House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Scarborough Southwest (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 24% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 3rd, 2014

He did not grow up in the riding, but he grew up nearby.

Let us look at reasons other countries might not want to trade with Canada. If we look back a decade, there was the sponsorship scandal and the corruption of the Liberal governments. That would have been a very good reason. Then there was the in-and-out scandal that helped the current government come to power in the first place. That is another reason. There is another member of the House who is currently facing election charges for the 2008 election. Those are reasons that countries would look at Canada's government, one of those two parties, and the corruption that has existed here. Those would be reasons that would give other countries pause in doing business with Canada.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, here we have it again. We are talking about the trade deal with Honduras and the member wants to talk about what is happening at home instead of standing to defend the government's actions for wanting to sign this trade deal in the first place.

We have heard a lot in the House about the member's family businesses, a pizza parlour and a hair salon. I found it very interesting that they are actually in my riding and that the member himself grew up in my riding.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise tonight to speak to this bill. It is the first time I have risen to speak to a bill in a while because of the time allocation that keeps being brought forward by the government and has prevented me, as the member of Parliament for Scarborough Southwest, from representing my constituents' views on things like the budget or Bill C-23, the unfair elections act. The Conservatives continually cut off debate.

I am rising to speak to Bill C-20, an act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras. I have to say that I find it disturbing that the government is now presenting this bill. I believe that Canadians hold true a certain set of values based on decency, fairness, a respect for human rights, and, yes, the law as well. Many Canadians are very proud, as am I, of our country's record of peacekeeping in areas of international conflict. Many Canadians are proud of our tradition in history of being champions of human rights around the world. This bill is a definite departure from those values Canadians hold close and that we proudly identify as our own that make us all proud to be Canadians. This bill underscores the trend in Conservative foreign affairs that focuses less on our shared values of decency and fairness and respect for human rights and more on the narrow interests of a few industries.

It is disturbing, deeply troubling, and very sad. It is hard for me and for many Canadians to understand why the Conservatives would even want to negotiate a free trade agreement with a country like Honduras, which hat has one of the most horrendous records on human rights. I was particularly disturbed after reading the testimony and opinions of some of Canada's leading experts on foreign affairs in Central and Latin America. Stacey Gomez, coordinator of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation’s Americas Policy Group, had this to say about a free trade agreement with Honduras:

We have long maintained that under the right conditions, trade can generate growth and support the realization of human rights. These conditions simply do not exist in Honduras....until there is a verifiable improvement in the country’s democratic governance and human rights situation...the Canada-Honduras FTA will do more harm than good.

This is really the measure with which we have to negotiate and look at every trade agreement that we would sign with other countries in the world. The simple reality is that we are not going to get 100% of what we want in every trade agreement. It is not going to be 100% good and 0% bad no matter where we turn to do trade. We always have to find that right balance between the economic goods and the potential harms that might exist in a trade agreement. That is whether we are negotiating one with Europe, with China, or with Honduras. In this case, with Honduras, we truly do believe that this trade deal would actually enable the continued human rights abuses. It would enable the further degradation of life for many people in that country because it would embolden the regime that came about as the result of a military coup to continue doing the kinds of things that it has been doing.

That is why we also believe, as Stacey Gomez does, that the Canada-Honduras FTA would do more harm than good.

Before the provincial election was called in Ontario, I was out doing my regular “have your say” canvassing, where I go out to speak to constituents at their doorsteps to find out what issues matter to them. On that particular occasion, I was going out and speaking to constituents about the cuts that are proposed and coming to Canada Post, the ending of home mail delivery. I ran into a couple in an apartment building near Victoria Park and Queen Street who, out of the blue, thanked me for opposing this trade deal. I have to admit that I was taken aback because foreign affairs and trade is not a topic that comes up on the doorstep very often in Scarborough Southwest. I asked these constituents why they had problems with this particular trade deal. They worked for an agency that does work in Honduras, one of those agencies that is trying to shine a light into those dark places in the world. Only two weeks earlier a Honduran staff member of that organization had been killed and is now one of the numbers of people who have been eliminated by the regime. That loss was felt throughout the organization. Sitting at their doorstep, it was clear to me the impact it had on these two individuals. This is the kind of thing that all of us we try to leave work at work and not bring home at night, but it was clear that had impacted them and they were taking that loss back home with them at the end of the workday.

It is hard for me, and I think for many Canadians, to see how the country of Honduras comes close to meeting the criteria that would justify us signing a trade agreement, the one that determines there would actually be more good generated than harm.

Many Canadians are wondering perhaps what is really at play here. Testifying before the Standing Committee on International Trade on April 22, 2013, Sheila Katz of Americas Policy Group, Canadian Council for International Co-operation, told members that “the Americas Policy Group has recommended that Canada refrain from concluding free trade agreements with countries that have poor democratic governance and human rights records”.

She also said that, “Canada's eager recognition of a president who came to power in a military coup in Honduras in 2009” is another example of “Canada prioritizing the trade pillar of its Americas strategy above the rest. Since the coup, hundreds of regime opponents have been intimidated, arbitrarily arrested, disappeared, tortured and killed”, just like the person who worked for that agency that two of my constituents work for.

Further, she said that, “The Americas Policy Group is concerned that Canada has validated this regime by adopting a business-as-usual approach and signing a free trade agreement with Honduras, in spite of its horrendous human rights record”.

