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

Asbestos February 3rd, 2012

Madam Speaker, the Conservatives continue to spread cancer and death in developing countries.

Yesterday we learned that the study on the safety and use of asbestos, funded by the industry itself and the government, is fraudulent. The study by a group of researchers from McGill University is incorrect, lacks transparency and contains manipulated data, according to an epidemiologist. It is a study that gives a green light for discharging carcinogenic asbestos in developing countries where workers have no protection.

The study was funded by taxpayer dollars. The government and those preceding it invested $20 million in the last 30 years. Instead of listening to doctors in the international community who affirm that asbestos is deadly, the Conservatives prefer to side with their friends and asbestos lobbyists.

This government is the only one denying that asbestos is dangerous. It is the only one that has blocked the listing of asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam Convention—

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act February 1st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the member raised the point that most Canadians had upward of $18,000 in unused RRSP limits.

My experience with RRSPs, and those of my friends and people around my age, is that we are not using up all that space because we do not have the money to invest in the first place because there are no good paying jobs or jobs that come with benefits and defined pensions.

How does the member think that this new pooled pension plan will somehow solve that problem if Canadians do not have enough money to invest in their pensions in the first place?

David Robertson December 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to remember a good friend and colleague, David Robertson, who passed away last Friday, December 9.

David Robertson served his community for decades in various capacities. He served as a councillor for 13 years on Etobicoke City Council. He worked in Premier Rae's correspondence department in the 1990s. We were Scarborough running mates in the 2006 federal and municipal campaigns and, more recently, David was my campaign manager in this year's federal election.

In addition to his many years of public service, David was a teacher who taught ESL programs to new Canadians, a job he was very passionate about, and helped to integrate thousands of new Canadians into our society.

I wish to offer my most sincere condolences, those of the New Democratic Party of Canada and her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to David's mother, Helen; his wife, Phoenix; their son; Long You; and sister, Joan.

I thank David for dedicating so much of his life to building a better Toronto, a better Ontario and a better Canada.

Infrastructure December 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, before I start my speech, I want to touch on the earlier comments by the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona in regard to the polling done on whether Quebeckers would support a toll on the new bridge. Frankly, that kind of poll is premature, because we still do not yet know the details of whether that toll would be there just to pay off the infrastructure costs or whether it would end up padding the coffers of private enterprise for years to come, as with the reprehensible sale of the 407 highway in Ontario.

For anyone who thinks I am being an alarmist in noting that possibility, I would remind the House that the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of the Treasury Board were all ministers and members of the government that did that in Ontario.

I rise today to voice my support for the motion put forward by my colleague from LaSalle—Émard. This motion outlines important clauses with regard to the federal funding for infrastructure. The implementation of these clauses in this motion are integral to moving Canada forward by building a sustainable economy and integral to the future safety of Canadians.

Public infrastructure supports productivity and innovation, facilitates trade activities and promotes both local and regional development. As an example, between Windsor and Detroit, where 40% of our trade with the United States goes through, we need a new bridge crossing to protect jobs here and to ensure our continued prosperity.

Critical infrastructure systems consist not only of physical facilities such as buildings, streets and bridges, but also services such as water supply, sewage disposal, energy, transportation and communication systems.

Infrastructure also encompasses food transfer, agriculture, chemical and defence industries, and banking and finance, as well as postal and shipping services. In a digital world, infrastructure also includes high-capacity fibre optic backbones, satellites, wireless towers and all the other tools Canadians and Canadian businesses will need to succeed in the 21st century.

In three years, 40% of the federal infrastructure funding from a $20 billion plan for 2007-2014 will come to an end. We cannot afford not to put a concrete and long-lasting sustainable plan in its place. According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, it will cost $123 billion just to maintain Canada's infrastructure and stop its deterioration, and an additional $115 billion to build new infrastructure for the future.

We need to act now to prepare for this, and we need to expand on past investments in order to adapt to the changing needs and demands of the 21st century.

The government needs to look at infrastructure funding as a long-term investment, rather than view it only as spending that perhaps needs to be cut. It is like biting one's nose to spite one's face.

What we invest now will be paid back through increased economic output, through taxes paid by workers who build the infrastructure, through businesses that will take advantage of that infrastructure and through increased productivity and efficiency.

It will also save us billions down the road when bridges do not fall down, sewage plants do not fail and disaster response is not needed because we failed to respond and failed our infrastructure and our citizens.

Some will balk at the cost, but the reality is that doing nothing carries a much greater cost and burden.

