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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was may.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Scarborough—Rouge River (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 59% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise to take up an issue that was raised in Question Period just a few days ago which related to a large piece of my riding of Scarborough-Rouge River. That is the lands that comprise the Rouge River Valley.

What I collectively refer to as the Rouge Valley lands comprise approximately 10,000 acres in what is now an urban environment. The 10,000 acres, give or take a few, basically include the two river valleys that comprise the two Rouge River tributaries. These lands have somehow managed to survive intact as an integral ecological unit with their evolved flora and fauna.

In recognition of that fact we have to pay tribute to those who over the last 15 or 20 years realized this and made it known before it was too late in the face of the development of these lands. Now the Rouge Valley lands have received a commitment from provincial, federal and municipal governments to preserve them in an ecological park of the sort that is still being negotiated and managed.

To give an example for the record, the Rouge Valley River still has 55 species of fish. It is home to 200 species of birds, 28 species of mammals and 700 species of plants, forest and vegetation. That is in an urban area of Toronto. As hard as it is to believe, we must be thankful for it and make a commitment to it.

My question involved the seeking of a commitment from federal, provincial and municipal governments and that whole community that comprises eastern metro. We are looking for a commitment from this government to complete a promise of funding of $10 million given in 1987. Part of this commitment has already been used for the acquisition of an aboriginal burial site at the edge of park boundary. There was also a commitment of federal expertise in managing park lands or ecological habitats.

Some believe the park could be jointly developed and managed by the provincial and federal governments. Others believe the park should be managed by an entity developed specifically for that purposes and others who think the municipal government should also have a role.

I am seeking a further commitment from the federal government and I am very hopeful along with all the people I represent and all the people in the southern Ontario community who care very much about this priceless asset. We hope the federal government will commit to further involvement in the project.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. What she is looking for quite reasonably is a list of particulars, a good solid list of specific initiatives that can be brought to bear to address the issue of public safety and crime.

She has already noted some of the generic hot buttons, if I could put it that way. Let me acknowledge right away that the references in the throne speech are purely generic and in fact I read one sentence that perhaps covers a couple of pages of particulars. It is not possible to put into a throne speech all of the particulars that one might want.

However, I note that the whole area of sentencing is yet to be dealt with by a federal statute. There has never been a codification of sentencing in this country. That is still to be done. There was a bill in the last Parliament. It was consensually not proceeded with because members from both sides believed it was not a good and effective bill.

I would look for a sentencing bill relatively soon. I would look for a bill to modify elements of the Young Offenders Act. All of the areas have been discussed publicly. What the justice minister will bring forward remains to be seen. I hope the hon. member will create her own list and send it immediately to the justice minister.

There needs to be changes in the Parole Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. We need to pass very specific amendments to the area involved. Most of it involves accountability.

A very interesting and useful meeting was held during the last Parliament between the outgoing chairman of the National Parole Board and members of the justice committee. The chairman had to get the permission of the minister to appear before the committee to tell us personally what he believed should be done for the parole board to better perform its job. He spoke to us very frankly at that meeting which was held in camera but all of what he said was duly noted.

We have covered the Young Offenders Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. There are elements of the Criminal Code that need to be refined. We are just beginning to deal with long run strategic crime prevention. Regrettably it requires a bit of money to get into this area but it is a long running investment on a long running basis to make everybody in society a stakeholder and reduce the tendencies to break the law.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

I want to congratulate this speaker, along with all my other colleagues who have done this for the last few days, on his appointment. I want to congratulate the Speaker on his election. I know he will serve us extremely well.

At this juncture as well in Parliament it is very appropriate for me to acknowledge the political forces that returned me to Parliament as the member for Scarborough-Rouge River. I want to acknowledge all those who participated in the process. I thank certainly those who worked selflessly for me in our campaign, but I also want to acknowledge all the other candidates and their workers in a way that reflects my pride in a political system that really works.

A throne speech is an attempt by a government in Parliament to articulate its legislative goals and its policy goals and it hopefully does it in a way that reflects what the electorate wants.

In this particular case as we open up Parliament, of course the agenda of the throne speech has no excuse in the world for not reflecting what the electorate wants. My leader, our Prime Minister, and all of our members are only days and weeks away from the front doors and meeting places of Canadians. We have absolutely no excuse for not knowing what they want. I suppose it is fair to say that my government has no excuse for not having a reasonable game plan in addressing that.

Today I would like to make an attempt at relating my government's throne speech to the issues and matters that were put to me in the campaign by my constituents. I am happy to say that the throne speech does address almost all of those issues and matters. I would like to take some time to elucidate on that just a bit.

