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Track David

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is chair.

NDP MP for Hamilton Centre (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Privilege March 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as members know, we have dealt with this issue on a number of occasions, and the most recent was not that long ago. While I was not a party to the incident that is on the floor now, I had been involved in discussions at PROC and the issuance of those reports.

I know how seriously you take this, Mr. Speaker, but you also know how seriously we took this at PROC. In fact, I cannot quote exactly, but I made the comment that I would not be very surprised, given my experience in this place, if no matter how much assurance we got, somehow we would find ourselves right back here again. It seems as if that has happened.

I do not want to go on at any great length, but as members know, there are times when we know that there will not be regular procedures here, regardless of what they are. Over and over again, we had the assurances from the people responsible that one of the first things they would do is always ensure that the constitutional right of members of Parliament to have access to the House, especially when there is a vote, would be paramount. Yet, time and time again, we find ourselves right back here again. In the incident case, the security argument can be made, but our problem is that we keep saying that, if this is planned ahead of time, and we are told they do plan, then we would not have these incidents.

I will not go on, except that I want to shore up the arguments of the hon. member and add my voice and support to having this matter go to PROC where, yes, once again we will go through this, and we will keep doing it until we finally have the 100% guaranteed access that the Constitution provides for every member of the House.

Rules of the House March 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, this goes well beyond an innocent discussion paper. The government House leader should not insult our intelligence by claiming otherwise.

However, if she is serious about that, if she is really truly sincere that her motives are pure, will she now stand in her place and tell this House that she accepts that her government has no mandate to change the rules of democracy over the united objections of the opposition? If she will not, then it is pretty clear that her protests of innocence are even more shallow than they sound.

Rouge National Urban Park Act February 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, that is an excellent point, because it suggests that in the last Parliament, had the previous government wanted to get its bill through, it would have likely had to get support from one of the other parties, and the condition for that support might have been the ecological integrity issue, which is germane and the central focal point of Bill C-18.

Therefore, it is an important issue to keep in mind, especially when we know from polling that Canadians really want us to try to work together as much as we can. However, this system does not lend itself to that. If we had proportional representation, it would actually force us to find ways to work together, as they do in most of the other modern democracies around the world. Most of them have gone to PR. If we look at New Zealand, there is a reason it went there. They reviewed it after a few elections and stayed with it.

It really is that fundamental issue, as my friend has mentioned, of having to put a little bit of water in one's wine to get support from others. At the end of the day, it could have given us this park under one bill and saved us a whole lot of time and been far more efficient, and the people in the Toronto area could have enjoyed this park much sooner.

Rouge National Urban Park Act February 17th, 2017

It is part of the bill. I know. What I am saying is that I think that is an important part of it too.

It is a motherhood bill. Did you want to fight about it? We can have a fight, but I do not know what we would fight about. We all--

Rouge National Urban Park Act February 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I confess, I am not 100% sure what the question is. I think he was asking about how much support and enthusiasm we might give to parks in the member's area, or ecological issues--

Rouge National Urban Park Act February 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I can understand why the hon. member is proud. He should be proud. It is quite an achievement for him that he is able to deliver this.

He asked about ecological integrity. I have to get out of the habit of giving the Liberals credit, but I do give the provincial government kudos too for refusing to water down the importance of ecological integrity in terms of the protections that would be brought to this new national park. As I understand it, the previous federal government did not bring forward the kinds of protections that would meet or exceed those in place under the provincial government. The provincial government was not about to let go of its area of responsibility until it knew that it was going to go somewhere where it would be protected.

The province played its role, and the House is now playing its role in bringing this about. I congratulate the hon. member on getting this up so early in its government mandate. There is a lot of householder material here for bringing and bragging.

Rouge National Urban Park Act February 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, we have to mark this moment down, because I am going to agree with the hon. member. I think this is a good day, a good bill, and an important issue. We are pleased to support it.

Again, we would hope that this is only the beginning, that it is not meant to be just a storefront issue, and that there will be a lot more attention in this area. We have high hopes. To answer the member's question, yes, we should all be proud of the fact that we have this new designation.

Let me just say, notwithstanding the shots I took at the previous government, that virtually every party that has been in power has contributed somewhat to the national park system. I know that there are Conservative leaders who have made their mark in this area. The Liberals have done it in the past and are doing it again today.

To the hon. member, yes, the government is doing a good thing with this bill. It makes Canada a better place, and we in the third party are pleased to support it.

Rouge National Urban Park Act February 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, of course I will follow your ruling. I would say this to my friend. One thing he should be careful of is to not challenge the Speaker. When the Speaker asks him to sit down, he should sit down. He should trust me that this a good piece of advice.

