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Track Brian

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is actually.

NDP MP for Windsor West (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

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.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the point. There is no valid reason that can be provided. These are simply best practices that are operating now and that are working very well. In fact, what we should be doing is expanding those opportunities in the current guide and model that is actually working. What we are talking about right now, and that is the reason I mentioned some of those cases, is that those are officers who are coming to work on our border and some of them could have issues like that. We will not be able to have those types of checks and balances. When they have the question of this going on right now, there is no question that there should be that accountability.

Again, there is no reason to arm them at this particular point in time. It is a seceding of jurisdiction. It is a seceding of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There are many cases as I have worked the border file over a number of different years of problems related to that. Most recently, we even had an American police officer discharge his firearm on himself while he was smuggling it into Canada. That is a recent one that took place over the last five years. There are other ones, as well, but none of the things that we have mentioned here will solve those problems if we do not have these accountability measures.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate the member likes to wind himself up and let himself go like that. At any rate, I think it is important to note that we were not talking about just at airports. We were talking quite clearly about some of the crime and corruption that is taking place and the fact that we are actually increasing the flexibility, the rights, and the provisions at this time. There is clearly a distinct difference between what the Liberals want to do here with unaccountability, with no thorough process and due diligence later on, versus that of right now of making sure we clearly understand what we would be dealing with. Having done this and grown up on the border, being in Washington all the time, working with customs and also working with American senators and Congress as well, they are very aware of the fragility of what is taking place. Ironically, they are also some of the strongest advocates who are also concerned about this empowerment.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today but disappointed in many respects, because Bill C-23 is being expedited through the House. It is unfortunate. Many times Liberal members criticized the Conservatives for using time allocation as an archaic way of processing legislation through the House, and today it seems to have become the regular way of doing business. It was an exception to the rule no less than 15 years ago, but now time allocation has become the standard operation of Conservative and Liberal governments. That is unfortunate because errors in bills continue to happen because they do not have a full examination.

The Liberals are starting to see that come true by what is taking place. Not only is there the arming of U.S. border patrol agents but also the basic disregard of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is quite alarming that the so-called party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has disavowed standing up for Canadians. We saw that today in the House of Commons with the weak-kneed approach of Liberal members to what is taking place on the border where Canadians are being denied entry into the United States for racial and ethnic reasons. The website states why they cannot enter into the United States but racial and ethnic profiling is not one of the reasons. The Liberal government has had plenty of opportunities to speak strongly to the United States, but it has not done that. That is a charter right. It is quite clear that the way the United States processes individuals entering the country violates our strong relationship with that country.

Before I move from that topic, it is important to note that the Liberal government is compliant with the U.S. behaving in such a manner. We have signed agreements with the U.S. on several issues relating to border security, relating to processing at the border, relating to immigration and other things, and that country has decided to dump those agreements, go it alone, without a peep from our government. It is shameful.

Back in 2002-03 I was at the Canadian embassy when then ambassador Raymond Chrétien identified that there were going to be five to seven nations, such as Pakistan, that were going to be put on a separate list for going into the United States. I said that we should object to this because a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and that once an individual has been vetted through our process, that person should be treated as such. To this day we have yet to have a prime minister, whether it was Prime Minister Chrétien or Prime Minister Martin, stand up against this. We knew Prime Minister Harper was not going to do that. However, this body here has had plenty of opportunities to do so.

Putting closure on this debate brings up a number of sensitive issues that need to be vetted.

I grew up near the border. I live and work there. I am raising my family there. I have been crossing the border all of my life. One of my first negative experiences with crossing the border was at the age of 18 when my best friend Jeet Pillay and I were going over to watch a baseball game. He was asked by U.S. officials what country he was from. He said that he was from Canada. I am as white as a bag of milk on a beach but he happens to be brown skinned. These border officials said, “No, no, no. We want to know what country you are from. Where were you born?” He said that he was born at Hôtel-Dieu Grace hospital, which is only three blocks away from where we were crossing on the Canadian side. The officials pulled us in and detained us for about three hours just because of Jeet's skin colour. We missed most of the game.

