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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was competition.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Pickering—Scarborough East (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply April 27th, 1995

I know that for a fact because my wife is a dentist. That is the evidence I am prepared to support because I am speaking from truth, unlike my hon. colleague's friends over there.

My concern is with the hon. member. I would like-

Supply April 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to question my learned colleague from St. Albert.

Where are these great waiting lists the member talked about? Who are the thousands of people who have gone to the United States in search of services? I have one of the largest ridings in the country. I do not have these large numbers telling me about this. On the contrary, I hear a lot of people complaining about the provincial government and the way it administers services.

It is interesting that the hon. member used the Fraser Institute to support some of his information. Really, that is the Pravda of the political right in this country.

While I agree with some of the comments the hon. member made with respect to the home care issue, I would hope he would take the time to read the Canada Health Act. Under the Canada Health Act our requirement is only to deal with hospital services and MD services. If we want to talk about the home care issue, we have to go beyond the act. Therefore, he is really speaking out of context.

All the provinces, including Alberta where the member comes from, support the five principles. It is interesting that the comment has been made that the province is not in agreement and in particular that the member is not in agreement with the five principles. Could he tell us which part of the five principles he or the Reform Party is prepared to abandon? I presume he is speaking on behalf of the Reform Party since he is a member of that party.

I also want to point out to the hon. member that when we compare ourselves to the United States where competition and market forces exist, 39 million people in the U.S. have absolutely no protection and are in no position to get sick. Another 39 million in that same jurisdiction where this great aura of competition exists are also underinsured.

Does the position the member has taken here today really deal with whether or not members of his party are prepared to understand the full implication of what they are lamenting here today? Before the hon. member answers that question, there are some other examples which I think have to be taken into account.

Dental services are not covered in Canada. Most people will not go to a dentist to get necessary treatment because they are concerned about the possible costs being assigned to them.

Legal Recognition Of Same Sex Spouses April 26th, 1995

Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to make a few comments on the motion put forward by my colleague, the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, who is committed to a very big issue: the legal recognition of same sex spouses.

This issue certainly has a number of moral and historical implications. This is not the first time this House has treated this issue. Yet it is an issue that from time to time will come back. I am sure the pending Bill C-41 and other bills being proposed by the Minister of Justice-or suggested in terms of changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act-will certainly have an impact on the future of this particular issue.

We also know the Canadian Human Rights Commissioner has been a strong advocate and has on many occasions shown to the government and Parliament that it must act in this area.

My interest today is to talk about the real implications of the hon. member's motion. We know that in Canada there is a very strong sense of the traditional family, with opposite sexes. Family status in law involves a couple comprised of a husband and a wife, and possibly children. Lately that definition has changed to also include non-married families or common law couples.

My concern with this particular motion is its implications in Canada. One of the most critical things that has not been touched by my honourable colleague and other members in this House is the direct cost impact that such an undertaking would have in terms of the federal treasury. These are very difficult times, and we are asking the taxpayers to fund the benefits accruing from the same sex relationships.

Probably a more important side to this is how one defines the question of same sex benefits or spousal benefits. We are not necessarily talking about people of similar sex. We are really talking about the possibility-as is the case in many ridings, including I am sure the riding of the hon. member-that a grandfather and a grandson who are of the same sex and live in the same household would be effectively left out because we have not really defined what we mean by same sex benefits. Presumably, I know the intention. It is very clear what the hon. member is seeking. However, it does not include the important case of people who are not together for sexual reasons.

As we know, the federal court has already dealt with the issue of same sex benefits. In 1991 it ruled that the federal approach has not been established and has not demonstrated discrimination per se. That ruling was again upheld in 1993 by a two to one vote. It was found at the time that the law does not discriminate against gay men or lesbians because there are many other couples who live together who are ineligible for the same benefits.

My concern is that we have to be very careful about what this legislation really means. As a member of Parliament from Ontario, I am only too familiar with what happens when a government, through a motion presented by a member of Parliament, or Parliament considers a motion that has not been thoroughly discussed or debated by the vast majority of Canadians.

We are asking Canadians to undertake a major financial hit here. It is incumbent upon this Parliament to also examine the cost attached to such an initiative.

This no doubt raises a number of moral and political implications for all members of Parliament. The traditional role of a member of Parliament is to be advised, to consult and to hear from constituents, and not act as a court in a situation.

We know this issue is before the Supreme Court of Canada under the Egan and Nesbit case, the same individuals who had appeared before the federal court. Many of us are familiar with the proceedings, and some of us might cynically suggest that the crown in this case put forth a rather weak argument in defence of the status quo. I find that very interesting. However, I am speaking with liberty in the House of Commons on that issue.

I think we want to make sure that we do not confuse legal rights to protect against discrimination. We do not want to be seen as invalidating equal rights. We want to be seen as not promoting a certain lifestyle that is conducted in a way whereby people have to spend more money to approve of somebody's activity.

The comments made by the hon. member when he alluded to John Turner in 1969 and to the Rt. Hon. Pierre Trudeau in reference to the state not having any business in the bedrooms of the nation is one issue. We as Liberals recognize that what people do in their own private affairs is fine, but there is a difference between tolerance and equality and promoting that on the streets. I think there is a quantum leap in terms of the philosophy of government.