I understand the concern. The hon. member said it was trivializing. I do not think that is fair at all. I could make an argument about how if this was a proportional representation House we might be able to deal with Bill C-18, and a whole lot of other things, more co-operatively, and move them through more quickly. That would be the opposite of trivializing. It would make it a greater priority, and allow it to get through even more quickly. Therefore, there are linkages to all of these things.

I can understand that maybe the member has nothing better to do than to make sure that nobody steps one millimetre outside the boundaries of debate, and that is fine, if that is what the member wants to do with his time. However, I would rather focus on the issues of the day, and the matter in front of us is Bill C-18.

One of the interesting things about Bill C-18 is that there seems to be some debate and concern with respect to the idea of ecological integrity. I am not an expert, but there are those who are suggesting that is a problem. However, when I listened to the experts, who know this issue, they said that this is key.

I want to read a quote from Jim Robb, the General Manager of the Friends of the Rouge Watershed, who stated on December 8, 2016:

Ecological integrity, is it justified? Of course it is. This is one of the most biodiverse areas in all of Canada. Yes, there will be challenges. Yes, this is an aspirational goal, but we can do it...The diversity is so great here and the potential is so high that we should choose no other goal than what has been put forward before you.

During the questions and answers, if there is a focus on that, I would be especially interested to hear from those who have a concern about it. Again, I am not an expert, but from a layperson's point of view it looks like this is a good thing, and one we should be most pleased about.

As I wind up my remarks, it is also worth mentioning that the previous government tried to play a bit of a shell game by announcing it was going to create this park but then did not provide the protections that were necessary, not even to the point where the provincial government would be willing to turn over its lands to the federal government and put it under the umbrella of the national parks system. Therefore, the primary thing this bill does is to bring into force a number of those protections and supports for the park that would then meet the minimum standard of the provincial government in Queen's Park, so that it would feel comfortable knowing that the standards it had in place would at least be met or exceeded. To that degree, we do acknowledge that this is a good bill. We supported it at second reading and took it to committee. We did not get everything we wanted. However, on balance, we are prepared to support this bill. We think it is a good thing.

It is good to point out that the last government played a bit of a shell game. We saw a lot of that, where it would announce things, but if we had a look underneath the shell, there was no pea there, and if we looked under all three shells, there was still no pea there. The former government tried to make it look like it was a tree hugger, when in reality all it was doing was building a cardboard cut-out of a park, like on a Hollywood movie set, rather than implementing the full-blown measures that needed to be taken, which we find in Bill C-18. That is why I am willing to support it.

I certainly hope that no one thinks that this has been trivialized. I still would have liked an opportunity to talk about some of the other issues, but I will look for those opportunities when they are in order so that I am consistent with the rules.

However, at the end of the day, let me say that this bill is completing a job that the previous government started, and we are pleased to be here to support it, and see the proper thing done with this park and with this bill.

Rouge National Urban Park Act February 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I appreciate that latitude. I also appreciate that latitude can only go so far and that my remarks need to be germane to Bill C-18. I thank my friend across the way for his interjection because, at least superficially, it suggests he is listening and that is always nice. I appreciate that because it is not always easy to listen to my speeches, I grant him that. Stay tuned, and please, I urge the member to jump in again if he feels the need, if he is so moved by my remarks and by the arguments and things that I am presenting, if he is so wound up in that he has to leap to his feet and participate. I urge him to please continue to do that.

With regard to the issue that the member raises about why I am going on talking about electoral reform when we are actually here about Bill C-18, an act to amend the Rouge National Urban Park Act, the Parks Canada Agency Act and the Canada National Parks Act, this is about my feelings about Bill C-18. I am expressing for my friend that the biggest feeling is disappointment because it is not Bill C-18 that I really would like to debate. Parks are wonderful. We all love parks. I love parks, but I would rather talk about the broken promises. That is why I was saying it is germane to Bill C-18 because my emotions, how I feel about this, are directly related to the fact that it is Bill C-18 and it is not what I had hoped I would be able to debate here today.

That is not the only thing. I was further disappointed when Mr. Salloum handed me the bill and I looked at it, and I said, “It is not about door-to-door mail delivery either”, which is something else I feel passionately about and my constituents do, especially when it looks like we may be heading for another betrayal there. The government is starting to split hairs. It has studies and consultations, all the Liberals' usual delay tactics that are meant to look like anything except like a delay but that is what is going on. I worry, and I know that my colleagues worry, that the government is eventually getting to the point where it is going to do to its promise to return door-to-door mail delivery exactly what it did to its promise on electoral reform.

It matters to Bill C-18, and it is germane to this, because the debate on this park is important. There is no question that this park is important and all parks are important. That is why I found myself so conflicted as I was coming into the House.

