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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was infrastructure.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Parkdale—High Park (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions on the Order Paper January 31st, 2011

With regard to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, what are the exact, line-by-line details of all travel and hospitality expenses incurred by the Minister and all exempt staff since January 1, 2009?

Questions on the Order Paper January 31st, 2011

With regard to the Minister of State (Sport), what are the exact, line-by-line details of all travel and hospitality expenses incurred by the Minister and all exempt staff since January 1, 2009?

Questions on the Order Paper January 31st, 2011

With regard to the Minister of State and Chief Government Whip, what are the exact, line-by-line details of all travel and hospitality expenses incurred by the Minister and all exempt staff since January 1, 2009?

Questions on the Order Paper January 31st, 2011

With regard to the Minister of State (Seniors), what are the exact, line-by-line details of all travel and hospitality expenses incurred by the Minister and all exempt staff since January 1, 2009?

Privilege December 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I want to cite from the ruling you made yesterday in which you stated:

I would like to draw the attention of the House to page 618 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, where we are clearly reminded that:

The proceedings of the House are based on a long-standing tradition of respect for the integrity of all Members. Thus, the use of offensive, provocative or threatening language is strictly forbidden. Personal attacks, insults and obscenities are not in order.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, at page 614, goes even further in stating that:

Remarks directed specifically at another Member which question that Member's integrity, honesty or character are not in order. A Member will be requested to withdraw offensive remarks, allegations, or accusations of impropriety directed towards another Member.

Speaker Milliken went on to say:

This is why my ruling of November 14, 2010, at page 3779 of the Debates, I stressed that:

When speaking in the House, Members must remain ever cognizant of these fundamental rules. They exist to safeguard the reputation and dignity not only of the House itself but also that of all Members.

Furthermore, he noted on page 3778, I noted, as have other Speakers:

...that the privilege of freedom of speech that members enjoy confers responsibilities on those who are protected by it, and members must use great care in exercising their right to speak freely in the House.

My point is that the government is engaging in an exercise of coordinated attacks, not by individuals using their freedom of speech but by the executive branch.

This goes directly to the point by the member opposite. I attended the proceedings in Mexico for six days, as invited by the government, but circumstances required me to go back one day sooner on a 14 day conference, not halfway, as the minister fully knew. This was explained ahead of time to the government because I had a pre-scheduled meeting. The government did not see fit to give us notice that we would actually be attending in Cancun.

The government causes the problem and then seeks to exploit it in a pattern that speaks exactly to the rulings of Speaker Milliken. I have already referenced this on page 77 but I want to emphasize that the executive branch cannot interfere with the rights and privileges of members.

I will make submissions so that the member opposite is either not confused or does not try to confuse the facts. I did attend for two days longer than the minister in question and was there at approximately 37 different meetings. Members of the House stood and talked about the waste of taxpayer dollars and impugned my integrity in a deliberate pattern involving members without responsibility, but assigned to do so by the government.

The minister knew this was a 14-day conference and he knew that I had only left at noon on the second last day. In fact, I attended and saw him at the conference that morning. That is the part of the issue that we need the Speaker, on behalf of the House, to adjudicate today. If the House cannot protect us from an organized campaign on the part of the government that comes directly to our integrity to be able to speak in this place, then my freedom of speech and that of each hon. member is compromised.

Mr. Speaker, I will provide submissions showing how, on both the December 10 and 14, a variety of government members of the House did exactly that. They used information that I can demonstrate they knew full well was not an accurate representation, and they did it, using the voice of the executive branch. They organized the conference, they say that they attended the conference and they purported to give this House information that was official. That is the executive branch interfering with the understanding of the House and the interpretation of people elsewhere around my integrity in this case, but for any member of the House.

Similar attacks have been orchestrated on other members of the House. I want to ensure that the point is not lost. This is not an argument about what happened or what got done in terms of the climate change talks. I appreciate the proceedings may not include us when we are part of a Canadian delegation. However, back in this House, how can any member be intimidated and then not contradict the government or talk about its performance, when in fact the government shows repeatedly that it is prepared to indulge in these campaigns of undermining our ability to speak here?

Using the references I have cited, I believe this is fundamental.

Mr. Speaker, I would simply say that for both those comments on the Nagoya Conference and on Mexico, I look for your action and, if you do find a prima facie case of privilege, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Privilege December 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege in the House to ask the Speaker's consideration of an appropriate response to a new form of attack on the essential privileges of members in this chamber.

