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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is going.

NDP MP for Hamilton Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Arnold Chan September 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my leader and all members of the New Democratic Party, I also rise in the House today to pay tribute to our friend, Arnold Chan, the late hon. member of Parliament for Scarborough—Agincourt.

I want to begin by expressing our most sincere condolences to his wife, Jean, Arnold's three children, Nathaniel, Ethan, and Theodore, and the members of his family and all the close friends who have been affected.

Everyone here knows the sacrifices that are made when one enters political life. Arnold understood this as well. We would like to thank his family for its understanding and its willingness to share Arnold with his constituents and with us here in Parliament. It was a sacrifice of time, made all the more precious by his early passing.

In Arnold's farewell speech, which has been referenced many times in the House, the sincerity and humility in his words, and the clear love and gratitude he showed for his family struck a chord across the entire country. Yet, for those of us who had a chance to know Arnold well, nothing he said came as a surprise. In fact, they are a wonderful reflection of the person he was and how he lived his life.

In his speech, he called for political opponents to respect one another, to listen to one another, and to engage with each other in dialogue beyond mere talking points because “It is the basic common civility we share with each other that is fundamental.”

I was fortunate to have spent the past few years working alongside Arnold on the procedure and House affairs committee, and this is where I really had a chance to see Arnold up close and get to know him. Although every committee will hit bumps along the road, I truly believe Arnold's contributions were a big part of any of the successes that our committee has had.

Arnold was not interested in playing political games. He understood the strength and value that came from a report or a recommendation that all members supported and he was always looking to build bridges and find common consensus. This approach, combined with his sharp intellect and a great sense of humour, made him a natural leader on our committee, and a voice of reason in a place where sometimes reason can be in short supply.

Canadians are so used to seeing leading news clips of us, usually fighting, yelling, throwing insults at one another, trying to make our point, and we do do a lot of that. Therefore, it is not a wonder that this is what they see. However, it does not take too long before people realize there are many more dimensions to this place, and many more dimensions to the work we do. Much of that takes place at committee, and it is under the radar

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I just want to read a couple of quotes from Hansard, at our committee, that will put on the formal record an example of how Arnold approached this, not talk, not speeches. This is in committee, in full flight, and we are going at it. This is how Arnold approached things. The issue at hand here was the rule for going in camera, which, as members will know, was kind of controversial in the last few Parliaments. This had the potential to explode. To me, it underscores Mr. Chan and his approach, and why we feel the way we do and why what looks to me like not one member of the House has left since question period to pay that respect.

I started by saying:

On a related issue, I want to advise colleagues that we're now starting to get into some of the areas where our lack of definition about being in camera could play out. I want to update everyone that Mr. Chan and I are continuing discussions and are hoping to have back here....

Mr. Chan said, “I know that we did switch topics, but I want to go back to” the hon. member for Hamilton Centre. I will just say Hamilton Centre from now on when it is a reference to me. We use our first names in committee, but we cannot do that here This is Mr. Chan to me, introducing something that is not good or comfortable for the government.

This was his response:

First of all, I thank him for the courtesy of allowing me the opportunity to have that conversation. Again, I will also defer, to some degree, to the Conservative members of this committee. Once we have that appropriate language, if we can come to a consensus and can get unanimity, we could dispose of it fairly quickly.

Moving on, a month later, Mr. Chan said:

I know that [the member for Hamilton Centre] is not available, so I want to put it on the record that we're continuing our conversations. I think we're very close to a resolution, [and I want to have that opportunity to continue].

In June, I said:

Chair, my intent would be to read the motion. I formally withdraw all of my former documents in relation to this, and I assume Mr. Chan will do the same. We've got a clean slate, and there's been consultations with the government and with the official opposition. My hope is that we finally can get this cleaned up before we rise. So here we go.

The Chair: Hold it.... Hold it.

[The member for Hamilton Centre]: Sorry. Yes, I agree.

The Chair: Do I have unanimous agreement to withdraw all the previous motions on this?

Mr. Arnold Chan: Agreed.

The Chair: Okay.

[The member for Hamilton Centre]: Thanks, Chair, I appreciate that.....

Mr. Arnold Chan: I have nothing to add, other than I am prepared to proceed on unanimous consent, unless the official opposition has anything to add.

The Chair: Okay....

The Chair: Mr. Chan, go ahead.

Mr. Chan ended by saying:

I also want to thank [the member for Hamilton Centre] for working collaboratively with the government on this. At the end of the day, we meant what we said.

You know what? Arnold did always mean everything he said.

I conclude my statement by sharing a few more words from Arnold's farewell speech because I hope we take these words to heart today and each day going forward, and I note that the Prime Minister was reflecting on exactly the same line of thinking. This is what Mr. Chan said:

I believe strongly that despite what we see in this place, what gives us strength is the fact that we can actually do it. We can actually engage in this process without fundamental rancour, without fundamental disagreement, and without violence. That is the difference, and that is why I so love this place.