Honduras is a very poor country with a seriously flawed human rights record and a history of repressive undemocratic politics. The democratically elected government was toppled by a military coup in 2009 and subsequent governmental actions and elections have been heavily criticized by international observers as failing to meet acceptable democratic standards. NGOs have documented serious human rights abuses; killings; arbitrary detentions of thousands of people; severe restrictions on public demonstrations, protests, and freedom of expression; and interference in the independence of the judiciary. Of course, we perhaps have been encountering some of that here at home recently, but it really cannot be compared when there is an argument between the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice compared to the kinds of things and the interference that happens in Honduras, which is far worse. That said, none of it should be tolerated.

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and is considered the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, the ones who tell the stories about what is happening in the country. They are the people who tell the stories about what is happening in a parliament or the stories of what a government is doing that shines a light on the things that are happening back home.

Transparency International ranks it as the most corrupt country in Central America, yet our government is forging ahead, pushing to get this trade deal brought forward into law and having us sit until midnight. However, with all of these problems with the bill, where are the Conservatives to defend their actions, to get up and say this is why we should be signing the trade deal? Have we heard from any of them here tonight? They passed a motion to make us sit until midnight then they do not have the decency to get up and stand in their places, to actually take their speaking opportunities in order to defend the bills they are bringing forward.

Before we even include tonight, the Conservatives had missed 22 of the last speaking opportunities since the House started sitting late. That is at least 220 minutes of time they could have been using to defend their actions and to push their government's agenda ahead. Instead, they are asleep at the wheel. They actually got up and spoke last night. It was about time, but they only got up because the NDP was bringing attention to the fact that they were not showing up, that they were not doing their jobs. Well, New Democrats stand here every single night doing our job.

Honduras also has the worst income inequality in the region. After Canada struggled to get a multilateral deal with the Central American economies as a whole, Canada approached the weakest political actor, Honduras, and worked to negotiate a one-off deal as part of an ideological drive to get FTAs signed. In August 2011, the Prime Minister announced—

Ethics May 29th, 2014

Yes, Mr. Speaker, and that is why we hid the Toronto office in the Toronto Star building.

Let us get back to the latest Conservative scandal. In the good old days—that is, six months ago—the government routinely released the names of those who flew with the Prime Minister. However, after being discovered using the Challenger to fly Conservative friends around, this information is now hidden from Canadians.

Would the Minister of National Defence confirm that flight manifests for the Prime Minister's planes are now considered state secrets?

Veterans Hiring Act May 16th, 2014

There's still work to do.

Leader of the New Democratic Party May 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, instead of being focused on creating jobs or running the country, the Prime Minister and his Conservatives are working with the third party Liberals to turn committee into a kangaroo court.

Well, the committee for unconservative activities did its best. However, the Leader of the Opposition turned the tables on this unprecedented attack. He answered every question put to him with a smile.

However, in an ironic twist, the Conservative would-be prosecutor, the member for Kitchener Centre, was actually the one caught breaking the rules and inappropriately using parliamentary resources during the election. Conservative and Liberal hypocrisy knows no bounds.

The Leader of the Opposition proved once again that good humour and the truth can overcome even the most unfair Conservative and Liberal smear campaigns. The NDP has shown itself to be the strongest, most united official opposition that these Conservatives have ever faced.

Holidays Act (Remembrance Day) May 14th, 2014

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-597, An Act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day).

Mr. Speaker, it is with pride and purpose that I rise today to introduce my private member's bill, an act to make Remembrance Day a national statutory holiday.

Similar versions of this bill have been introduced by the NDP member for Hamilton Mountain and by former Conservative MP Inky Mark. Petitions supporting this position have also been submitted by the member for Sarnia—Lambton.

Others were presented in 2010 and 2011 by the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

It is time to reaffirm our commitment to our veterans.

At a time when the number of veterans of past wars dwindle, we are faced with the changing face of veterans, and 40,000 brave young women and men who have earned our gratitude and thanks.

It is time, on the 100th anniversary of the start of the war to end all wars, to rededicate ourselves to all those who have faithfully answered their country's call and come to help those in need.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Conservative Party of Canada April 30th, 2014

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

He also managed the Conservatives' 2004 campaign.

How does this stalwart of the Reform-Conservative movement describe his old friend these days? On the weekend, Mr. Flanagan said the unfair elections act shows the ruthless, vindictive, and hyper-partisan side of the Prime Minister and he confirmed the Conservatives are indeed using the unfair elections act to give them an advantage in the next election.

Even after promising to compromise, Conservatives are rejecting every single opposition amendment. No wonder his closest friends are calling out his ruthlessness.

However, while Conservatives use their majority to ram through unfair new rules, Canadians know they can count on the NDP to defend their democracy.

Conservative Party of Canada April 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister celebrates his birthday today, I wonder if he will invite his close friend and ally, Tom Flanagan? For those who do not remember, he is the guy who used to write articles with the Prime Minister in the late 90s. He helped the PM become leader of the Canadian Alliance and Conservative parties, and managed—

Petitions April 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add the dozens of names contained in my two petitions to the thousands of Canadians who have participated in the iCANdonate campaign and join the voices in the chorus of all the colleagues here who have presented this petition today.

It is 2014. It is time that we end the prejudice in organ, blood, and marrow transplants.