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NDP MP for Windsor West (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Canada Business Corporations Act April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's party has been raising some very important questions in question period related to the Bombardier sale and CEO compensation from the public. It was important in this legislation that “say on pay” was not allowed. Say on pay provides democracy from the shareholders, who help to determine corporate salaries and compensation.

I would like to hear from my colleague how, for example, the government's position on Bombardier right now allows for that, and in fact encourages Bombardier to take actions that could eliminate workers while receiving a lot of different subsidies, one from Quebec and a second one from the federal government, when we know their CEOs are actually receiving compensation for this.

I find that a paradox for his own party, which is criticizing the CEOs from Bombardier for getting rich off the loans and the grants from taxpayers.

Canada Business Corporations Act April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for supporting the amendment and for her contribution here today. One thing that is clear is that we are not discussing in the amendment the way things can take place, whether it be comply or explain, or whether it is quotas, or whether it is a hybrid system. They all have their advantages and disadvantages and there is a lot of discussion about that in general and also positions that are taking place.

What is clear by the amendment and was made clear by the Conservative Party is having accountability and making sure there would be a specific measurement and finish line in regard to having companies explain under this model if their measurement system shows them to be deficient. Some companies would probably come in very well and others may not.

Comply or explain in the way the Liberals have built the bill would be such that the minister really has no powers in it. I would ask the member to comment on this. The Conservatives had an amendment similar to ours regarding three years, but five years is what was passed. At least with this amendment it sets a hard finish date for that versus that of several years or a decade from now when we do have a review process taking place, so the finish line is hard and fast and the intention is strong and astute.

Canada Business Corporations Act April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will ask the parliamentary secretary to maybe tell us who those witnesses were who said it was okay to put it in regulations.

My recollection, and from checking with the minutes, was that witnesses were not okay with that, and that a definition of race and gender inequity would be an advantage in terms of the legislation. I find that particularly interesting.

I will follow that up with the testimony that took place at the committee hearing. I am interested to hear what the parliamentary secretary says to actual testimony that was provided there. It started with his own member, the member for Richmond Hill asking a question to one of our witnesses, Prof. Aaron Dhir, who answered:

I would have to say that I suspect that [the member for Windsor West] is right, that five years with respect to the diversity provision in particular, will be too long.

The member for Richmond Hill then said:

I'm going to interrupt you because I want to give Tanya about 45 seconds to also give her input on this.

The answer from Ms. Tanya van Biesen was:

In terms of time frame, I would say no more than three years.

What witnesses can the parliamentary secretary provide today that would actually corroborate his statement?

Canada Business Corporations Act April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the bill would not do that in its current form, and that is why my amendment is so critical. It would at least put a finish line for review that has to take place.

As I mentioned, we are going to a comply-and-explain model, which has been abandoned by many other countries. Norway and France have quotas with penalties. Not only do they have quotas, but they have related penalties. I would argue that we do not have to go that far. We could actually have a hybrid model in between those two. If we do not have that, there is very little expectation.

The Liberals shut down further corporate accountability by making say on pay not something that actually would be done.

Right now as things stand, it is bad enough, but my amendment would at least set a deadline and a hard finish line for scientific and non-partisan evaluation of the quotas and the actual numbers when it comes to representation. The science has already been done by researchers not only across Canada but around the world, and it shows, for example, that Montreal has less than 5% representation by racial minorities on corporate boards despite racial minorities comprising a significant portion of its population. That is just a science-based approach. It is the same with respect to women who occupy these positions. Canada is low, with around a 20% mark on that. There would be a measurement date and deadline for that as a result of my amendment. Right now, all companies need to do is comply and explain. The way the Liberals have set up this legislation, we do not even know when that will happen because of the parliamentary process and no hard finish line, which is necessary.

Therefore the clock never starts to tick on them. We could have successive governments, over and over, and unless one of those governments takes the time to make this a priority, it will never get done and we will be talking about this for the third time in 80 years.