That is the challenge he has left for us.

I just want to say on a very personal note that I have served with hundreds of elected people in my time, and Mr. Chan was one of the most amazing elected Canadians I have ever had the honour to serve with. I want to look directly at his family and say to them that their husband and dad was a remarkable man, a good man, and he made a difference in this Parliament and made our country a better place. We thank them for sharing him with us.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Amendments to Standing Orders June 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, that was an interesting speech from the parliamentary secretary. It reminds me of the mouse that roared, when I think of all the promises the government made about all the changes it was going to make.

By the way, let me also say that if anybody should be as upset as opposition members, it ought to be the backbench members of the government who are now in a position of ramming through unilateral changes to our Standing Orders against our tradition, with content that amounts to cotton batting. They should be really upset.

I could pick any issue for my question, but I will pick prorogation. The member said and the Liberals promised that they would end the improper use of prorogation. What they want to put in place is that, after the fact, there has to be an excuse given. I was here when a prime minister used prorogation to run away from a confidence vote, the most egregious misuse of prorogation. I would like to know what aspect of what the government is bringing in now would have any impact on a prime minister abusing prorogation in that fashion?

Amendments to Standing Orders June 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I, unfortunately, have been one of those who had a ringside seat for this whole process from beginning to end and I agree with the member entirely when he does a recap. This whole thing speaks to complete ineptitude on the part of the government. All the problems we have had here have come from the government and most of them because the Liberals do not seem to know what the heck they are doing.

They brought in Motion No. 6, and as was pointed out, the Prime Minister's actions caused that to be reversed pretty darn quick. Then they brought out their famous discussion paper and it is absolutely true that the motion that followed was within hours and it had a deadline. They then pulled that back after we wasted six weeks on a filibuster that the opposition did not call for. The government caused that 24/7 filibuster and the Liberals know it was their doing.

What did the Liberals do at the end of six weeks? They withdrew the whole thing. It seems to me that when we finally looked at what is in front of us, it looks to me like the first thing the government did was fold, then it refolded on the second go-around, now it seems to have folded on the refold of the fold. Could the member comment on how much folding the government seems to be doing here?

Bill Thompson June 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today with great sadness, on behalf of me and the member for Hamilton Mountain, to pay tribute to our good friend Bill Thompson, who passed away suddenly last week.

Bill was a well-known figure in the Hamilton community and a beloved member of our labour and NDP family. A dedicated social justice advocate, Bill fought tirelessly for important issues, such as co-op and affordable housing, poverty reduction, economic equality, and the environment. I had the honour to know and work with Bill for more than 40 years, as members of the Hamilton and District Labour Council executive in the late 1970s, as an assistant to Ontario minister Richard Allen, and through his lifelong dedication to fairness and equality. Nobody enjoyed a knock-down, drag-'em-out political debate better than Bill, yet his relentless positivity, sense of humour, and deep compassion endeared him to everyone he met.

On behalf of our NDP caucus and family, I would like to extend our sincerest condolences to Bill's family and friends. He will be greatly missed.

Rest in peace, brother.

Criminal Code May 31st, 2017

Madam Speaker, my friend's excellent speech was well thought out, and accurately portrayed some of the trepidations that people have while recognizing that going forward is the right thing.

It may be that the member cannot answer my question and I accept that, but one of the things that struck me about this is that ideally what we would all like to have is the same as we have with the breathalyzer: a reliable, legally calibrated breathalyzer that will stand the test. Everybody was hoping that would be found for THC, and it has not. Maybe the government needs to answer my question, not my friend, but if he knows I would like to hear his thoughts.

Maybe it is happening, but I am surprised that some of the jurisdictions around the world have not pooled their efforts together to try to find this scientific solution, rather than each of so many countries reinventing the wheel in terms of trying to identify some way of accurately finding out what THC levels are in anyone who happens to be pulled over.

Finance May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General regularly exposes government negligence and incompetence, and today is no exception. The latest report also reveals that the Liberals refused to give the Auditor General the information he requested. The power to access information is crucial to the AG's independence and is, in fact, protected in law. After being elected on promises of openness and transparency, the Liberals have deliberately stonewalled the Auditor General.

Why is the government undermining the Auditor General, and what exactly is it trying to hide from Canadians?

Privilege May 11th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is actually a question of privilege.

Once again I find myself joining others who are rising to raise an issue of my rights being infringed. I rise, believe me, much more in sorrow than in anger, because the incident that happened occurred within less than an hour of my being at a PROC meeting where we were dealing with exactly this issue, privilege being denied in terms of access to the Hill.