First, the biggest issue that my constituents put to me was the issue of jobs and the economy. That is clearly the thrust of this government's throne speech and, as it will unfold in the weeks to come, its legislative and policy agenda.

Our economy was hit very badly by a recession in and about the year 1990. In addition to that, we had a free trade adjustment which took a toll. We knew it would take a toll. Perhaps it took a greater toll on the economy than we thought but we adjusted. I think we have been through the bulk of that. There may be more to come but I think we have seen the worst of it.

Second, monetary policy overshoot, as it has been called, describes the zero inflation target that the Bank of Canada had for a period of time under the previous government. It did not meet its zero per cent. It never really had a hope of meeting its zero per cent.

Chasing that goal has slowed down our economy even more than it would otherwise have done. Canadians everywhere have paid a significant price for that.

In 1994 there has been a change. The economic fundamentals are much improved. We have low inflation. We have low interest rates. The worst of the free trade adjustment I hope is over. Balancing that we have the new trade opportunities provided by the free trade agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

My constituents are very much waiting for the new jobs that this recovery will bring. While no government really runs the economy out of its hip pocket no government can hope to do that because the economy is driven by many forces in the private sector.

It is clear that my constituents will judge this government on how well it fosters the economic growth for Canada in the

months to come. They are watching and waiting. I believe that my government can do the right thing. It along with the economic forces at play, will deliver.

My government has already discussed and put into motion an infrastructure program, the residential rehabilitation assistance Program. We have yet to begin work on the youth service corps. That will happen shortly.

In the longer run we will focus on fostering the small and medium sized business area. We want to see improved access to capital. I was pleased to see a modest response by the banks and the newspapers over the last couple of days.

Our Liberal caucus in opposition met with the banks last May. I think they know the writing is on the wall. They will either have to serve small and medium sized business, as they have tried to do for a century, but they have to do it better. If they fail to do it without stating anything specific-I am merely a humble backbencher here-Canadians and this government will have to do what must be done to ensure that small and medium sized business have the financial tools they need to grow.

We want to improve the access of small business to technology and to increase their participation in research and development. We also want to reduce the regulatory burden. In all of these objectives I know we can make substantial progress and have some success.

The second major issue was the deficit and taxation. I cannot do the issue justice. Every person in this House knows exactly what we are talking about. It is a debt in the vicinity of $500 billion and a deficit way over $40 billion.

My government and our finance minister is committed to taking hold of it. It is not like there were not other ministers who tried in the past. I just think Canadians believe now and we believe that we cannot afford to fail now. We cannot fail to grab hold of that.

We must reduce spending in a strategic fashion. We must increase revenues without building in new taxes. We can only increase our revenues by having growth in the economy. The two are very much tied together.

There is also room for some modest growth in revenues by reducing what are called tax expenditures. Those are the field of deductions available under the Income Tax Act. We are committed to those goals.

The third issue of major significance was crime and public safety. I would note, and I am sure other members have noted, the relatively few number of references in the throne speech to this significant Canadian issue. It is mostly urban in context but the references are clearly there. My government is committed to introducing measures to enhance community safety and crime prevention.

There is a lot more to that issue than that one sentence. We must reduce the incidence of crime. We must reduce the fear of crime. We must also admit that crime is like a penalty tax levied on our society for our failure to effectively manage our human resource and we have plans to address these issues.

The last question was one dealing with immigration levels. This is a question that will have to be debated in this Parliament. I do not know when the debate will begin but I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that other colleagues and I will want to debate that in Parliament.

I am proud to serve my constituents in this place. I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the House to achieve these and the many other goals that Canadians have placed with us in trust for this 35th Parliament.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Madam Speaker, the hon. member makes a wonderful point here. The issue of the nuclear stockpile is out there and is unresolved by the entire global community. As I understand it I think the Ukraine has reached an agreement to liquidate, store away, give away or trade away its nuclear stockpile. That was a real plus. I hope they get to the end of their inventory.

However, I fall back on the remarks I made earlier that I view the cruise missile as a delivery system. Maybe it will be the very best delivery system we have ever developed. Maybe the cruise missile and developments of the cruise missile will become the flying saucer of the planet earth because of its ability to move in an unmanned way and guide itself. Let us forget about the sausage shape for now. It does not have to carry a nuclear warhead.

Canada has insisted that none of the cruise missiles in Canada will carry nuclear warheads. Canada is in the forefront in the world in convincing countries to abandon their nuclear capability. I point out the regional dispute between India and Pakistan involving their own alleged nuclear capabilities and the arguments about delivery systems also.

