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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is democrats.

NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway (B.C.)

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

Statements in the House

Petitions June 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present e-petition 126 to Parliament. This petition calls on the Government of Canada to implement a ban on the operation of for-profit, paid donor blood collection clinics in Canada. This is particularly apt in that World Blood Donor Day is this week.

This initiative has received the support of thousands of Canadians from across the country. It reflects the opposition of many to the Liberal government's support for the privatization of the collection of blood plasma of Canadians. Just this week, news broke of the planned opening of yet another paid donor blood facility, this time in Moncton, in direct violation of the principles and recommendations of the Krever inquiry into the tainted blood scandal.

I would like to thank Kat Lanteigne and other safe blood advocates who have campaigned relentlessly to defend Canada's blood supply. It is time for the government to put a stop to paid plasma and keep our system safe, public, and voluntary.

Canada Elections Act June 16th, 2016

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-298, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting hours—Pacific time zone).

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Courtenay—Alberni for seconding the bill.

This bill emanates from constituents of mine in British Columbia who have pointed out that the current practice of having voting hours in British Columbia on election day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. is not optimal for encouraging voter turnout. The bill would make a slight adjustment to open the polls at 8 a.m. and go to 8 p.m. on the theory that there are far more Canadians who will go to vote after work and are shut out at the polls because they get there after 7 p.m. than there are people who can get up and be at the polls from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

This is another way to encourage democratic involvement, to increase the rate of voter participation on election day. I hope all members of the House will join me in supporting the bill.

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

Canada Elections Act June 16th, 2016

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-297, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting hours).

Mr. Speaker, once again I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the member for Courtenay—Alberni for seconding the bill.

As all Canadians and this House know, we are about to embark on a very important exercise in electoral reform. This gives us and all Canadians a chance to reflect on and discuss our democracy and our democratic practices and make improvements.

What the bill would do is expand voting hours in British Columbia and across the country from 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night. The idea is to expand the opportunities for Canadians on election day to cast their ballots. Research shows that, when polls are closed at 7 p.m., as they are in B.C., or at 8 p.m., there are Canadians who work and cannot get to the polls. Therefore, by increasing the length of time on the day Canadians go to polls, we would increase voter turnout. That, after all, is the essence of democracy.

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

Government Awareness Day Act June 16th, 2016

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-296, An Act respecting a Government Awareness Day

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce this bill, an act respecting government awareness day. I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the hard-working and excellent member for Courtenay—Alberni for seconding the bill.

The bill would have Parliament establish July 8 every year as government awareness day. The purpose would be that there be a day for Canadians to reflect on and celebrate our democracy. July 8 was the first day that Parliament ever sat in our country. That is the significance of that day. It would encourage citizen engagement, a celebration of our democracy, and education. It would encourage all citizens to use that day to contact any representative they wish, municipal, provincial, or federal, and make their views known to that representative as a way of showing that democracy is about government by the people for the people.

I hope that all members of the House will join with me in establishing such an important day, which we do not have now in the country, to celebrate, respect, and enhance our democracy.

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

Department of Health Act June 14th, 2016

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Department of Health Act (Advisory Committee).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to introduce an important bill to Parliament. It is legislation that would establish a universal pharmacare program for Canadians.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Windsor West for seconding this bill.

This bill is a result of the vision of two bright high school students from my riding of Vancouver Kingsway: Judy Gong from Gladstone Secondary and Mabel Huang from Windermere Secondary.

Judy and Mabel are this year's winners of my annual Create Your Canada contest, held in high schools across Vancouver Kingsway. Judy and Mabel proposed to build on Tommy Douglas' dream of one day delivering to Canadians universal prescription drug coverage, the second stage of public health care.

I hope that all parliamentarians will help realize their aspiration and idealism to make Canada a healthier and better place for everyone.

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

Health June 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, everyone has a right in Canada to equal access to quality health care regardless of ability to pay, yet Liberals are turning a blind eye to user fees across the country. Saskatchewan just introduced legislation that will allow wealthy people to jump the queue to receive private, for-profit CT scans. This undermines the Canada Health Act and the principle of universal access and is another example in a growing list of infractions.

Will the Minister of Health finally step in and put a stop to these unacceptable violations of the Canada Health Act?

Canadian Organ Donor Registry Act June 13th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I rise with pleasure to address an important bill before the House, Bill C-223, an act which would establish the Canadian organ donor registry and coordinate and promote organ donation throughout Canada.