As O'Brien and Bosc make clear on page 59 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, parliamentary privilege is simply “the independence Parliament and its Members need to function unimpeded”.

There are certain powers that need to be exercised by this House to protect us from undue interference so we carry out our functions.

I raise two related points. One is that information conveyed on December 10 and December 14 by members of the government was fundamentally inaccurate and undermining of my function as a member of Parliament. I will show that in brief.

The other is that the government is abusing the freedoms and rights of members by abusing its function as the executive to validate manifestly false allegations with the sole purpose of bringing discredit to certain members who are attempting to bring it to account.

Our freedom of speech is fundamental. Freedom of speech is defined as the fundamental right without which we would be hampered in any performance of our duties, permitting us to speak in the House without inhibition to refer to any matter and express opinion as we see fit, to say what we feel needs to be said in furtherance of the national interest and aspirations of our constituents.

On several occasions there have now been repeated and coordinated attacks by ministers and other members, of an unsubstantiated personal nature, and I cite the attacks from the Minister of Public Safety towards the member for Ajax—Pickering and the attacks on the member for Scarborough—Rouge River.

As well, this new form of undermining of our privileges comes when the government purports to use the special knowledge that accrues to it in its role in the executive branch to disparage the performance of MPs and create a new form of threat designed to intimidate members in the conduct of their duties.

If this is allowed unimpeded, this form of official obstruction and interference will greatly diminish the function of this House. It is designed to prevent members from bringing the government to account, one of our fundamental functions.

If the House does not adjudicate this, then our abilities will be greatly diminished. I submit that this is in the same vein but of a different order from the ruling made by the Speaker yesterday, and based on his previous statement where he spoke to:

...if a Member who feels that his or her reputation has been maligned by the comments of another Member raises a question of privilege, the Speaker must determine if such remarks “constitute such a grave attack as to impede the hon. member…in the performance of his duties” (Debates, May 28, 2008, p. 6171).

I certainly allege that these are put forward as remarks of that nature, as I will briefly explain, but in addition the government has made reference in my particular case, on several occasions, to my comportment at two international conferences where I represented the House as part of a pairing system to enable Canada to have representatives abroad during the minority Parliament, as official opposition critic and as a member of the Canadian delegation.

I submit that the government is in effect reporting back to this House in its executive function when it characterizes the conduct and outcomes of such delegations. Both the minister and parliamentary secretary indicated in several statements that are not supportable but are, importantly, designed to help them avoid scrutiny, which they would otherwise have to submit to in this House.

I also refer again to the Speaker to say that on page 77 of O'Brien and Bosc:

We have parliamentary privilege to ensure that the other branches of government, the executive and judicial, respect the independence of the legislative branch of government, which is this House and the other place. This independence cannot be sustained if either of the other branches is able to define or reduce these privileges.

Mr. Speaker, I think you can find that there is a deliberate pattern of behaviour. Specifically, on Friday, December 10 and again on Thursday, December 14, several statements were made. They involved private members from Ottawa—Orléans and Kitchener—Conestoga, as well as the minister and the parliamentary secretary.

In those statements, information was put forward that the government itself knew manifestly not to be the case. For example, they spoke of my attendance at the climate change talks in Cancun. They referred to my leaving early. They said that halfway through the conference the Liberal Party representative went home. They also talked about wasting taxpayers' dollars.

In point of fact, it was the government that gave so little notice of attendance for that conference. Also a second allegation was raised by the parliamentary secretary that in Nagoya, which is a conference approximately two months ago, I was not actively participating. The government knew differently, as I will demonstrate, and yet the members deliberately brought this forward in question period, in statements and also in committee.

The government knew specifically, for example, when it gave notice of one week for me to attend Nagoya in order to facilitate the attendance of the then minister, that I hold a monthly public meeting in my riding and it was too late on that short notice to cancel that meeting. In fact it had already been widely advertised including drops to 5,000 households, which is the practice in our riding. Not only did I attend, but I managed to get credentials that were denied by the government to me as a member of the delegation to attend high level sessions. I was not invited to meetings or briefings of the delegation, contrary to the information provided opposite.

