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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was things.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for London North Centre (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Darfur October 17th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, for the people of Darfur, time is running out.

In late August my wife and I adopted two more children from Darfur. Each night I hear their nightmares and I am challenged as a father to know how best to respond.

Right now there are millions of such nightmares taking place in Darfur, and we as a peacekeeping country are being challenged to take action. We can no longer afford our silence. So I ask, when will the Prime Minister break the silence and work with all parties here and create a course of action that every one of us in this House can be proud of?

Foreign Affairs June 8th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned from the media that Dr. Munir El-Kassem, a well respected professor of dentistry and community leader in London, Ontario, was detained, fingerprinted and subjected to four hours of indignities at the border. He was asked if he personally knew Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and if he loved God or Allah.

When will these indignities end? I have known this good man for years. He is beyond reproach in our community and deserves better.

Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs seek an apology from the U.S. administration, undertake an investigation of this incident, and discover why news of this indignity took a month to see the light of day?

Africa June 4th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the response from the minister, but in 2006 the Prime Minister promised that $250 million would go to AIDS funding in that same year. However, a mere $50 million was planned for in the estimates and none of the promised $45 million toward polio was in the government's estimates.

We do not want to mislead our African partners or our G-8 partners by making announcements that we are not going to act upon. When can we expect to see these commitments fulfilled?

Africa June 4th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, aid to Africa will be on the table this week at the G-8 meetings and we want to ensure that our commitments to that continent are fulfilled.

Last year the Prime Minister made some good commitments at the G-8 toward Africa, but as of today many of those commitments have not yet been fulfilled. When we asked about that in the House last week, we could not get a direct answer.

Canadians across this country have been emailing our offices wanting to make sure that our commitments to Africa are fulfilled. When will their legitimate concerns be addressed?

Business of Supply May 16th, 2007

Mr. Chair, for Canada's own foreign aid and development policy, women's advocacy is one of the key things that we tried to fund in the various things that we do. I know that we have done that in Africa in the past.

I am trying to figure out how we square that circle between being able to do that as part of our foreign policy, but yet in our domestic policy in Canada, we have taken out that ability to advocate.

How can the minister balance those two things? Why do we say one thing to the world and we practise another thing here?

Business of Supply May 16th, 2007

Mr. Chair, in the charitable work I have done over the years many people have expressed some grievance at the fact that the word “equality” has been taken out from the Status of Women. I wonder, if the minister were meeting with those women, as I have done, what she would say to them on that subject.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2007

Mr. Chair, I will be splitting my time with the members for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte and Vancouver Centre, who will be asking questions for five minutes each.

Dwight Wilson May 10th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honour and humility to pay tribute to a World War I veteran, Dwight Wilson, who passed away yesterday at the age of 106.

Mr. Wilson personified the spirit and courage of all Canadians when he volunteered for our armed forces in 1916. Being a minor, Mr. Wilson was twice discharged from active duty but his determination is representative of all the young men who fought for Canada in the Great War.

As our country sadly loses our last veterans of World War I, it becomes vital that we not let the memory of their ultimate sacrifice be forgotten and that we honour the hundreds of thousands of brave Canadians and Newfoundlanders who fought in World War I.

On behalf of all parliamentarians in this room, I wish to pay our respects to Dwight Wilson and express our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones.

We shall never forget.

Petitions February 27th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present another petition, one of several that my office has received, dealing with the issue of Bill C-316. The petitioners call upon Parliament to reinstate funding to the literacy program cut by the Conservative government.

I present the first of several petitions, which are from London. The petitioners note the importance of literacy for socio-economic development and the impact it has on our society. They recognize the need for Canada to help the 38% of Canadians who have trouble reading and writing.

I stand with the citizens of London in calling for the reinstatement of literacy funding and to undertake a national literacy strategy to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to achieve this vital skill.

Human Trafficking February 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, this is my first speech in the House as a new member of Parliament and I cannot think of one that would perhaps motive me more.

I have listened to the various colleagues and I want to thank the member opposite for moving this initiative forward, but I would like to speak personally if I may about some of the things that I have experienced on this file.

The reality is that there are 27 million people in slavery today. That is twice the number of people that were brought across the Atlantic during the slave trade that went on in the United States during the civil war. Most are women and children. They work in agriculture, mining, prostitution and, according to some estimates, hundreds, if not thousands, have come across the borders into Canada through human trafficking.

I could ask hon. members for just one minute to consider the plight of what some of these people go through, but I think I would like to speak personally for a minute, if they do not mind.

