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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is amendment.

NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway (B.C.)

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

Statements in the House

Employing Persons with Disabilities Act December 13th, 2017

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-390, an act respecting the development of a national employment strategy for persons with disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce this bill, the employing persons with disabilities act, again with thanks to my hard-working colleague, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

This legislation provides for the development of a national employment strategy to increase the economic participation of persons with disabilities. At present, there are over 400,000 working-age Canadians with disabilities who are not working, but whose disability does not prevent them from doing so. Almost half of these potential workers are post-secondary graduates.

People with disabilities have a great deal to contribute to our society. We must do more to improve workplace accessibility, and promote the participation of people with disabilities in the workforce. This legislation seeks to educate business owners and private sector employers about the potential of persons with disabilities, correct misconceptions that exist about employing persons with disabilities, encourage private sector employers to adopt more inclusive hiring practices, and promote the opportunities fund for persons with disabilities.

I call upon all parliamentarians to support these vital initiatives to have these wonderful, creative, talented people participate fully in our society and economy.

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

Student Debt Relief Act December 13th, 2017

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-389, an act respecting the development of a national strategy on student loan debt.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce this bill, the student debt relief act, with great thanks to my seconder, the hard-working member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.

This legislation provides for the development of a national strategy with the objective of reducing student loan debt. Too many Canadian students have been forced to assume a crushing debt load simply to receive an education.

According to the Canadian University Survey Consortium, the average Canadian student will now graduate with over $26,000 in debt. This legislation looks to reduce student loan interest rates to prime rate, introduce incentives to complete a degree, including loan forgiveness, and establish rewards for on-time payments of loans, such as the possibility of interest rate reductions. New Democrats believe every Canadian student, who studies hard, should be able to access a world-class education without going deeply into debt.

Therefore, I call upon all parliamentarians to work together to make debt-free post-secondary education a reality for all students in Canada.

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

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my hon. colleague's speech. He talked very clearly about the importance of having a minister responsible for the status of women or women's issues and the importance of that being a full minister with equal voice at cabinet. I agree with him very much on that.

My question, though, has to do with his government's lack of commitment to creating a stand-alone ministry responsible for the status of women. Currently the government has structured the ministry responsible for the status of women as an agency within the ministry of heritage.

Would the member agree that a government truly committed to equality of women, that truly wants to be a feminist government would create a stand-alone ministry specifically and exclusively dedicated to women's issues, or is the member content with having it being a mere agency under another department?

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we in the New Democratic Party have been championing equality for women for decades, and, again, I am happy to see there is a gender-parity cabinet. However, the government has become a government of spin, image, and good intentions rather than solid actions. We always have to look beneath the surface to see if the Liberals' rhetoric matches their reality.

I was looking at the structure of the government. Even though the government is making a big deal of its commitment to women and the Prime Minister says that he is a feminist and the government has gender parity in cabinet, I am quite shocked that the minister responsible for the Status of Women Canada prevails over the Status of Women Canada, which is an agency currently under the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Therefore, although the government says that women make up more than half the population, it has not seen fit to create a stand-alone ministry responsible for women. Could my hon. colleague comment as to whether he thinks the government's lack of action on real equality for women matches its rhetoric and what the Liberals would like Canadians to believe?

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the member. The population of women in Canada is not 50%, it is 51%. There is actually a majority of women in this country.

However, is the Liberal government creating a stand-alone ministry for women, or the Status of Women, similar to other ministries, like the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Finance, or is it just an agency under another department?

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I was somewhat pleased when I saw the Liberal government announce a gender parity cabinet. I think that most Canadians thought it was a symbolic move that was long overdue. Frankly, it was welcomed by those who believe in gender equality in this country. Some of the tokenism of that gesture was revealed when we learned that five of those positions were for ministers of state who would be paid significantly less, and that those positions would be held by women.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague about this. The bill before us purports to fix that inequity by raising the salary of these women, without changing the actual constituents of the cabinet itself. A real commitment to gender equality would be a cabinet shuffle that ensured an equal number of men and women in full cabinet positions, as opposed to raising the salaries of the five women ministers of state to be equal to those of men, but without the accompanying power.