The bill proposes to establish a Canadian organ donor registry to centrally compile information on organ donors and potential transplantation recipients across the provinces and territories. The purpose of the registry would be to increase efficiencies associated with patient assessment and organ allocation to improve patient wait-times, hopefully to reduce them, for transplantation and reduce the number of lost transplant opportunities.

For years New Democrats have supported better national collaboration in organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Specifically, New Democrats have supported the creation of a national registry to achieve this objective, so we are glad to support this initiative put forward by my hon. colleague.

Let me give the House some key figures. Every year, 1,600 Canadians will be added to organ donor waiting lists. Over 80% of Canadians say they would donate their organs; however, fewer than 20% have made arrangements to donate. At any give time, approximately 5,000 Canadians are waiting for an organ or tissue transplant.

Canada's deceased donation rate is relatively low compared to other comparable countries. According to 2009 data from the International Registry of Organ Donation and Transplantation, Canada placed below countries such as Spain, Uruguay, U.S.A., Cuba, and the U.K. in donation rates. Canada's donation rate is less than half that of leading countries. One-third of Canadians who need a transplant will never receive one, according to Canadian Blood Services. We can and must do better.

New Democrats have been working hard in recent years to establish a national organ donor registry to save and improve the lives of Canadians in desperate need of transplants. Canada can do a better job managing the organ transplant system and the establishment of a national registry is a critical first step.

This is the latest in a series of similar private member's bills on a national organ donor registry that have been introduced over the past 15 years. The last two variations were introduced by New Democrat member of Parliament Malcolm Allen in the 40th and 41st Parliaments. A bill proposing a national organ donor registry has never been voted on at second reading.

The sponsor of the legislation, the member of Parliament for Edmonton Manning, has a son who was born with a rare liver disease and has required three life-saving transplantations over the course of his lifetime. The legislation is a combination of personal experience fused with public policy and I would like to congratulate the member for bringing it forward.

In 2011, Canada's organ and tissue donation transplant communities in collaboration with Canadian Blood Services produced a document entitled “Call to Action”, which formally recommended the establishment of an integrated, interprovincial organ donation and transplantation system. The “Call to Action” document recommended the establishment of this interprovincial system by 2017. The authors of the document believe that a nationwide coordination would allow Canada to better reach our potential in organ and tissue transplant donation. They called for the creation of a system that would be consistent across the country, easily accessible, available online, and used to legally authorize donations based on the wishes of the donor.

A national registry would not only improve the availability of organs to patients in need but could also reduce provincial health care costs on those on waiting lists as they are treated more quickly. It would also address the disparities in wait-times across regions and provinces by increasing the efficiency and the supply of donor organs and tissues.

New Democrats support sending the bill to committee to permit an in-depth study of its provisions and perhaps to see if any improvements could be made.

Due to the important life-saving potential of the bill, it is vitally important that Parliament get the details right. For example, we believe that the special status of Quebec must be addressed within the legislation.

Bill C-223 lacks some of the implementation details included in Mr. Allen's former national registry bill, including the right of Quebec to operate a parallel registry as they do today with blood and tissue collection.

In addition, the bill gives substantial power and responsibility to the health minister rather than delegating responsibility for the administration of the registry to the registrar, as did the former bill. This should be studied, as well, to determine the best approach.

Finally, in Bill C-223, both reporting mechanisms to Parliament and the process for provincial affiliation to the national registry are not detailed when compared to the former bill. These details require closer study.

Parliament should also study the experience of other jurisdictions that have implemented presumptive organ and tissue donation, that is, a system where people are deemed to agree to be a donor unless they explicitly opt out, as a means of dramatically increasing potential donations to save lives. This is not in the bill currently, but it is an idea that is well worth exploring to ensure that every single Canadian man, woman, and child, has access to necessary organs and tissues if they need them to save their lives.

In 2014, the NDP also supported removing the ban on certain organ and tissue donations made by men who have sex with men. Efforts to create a national registry should go hand in hand with efforts to remove this unscientific discrimination and replace it with a science-based behavioural screening process.

It is particularly appropriate to reflect today on this item, and to express my shock and revulsion at the hate crime committed this weekend in Orlando, Florida, where approximately 50 people were targeted and murdered for their sexual orientation. I think I speak for everyone in the House in expressing our solidarity, our prayers, our comfort, and our expression to stand with the LGBTQ community, not only in Orlando but in North America and across the world. This kind of hate crime has to be denounced firmly by everyone.

