House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Richmond Hill (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, with regard to the issue of personnel shortages and reservists cuts, there have been reports that there is a shortage of project managers. How many project managers do we currently have, how many do we need and have they been prioritized by the minister? How many are set to retire in the next 10 years? What kind of impact will this especially have in the long-term for the forces? What kind of strategy or plan does the minister have to fill in these anticipated gaps?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I want to echo the comments of the minister with regard to the Chief of the Defence Staff. There is no question about his leadership. In World War II, General McNaughton was a soldier's soldier. I have to salute the work that the CDS does.

I will now deal with the main estimates 2010-11. I note on page 11 that over $3 billion have been listed for equipment acquisition and disposal. What particular pieces of equipment does this refer to? How much is designated for acquisition and how much is designated for disposal? What will be done with worn out equipment in Afghanistan? Will it be disposed of there before the 2011 withdrawal or will it be brought back to Canada and then disposed of here?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, in terms of maximizing existing programs to the fullest extent to attract and retain health care professionals, what specific steps have we taken in terms of the concerns of soldiers who are returning from Afghanistan? If they are not able to find sufficient medical and mental health care upon their return due to shortage of personnel, what are we doing to address that issue?

If that is the case, what specific types of health professionals can the minister tell us are in short supply? Does the department have any estimates as to how many additional personnel are required? Finally, on that topic, does the government have a plan to make up the shortfall and can the minister announce any type of timeline for us?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to participate tonight. My late father was in the Canadian Forces in the second world war as a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. His landing craft was blown up on Juno Beach on June 6. He was patched up. He went back to fight the battle of the Falaise Gap, Caen, and the liberation of Holland. So I have always had a very strong view that anything we could do for our forces, anything we can do for our veterans, and anything we can do for their families is absolutely most important.

I want to ask the minister a series of questions and I would like to refer back to the defence committee report of last June entitled “Doing Well and Doing Better: Health Services Provided to Canadian Forces Personnel with an Emphasis on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”.

To the minister, has DND established a formal process for working with Veterans Affairs to ensure gaps in health care services are properly identified and addressed? Have any additional gaps been discovered over the past 12 months? That was our recommendation number six.

Acts of Bravery May 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize my constituent, Tom Muench, for his selfless and heroic act in assisting Toronto police officers in their efforts to catch a fleeing criminal.

Last fall, while Tom was visiting his mother, he suddenly saw a man running through the garden, being chased by a police officer. Without hesitation, Tom intervened and began pursuing this man through the North York neighbourhood. Despite being held at knifepoint, he even tackled the man twice.

On top of this, he was also calling 911 to inform the dispatchers of the suspect's whereabouts. Ultimately, Tom's brave act led the police toward key evidence, which included two knives, a large sum of cash and drugs.

A month ago today, William Blair, chief of police, presented Tom with an award of honour for his outstanding contribution to the Toronto Police Service and the community. This incident is not unique for Tom as he also stopped a criminal from a daytime burglary back when he was a teenager.

As such, Tom is a prime example of what it means to be a good Samaritan and a community leader. Thanks to our local hero.

May 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, there is a question that remains. The ambassador was in Islamabad and an employee at the embassy apparently prematurely signed this agreement to go ahead with the prison, along with the British and the Dutch. Who would have that kind of signing authority to sign off on such an important document while the ambassador was away?

This is called a misstep, this is called, “No, we do not take responsibility for this”. The head of the NDS clearly believed that when this document was signed, presumably by somebody at the embassy who had authority, that in fact this was a go. Even though the parliamentary secretary says Canada is not in the business of doing so, one would suggest that there was obviously authority for someone to do it and that has caused Canada embarrassment, certainly with our Afghan allies, and with the Dutch and British.

May 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I rise to raise an issue with regard to a prison in Afghanistan.

Back in March, I had asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs about the construction of a new prison, which was apparently promised by Canada, the British and the Dutch. There was a letter that was sent on February 12, 2009. The head of the national security directorate for Afghanistan, Mr. Saleh, confirmed that in fact discussions had occurred. Then we apparently indicated that in fact we were not going to be building any prison. This was, of course, to house Afghan detainees.