Canada Business Corporations Act April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I had an amendment with regard to making it two to three years, which is much more reasonable. It will take several years for the bill to go through the House, get out into the community for consultation, and then come back to the House for us to review. Having a five-year period unprescribed, unmandated, and unaccountable would allow for several scenarios to take place. It could take up to a decade before the bill is reviewed.

The government is almost two years into its mandate. If this legislation is a so-called priority for the Liberals, then why has it taken until now to come before the House? The Liberals claim this is a housekeeping matter. This legislation has taken this long to get to Parliament, and eventually it has to go through the Senate and receive royal assent. Meanwhile the world is moving on.

Other jurisdictions have quota models. Some even have hybrid quota models to ensure gender equity takes place and the culture of boardrooms gets the accountability that is necessary, where it has so long played a role historically against visible minorities, ethnic minorities, and women, keeping them down because of a collusion for their own interests over that of their shareholders and the public.

Canada Business Corporations Act April 6th, 2017

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-25, in Clause 107.1, be amended by replacing lines 7 to 14 on page 35 with the following:

“107.1 (1) No later than October 19, 2020, a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of Part XIV.1 of the Canada Business Corporations Act, including an analysis of their impact on gender equity and diversity among the directors and among the members of senior management as defined by regulation, shall be undertaken by any committee of the Senate, of the House of Commons or of both Houses of Parliament that may be designated or established for that purpose.”

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to deal with Bill C-25, an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act.

The essence of the bill is an attempt to provide some balance in Canada in terms of gender equity and racial and ethnic representation on boards of directors, especially in the corporate sector, as well as to end some practices in Canada related to the business sector that have been rather unscrupulous. There have been issues related to say on pay for shareholders. There have been issues related to bearer bonds, where there are issues of accountability. There is money laundering that could potentially take place, or is taking place, in Canada, which has become a snow washing destination for some money movement in our country.

The amendment we are debating, before we get to the main bill at a later date, is about providing some security that the very minimum the Liberals have promised is going to take place and that there is going to be accountability.

During the committee process, we heard testimony from experts from the business sector and the not for profit sector. We also heard expert testimony from the academic community and from Canadians.

The bill is supposed to improve gender equality on boards of directors, which has been championed by this government, but nowhere in the bill does it include the word “gender”. In fact, we had a number of witnesses who identified the weaknesses in the bill, and I brought forward several amendments based on that testimony. Some of the witnesses were from the legal sector and some represented groups and organizations. They had contributions to the bill that we later crafted into amendments. They were not even necessarily from the New Democratic Party. They were ideas and thoughts we thought would be helpful, but they were ones that were presented by witnesses. That is the reason we have public hearings at committee.

Sadly, they were defeated by the Liberals. There was co-operation with the Conservatives, and even when there was disagreement over language, there was a working environment to improve it. There was a recognition that there is a continual front, a quite disgusting front, by the Liberals to use nothing short of disguise and deceit to try to put one over Canadians, but they are not that naive. Today is about defending what the bill proclaims it should do by at least having an amendment in it on oversight.

One of the first things the government did not do when it tabled Bill C-25 was have any review process. For example, in corporate Canada, the representation of women is one of the lower percentages in a model called comply or explain used by the provinces. It does not actually work in many respects and has shown very little progress. Canada is stuck at around 20%.

The Liberals will talk about gender equality, talk about gender inclusion, talk about the so-called feminist Prime Minister, but when it comes to significant or specific actions, the bill is hollow. Not only that, the Liberals hollowed out any accountability for any future government in the legislation. Amazingly, this legislation has only been looked at twice in the last 40 years, and this time, the Liberals built a bill that would have no accountability.

Witness testimony from organizations that represent women in corporate Canada and women in general identified this weakness and the significant differences from what other countries were doing. How did the Liberals respond to this? They gutted further accountability. To be specific, they left out a review of the bill. They actually came through with an amendment for that, eventually, after they were shamed and embarrassed into this position, so there will be a five-year review after this bill gets royal assent.

However, the reality is that right now, in this day and age, the percentages are becoming more challenging. In fact, we have seen the representation of women on boards of directors shrink. That change should be looked at, and there should be some type of measurement, some impetus, to push the minister in a direction that is positive, if need be.