Of course this is not the first time Parliament has been seized of this issue. It is a very complicated issue, and if as members of Parliament we are going to debate the various relative impacts of what my honourable colleague is suggesting, we must first and foremost ensure that Canadian people are adequately and thoroughly canvassed on the issue. We cannot have legislation, motions, or private members' bills introduced by stealth. This is a very important matter of fundamental public policy.

As my honourable colleague for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve has suggested, this is a matter that has gone on for a considerable amount of time. It is a matter that Parliament has not addressed up until this time. Perhaps one reason it has not addressed the issue in the past is because it did not consult with the very people it is supposed to represent.

My concern also is with the whole notion of whether or not, as a society, we are effectively capable of defining what a spouse is. The spouse issue is very important, because of course it relates to the possibility of different interpretations. We do not know exactly what the term spouse is really trying to achieve in this bill.

My view of a spouse is very simple. A spouse happens to be a male and female who happen to come together for whatever reasons, as the hon. member suggested, for amorous reasons, and whose fruit, the product of that love, may ultimately produce a family.

We should not be playing with words here. We should try to find some kind of definition or interpretation that really relates to common usage and what the common person on the street would accept as the term spouse.

If two people who happen to be homosexual wish to live together, that is fine. I do not think anyone in this House objects to that. It really is up to them. The concern we have is where the society or state moves from saying that is great and fine, they are free to do what they want, section 15 of the charter of rights and freedoms covers them sufficiently, to saying that now we should in some way promote, benefit or provide some kind of support for that activity.

Many members from the homosexual community will make the argument that it is a question of cost, that they are paying for someone else's benefits. I am wondering if those who have spoken on this matter as homosexuals have consulted and canvassed their own constituency which would suggest that some of their members are not prepared to accept the benefits. Some people would be uncomfortable with accepting those benefits.

We have a situation that is not addressed well in this motion, although it is understandable. Benjamin Disraeli put it very well that when estimating the accuracy of a political opinion one should first of all take into account the standing of the opinionist. My hon. colleague has very good standing not only in this House but also in the community on the issue which the member is advocating.

We must also make sure that Canadians as a whole are involved in this and that the traditional family or the term family is not itself compromised.

I am the member of Parliament for one of the most populous ridings in this country. I have seen an Ontario colleague at the provincial level debate this issue without popular consent. It seems to me we may be trying to do in this House or through weak arguments before the Supreme Court of Canada that which we cannot do enough to convince the Canadian people that this is an issue that is well worthwhile.

Everyone is equal before and under the law and has equal treatment and equal protection and derives benefits from that protection. I do not believe this House should be in a position of making a moral decision as to what is right and what is wrong. I do however believe that when it comes to the term family there is very little room for compromise.

We must look at the cost. We must look at the implications. We must make sure that above all we are making legislation which reflects accurately the opinion, judgment and sentiments of those people we represent.

While I compliment the member of Parliament for his courage in bringing this forward, I will not support this motion.

Petitions April 3rd, 1995

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a petition signed by 25 members of my riding. They call upon Parliament to oppose any amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act or to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which provide for the inclusion of the phrase sexual orientation.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 March 30th, 1995

I wish the member would respond adequately to the following question. How is it possible that the Bloc Quebecois and the member are interested in attacking the budget without dealing with the reality that drug prices are undermining the health care system and not the budget of the finance minister?

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 March 30th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I want to be perfectly clear about the comments made by the member for Drummond. Once again the Bloc Quebecois demonstrates that it is not prepared to live up to the reality of why the health care system is in such bad shape and has badly deteriorated.

The reality is that when drug prices increase by 12 per cent a year it affects the province of Quebec and every other province. They are undermining health care costs.

The Bloc Quebecois demonstrates once again that it is prepared to play all sorts of sleight of hand and to use a good budget like the one presented by the Minister of Finance for another agenda. If the member is concerned about the health care system, will you and your party not agree that-

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 March 30th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the speech by the hon. member for Drummond.

Earlier on, she talked about our health care system and the negative effect that this budget would have on drug costs and on Canada's health care system. Yet, I did not hear the hon. member say a word about what really has an impact on the system, drug patents, which, interestingly enough, the Bloc Quebecois supports.

My question is based on reality. The reality is that the health care system is falling into ruins because of an annual increase of 12 per cent caused by the system that the previous government left behind. My question for the hon. member opposite will be

simple: While things are so equal, with this being the truth, how can she say that this government, which is more committed to preserving the health care system than any other preceding it, is destroying the system; how can she fail to tell the true story, fail to recognize the impact of drug patents, especially in the Province of Quebec, where people can no longer afford to buy drugs like they used to in previous years?

Petitions March 30th, 1995

Madam Speaker, the final position is signed by 26 petitioners from my riding. They call upon the government to enact legislation to prohibit the importation of new handguns as well as a minimum 10-year sentence for any conviction resulting from the use of a firearm in the commission of an offence.

Petitions March 30th, 1995

Madam Speaker, the second petition has 59 signatures and deals with the enactment of legislation to have mandatory protection for insurance companies through Comcorp or its successors. The petitioners call upon Parliament to provide a two month period similar to the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation program.

Petitions March 30th, 1995

Madam Speaker, I have the pleasure of tabling three petitions.

The first petition is in conformity with Standing Order 36. The petitioners request that Parliament oppose any amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which provide for the inclusion of the phrase "sexual orientation". It is signed by 100 petitioners.