What is very interesting about this is that the minister said he had no knowledge of it, and he indicated that Canada is not in the business of building prisons and that we do not do those kind of things. That is all very nice.

I was surprised at the minister's response, given that the head of the national security directorate had confirmed publicly that in fact those discussions had occurred.

But even if I accept the minister's response, on April 22 at the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, I posed the same question to the then ambassador, Mr. Hoffman, in our embassy in Kabul. I was told that in fact this letter was signed while he was in Islamabad on official business and that it was in error.

I do not know how governments can be making these kinds of errors where they in fact indicate to our allies that we are going to undertake to build a prison along with the British and the Dutch and apparently it was in error.

Now, how many other errors do we see on that side of the House?

The fact is that we had given clear intent to build a prison.

Part of the difficulty we are having with the Afghan detainees issue is of course that we turned them over to the NDS, and part of that problem means we cannot keep track of what has happened to those detainees.

I found it rather interesting that the minister indicates he did not know about it and we are not in the business of doing so. Yet we have a letter, dated February 2009, which clearly indicates we are entering into an arrangement with the Afghans, and Mr. Saleh, the head of NDS, came out said he wanted to know what had happened, how come we had not delivered, along with the British and the Dutch.

If this is a mistake officially or a misunderstanding, then I really do question this. It is obviously not a way either to conduct foreign policy or, obviously, to get our allies on side.

I want to make sure I am very clear here. I am going to quote Mr. Hoffman from the committee:

One of the realities of the Afghan prison system was one of insufficient capacity.

And Canada was approached to contribute to address this issue; I quote, “We had agreed in principle to provide equipment...” to build capacity.

I would like to know from the parliamentary secretary, through you, Mr. Speaker, if he could give me a breakdown on the amount we were to provide to deal with this deficiency. Very clearly, we cannot be making these kinds of errors to our allies, where in fact we indicate the severity of the issue dealing with detainees and yet, at the same time, we are not delivering what we promised. That obviously is not good for Canada's reputation.

The Americans, as we know, do not turn them over. They have their own facility.

Perhaps the parliamentary secretary could clarify why Canada would not have gone in with our other allies to do this, since it would have avoided much of the problem that the government finds itself in today, with regard to redacted documents and the whole issue of who is telling the truth.

Canada-Vietnam April 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to give recognition to the special delegation of the citizens' complaints committee of the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which is here today on Parliament Hill.

The purpose of its visit is to enhance its understanding about the role of members of Parliament, communications with the constituency and how to resolve citizens' complaints. This occasion also provides parliamentarians with an opportunity to share information, discuss issues of mutual concern and strengthen our bilateral relations.

The Canada-Vietnam Parliamentary Friendship Group continues to play an important role in the development of parliamentary relations and I am pleased that many of my colleagues have attended a number of meetings and discussions. They have learned that “complaints” is a very negative term. We like to use the word “concerns” of constituents. I think it was very useful in the deliberations we have had over the last few days.

Earthquake in China April 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join the people of China in mourning the deaths of hundreds who have been killed by the devastating effects of the earthquake that has hit Qinghai province.

The quake, measuring at least 6.9 in magnitude, struck the mountainous region injuring about 10,000 people, collapsing schools, office buildings and thousands of homes. Many more people remain trapped and the toll is expected to rise.

My thoughts and condolences go out to the people of China who have been affected by this tragedy and to Canadians who have family and friends living in the province of Qinghai.

In the hours and days ahead Canada and the international community may be called upon to commit resources and assist in the rescue efforts. Our prayers and thoughts are with those people.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 12th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I guess we need an anthropologist to come look at where the backbone is over there.

He mentioned Pierre Trudeau. Why do we not go back to Sir John A. when we had the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway? The reality is the fastest time for deficit was during the Mulroney time, although those fellows were not very close to Brian Mulroney.

However, I would point out that it was the deficit in 1993, and I will do this slowly, when 33¢ of every $1 spent was borrowed money, so it was not real money. I do not know how they run their households, but in mine if I spent 33¢ that was not really mine, I would be in a lot of trouble.

We had to deal with that and, yes, we made some tough choices. However, I would also point out that the provinces have the same expenditure power as the federal government, if not more. I was in municipal government. People like to say, “Let somebody else spend the money, give me the money”. It does not work that way.