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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

Foreign Affairs April 21st, 1994

Madam Speaker, I rise with some sadness this evening after hearing the news as members of the caucus and of the House of Commons. Events have taken place in a part of the world where people for the first time know the inhuman deeds of the belligerents.

I must confess to the House that I was not one of those who spoke in the previous debate with respect to the question of our troops in Bosnia but I feel compelled for a variety of reasons to put forward the best I can, as eloquently as I can, in as very quick a time as I can, since many of the members in the House of Commons will know that very few of us had a chance really to prepare for lofty speeches. Madam Speaker, what you see is what you get. It is the heart feeling, the mind feeling and the reaction to what has taken place in a part of the world which none of us in contemporary times will forget.

At the age of 16 I had the privilege of visiting Yugoslavia with my godparents. I do not think it is important to suggest what their background or their ethnic background may have been. The reality is that those are villages and places that I once saw. I see the people in those places living in such insufferable conditions of inhumanity. This would not be the case if it were not for Serbian aggression.

It seems to me that the arguments that have been put forward suggest that we may not want to attack the Serbs because there is some historical reticence on our behalf, that the Balkans has always been a hot place on this planet, that every time there has been a war it has always been very difficult and thousands if not

millions of people have suffered. That historical excuse this evening is simply not acceptable.

It has been suggested that the Wehrmacht army of the second world war, the Nazis, as they invaded Yugoslavia or what was then considered Serbia was not able to completely rid itself of the opposition, that is the Serbian army. I must confess the Nazis were the aggressors and not the Serbs.

In April 1994 the Serbian army in Bosnia is indeed the aggressor. They are indeed the belligerents. There may be other options. I believe there is only one option at our disposal as a country. That is to provide some kind of sanity to the very difficult and senseless thing which is happening right now in Gorazde.

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity along with many members of the House of Commons of seeing the very moving film "Schindler's List". That movie depicted an atrocity which took place because good people stood by and did nothing, all those except Oscar Schindler. Perhaps there are several Oscar Schindlers in Canada this evening. Perhaps there are Oscar Schindlers around the world. Ultimately however the difficulty this issue presents us cannot be ignored and cannot be taken in isolation of what has happened historically.

In 1941 we knew full well what was happening in Warsaw. We saw the ghettoization of the Jewish people. We saw them confined to an area where they would not be harmed, but at least they were in a place where they would not affect anyone else. It is interesting how history has so many parallels.

We have an obligation not to posterity, not to history but to humanity in our time. Evil does prevail when good people stand by and do nothing.

We may be on the cusp of a very difficult if not explosive situation if we do not take into context that it is the Muslim people, particularly the Bosnian Muslim people who are the victims of this outrage.

We can talk about the UN not performing up to scratch. We can talk about the United Nations not having done its homework in terms of protecting these people, removing arms as so many colleagues have talked of and leaving these people defenceless in the promise they would be given a safe haven. That is fine and I accept those. That is there for the record, but we now have a chance to act.

We realize the Canadian troops may be in some difficulty. But let us think about the Muslim blood which has been shed in that part of the world. Those people have shown such patience in the face of such outrageous angst and hatred. They find themselves in the position of seeing more of the people who share their fate decimated.

We can make the parallels with Kuwait and say: "We shouldn't do in Sarajevo, we shouldn't do in Bosnia, we shouldn't do in Gorazde what we did in Iraq". There is no such thing as bad publicity in this case. We know the situation and the suffering is very real. We have an obligation to address that suffering and put aside the platitudes and the rhetoric.

I am a peaceful person but on this situation as a peaceful member of this government I am so moved as to ensure that dignity and respect for people's lives is well represented by this country, Canada. We have an obligation. It is my hope we live up to it.

We must not forget the lessons of history. We must act for some fundamental reasons and these are to save lives when possible. We have already invested time and weapons; we have supported the United Nations. More must be done to protect these people.

