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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Liberal MP for Guelph (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member was asked earlier by a member of the Conservative government about car thefts. It is not just car thefts; it is breaking into automobiles that creates an opportunity for people to get their hands on guns illegally. I think that is the point the member was also making, and I would like him to speak about that.

I would also like him to speak about this. Earlier today, he had an opportunity to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs about correcting the record and the myth that the Liberals are going to bring back the gun registry, when our leader, the member for Papineau, has made it very clear that this is not going to happen. It is now history.

I am wondering if the hon. member would like to take the opportunity to comment on that, because curiously, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs carefully avoided answering the question.

Veterans Affairs May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, soldiers like Master Corporal Collin Fitzgerald, a man decorated for his incredible courage under fire, are returning home only to have to keep fighting, this time with the Conservative government. He was medically released with severe PTSD, yet when he applied to Veterans Affairs for benefits he had earned, VAC re-diagnosed him with simple anxiety, denying him help he needed.

It is unacceptable to be told one thing by National Defence doctors for release and the opposite by Veterans Affairs, and denied.

When will the minister compel VAC to accept National Defence doctors' diagnoses?

Taxation May 15th, 2015

Mr Speaker, Conservatives are mad because the Toronto Star called the Liberal plan for fairness “a credible, more progressive alternative, one that puts fairness first without driving the federal books deep into the red” and because the National Post said, “The Liberals' revamped child benefit appears broader, simpler and better targeted than the Tory plan”.

Economist Mike Moffat asked “What's not to love?” about our plan, and Kevin Milligan at the UBC School of Economics said, “The tax system under a [Liberal] government would be more progressive” and that “...the new benefit simplifies our tax system and focuses attention on the children.”

The Liberal plan cuts middle-class taxes by 7%; gives a bigger, all-inclusive tax-free child benefit to all families; will not end pension income splitting for seniors; will reverse the age of eligibility for OAS back to 65; and restores the TFSA's $5,500 annual limit so that even the middle class can completely benefit.

No wonder the Conservatives are spitting mad and making up absolutely anything to try to talk down our plan.

Petitions May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I stand to present several petitions with hundreds of signatures from people in and around Guelph who feel that multinational seed companies are replacing the immense diversity of farmer seeds with industrial varieties through an increasing number of patented seeds, and that UPOV 91 will deter or outlaw the saving and exchanging of seeds between farmers, all of which affects both Canadian farmers and peasant farmers in third-world countries. The petitioners ask Canada to adopt policies, internationally and here at home in Canada, that support small farmers, especially women, and ensure the exchange and preservation of seeds.

Petitions May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present several petitions with hundreds of signatures from people in and around Guelph who feel that multinational seed companies are replacing the immense diversity of farmers' seeds with industrial varieties through an increasing number of patented seeds and that UPOV'91 will deter or outlaw the saving and exchanging of seeds between farmers, all of which affects both Canadian farmers and peasant farmers in third world countries.

The petitioners ask Canada to adopt policies, internationally and here at home, that support small farmers, especially women, and to ensure the exchange and preservation of seeds.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the House knows that since 2006 the current government has clawed back $1.13 billion that could have been spent on programs. The government claims that it met its obligations, met the thresholds, and paid veterans what they were entitled to, yet in the face of that we have thousands of veterans begging for better payments and better services for themselves and their families.

The government also closed nine veterans offices from Corner Brook in Newfoundland and Labrador to Prince George, British Columbia. It let 949 front-line staff go. The Conservatives were warned by their own that this would have a negative effect on Veterans Affairs and a worse negative effect on the veterans those offices were to serve. The Auditor General even recited that point in his report.

I wonder if the member can comment on any concerns she might have and on the effectiveness of the Conservatives' response to the many claims by veterans for better benefits for themselves and their families.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am hearing from the other side that they opened 600. They did not open 600. They just pushed those veterans to Service Canada offices elsewhere. Do members know where they have to go if they are in Cape Breton? They have to leave the island. If they are on Prince Edward Island, they have to leave the island. If they are in Brandon, they have to drive hours to Winnipeg. This is because when they get to a Service Canada office, the people are not adequately trained to deal with veterans. Those people to whom we have talked will admit that they are not adequately trained.

In the face of all of that, we had report after report, including two Auditor General reports, not one, in 2012 and last year, both warning that these cuts are severely impacting our veterans. Their own department's reports said that cuts to staffing, which the member spoke of, are severely, negatively impacting access to services for our veterans.

We wonder why the Conservatives have an outbreak of anything but Conservative rising from what was their base. That is our veterans, who will no longer vote for them, because they have been abandoned. Our veterans have been abandoned by the Conservative government.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, similarly, I want to thank and compliment the member for Cape Breton—Canso for his remarks and his hard work on this file. He has never once stopped informing me of what is happening to veterans in his riding.

He talks about the $1.13 billion that lapsed. It was essentially money available that could have been spent on veterans, but the government said no, let us bring back into the treasury because we can maybe use it to pay down our debt. What did it do? It closed nine veterans offices, one of them in the member's riding—

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, until now I was not very disappointed in the minister's approach to the file, but he now suddenly has disappointed me. I will tell the House why.

The new veterans charter was brought in in 2005 and the then Liberal government never had an opportunity to deal with it because we lost the election. It was the Conservative government that was given the mandate to implement it. The new veterans charter in and of itself is a living, breathing document that would have met the needs of our veterans. Why did it not? Because the Veterans Ombudsman said so. He said it needed to be adequately funded in total. Accessibility to the programs had to be available to our veterans and the amounts of money they individually received had to be available by not making these thresholds of entitlement to the benefits so high.

What did the government do with the charter? It used it not to the benefit of veterans, but to the benefit of the Conservative government in trying to balance its books. Had it properly implemented it, our veterans would be better off today. Instead, we have a Prime Minister who rather than adequately funding the new veterans charter has chosen, for instance, to give $2 billion to 14% of Canada's most wealthy through income splitting.

I said in my speech what Sir Robert Borden said. It is our first duty, not our second duty, not our third duty, our first duty to meet the needs of our veterans over and above the wealthy and those who will benefit from all the other programs the Conservatives have presented to make the wealthy wealthier.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question. I want to thank him more for his work on the committee.

He is quite right. Last year, in May, the committee issued a unanimous report. We did put a little water in our wine, as they say, because we wanted to send a message to the government. We wanted to send a message not just to the minister but through the minister to the Prime Minister that veterans' needs are not being met. This has come out in the Auditor General's report. It has come out in Veterans Affairs Canada's own reports that they are not being met.

We met with the Minister of Veterans Affairs' predecessor back then, and he agreed with all those recommendations. Do members remember that? He agreed with them all, but his hands were tied, and the current minister's hands are tied, because as hard as he is working, and I have to acknowledge that he is working hard, he cannot get to where we need to go on those recommendations, because he has a Prime Minister who wants more, this year, to balance the budget on the backs of our veterans. He refuses to close the gap completely, which would have been closed had we fully embraced those recommendations.