I have become very used to what is taking place at the border and also what happens under the leadership of presidents and others. The Department of Homeland Security, which has become the over-arching thing, is a relatively new phenomenon. We forget about this. It has become one of the biggest bureaucracies, if not the biggest, in the world, but it is only a recent creation by the United States government.

We have problems with customs and border protection and also having their agents on Canadian soil and making decisions about our citizens. We also have problems with its agents on Canadian soil being able to make decisions about Canadian citizens, decisions that could affect their livelihood, decisions that could prevent them for social reasons from entering the United States. Decisions that could embarrass them publicly and shame them are being made by U.S. officials on our soil.

On top of that, they could now be armed on our soil. People say, “That is not too bad, they would have to go under these rules, terms, and conditions; they are really good fellows and there is no problem there, it is fine”, but what have we done in this act? We have not done any oversight as in making sure that we are actually going to screen and have accountability there. It is very weak. Who are we talking to?

We are talking about a problem that they have in the United States, that the customs and border protection system right now has a corruption issue. The Americans have a serious corruption issue that has been growing in the United States. Those recent problems that they have faced involved everything including drug trafficking, bribery, human smuggling, false statements, and breaking of personal privacy. These are real things that are actually happening. These are real men and women who have done those wrong things in the hire of the U.S. government for many different reasons that I do not know, but they are real cases. I am going to talk about a couple of those cases because it is important that we know the type of people who could be on our soil doing our yeoman's work that should be done by Canadians, and without the proper checks and balances. The Liberals know because they are getting squeamish about this. There is no doubt about it. When they allow another country to come in with arms and put their beachhead down here, then they ultimately have to be overseeing this properly, which the Liberals have not done.

Hence, there is the rush to put this through. At a time when the U.S. is basically tearing up agreements that we have had and denying people entry into the United States for reasons that the Americans describe as normal cause and at a time when we have more people from the United States coming to Canada as refugees, the Liberals want to rush this out the door. It does not make any sense, aside from political pressure and political damage, as opposed to doing the right thing and going through this every single step and every single way to make sure every voice is heard. In watching the debates today, it might be one of the reasons Liberals often do not take their full allotted time. That is the reason to shorten their time in the House.

I want to talk about a few of the cases because they are important. Manuel Eduardo Pena, customs and border protection officer, was convicted by a federal grand jury in Brownsville. Special agents witnessed Pena take the firearm from the store and deliver it to another person in exchange for money. He was sentenced to five years' probation. Adam Bender, from my neck of the woods, worked on the Windsor-Detroit border crossing at the tunnel, minutes from my home. He admitted that he used his position to allow illegal immigrants to enter through his lane at the Detroit-Windsor tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge. For human smuggling, he got 24 months in prison. John Ajello is another customs and border protection officer. He got a misdemeanour of supplementing federal salary. He was accepting payments during an operation related to information sharing that he should not have done. He was making money during an investigation. Luis Alarid got seven years in prison for trafficking and bribery, conspiracy to smuggle more than 100 kilograms of marijuana into the United States, and receiving more than $200,000 in bribe money. They were all convicted. Noe Aleman Jr.'s crime was encouraging and inducing illegal immigrants to stay in the country. He was a veteran of six to 10 years. A lot of them, well over half, are veterans of the service. It goes to show us that the danger is not just with the new people who are hired, but it actually can be corruption through the system that the Americans have.

There are many good officers out there. I deal with this. I travel. I have season's tickets to sporting events in the United States. I go through all the time. There are wonderful people there, but there is also this shadow of conspiracy, conviction, and unauthorized behaviour that now we are actually empowering at a time when there is investigation.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that is kind of interesting about Bill C-23, as we move forward and talk about it today in the House, is the fact that we already have pre-signed agreements that were put in place with the United States that are not being lived up to.

This is a question I often get not only from constituents of mine but also in the United States when I go to Washington and meet with others in Congress and senators. They raise the fact that they have issues with the NEXUS fast track and a series of different programs.