I want to say at the outset that I would ask for just a couple of moments to describe what happened. In the interest of time and in fairness, because we are dealing with this at PROC, I will not be asking you, Mr. Speaker, to rule on whether this is a prima facie case, but I will be asking my colleagues at PROC to accept this as one more example of a challenge that we have to overcome.

Very briefly, I left my office in the Justice Building on my way over here. I did not lose a vote nor did I lose a chance to speak, but I did have a side meeting set up at the request of the Minister of Democratic Institutions, and I did miss that. There were implications for this.

I came out of Justice Building. I went to get on the green bus, and the driver said something to the effect that there was hardly any point getting on because the bus could not get up on the Hill because of demonstrators. I said that we should get on the bus and see how far we could go, and we would take it from there. There was one other colleague on the bus.

We got as far as the “car wash”, the vehicle security area, and we were stopped again. Another bus was in front us. After a few minutes, the driver had no idea when things were going to be freed up, so I got off the bus. I went over and talked to the immediate staff, the person who was doing traffic control. He did not know but said that it could be a delay of five to 10 minutes.

The driver had mentioned that all the people were walking up where the bus goes, and it was only just as we were arriving that security was putting up the fencing so that people could walk along on the Hill parallel to Wellington Street, but still leave room for the bus to go. Once that was in place, once we went through a bit of traffic management, we did finally get under way.

My point is this. Over and over, ad nauseam, we have raised the issue of the lack of planning. Once again, had that fence already been in place to accommodate the Canadians who are entitled to be on their Parliament Hill, there would not have been any stoppage. It again speaks to making the planning of member of Parliament's access to Parliament Hill a priority. We really are getting tired of saying this over and over again.

Mr. Speaker, I will conclude now, but I just want to say to my colleagues on PROC, by virtue of my not taking a lot of time to make this a big issue here, that I hope they will allow me to make this part of our review so that when we are looking at recommendations for change, it is both the case that you referred to us and this incident that has happened to me here today.

Privilege May 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am in my fifth Parliament, and I cannot tell you how many times we have already dealt with this issue at PROC. We hear every time that it will not happen again, and yet it does.

We understand when there is an emergency security issue, particularly if we are dealing with important guests from another country. We get that. However, what we have asked, and what has been ignored, is that in the planning of these events, in the planning of anything extraordinary on the Hill, there be a plan to take into account the constitutional right, not a traditional right or a nice little habit we have but our constitutional right, to have access to this place. It is for the simple reason that if a notorious government wanted to usurp our democracy, all it would have to do is lock us in our offices and hold the vote. It is clear in the Constitution that every member of Parliament has unfettered access to this place.

We have been told that the security people will take these things into account in the future. To one degree or another, I would take them at their word. I expect that they will, but it is insufficient. That is why I am saying that I have been through this many times.

When the hon. government House leader wants to know why we are making a big deal about this, it is because this is the one opportunity we have on this side of the House to say that our rights are important. When those rights are abrogated time and time again, we finally get to the point when we say enough is enough.

The leader of my party, the member for Outremont, has reminded Canadians that a major institutional shift has happened. This place used to be sovereign to us. By “us” I do not mean me. I mean whoever has the honour of sitting in the seat for Hamilton Centre and every other riding here. It is no longer our security services through our Speaker and our Sergeant-at-Arms. At the end of the day, it is now the government's police service in our House of Commons. King Charles would love it.

Since the government now controls 100% of our security, and since the government House leader is saying we should send it to PROC so we can solve this, I want an absolute, 100% guarantee from the government, because it, not us, is now in control of security, that at the end of the work PROC does, this will not happen again. I want that assurance from the people who control the security people here, which is the government, through the commissioner of the RCMP. It is not us anymore. I want that guarantee. Otherwise, the Speaker can understand very clearly why we are doing what we are doing here today.

Privilege April 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my friend covered a lot of ground. I take much of what he has talked about as underscoring the difficulty the government has between understanding the difference between the executive, cabinet, and government and the rest of us who constitute Parliament.

Consistenly the Liberals seem to not only want to blur the lines but eliminate them, particularly in the case of control of security in here. Rather than it being under our collective control, it is now under the control of the Prime Minister diretly through the commissioner of the RCMP. That is totally unacceptable. At some point, we will get our Parliament back.

Given the mounting evidence that the government clearly does not know, or it does not understand, the important distinction between members of the executive council called cabinet versus the rest of us, and collectively we constitute Parliament, does my colleague share my feeling that in large part the government, the cabinet, sees the rest of us, especially those of us on the opposition benches, as a nuisance, as a minor irritant to get around rather than respect? That is my impression. Would the member share that viewpoint?

Marijuana April 10th, 2017

The first step. You know it's just the first step.