If I were standing here this evening with the many friends of the Muslim community they would say to me: "God be with you, inch'allah". I say to the ministers this evening, your decision is is going to be a difficult one. Whatever decision you make, I as a member of Parliament representing thousands of people, support you in the test you now have to confront.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994 April 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member on her comments. She certainly made some efforts at researching this issue. The hon. member has also referred to her own riding in the context of where she might be if we do not have redistribution in the next 10 years.

The hon. member may not know that my riding currently has about 210,000 constituents. I had absolutely no difficulty in attesting to and recommending that this government proceed with the legislation as it had planned for the very simple reason that the riding next to me had only one-third the number of constituents.

The member talked about the prospect of capping the number of seats that we have in this great House. Given the situation in which one may have a riding that does not have as many as the hon. member's riding does, would she not agree that it might be better to redistribute between the existing ridings?

Perhaps more important, rather than talking about the waste that might occur by having to suspend the electoral boundaries, we might be doing something that helps the Canadian public and the taxpayer.

Members Of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act April 13th, 1994

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-236, an act to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act (at age 60, 10 years service).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to prohibit former members of Parliament from collecting a pension while employed by the federal government, an agency of the Government of Canada or a federal crown corporation. This would eliminate the so-called practice of double dipping.

The bill also states that a former member is not eligible to receive a pension until reaching age 60 and has served at least three consecutive terms with a minimum of 10 years consecutive service.

Finally, under the bill beneficiaries of a member or former member who died before the age of 60 would not be able to collect a pension until that member would have been 60.

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

Publishing Industry March 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The Canadian publishing industry represents a $2.2 billion industry which directly employs over 12,000 Canadians. Many of these individuals are in my riding. However this is one industry that has been battered by recession, by globalization and by foreign competition.

Will the minister tell this House what his department and this government are doing to support the Canadian publishing industry which is so vital to Canada and all our ridings?

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act March 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, once again, I welcome this opportunity to say a few more words regarding the redistribution of seats in Canada.

I need no lesson in what redistribution will mean for this member of Parliament. The Ontario riding is one of the largest, most populace ridings in the country. It has approximately 205,000 people. If projected census information is correct, by the turn of this century, the time at which I will reach the ripe age of 37 years, my riding will be in excess of 300,000 people.

However, I want to point out that my reasons for supporting the government in this initiative are many. Why do we need new seats? It seems to me that we have just gone through a long election process in which we described to people unequivocally the need to look after our financial House. We took the message from Canadians that we must work with that which they have provided us.

The cost associated with adding new seats to the House of Commons is estimated to be in excess of one million dollars per year. At a time when all of us are looking for opportunities to make sure that we keep our fiscal house in order, it seems to me that proceeding with the addition of new seats without regard to better distribution of the resources that we already have flies in the face of the hard earned tax money that Canadians tell us is so hard to come by.

I want to point out that in my riding of Ontario, and I do not want to speak from a parochial point of view of what it does to me, but given the significance and the load which I take in my riding of some 205,000 constituents it seems to me that is a threshold that I think is manageable. We should be looking at a process here-and this is certainly something that the committee can assign to itself-to look at a better distribution of the seats that we already have. I note some of my colleagues here from the other parties from around Ontario. We have a tremendous opportunity at this point to perhaps look at where ridings are relative to mine.

In the riding of Oshawa next door there are 95,000 constituents. In the riding to the north of me there are 130,000 constituents. In my riding there are 205,000 constituents. Rather than adding a new seat why do we not simply redistribute some of the regions within those three ridings so that we have a platform of some 120,000 or 130,000 on average? We can do the job. We have the resources to do the job. We really do not need any new seats.

I want to point out some of the flaws I saw in the electoral districts supplement to the Canada Gazette proposals for the province of Ontario.