The main point is that I attended 22 meetings. I spoke directly to the minister, who I met at some of those meetings. I was only able to attend because of my own initiative working with international parliamentary delegations. I met for an hour and a half with the president of the World Bank, with other parliamentarians. We secured an undertaking at the World Bank to modify its process on natural capital, an announcement that was made at the conference, which created a legislative track as a direct result of that meeting.

I also met with and spoke to the prime minister of Japan and the environment minister of Japan, and the minister was present for some of those discussions, although not party to them. It is, I believe, a deliberate effort on the part of the government to interfere with my abilities as a member to hold it to account in this House, in its misrepresentation of these facts otherwise. So, I attended 22 meetings and events in Nagoya, Japan.

I would note that for two successive days I attended the Government of Canada seats in the high level discussions, which were vacant. There was no one there from the 30-plus delegation, which the Minister of the Environment brought there, listening to the other countries' statements. I believe it is important to understand that the government underperformed and was criticized. It won an international booby prize called the Dodo for interfering with those talks and that is directly related to why the government is now in an organized fashion undermining my privileges as a member by bringing up allegations that are absolutely and patently not true.

With respect to Cancun and the climate change talks in Mexico, the minister was personally aware because I made a request directly through him to attend earlier. The minister was fully, directly informed and when he said opposite facts here, he knew that I was there for six days while he was there for only four. He knows that I attended a conference with 50 representatives from 16 countries and that I went to 37 different meetings in performance of my duties.

Mr. Speaker, I would say to you very simply that the freedom of speech in the House cannot withstand the intimidation of organized efforts by the government as the executive. This is not the freedom of speech of members opposite but, rather, of the executive. It can be shown, and I will make submissions, that it is coordinated through committees and question period in the House. If it is permitted, that question period and committees and the functions of S.O. 31s and so on are able to be manipulated in a systematic way to attack individual members of the House, that is tantamount to relieving them of their privileges of freedom of speech without obstruction and without interference.

I would submit that the nature of that cannot be allowed to go forward and that the members are defenceless on their own. In a spate of systematic attacks, which have taken place not just in my case but on other members, and again I will put in submissions to the Speaker, we cannot individually respond to each one of those attacks. Again, the point I make is that this is the executive expressing itself, not respecting the rights and privileges of members.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for your ruling on that and to understand that in both cases of what was alleged related to my behaviour or comportment, it was the government itself that was on the defensive. It won six fossil awards and in fact was seen to be the colossal fossil, the worst performing nation, and it was those things it tried to prevent coming up in the House. If you do find a prima facie case of privilege, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Points of Order December 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in Nagoya I attended over 22 meetings, including an hour and a half with the president of the World Bank.

In Cancun and Mexico City I had 37 different meetings. I challenge any of the members opposite to publish their schedules and show us what they did.

The point I want to return to is, as a member of Parliament on official Canadian business, I am being misrepresented by the government, which knows better and knows otherwise, in a manner which is deleterious to the privileges of every member of the House. It is using its position in government to smear or deconstruct the respect which should be due to each hon. member of the House.

Points of Order December 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order, which may be a question of privilege. Twice now the government has referred erroneously to me and my conduct as a member of Parliament at an international conference. The minister who was one of those people referencing knows full well that in fact I attended six days of the conference, longer than the minister, longer than any representative of the government, and in fact that I returned only to be at a meeting in my riding on the same subject one day before the conclusion of the conference.

This is a compromise of my position as a member of Parliament to have the government misrepresent in an authoritative fashion what are actually the facts.

I rely on you, Mr. Speaker, to pursue the government to have that record corrected and to not have it repeated in future.

The Environment December 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the minister of bluster over there won all the international booby prizes that could be won in Mexico, from daily fossil awards to colossal fossil for the climate change talks.

In the six days that I was there, everyone from other countries and our own NGOs were asking when the government would stop blocking and start acting to protect Canadians.

Will the minister cancel the $1.4 billion a year in inefficient fossil subsidies now and put those dollars into programs that will help? Will he immediately restore the energy retrofit program that he cancelled so middle and low income Canadians can stop paying so much for their heating this winter? Will he do that?

The Environment December 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Canadians were shocked by how this government embarrassed them in Cancun. The only thing this government did was obstruct and sabotage international efforts.

Will the government cancel the $1.4 billion in useless, ineffective subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and put that money into clean energy?

Will it fully support all efforts to fight global warming, yes or no?