The bill is timely in a number of ways, but particularly in terms of urging the government to take immediate measures to end the current discriminatory policy governing blood and organ donations in the gay men community. That would be a good first step to start building the kind of science-based policy, the understanding and smart policy, that makes everyone feel included in our country.

New Democrats will continue to work positively and across party lines with our Conservative and Liberal colleagues to build a better health care system for everyone in our country.

I believe that the Liberal government will not be supporting the bill. I would urge Liberals to reconsider that position. Second reading is an opportunity for every member in the House to express our agreement or not with the spirit of the bill. Notwithstanding that we may have some concerns about particular details, we should be able to discuss those details at committee. Therefore, I urge all members of the House to stand together and support this important bill, to support it in spirit and in principle. Any concept or policy that helps organ and tissue donation become more available to Canadian men, women, and children in our country is something we should be giving every opportunity to debate and to put into law.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that there have been some missed opportunities in this regard. The former government had a full four-year term to take action on establishing a national registry, particularly after the release of the April 2011 “Call to Action” report, and the subsequent election of the previous Conservative government, just a month later, in May 2011.

It is unfortunate that four years have been allowed to pass. However, as my father used to say, “Wisdom comes so seldom that it ought not to be rejected simply because it comes late.” I am happy to see that a member of the Conservative caucus, the member for Edmonton Manning, has put forward the bill.

I urge all members of the House to give the bill the study it requires, to support it at second reading. Let us see if we cannot make the improvements we need to make at committee to get everyone's vote in favour of the bill and implement it as soon as we can, for the health of all Canadians.

Business of Supply June 9th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my friend gave a passionate speech excoriating Canada's support for a country that imposes, in his words, a barbaric form of sharia law on all within its borders.

The sultanate of Brunei is a country that has imposed, in three stages, the following in terms of sharia law: first, fines and imprisonment for such crimes as pregnancy out of wedlock, propagating religions other than Islam, or not attending Friday prayers; the second phase, floggings and amputations for property offences; and just this year, the third phase, execution by stoning for homosexuality or blasphemy.

This is a country with which the member and his government wanted to negotiate preferential economic benefits through the trans-Pacific partnership. The Conservatives never said a word about signing an agreement with a country that puts people to death because of their sexual orientation.

Therefore, I would ask the member to stand in the House, with all of his rhetoric about rights and respect for human rights, and tell members how he justifies condemning one country for abolishing people's human rights, but giving economic benefits to another that executes people for who they are.

Business of Supply June 9th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I think this is a very important debate, and it brings to the House and all members here the important concepts of discussing foreign policy and human rights and the intersection between those, as this chamber makes policy in foreign relations around the world.

I notice that this resolution speaks specifically about targeting gays and lesbians, who have been tortured and murdered, and speaks about the House strongly condemning these atrocities. I think everybody in the House would regard targeting gays and lesbians and calling for their death as an atrocity. I do not think it is a stretch to say that an official policy in any country that would seek to put gays and lesbians to death because of their identification could constitute in some way an atrocity, at the very least, and perhaps even genocide at most.

Yet, the House here includes Brunei in the trans-Pacific partnership, which has official government policy to stone gays and lesbians to death. Yet, the House, both the Conservatives and Liberals, are considering a trade policy that would actually provide economic benefits to the country of Brunei.

I would ask my colleague to comment on that, and ask if there is not some contradiction between, on the one hand, the House condemning one country that is targeting gays and lesbians and murdering them and, at the same time, sitting at a table and giving economic benefits to another country that has official state policy of putting people to death simply because of their sexual orientation.

Petitions June 8th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to introduce to Parliament today e-petition 123 initiated by Michael Howie from Ontario. The petition calls upon the Government of Canada to ban the importation of dog and cat pelts or furs and prohibit the sale of said products in Canada.

I am delighted to announce that in four months this petition was signed by almost 14,000 Canadians from every province and every territory, including 5,381 from my home province of British Columbia.

Canadians broadly oppose the inhumane treatment of animals and this e-petition reflects the widespread opposition of Canadians to the dog and cat fur industry. It is my hope that the introduction of this e-petition will encourage the Liberal government to take concrete action to end the trade of dog and cat fur in Canada.