Investing in our future does cost money. In my riding, a large retrofit project was undertaken a few years ago on a municipal water tower. Just the scaffolding alone for the project cost over $1 million; these are not small-scale things. However, now the project is complete, and tens of thousands of residents have a secure water supply for many years to come. I wish the same could be said for our first nations communities.

Investing in our future will create jobs for out-of-work Canadians. It will help to offset the jobs currently being shed by our economy, as well as mitigate many of the losses that we would face should we do nothing. Improved infrastructure will make the transfer of goods and services flow more efficiently, both within our borders and without.

We, on this side of the House, know that infrastructure investment is one of the best ways to stimulate the economy and create wealth during shaky economic times. Why? Because it will help our economy run even better when the pace picks up, and it mitigates the impact on many Canadians who have lost jobs. As an example, better health infrastructure helps to keep people healthy, and keeps workers producing, thereby lowering company costs.

Infrastructure improvements provide an excellent opportunity to expand public transit. This improves our environment and tackles business-killing gridlock, which costs our economy billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. We can do all of this as part of a sustainable development strategy. On top of all this, infrastructure improvements create good, well-paying jobs for Canadian families. Investing in infrastructure is absolutely a no-brainer.

Our rail corridors could stand some improvement. Currently, all the level rail crossings and lack of separations in the municipalities slow freight and passenger trains down. If we were to invest in improving just the existing rail corridors we could massively improve the time it takes to get from point a to point b. That would have a great impact on the delivery of goods and services, as well as the transportation of people back and forth for work or for pleasure.

Our cities are growing and expanding rapidly. Our municipal governments rely on funding from the federal level. They need a plan from us that extends beyond 2014. We cannot let our cities shoulder the demands for infrastructure, roads, repairs and maintenance on their own.

It is estimated that our population is growing by approximately 1% per year. Funding needs to grow in proportion to population growth in order to accommodate future infrastructure needs. The government's recent announcements do not go far enough to ensure that municipalities will be able to pay for infrastructure to handle that growing population. Toronto alone, as of the 2006 census, is supporting almost 4,000 people per square kilometre. This comes with great needs, including funding.

I will leave it there as I got the cue, Mr. Speaker.

Points of Order November 23rd, 2011

I most certainly am, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of State and Chief Government Whip, a few moments ago, while attacking one of our members, made a comment as to whether the member was here. The government whip should know better than to comment on whether someone is here. Furthermore, the members around him were calling that member a chicken, which I believe is unparliamentary, and is now being applauded.

Conservative Party of Canada November 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, when in opposition, the Conservatives were outraged by an arrogant government that hid from the opposition by invoking closure. Now they have done it nine times since the election.

The Minister of Public Safety once said:

For the government to bring in closure and time allocation is wrong. It sends out the wrong message to the people of Canada. It tells the people of Canada that the government is afraid....

The Minister of Canadian Heritage decried, “...the arrogance of the government in invoking closure again”.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration once called it, “...yet more unfortunate evidence of the government's growing arrogance...”.

I have one more quote by the Prime Minister who said, “...the government is simply increasingly embarrassed by the state of the debate and it needs to move on”.

Those out of touch Conservatives came here to change Ottawa. Instead, Ottawa changed them. In six short years they have become everything they used to oppose.

Copyright Modernization Act November 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, it will definitely be disturbed if artists do not receive the money they deserve after the bill is amended.

Certainly if the provisions are not carried forward to new technologies, then artists are going to suffer. As my colleague from Davenport mentioned earlier, currently artists have an average income of $13,000 per year and cannot afford to lose any more.

Copyright Modernization Act November 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would first refer the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage back to my hon. colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster in reference to proposed subsection 30.01(5), which states in part:

However, the student shall destroy the reproduction within 30 days after the day on which the students who are enrolled in the course to which the lesson relates have received their final course evaluations.

Where did I say that they would have to destroy their class notes? Once again, the Conservatives are just making it up as they go along.

Copyright Modernization Act November 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to emphasize for the Conservatives that if they had actually read the bill, they might know that those provisions are in fact there. I think it is troubling that the parliamentary secretary did not know that this provision was in the bill. Conservatives just seem to be making it up as they go along.

Certainly with respect to the 5-day or 30-day provisions, it is inexcusable, given the tremendous cost and burden that students are facing to get their education, that they would not be able to retain that material and use it for years to come.

Copyright Modernization Act November 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I will take over my colleague's spot.