On reading the section dealing with Durham region it seems patently unclear for a committee that has spent a lot of time on this what they really mean in terms of distribution. It indicates that for the regional municipality of Durham the population is expected to be some 401,000. They are proposing that the district of Durham remains the same except for the inclusion of

the township of Brock and the removal of parts formerly within the enlarged Oshawa district and the entire town of Whitby. The new riding of Ontario would include the town of Whitby.

There is a contradiction. It seems to me rather than go through the exercise of pointing out all the flaws that are evident when not enough time is put into such a proposition, maybe we should rethink how we want to assign the distribution of seats in the House of Commons in years to come.

We want to talk about the need for flexibility, not rigidity. This process of automatically increasing seats over the next few years seems unreasonable. We are not taking into account current realities, the fiscal realities, as I indicated earlier. We are not even looking at the need for balance in terms of the federation which is represented in this House.

I heard some hon. colleagues discuss the importance of having their regions better represented. My colleague for Bellechasse made comments to the effect that Quebec as a region in Canada has a numerical inferiority problem with the distribution of seats. Guess what? So does Ontario with virtually 10 million people represented by 99 seats. If any region has been left out in terms of the distribution of seats perhaps we should be looking at Ontario's case.

There are 205,000 residents in my riding. Prince Edward Island for example may only have as many as 30,000 yet we are given exactly the same amount of resources to do the job for the people.

I am not complaining about that but I am making the point that if we want to talk about fairness we truly should talk about fairness in terms of numbers. I do not think the current redistribution act really takes that into account.

I want to talk specifically about the physical nature in which my riding would be divided into two regions. As I indicated the three principal cities of Ajax, Pickering and Whitby in my riding are a whole community.

Under this proposition Ajax, a town of some 65,000 people, would be cut in half. In fact the boundaries go up a secondary street. There is no rhyme nor reason other than the fact they have looked to satisfy a numerical average that simply puts into disregard the needs and long term historic interests of the community. The community of Ajax grew out of the second world war. Over the years it has produced a number of members of Parliament. It would be a real tragedy if under this proposal by the electoral commission the town of Ajax was cut in half.

This is one of the major reasons I commend the government for its position in moving ahead with the suspension of the redistribution as set out in this guideline.

Although there may be some controversy over the question of how quickly we move to a vote on this issue, we really do not have a lot of time to deal with it. If we were not to correct this today, we might find ourselves in the situation on April 10 where we are raising problems with this document which for all intents and purposes will be redundant anyway. Proceeding in this manner makes a heck of a lot more sense than proceeding full steam ahead with something that is very uncertain.

There was a comment a little earlier about replacing hacks with hacks. I believe it was from the member for Beaver River and I understand her frustration. I find it actually very curious there would be a defence for the proposal as it is since her riding would suddenly disappear.

I do not think that is the intent of this government. In fact, if that were the intent of this government I would be one of those who would be most severely affected. It is my belief the government is going to proceed in a judicious way taking into account common sense principles, taking into account the community and taking into account the compassionate nature under which we have representation in this House of Commons.

My riding is one of the weightiest in this country. If I can sacrifice a few good years to make sure we have an electoral boundaries readjustment system that make sense, then I think all members of this House can do the same. Therefore I am placing myself as an example not to the country but to the taxpayer who has been hard hit. We do not need more seats; we need a better distribution of the seats and the infrastructure and the resources that go along with that.

I look forward to participating on the committee with members from the other side of the House in making good policy.

Madam Speaker, thank you very much. I am in favour of the passage of this bill.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act March 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would also like to congratulate the hon. member again on his remarks. At the beginning of his speech, he commented on Quebec's numerical disadvantage, with regard to representation in particular.

This kind of argument or historical reasoning is not new. Besides, over the past 25 years, every government elected to the House of Commons has been led by a Prime Minister from Quebec. Does the hon. member not agree with me that Quebec has historically been well represented in this federation?

