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

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is a fact, and maybe the minister can stand up and apologize for misleading Canadians.

I have been on several committees since I have been here. When a committee is studying a project or a bill, we bring in witnesses. The Conservatives will bring in witnesses who are tilted to their way of thinking. However, they could not bring in any to discuss Bill C-24 because they could not find any Conservative witnesses who shared their way of thinking.

Will the minister now stand up and apologize to Canadians for misleading them and trying to make them believe that there were witnesses at committee when there were not?

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister is wrong again. At committee, there were no witnesses called—

Shootings in Moncton June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this morning, I would like to acknowledge the courage of three RCMP officers who gave their lives to protect the people of Moncton.

Constable Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, Constable David Joseph Ross and Constable Douglas James Larche are three heroes whom people in Moncton, the Atlantic region and all of Canada will remember.

Our thoughts are with their families, loved ones and colleagues. We are eternally grateful for their service and their sacrifice.

On behalf of all of my colleagues, I offer our sincerest and most profound condolences to the families of the fallen members.

Yesterday, the people of Moncton showed grace under pressure.

Today we shall stand together and mourn the deaths in the line of duty of these brave officers.

These events will remain etched in our memories forever.

We shall not forget them.

Criminal Code June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank my colleague from Yukon for introducing this bill. I would like to talk about an important issue regarding individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

The purpose of Bill C-583 is to protect those vulnerable individuals born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The enactment amends the Criminal Code to add a definition of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and to establish a process for assessing individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system and who it is suspected suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

It requires the court to consider, as a mitigating factor in sentencing, a determination that the accused suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and manifests certain symptoms.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is an umbrella term used to describe any individual who suffers from a range of effects, including physical, mental, behavioural, and cognitive, and is caused by mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy. Furthermore, it includes those who are diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, partial fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder, and alcohol-related birth defects.

As Sheila Burns explained in the Toronto Star:

Like Alzheimer’s, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is an invisible, brain-based disability that impacts thinking. Individuals may appear capable but typically have significant limitations. They have difficulty recalling past experiences, anticipating consequences, adapting to new situations, solving problems and interacting socially.

Fifty per cent of those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder meet the current definition of mental retardation.

The behavioural characteristics begin to develop in adolescence and can become more apparent in the adult years. These behavioural characteristics have been compared with those in autism, depression, and bipolar disease. Similarities include blaming others for one's mistakes and being emotionally volatile. People often exhibit wide mood swings that can escalate in response to stress, and they often do not follow through on instructions. As with other brain-based disabilities, the Criminal Code must also ensure that those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are provided an assessment on a case-by-case basis.

Fred Headon, the president of the Canadian Bar Association, has expressed his support and has emphasized the need for this amendment. He has called on the federal government to introduce a bill to give more authority to judges when dealing with an accused suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Statistics indicate that 60% of individuals with a diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder have had difficulties with the law. With this in mind, the judges require access to tools to identify fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and the authority to order an assessment if needed.

During a meeting with Yukon Justice Minister Mike Nixon and other politicians in December, Mr. Headon said:

If we can get a recognition that the tools are required, then at least... [t]hat could mean making sure that they have the proper supports while they are there, making sure there are resources available to them while they’re in custody. It can also mean things like, when the prison discipline system is being invoked, making sure their condition is accounted for when discipline is being handed out and they’re getting fairly treated at that stage as well.

Research shows that the incidence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is considerably higher among aboriginal peoples and in rural, remote and northern communities.

I have personally met with families dealing with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and heard their stories. Shelley adopted two young children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and describes how it affects their daily life.

Shelly adopted two young babies, a girl and a boy, who shared the same birth mother. At the time of the adoption, she was not aware that these two innocent lives had fallen victim to a horrible disorder caused by their mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Her children are two of 3,000 babies born each year with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Her daughter has been diagnosed with partial fetal alcohol syndrome, and her son will soon be diagnosed with an alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder. In most cases, there are very few physical distinctions, and the impacts on their brains and overall mental development are not visible until their adolescent and teenage years.

Shelley has decided to spend countless hours to advocate for better support, education services, and understanding. She has been actively attending conferences, gaining media support, and teaching her community. Shelley's encounter with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder was unforeseen and continues to be a difficult journey. However, it was one well worth it. Her story tells us that intervention is needed yesterday.

We spoke about 60% of kids being affected by this disease. Imagine if we could prevent 60% of these kids from ending up in the justice system. If we could reduce that to 30%, we could use the money that is saved in the justice system to apply to research and to help the families that have difficulties with these children.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his excellent speech on this bill.