While I would like to commend the government for tabling legislation that seeks to bring about long overdue changes to bring Canada in line with advances in technology and current international standards--changes that New Democrats have been recommending since 2004, I might add--I cannot commend the bill in its current form, and will not, unless the government is willing to amend the digital lock provisions and restore royalty provisions for artists. The government has yet to create a copyright reform that would balance the rights of creators and the public. Rather, the legislation it has brought forward would satisfy the demands of large American content owners and trump the rights of Canadian consumers.

Canadians did not give the government a mandate to cater to the needs of already hugely profitable content owners while restricting the rights that consumers currently possess. They also did not elect it to waste time fixing problems that never existed in the first place. The government's own clause-by-clause analysis of the bill, obtained under the Access to Information Act, states that the digital lock provisions apply even when there is not an infringement of copyright and the defences to infringement of copyright are not defences to these prohibitions.

It is not hard to fathom why the government would not attempt to find balance in its legislation. We all know that nothing the government has done since May 2 has ever had anything to do with balance. In committee, witness after witness testified that while the bill brings to life some of the much-needed modernization of our outdated copyright laws, major flaws exist within these digital lock provisions. Witness after witness said these flaws could be fixed and that a balance could be found in the same way that many of our trading partners are achieving, including many European countries and now even the United States.

It is clear from everything the government has done since May 2 that the government is simply not interested in anything to do with balance. All of its actions and all of its legislation have been very obviously one-sided and, frankly, ideological. Nothing the government does has anything to do with consultation or with balance. One would think that it had a mandate from a majority of Canadians, but of course we all know that it has a mandate from fewer than 40% of Canadians. The majority of Canadians support neither the government nor its actions, yet the government has the arrogance to completely ignore the concerns of any Canadian who may question its rigid and inflexible agenda.

Ignoring the concerns and advice of witnesses testifying in committee comes as no surprise to anyone in and around this chamber.

Canadians need to know that the Conservative government is making a complete mockery of the time-honoured parliamentary committee process. Governments have used this process for many years to examine proposed legislation and to garner input and feedback from Canadians. This government does not want input and feedback from anyone with a different point of view.

Canadians need to know that this government wants to effectively shut down the committee process, and not just the committee looking at this bill, but most, if not all, committees. The government simply wants to act as a bully, forcing its narrow agenda on the Canadian public and on the majority of Canadians who did not, and do not, support its agenda.

What witnesses have told the government on the bill is that the provisions on digital locks will create problems, problems that do not exist now. They could have serious implications for many creators in the entertainment industry and also for students, who presumably, as has been demonstrated many times over, will have to destroy their notes after 30 days. This is insane. Frankly, it reminds me of Inspector Gadget and Mission Impossible, where notes self-destruct within 30 days.

It makes absolutely no sense that the government would adopt such restrictive digital lock rules, which have, by the way, been described as the most restrictive in the world. A more balanced approach is not only available but is being used with apparent success in most other jurisdictions. What is wrong with balance and flexibility? What is wrong with fairness? It seems those are rhetorical questions when dealing with this government, which knows nothing of the meaning of fairness, balance or flexibility.

It is clear to the majority of Canadians that digital locks as proposed in this legislation will have a devastating effect on our cultural community, a sector that currently contributes $85 billion a year to our economy and supports over 1.1 million jobs. These are very large and significant numbers, especially in the troubling economic times we are currently seeing. Representatives from this sector cannot simply be ignored, but the government is doing just that.

The Writers Guild of Canada told the government that digital locks might work for software. However, from my own background in technology, I would take a different point of view and remind the House that locks keep honest people out. There is a way around every single lock, and I think the hackers of the world have proven that point in their attacks on governments and industry. If a lock is there, somebody will find a way around it.

Also, according to the Writers Guild of Canada, digital locks

are likely to be selected against in the open market as they were with music. They are neither forward-looking nor in the consumers' or creators' best interests. Digital locks, at their best, would simply freeze current revenue streams for creators.

That is pretty clear advice.

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic told the government that:

Overall, these digital lock provisions are some of the most restrictive in the world.

To achieve a fair balance between users and copyright owners, the government needs to fix the digital lock provisions before this bill passes into law.

I could go on quoting from the cultural community, which told the government that it had a problem with the bill and that the government needed to change the digital lock provisions. Did the government listen? No.

It is as if the government is operating in a cone of silence. I would like to say that it is time to get smart. While we may not be using shoe phones, all of our phones nowadays do have the ability to download and receive copyrighted information. The levies and provisions that existed in former forms of media should be advanced onto the new forms.

The government has to start listening to Canadians. Trying to fix the situation after the demise of a whole industry will simply be too late. I call on the government to go back to the drawing board, rework this legislation and protect our vital cultural industry and the jobs it provides. If not, let us do it in committee.