The Budget March 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have the distinct honour today not only to congratulate you on your position but at the same time to congratulate the hon. Minister of Finance on one of the most balanced and reasonable budgets presented to the House in recent times.

This is my first opportunity to address the House as the newly elected member for Ontario. It is a privilege to be able to stand before the House in that capacity. Before me have gone some great members who passed through the House. I am thinking of the Hon. Norman Cafik, the Hon. Michael Starr and more recently Rene Soetens, the member who served here from 1988 to 1992.

I take the House very seriously. The constituents of the Ontario riding have given me an opportunity for once to express their interests on their behalf. It is a humbling task which I plan to serve with diligence, integrity and honesty. I would like to say a bit about my riding before I proceed into some of the highlights of the budget as I saw it and some important aspects of the budget that are worth while pursuing and supporting.

Ontario riding is one of the largest populace ridings in the country. It stretches to include the ever growing towns of Ajax, Pickering and Whitby. It also includes a vast urban-rural area known by some who have been in the House before as the Pickering airport lands or as the Seaton lands. It is growing rapidly and it is in many respects a microcosm of the future of Canada. It is one of the reasons it elected one of the youngest candidates, one of the youngest members of Parliament on the government benches. I am quite privileged to be able to perform in that capacity, but in order to understand a bit about the budget I had first to understand a bit about my riding.

The budget starts the process of getting Canada working again to bring our economy from a position of stagnation to a position of growth. In previous years we have seen a neo-Conservative policy adopted by the government which preceded us. I believe the policy did much to hamper our understanding and appreciation that the economy around the world including Canada has changed fundamentally.

The appreciation of that change has allowed us as a government to signal and to design a new way, a new approach and a new economy, an economy based on ideas, on innovation and on the recognition the government plays a very strong role in the maintaining, supporting and ensuring of an effective direction for economic viability.

What Canada is about to undertake could otherwise be known as planning its own future. It could be known by some as being able to prepare ourselves as to where we want to go. A famous quoter from years ago made the following comment: "If you do not know where you are going, chances are you are going to wind up somewhere else". I would submit to the House that is precisely where Canada was until 1993 and until the budget more recently.

In this economy we have seen the view that deficits are not as important as growth or jobs. I take a different view. In the country over the past few months we have seen the faces of many people who have lost their employment, businesses that have gone underground and companies that have simply shut down. That is no longer acceptable in this great land. We have designed a policy which we believe will help Canada not only renew itself but the people within it.

People do not want to live on UI or welfare. Canadians want to work, to earn a living and to obtain the respect that having a job brings. They want to talk about the personal experiences they have in business, how to run one and how to maintain it in periods of difficulty.

This is an area which the budget has addressed. It has recognized the importance of small business. My riding, perhaps unlike other ridings, has a higher number of people working in the private sector with small businesses, companies of 10, 15 or less. It is important for the government to appreciate the role it has in terms of access to capital. It is one of the reasons I commend the hon. Minister of Finance for his tenacity in ensuring that a code of conduct was instilled in the budget.

If we did not have such a code of conduct banks would be basically able to make suggestions as to where they were going to priorize their lending priorities and small businesses which are creating wealth in this economy would simply pack up and leave or go underground.

In order to address the subject of the underground the budget focused on the GST. The finance committee has been charged with the task of amending or changing what is perceived as the most hated tax in modern times in Canadian history. We believe the GST if changed could help make a new economy. It could help make business work once again.

Parliament has an obligation to the people of Canada to put forward some sound fiscal policies and to restore faith in our political institutions. We have a duty to reform Parliament and do away with the perks and privileges to which ordinary Canadians do not have access. We must be an example for Canadians. Parliament is in no position to ask Canadians to make sacrifices if it fails to practise what it preaches.

That is one of the reasons as a younger member of Parliament I would certainly support an initiative at some point that would redress the great and grotesque imbalance Canadians rightly perceive between what is taking place in the real world and what is taking place in the House of Commons.