I hope that my children's children will have fewer nuclear warheads to worry about than that which the hon. member and the rest of us have to worry about now.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is a real treat to participate on behalf of the constituents of Scarborough-Rouge River in a debate of this nature. Early in this Parliament our Prime Minister said to the House: "Please take this issue, debate it and tell me what Canadians think". I can see individuals in my caucus over here and in their caucuses over there with views on both sides of the issue. It is unlikely I will be able to address any issue which has not already been covered. I want to compliment all of my colleagues, especially those who have made their first interventions and speeches in the House.

What is the cruise missile? It is simply a delivery system. This was not the case 10 years ago. Ten years ago the cruise missile was seen as a delivery system but more importantly a delivery system for strategic nuclear capability. That did not make a lot of us in this country very comfortable.

I know the Liberal Party grappled with the issue for many years inside the party, not necessarily in the House, and in caucus. I can see that its position has changed from time to time over the last one or two decades.

Something happened a few years ago that changed my view in relation to the cruise missile. That was the gulf war. As a taxpayer, as an individual who cared a lot about what was happening at the time of the gulf war, for the first time I was able to see right in the opposition lobby something involving a cruise missile that did not involve nuclear or strategic nuclear warheads.

It was at that point that I began to look at the cruise missile a little differently. We are talking about roughly 288 cruise missiles that were used by the United States as part of what was called the allied effort in relation to the gulf war.

Having formed a view that the cruise missile was not necessarily part of the nuclear capability, I began to look at it more as something capable of carrying a payload. In the gulf war it had carried a conventional warhead for very specific tactical purposes.

My colleagues and I realize that it did kill. As I stand here I do not know what the body count was, but there were many killed and presumably many maimed by the Tomahawk cruise missiles used in the gulf war. It was not intentional but there still was death and the attendant destruction.

Is not the cruise missile simply an increasingly sophisticated product of research, development and delivery capability? What if the cruise missile simply carried a camera? What if technologically we got the cruise missile to go out and come back?

I know we can take pictures of the earth from satellites. We do not really need an unmanned capability all of the time, but what if there is cloud cover or what if we are talking about a volcano with all kinds of cloud cover? Perhaps the cruise missile could have the benefit of the doubt in being seen in a more benevolent or kinder content in great contrast with what it has been used as, a weapon of war.

In saying that I want to articulate my general acquiescence in the agreement that permits testing of the cruise missile in Canadian territory. I say that knowing the agreement permits the sharing of the test results with Canada. I am making an assumption, I hope not too naively, that the technology is known to the appropriate elements of our armed forces as a technology that they can work with.

There are three sensitivities that I have to put on the record and I am sure some of them, if not all, are shared by all my colleagues here.

First, I have listened intently to the remarks of our colleague, the member for Nunatsiaq. I am very sensitive to the issue put that the testing of the cruise missile over northwestern Canada has to be subjected to the scrutiny of residents there. The long term residents there include the Dene and the Inuvialuit and if they have something to say to us through their members then we have to listen. We must listen. There are elements of safety, environment and morality.

Second, this next item of sensitivity has been mentioned by the previous speaker and was articulated very well. It is that Canada must continue to make its contribution to global stability. It must continue to do its part in terms of ensuring our defence capability and our ability to be there at times when the world needs us as a country. We must participate in that. We must foster that.

I do not think we have been carrying our load internationally in that regard. There were times when we did not really want to when it was a cold war battle between two or three nuclear powers. Times have changed. We know that from time to time the world needs what our country has to offer in terms of global stability.

Third, we have a moral obligation to those who will follow us in this world to do everything possible on our end to remove the nuclear threat from the entire world.

I know there is an overlap here with the way we used to look at the cruise missile, but something tells me that the nuclear threat to this world does not relate so much any more to the cruise missile. It relates more to stockpiles and of previously built nuclear weapons and the potential nuclear weapon to be built that is in a steamer trunk somewhere in the world where it should not be. God only knows what might happen should we go down that road.

Those three sensitivities I leave on the record. In the end, having analysed this and attempting to articulate what I think are the views of my constituents in Scarborough-Rouge River, I am, along with other colleagues in the House who may feel this way, acquiescent and accepting that Canada should stay as part of the current cruise missile testing agreement with the United States.

Rouge River Valley January 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage concerning Scarborough's Rouge River Valley.

The minister will be aware of the existing commitment to negotiate with the Ontario government to protect this 10,000 acre area and the federal government's $10 million commitment for conservation of the Rouge Valley.

Will the minister confirm that the federal government remains committed to those objectives? Will he update the House on the negotiations with the province and provide assurances that further federal participation would be considered for this large urban environmental undertaking?