberals might understand, a flag of convenience for corporations. It is a shortcut.

Hence, we have this agreement. I am proud to support it. I know that our member for Essex will be watching over this as it goes through committee. We will be looking at not only enhancing the trade provisions between Canada and Ukraine, but doing what I think it wants, which is looking at enhanced provisions that respect people, justice, the environment, and creating a relationship that is not about trying to be a winner or a loser through the entire process, but about creating a partnership that will be mutually beneficial for all of our citizens.

Committees of the House December 8th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, one of the members from Newfoundland and Labrador who spoke previously mentioned a number of things in terms of a way of movement. I thought his speech was pretty good. Unfortunately, he criticized the notion of flip-flops, despite the fact that he has called ministers the minister of flip-flops in this House.

Sadly, this becomes a problem for the Liberal Party in terms of credibility. The Liberals are the ones who brought this process through an electoral promise. Then it is the fault of the rest of Parliament that we have to follow through with that because they have a majority, and there is actually sincere interest in this country to have some type of electoral reform, and now it is the fault of the opposition.

I ask my colleague, why is it suddenly everybody else's fault, including the general public, who are now looking at the questionnaire out there, by the mere fact that the Prime Minister was the one who brought this forward? Why is now everybody else's fault, except for the Liberals, who are doing this themselves? That is a problem.

Committees of the House December 8th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, what I found interesting about the entire situation was this. The then leader of the Liberal Party campaigned on this. He then became Prime Minister. Now we hear concerns raised by the Liberals about complaints to their Prime Minister. That is really where those questions should be directed. They in effect got this process going. It was well-noted that it was the opposition parties that agreed to work toward a political objective of the Liberal Party, this being the last first-past-the-post vote as the Prime Minister promised.

We worked on this side of the House. We went across the country to work on an objective that was politically noted in the campaign by the Prime Minister, and public money was used for that. Now the Liberals are complaining, but they need to be doing that at the caucus meetings. Maybe it is happening, I do not know, because a thorough examination is not happening in the chamber.

Would it not have made sense to at least consult the committee about what type of questions public taxpayers should pay for democracy since its members travelled the country together?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016

Madam Speaker, in my region we have the Windsor-Detroit border crossing, where approximately 35% of Canada's national trade to America goes through on a daily basis. One of the things that is happening is that we are in the process of building a new border crossing, which the government wants to do as a P3.

Interestingly, the current crossing, the Ambassador Bridge, has a long history with the Liberal Party. It is basically its patron saint, in many respects. In fact, a private American billionaire has such a cosy relationship with it that the government actually dispatched a former Liberal to talk about buying out the American billionaire and publicly getting the crossing. Meanwhile, we are building a new crossing as a P3. These connections with the Liberal Party are very strong.

I would ask my colleague to talk about the 9% additional user fee as taxation. A toll is a tax. Would he agree?

Infrastructure December 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General exposed that the government spent nearly $1 billion on its border programs, with no known results. Meanwhile, at the Blue Water Bridge, the government will not even come to the table after creating the first significant labour dispute in nearly 80 years of operation. Now, it is even hiring scabs and replacement workers, cracking down on families in Sarnia: a job well done. The result is that traffic is redirected, the roads are less safe, and there is lost revenue to a private American billionaire.

Why is the government stiff-arming workers and families, putting public safety at risk, and increasing border conflict, instead of getting back to the table for the workers and their families?