Ontario riding has a population of some 200,000. Its size is one of the most daunting tasks confronting me as a member of Parliament. It is not one I am prepared to take lightly. Daily we receive letters from all sorts of constituents addressing any number of issues at a given time. I do my best to respond to them.

In the period leading up to the budget I noted two or three issues that the constituents of my riding asked me to ensure were taken into account by the Minister of Finance. The first was that there be no charge for the benefits of dental and health care. That is something the government delivered on. It listened, it acted, it delivered.

Another area was to try to stimulate the housing industry through the use of RRSPs. I note that policy initiated by the last government on a temporary basis was actually a ripoff of the Liberal Party policy in 1988-89. It was a good policy then. I am pleased the government decided to adopt it on a temporary basis, but I am even more proud of the Liberal Party for deciding to make that permanent. It recognizes that the construction industry is not a simple cog in a wheel as far as this economic situation is concerned. It realizes it is one of the fundamental keys in our economic picture.

The budget process is an ongoing additional budgetary measure that we should believe will be examined in the course of time. It should be brought forward in a few months to allow Canadians, certainly people in my riding, an opportunity to discuss its many important attributes.

I am looking right now at an opportunity for my constituents with whom I have had an opportunity to discuss the budget last week to become more meaningfully involved in the overall decisionmaking not only of a member of Parliament but of the actual budgetary process. It is a great tribute to the government that it has taken upon itself the opportunity of ensuring there is before Parliament a chance for public input.

Canada is benefiting as is my riding from the infrastructure program. Some $47 million has been allocated to my riding that will result in over 1,000 people being employed who might otherwise not have had an opportunity to work. I could put that into another perspective: a 1,000-job investment in infrastructure, sewer and water upgrades, will help the economy.

I am pleased to support the budget. I thank the residents of Ontario for their support.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I must point out as a Franco-Ontarian that during the 1960s and 1970s, I had a chance to learn a second language. I learned another language, and I want to make this clear to the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan, thanks to the institution of bilingualism. During my school years and when I was employed in the private sector-

I had an opportunity to work with several large firms in this country which acknowledge readily that official bilingualism is a lot easier when you put, for instance, English on one side of the Kellogg's box and French on the same side. It is far more efficient to try to communicate to the seven, eight or nine million people in this nation who do speak French and who are not confined to one single region of the country.

I am living testimony to a system that works, a system that helped me learn a second language. I hope the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan will agree that having two official languages was one of the great things that happened to this country, and that it gives us, as Canadians, an edge in our business dealings.

Supply February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend the hon. member for Beaver River on her insights in terms of recall, but we do come back to this issue again and again.

Earlier the hon. member's colleagues made reference to the citings of the great parliamentarian Edmund Burke. The suggestion was that Edmund Burke lost his election after he made the famous statements about judgment versus rubber stamp.

That is what members are elected to do. In my riding over 45,000 people elected me. I was a candidate who wished to stand on the principle of judgment, that my best principles and my


best ideas are put forward and to the extent possible I am able to represent majority as well as minority interests.

Since the hon. member has spent a considerable amount of time on this issue, given that Edmund Burke was never defeated, given that two members of her caucus have suggested that Mr. Burke was defeated, and that he ran consecutively from 1765 until 1794 for all ridings of Wendover, Bristol, Malton-Yorkshire in that period of time would she not agree that the system proposed under recall is one that smacks-

Supply February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments for my friend and colleague, the member for Bellechasse, concerning the value of our responsibility to represent our riding. Before October 25, it was recognized that the Bloc Quebecois could not act as the Official Opposition.

I would like to put a simple question to the member: Does he not agree that it is important for him to represent all Canadians, including franco-Ontarians, franco-Quebecers, franco-Newfoundlanders and franco-Manitobans?

I think it is very important that the Bloc Quebecois deal with subjects that concern Canada as a whole.