I have a number of significant parks in my riding. We have Gore Park right downtown, which is kind of small but it is the centre of our city. It is uniquely shaped and the history of it is quite fascinating. Then there is Gage Park, which is another major urban park in my riding that I am very proud of. I can remember as a kid going there, riding on my bike and playing hide-and-seek with my friends in Gage Park. My question would be this as I am dealing with Bill C-18 and thinking about Gage Park: How do I go about making my park a national park? That would be a great idea.

I see my friend again who is just paying such wonderful attention, and I do appreciate that so much, and he is making mannerisms. Maybe he has an answer for that, about how we can go about it. Maybe there is an application form I missed somewhere along the line that we could get to fill out if someone would like a municipal urban park to become a national park. I want to check off the box that says yes. We will take that if we can.

If it is a little too small for that designation, although it is not in my riding, we have Confederation Park, which is much larger. Then of course we have Bayfront Park, which is as one might think, near the bay, near the harbour. We have a lot of parks but none of them are national yet. Again, that is why this is important. My understanding is this is the first national urban park and that is a great thing.

I heard the minister commenting earlier. I stand to be corrected, but I believe the minister said that it is the first national park that people can get to by public transportation, and that is a positive thing. That is a good thing that should happen. Therefore, we can appreciate those mixed emotions I had when I was coming in because what was really motivating me was to talk about why the Liberals have broken their promises on Bill C-51. It is good that we are doing Bill C-18 on the park. That is a great thing, but what is of much urgency right now to people and a top-of-mind issue is what seems again to be more broken promises around Bill C-51. For all the Liberals' talk during the campaign about how important it was and how they were going to act on it because it is about the security of Canadians and their privacy and their rights, and they were going to get right on it, here we are well over time and still nothing. On Bill C-18—

Rouge National Urban Park Act February 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to join in this important discussion on Bill C-18. Creating parks is important.

I was kind of disappointed yesterday. We are all friends here and I am sure no one will tell a tale out of school. The most powerful person in the entire NDP sits just on the other side of the door. His name is Anthony Salloum. If anyone really wants to know where the power is, and it is bit of a secret inside story of the NDP, it is Anthony. Yesterday Anthony said to me that he had a real project me, that I would like it. When I took a look at it, I realized it was about a park. As important as the bill is, I was incredibly disappointed.

Let me just take a second to read the summary so there is a context for my remarks. It states:

This enactment amends the Rouge National Urban Park Act to set out priorities in respect of factors to be considered in the management of the park. Additionally, it adds land to the park. It also amends the Parks Canada Agency Act to allow the New Parks and Historic Sites Account to be used in a broader manner. Finally, it amends the Canada National Parks Act to modify the boundary of Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada.

I know how important that is as part of this, but my disappointment stems from the fact that I would not be given the opportunity to talk about how the government had let so many people down by turning its back on electoral reform. That was the kind of speech I wanted to make. I wanted to come in here and point out for Canadians that, again, the government had turned its back on them. The Liberals said over 1,800 times during the campaign that they would make electoral reform a key cornerstone of their mandate. It turned its back on that promise.

As I mentioned in my statement earlier, it is more than passing strange that the current Prime Minister is fearmongering about proportional representation by saying that going to PR could lead to extremist governments getting into power. My response would be to point out that Stephen Harper, an extremist government by many of our measurements, got in with 39.6% of the vote. With less than 40%, it got 100% of the power. How can that be seen as democratic? There is nothing democratic at all that 39% of the vote gets 100% of the power. One does not have to be a political scientist to understand that is not a democracy.

The Prime Minister himself said that 2015 would be the last election that we would have a first past the post system, until he won by that system, got himself a majority and got 100% of the power. The ironic part is that the Liberals formed a majority government and got 100% of the power with a smaller percentage of the popular vote than the Harper government had.

Under proportional representation, if we get 39% of the popular vote, we get 39% of the seats. It is common sense. It makes every vote count. That is the key thing.

The members can appreciate my disappointment when yesterday, as I was lining up my work for today, Anthony said that this was what he needed me to do today, to speak to the bill before us.

I really was hoping it would be something about electoral reform, so I could reflect the anger and the betrayal and the disappointment that exists certainly in my riding and based on the emails that I am getting seems to have spread across the country.

Millions of people may not be hanging on this issue yet, but the numbers have grown. Quite a number of years ago our former leader Jack Layton asked me to be the NDP democratic reform critic, which I did for a period of time. Again, millions of people were not interested but the number was smaller than it is now. This shows that people understand the issue and understand why virtually every other advanced country moves to a PR system. We have a natural hesitancy to do anything too radical. Once people get past that—