The Liberals changed their bill to include a review after five years, but if we go through the parliamentary schedule, we will find that it will actually take up to 10 years to conduct the review.

The first part of the legislation calls for a review of gender equality and diversity among directors and senior management, as defined by regulation, to be done by a specific date to make sure it is going to happen. We actually get diversity in the bill. If we look at representation on Canada's corporate boards, in some places, whether it be Toronto or Montreal, whether it be racial or gender diversity, we have seen some setbacks. There has been a reduction. That is important, because Canadians want accountability.

I will point no further, for a current example of accountability, than Bombardier. For its corporate board, there is say on pay, another amendment the Liberals made sure was not going to be part of the bill. There is some accountability to the shareholders. They have some say with regard to compensation for CEOs. The Conservatives have raised this in the House of Commons and have asked some very good questions. It is interesting that on the Bombardier lending file, the model of loan they built in for the CEOs of Bombardier encourages practices that could often lead to job losses for Canadians. It built that into the system.

The second part that is very important is that the word “shall” will be put in the bill. It will change the bill to make sure that this review takes place. Instead of “may”, we have “shall”, so that legally, it will set a predictable amount of time to review the current situation.

A series of things has taken place with regard to Bill C-25, which will come later, but most importantly, the accountability aspect will be in it. Without these amendments, the Liberals will get away with sending the bill in its final form and not having any oversight whatsoever. We have seen that as we go through electoral cycles, none of this will happen.

What is ironic is that the rest of the world, including the United States and other places, is acting on this much more significantly. We follow comply or explain. If we look at corporate boardrooms, currently the Canadian average is 20% for women. If they lower it to 15% or raise it to 22%, which is still very minor compared to the rest of the world, especially for countries like Canada, they will have to explain it. What is the consequence if five to seven years from now a company is still at a 15% or 20% rate and not even meeting the Canadian average of women on corporate boards? What is the penalty? It is nothing.

This bill would add an honest approach for accountability, a measurement for racial, ethnic, and women representation on boards of corporate Canada and make companies more accountable to their shareholders and to Canadians.

Privilege April 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, one of the things I think the procedure and house affairs committee would be able to look at is the fact that with the construction, there seem to be priorities for vehicles approaching the House. I have raised this before. I am curious about whether the parliamentary secretary has actually engaged with other ministers about that.

When we try to enter and exit the main entrance for parliamentarians, we often have ministers' vehicles idling and blocking not only pedestrian traffic but the buses. In fact, that happens on a regular basis when we enter and exit the premises. We often find some of the ministers' vehicles parked along the pedestrian access that is granted because of the construction. There are not only members of Parliament there. There are members of the public and tourists and so forth. It would be interesting to find out what is going on with regard to those things.

I would ask the parliamentary secretary, since it has been raised before, if there have been discussions among cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister about the ministers' vehicles not only idling for long periods of time but blocking access by pedestrians, members of Parliament, and buses, because they choose not to leave that zone of activity.

Petitions April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise with a petition regarding the Algoma rail service, which was cut by the current government. It is very important that the petitioners receive rail transportation service, which is necessary not only for first nations but for the population along that corridor. The corridor was closed by the previous government. It was reinstated and is now closed again.

The petitioners are calling for the end of this political football. They want the government to actually do what is necessary to make sure there is reliable travel for men, women, and children in this area.

Public Safety April 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have failed to conduct crucial national security reviews of two sensitive takeovers by foreign companies. Now the Liberals have approved a Chinese takeover of a Montreal firm specializing in sensitive laser technology that is used to produce weaponry.

The Conservatives blocked this same deal in 2015 after being warned that it jeopardized national security. Why would the Liberals refuse the previous government's decision and allow this dubious idea to take over and to proceed? What has changed, and how can they explain that to the Canadian public right now?

The Budget March 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I just ask that if we have continued votes that the Liberals at least ask their drivers and their chauffeurs to stop idling vehicles while we come in and vote. That would be appreciated because often it is the case, as with this vote, that we have numerous vehicles that are idling outside of Parliament and the Liberals were often very critical of previous administrations for that.