Regarding the current agreements we have, and the fact that they were later altered unilaterally, we still do not have answers to some of those programs, such as NEXUS and permanent residents, now that they were taken out of the program as well other programs, like fast track, and now that the Trump administration is coming in.

Why would we enter into new agreements at a time when we cannot keep the existing agreements with the principles of why we signed them to begin with?

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 21st, 2017

Madam Speaker, one of the things I have been concerned about is the changing relationships that we have on the border and the inability for us to act. I know the hon. member has raised some other issues relating to refugees coming into Canada from the United States, and that says a couple of things that are important to note.

First and foremost is that if those refugees are seen as dangerous or requiring intervention that is significant, then we have an issue with our trading partner the United States allowing those people into the U.S. in the first place and then coming to Canada. I would like to know from the member what we should do about that in the relationship, in terms of informing the United States that we are going to have a further level of security with it having those types of people potentially in its harbour.

My second point has to do with if there is a problem with the detention area. The explanation of the minister is about some clandestine kind of operation and understanding what is going on and reporting that intelligence back if people are detained. The reality in my riding of Windsor West where we have people crossing on a regular basis, is that people, including children, are detained for eight hours, six hours, four hours, two hours. Often they are never even brought to an officer, nor is there even a brief exchange on what the actual protocol should be for people. No wonder they do not want to stay and wait for that. Just this weekend in my area somebody was detained for two hours. A middle-aged woman with full documentation was going over to the United States from Canada. There was no explanation other than they just wanted to detain her.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 21st, 2017

Madam Speaker, one of the concerns I have with the bill is the continuation of integration with the United States on programs where previous programs have been disavowed, or have not ensured that the current agreements are kept in good faith. An example is NEXUS. I have written the minister about this.

I will be very specific with another issue, so hopefully people at home can really realize the significance of this. Our hospitals used to have prior arrangements with the United States so that preborn children and their mothers, as well as newborn babies, could get access to American hospitals for high-risk pregnancies and births, as well as after-birth emergencies. They could get into Detroit, for example, within minutes versus going to London. It is a life and death situation. We have yet to hear back from the minister about this. It was proved null and void under the Trump administration. Why would we want to go further when we still do not have clarity about our current rules and agreements and what they are supposed to be?

If there are no known entities for doing that, simply leaving it to people to figure out in life and death situations is just not good enough, so why would we go deeper when we cannot even get basic answers on past practices with agreements?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, my question is in regard to human rights and labour, and whether they should be part of the agreement or a side agreement.

Here is the problem we have had with many of our side agreements, whether with Jordan or other countries with which we have had problems. I will use a term that has been used here, and that is widgets. Often, we have signed trade agreements, where 10-year-olds are making widgets in those countries and selling them back to our country. There is no enforcement to prevent these 10-year-olds from making widgets because we do not have labour as part of that deal.

Does my colleague believe labour and environment should be enforceable, meaning inclusive in trade agreements? Ironically, that is what Mr. Trump is asking of Mexico and Canada right now.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, what is happening now as trade negotiations go on is who we have sent. Brian Mulroney is part of it. Here we have a former prime minister who basically took cash. He did take cash. It is okay to take cash as a bribe—but apparently it is not okay to give the bribe—from an arms manufacturing dealer, and he is now sent off to do that emergency negotiation.

Where this is really germane is that labour and environmental standards are in part of an agreement. That is the problem with NAFTA and Trump right now; it is that they are seeing environment, and in particular labour, as a subsidy to Mexico. That is particularly the crux of our problem. I ask my colleague to expand on that.

In relation to CETA, if this is the type of negotiations we are going to send for our number one trading partner, what potentially do we have in store? The European deal we have is still not concluded, and we will have to have further negotiations because our partners in this have moved on, on a number of things, including investor state.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, British Columbia is known for its excellent wines and wineries. Under the EU deal, we fought to get it to keep certain areas that are branded. The EU has been able to do that. For example, we cannot call champagne “champagne” anymore, because it has been branded in the EU. We expected some reciprocity to call certain zones under the Canadian flag that way, but that was not permitted. It was not even supported by the government of the day.