As well, the bill provides equal pay for women at the cabinet table, but the government has refused to bring in pay equity legislation for all Canadian women. Does my hon. colleague have any comment on that?

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has said, it has taken 30 years to modernize these laws, which, in my way of thinking, means there is no urgency to rush the bill through Parliament. In fact, we should take some time and let parliamentarians, who are sent here by our constituents, actually have the ability to represent those views.

What exactly is the urgency to rush this through now? Does it have anything to do with the fact that the member's colleague stood in the House and represented to members of the House that there was no change whatsoever in the law or in the interpretation around applicants for disability credits suffering from diabetes and the fact then that an internal memo came out through access to information showing that this was actually false? Is the government so concerned about shutting down dialogue and debate that it is worried that people in the House will show Canadians that a member of his cabinet misrepresented things in the House, specifically revealed by access to information?

Health November 28th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, devastating news out of Alberta reveals a 40% increase in opioid deaths this year and Canada will lose 3,000 lives in 2017.

Families affected by this crisis are growing dismayed by the Prime Minister's glacial response. In fact, Moms Stop the Harm has started the “Do Something Prime Minister Photo Campaign” by sending photos of lost loved ones to the PMO.

The Prime Minister has ignored our call to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. How many more Canadians need to die before he finally listens?

Cannabis Act November 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the NDP pointed this out early on, after hearing testimony about the difficulties some people had entering the United States when asked by border guards if they had ever used cannabis and they answered affirmatively. Even though they had used the cannabis legally in Washington state and Colorado, they were denied entry into the U.S. This led to a concern by the NDP that the government should be negotiating, or at least attempting to negotiate, with the Trump administration some form of agreement to recognize the reality that cannabis would be legal in Canada. We do not want to subject Canadians to being turned away at the border or being compelled to lie. The answer we got, unfortunately, was unsatisfactory. It appears that the government has not been entering into those negotiations. There is a real concern that after July 1, 2018, Canadians will be vulnerable in that respect.

I want to end on a positive note. Economically, Canada has a chance to be a global leader in producing safe, quality cannabis products. We are not the only country in the world that will legalize it. Other countries will do it, too. This is a classic industry that is sustainable, high tech, innovative, green. A $5 seed can be turned into $1,000 worth of product. Canadians are global leaders, and that is why we are so adamant that the ban on importation and exportation in Bill C-45 should be changed to give Canadian businesses a chance to tap into that market. This could provide billions and billions of dollars of economic activity once other countries do as Canada does and we abandon the old prohibitionist view of conservative parties around the world.

Cannabis Act November 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I had the benefit of hearing over 90 witnesses at the health committee who were drawn from a wide variety of disciplines, including people from Colorado and Washington state who have experience with legalization, as well as many academics and professors. It is quite clear that the health effects of cannabis are, without any doubt whatsoever, far superior to those of tobacco and alcohol.

I have not heard any of my friends on the Conservative side of the House talk about restricting the amount of alcohol someone can purchase from the liquor store. Perhaps it is because they are afraid to take on the alcohol lobby in the country. The health committee heard some very graphic testimony. A person can walk into a liquor store and come out with a 26-ounce bottle of liquor, which has enough alcohol in that bottle to kill an adult. However, there are no limits on how many bottles of alcohol someone can purchase.

Tobacco, of course, is a carcinogen, and the Conservatives are opposed to plain packaging for tobacco, a policy I laud the Liberal government for pursuing in the House. It is long overdue. Why did the Conservatives not, throughout their 10 years, pursue plain packaging on tobacco when it is a carcinogen that is addictive and kills our children? I am not so sure why they did not do that.

In answer to the member's question, the research is overwhelming that cannabis is a relatively benign substance. It does have some health impacts that need to be studied for sure, However, in terms of what he is talking about, there is a question about causation versus correlation. If people use cannabis at a young age and develop psychosis, we do not know whether they developed psychosis as a result of cannabis use or they seek to use cannabis as a way of dealing with their psychosis. Therefore, the correlation-causation aspect does have to be researched. I look forward to the government putting a lot of money into researching the effects of cannabis in the years ahead.