House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Nickel Belt (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to present petitions from people from Pembroke, Petawawa, Deep River, and Ottawa. These citizens call on the Canadian government to have a national strategy for dementia and the health care of persons afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia-related diseases.

Recently the United Kingdom held a G8 summit on dementia. The people of England in the United Kingdom are getting leadership from David Cameron of 10 Downing Street. Unfortunately, here in Canada, 24 Sussex Drive is leaderless.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the type of debate we have been having here in the House tonight was pretty evident just a minute ago when the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness came out of the lobby, yelled out a few insults, and went back inside. There has to be something in the water on that side of the House, and it is not chlorine. I do not know what it is.

The Conservatives have been saying all night that the speeches are the same, but we are talking about Bill C-6. They have to be the same. We would like to be discussing pensions. We would like to be discussing poverty, but we are discussing cluster bombs.

I would like to ask my colleague a question. If some major miracle were to happen, which would have to come from the PMO, and a Conservative were to get up and make a speech on this bill, what questions would he ask the member?

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

We're talking about the same thing.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the member from the Green Party, a party of two. They show up night after night, just to take part in this debate, unlike that side and that end, who have missed 111 opportunities to speak in the House of Commons since we have extended the hours.

To answer my colleague's question, she is absolutely right. There are a lot of things missing in the bill. There are a lot of things we could do to prevent kids, children, soldiers and civilians from being killed or injured by these bombs.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have finally shown up for work, after missing so many opportunities to discuss other bills in the House.

I want to ask the member a question. Why did 113 countries sign this convention? Are they all fools? Why did 84 countries ratify this agreement? Are they all wrong and only the Conservatives are right? I do not think so.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I quoted Mr. Turcotte already and, except for the members on that side of the House, we all agree with him. The man was working for Foreign Affairs and Industry Canada. Why the Conservatives do not even listen to their own people is beyond me.

Paul Hannon, the executive director of Mines Action Canada, said:

Canada should have the best domestic legislation in the world. We need to make it clear that no Canadian will ever be involved with a weapon again but from our reading this legislation falls well short of those standards.

The Canadian Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross stated that clause 11 would “permit activities that undermine the object and purpose of the convention and ultimately contribute to the continued use of cluster munitions rather than bringing about their elimination”.

We can see that it is not only the NDP that is against this legislation. Experts from across the world, people who are renowned across the world, are against the legislation. However, the Conservatives want to follow the U.S. They should grow a bit of backbone and sign this agreement.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address an important issue on Bill C-6, An Act to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The NDP opposes Bill C-6 in its current form on the grounds that it contradicts and undermines the international treaty it is supposed to implement. Bills that implement international treaties should not work at cross purposes from the treaty itself.

The NDP attempted to amend the bill at committee, however, the Conservatives only allowed one small change, which would leave its weak support for the treaty in place.

Let us be clear about how serious this issue is and how dangerous cluster munitions are. Cluster munitions can release hundreds of explosives over a large area in a very short period of time and have a devastating impact on civilians that can last many years after the conflict has ended.

In 2006, 22 Canadian Forces members were killed and 112 wounded in Afghanistan as a result of land mines, cluster bombs and other explosive devices.

Submunitions are very small, often similar in size to a D battery or a tennis ball. Furthermore, 30% remain unexploded and become, in fact, landmines. A single cluster bomb holds hundreds of submunitions, enough to cover an area the size of two to four football fields.

As members can see, these incredibly small devices, the size of a tennis ball, can project death and danger as far as four football fields away.

Canada participated actively in what was known as the “Oslo process” to produce a convention to ban the use of cluster munitions. The Oslo process came on the heels of the successes of the Ottawa treaty to ban land mines. There are 113 countries who have signed the convention and 84 have ratified.

The U.S., China and Russia did not participate in the process, and continue to have stockpiles of cluster munitions. Despite strong opposition from the majority of participating states and non-governmental organizations, Canada succeeded in negotiating into the final text of the convention an article which would explicitly allow for continued military interoperability with non-party status, article 21.

Earl Turcotte was the former senior coordinator for Mine Action at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which are two very left-wing organizations. He was the head of the Canadian delegation to negotiate this convention. He also negotiated the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines, the Ottawa convention. It is significant therefore that Mr. Turcotte resigned as a result of Canada's attempting to implement weak legislation.

Mr. Turcotte joined many Canadians and our party in advocating for stronger legislation. He said:

—the proposed...legislation is the worst of any country that has ratified or acceded to the convention, to date.

It fails to fulfill Canada's obligations under international humanitarian law; it fails to protect vulnerable civilians in war-ravaged countries around the world; it betrays the trust of sister states who negotiated this treaty in good faith, and it fails Canadians who expect far better from our nation.

Imagine that: Canada's bill to implement the international treaty is the worst of any country and an epic failure in so many ways.

Of course, Bill C-6 goes beyond interoperability. The main issue is actually clause 11 and its vague list of exceptions. According to the Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross, clause 11 would authorize activities that would undermine the purpose of the CCM and ultimately contribute to the continued use of cluster munitions instead of bringing about their elimination.

In its original form, the clause permitted Canadian soldiers to use, acquire, process or transport cluster munitions whenever they were acting in conjunction with another country that was not a member of the convention and to request the use of cluster munitions by another country.

At the foreign affairs committee, the NDP supported Canadian and international civil society groups in pushing for changes to the bill. We engaged closely with the government in public and thorough direct dialogue to encourage improvements to the legislation. We were successful in persuading the government to formally prohibit the use of cluster munitions by Canadian soldiers.

Clause 11 of Bill C-6 would go far beyond the language of article 21, and anyone from the international committee of the Red Cross to the Canadian responsible for drafting article 21 agrees on that. The Conservatives are alone in thinking that clause 11 is in line with the convention. The NDP amendment would have replaced this loophole language with an actual text of the convention. Without amendments to rectify these loopholes, Canada's commitment to ending the use of cluster munitions would be superficial at best.

We want to protect our soldiers from cluster munitions, to ensure that they are neither the users nor the victims. That objective is only possible if there is a full commitment by the entire country to the letter and the spirit of the treaty banning these weapons.

Until then, the convention allows interoperability. There is therefore no reason to use the overly broad wording proposed in Bill C-6.

Let me also cite the former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser. He said, “It is a pity the current Canadian Government, in relation to cluster munitions, does not provide any real lead to the world. Its approach is timid, inadequate and regressive”.

Indeed, Bill C-6 may even damage the convention as a whole by establishing an international precedent for opt-outs and exemptions. We need some good amendments to the bill to gain our support and the support of the international community.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

It's not defendable. It's not defendable.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

We are all talking about the same thing.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives in the House tonight have been asking about the U.S. and whether we are going to ignore them if they need our help. They are forgetting to mention that we are also aligning ourselves with China, a very communist country, and Russia, a former communist country, which is very undemocratic. The proof there is in Ukraine.

There are 113 countries that have signed on to this convention, and 84 that have ratified it. If these countries need our help because they have ratified this agreement, are we going to refuse to help them?