He made a very important point, not only for Quebec, but also for all of Canada, about the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. The Conservatives want to put a toll on this bridge without consulting Quebeckers or Canadians. That tells me that the Conservatives are not really interested in hearing what Quebeckers want or what they have to say.

Would my colleague care to comment on that?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I heard the member speak a lot about the small business tax credit that was removed, or not included in this budget. It created a lot of jobs, especially in places like Nickel Belt and small communities. It kind of reminded me of the ecoENERGY program that was cut back in the previous budget. That also created a lot of jobs and helped many Canadians remodel their homes, so they could save a lot of energy.

I wonder if the hon. member could comment on those two issues that have been removed in this budget and previous budgets.

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his great speech. I was surprised by the percentage he gave, which is that 10% of veterans, out of 942, which is roughly 94 veterans, are going through this program. I was also surprised to learn that the RCMP is not included in this bill.

I would like my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River to try to explain to us why so many veterans are being ignored by the government.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek has been the spokesperson for human rights for our party for a very long time and I congratulate him on that because he is doing an excellent job.

I was astounded by the comments of the parliamentary secretary toward the hon. member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek. Members of the Conservative Party like to call themselves Christians. They have prayer meetings and invite members to prayer breakfasts all the time, and yet they want to sign a trade agreement with a country that regularly kills people for speaking out or jails them. People disappear all the time in Honduras. Now the Liberals are supporting that.

Would the hon. member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek comment on both the Conservatives and the Liberals?

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives like to pound themselves on their chests and say that they are the religious right in this country and they are the party of law enforcement, and yet they want to sign this deal with a corrupt government that has absolutely no passion for human rights, that deliberately goes out and gets people murdered, that jails people, that does everything it can to suppress anybody who opposes it.

Could the hon. member tell us what the Conservatives are thinking about when they want to sign this trade deal with this corrupt government?

Lincoln Alexander Day Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it certainly is an honour for me to be rising here today to speak on this private member's bill.

Going back in history, there has always been a great rivalry between Hamilton and northern Ontario. We do not very often agree on anything and we quite often kid ourselves, especially the MPs from Hamilton. All three of them would dearly love to be from northern Ontario. I can swear to that. However, we can really agree on this bill.

Lincoln Alexander was a great Canadian. I can remember running into him, or, I should say, he almost ran me down when, one day, we were both visiting Queen's Park. He stopped. We had a little chat and we shook hands. One knows when one is shaking a real person's hand. It was pretty easy to tell that he was really a warm, kind-hearted person. It certainly was an honour for me to meet with the great man from Hamilton, who should have been from northern Ontario.

The NDP believes that January 21 should be designated Lincoln Alexander Day in tribute to the Hon. Lincoln Alexander, a man whose political work transcended party lines and whose life was an example of dedication, perseverance, humility and humanity.

Mr. Alexander was born on January 21, 1922, and died on October 19, 2012. He was the first black MP and he was elected in 1968 at the height of the civil rights movement in the United States. It was not easy to be a man of colour at that time.

He represented the riding of Hamilton West and was re-elected in 1972, 1979 and 1980, serving in the House of Commons until 1985. He become the first black cabinet minister in Canada when he was appointed as labour minister by Joe Clark in 1979.

In 1985, he was appointed as the lieutenant governor of Ontario by Brian Mulroney, and he held that position until 1991. In 1992, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada and received the Order of Ontario. After leaving his position as lieutenant governor, Mr. Alexander became chancellor at the University of Guelph, where he served for an unprecedented five terms.

In 2006, he published a book entitled Go to School, You're a Little Black Boy. He wanted to emphasize that education is essential to breaking down racial barriers.

Born in Toronto in 1922 to West Indian parents, Mr. Alexander served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1942 to 1945 during the Second World War. He completed an undergraduate arts degree at McMaster University in 1949 and graduated from the prestigious Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto in 1953. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1965.

With the first anniversary of Lincoln Alexander's death rapidly approaching, his wife contacted Hamilton region MPs with a proposal to create a national day in Linc's honour. She talked to Conservative and NDP MPs, and the NDP members were the only ones who responded quickly. We hope for unanimous consent because Linc was a Conservative member and the Liberals were on board.

The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons stated that the Conservatives would support the initiative, but that the unanimous consent vote would have to take place while he was not in the House because he has always maintained that MPs should not use motions adopted unanimously to get around the legislative process.

I can assure the people of Hamilton—who, like my colleagues, wish they could live in northern Ontario—that we will unanimously support this bill.