My wife and I have a daughter from Africa who was actually in slavery. She is now six years old. We got her when she was a year old. She had been through a terrible situation. Her mother had been killed. It was presumed her twin sister and brother had also been killed. She was taken around from pillar to post, to various parts of that country and basically had very little care.

Although the international community was interested in trying to help individuals that were in similar situations, it was not able to really find the means possible to help.

At that time I had come to this House in Ottawa to lobby for efforts and speak on behalf of children like this one. We were slowly getting our heads around the problem and what it was we had to do.

That little child has now been with us for five years. Just a year ago January, when we were in Sudan, we found her twin sister and brother in Darfur. They had somehow survived that attack and no one had known.

I say this only because whole lives, whole families, have been disrupted, ruined and spoiled. We do not even have an idea where most of these people are. We have a responsibility, it seems to me as Canadians, to find that out. Where are they? What is required that needs to be done?

I say that with a sense of personal and moral outrage, but even for myself I should have done more in my younger years to search this out, so I really appreciate what the member opposite has done in putting this forward. It is time that we begin to move on it.

I realize that rapid population growth, transportation and the way people move around the world has made it far easier to move these types of people around, even into our own country. I would remind the House that in other places and continents like Africa, millions of people are being moved around and caught in all of that: refugee status; IDP, internally displaced people; slavery; sexual servitude; chattel slavery; and human trafficking.

There is also government corruption. We have seen this when working with various NGOs, especially ones in Washington where we have done a lot of work. We have seen that a lot of the stuff that is going on is because of corrupt governments in the countries in which it is taking place.

We have a responsibility. We cannot just talk about a responsibility for attack and speak about places like Afghanistan and other places. We have a responsibility to protect these kinds of people in their own countries, people like my daughter and people like her family.

It is not enough for us to know that they now exist. We are now getting that and the messages are coming across. It is now time for us to act. We must act. As my hon. colleague from London—Fanshawe has said, we must act with law and with jurisprudence. We must act with alacrity toward many of the things that we are seeing, but above all, we must act in the spirit of cooperation with other countries.

We do not have to win the moral argument on this. It is over. We have won it. We do not need to win the economic argument. There is no real advantage that comes to anybody in a country, in a nation state, from having slavery. We do not have to have a basic legal argument. It is there. It is there at the UN. It is there at the European Union and it is even in our own laws.

I would like to suggest to everyone here that along with what has been said tonight, there are some practical things that we could also do that would help.

First, we should be out there as a government, all of us together, supporting these courageous people in NGOs who are risking their own lives in many cases to bring these stories back to us and asking us as Parliamentarians to do something about it. If somebody had done that to me earlier, perhaps I would have acted earlier than I did.

The point is that it is now here and we now need to back these NGOs. We need to fund them and we need to bring them here to Ottawa to hear their stories.

Second, we must urge Canadians to do all in their power to not purchase those products that have been made by the slave trade. That is important. It is very important that we become aware of what is going on and, as more and more of this information comes out, we can do something about it. We can attack slavery where it occurs. We can support those governments that are having a problem getting a handle on it.

My wife and I were glad to be part of a ceremony a couple of years ago in which it was announced that, in a certain part of Africa, slavery had been eradicated. After 20 years, it had been eradicated, not because governments had acted but because individual citizens from around the world had used the Internet, took media to these countries and were able to make a difference there.

However, we were all here, governments around the world, speaking in Geneva, in London, England, in Washington and here in Ottawa, trying to get governments to react but they delayed. They took their time trying to figure it out. We do not have any more time for that. Twenty-seven million people is just too big a number.

We can expand Canada's commitment to economic development in those countries in which slave trade or domestic servitude or even things like human trafficking can be eradicated with help by governments that feel a certain inclination to take these things out of their own country.

It is also our duty to work with the experts in the NGO community and to bring them here to our committees to help us. We saw some of that happen this morning at a breakfast in the parliamentary restaurant. We have a responsibility to get them here to educate us. We do not know everything and we need the experience that these people have had.

We need to ask the Canadian government and Canadian businesses not to promote trade with other countries that are clearly dealing in this kind of issue. We need to put some substance to our human rights. I talked about this before but we need to really do it.

This is a personal issue for me and for the member opposite but it is time we did something because it is the people we are talking about.

I have been in this House five or six weeks and I have heard the partisanship. I heard it in the debate tonight. However, there is no time for that. In these other countries, such as in Washington and other places, we have tried to forge coalitions between Democrats and Republicans and even independents to say that this is above all of this stuff, that this is just junk that gets in the way.

It is time for us realize that this motion that has been put forward deserves our best support, not just for people like my daughter but for the 27 million other people out there who are waiting for us to take what we are saying in this House tonight and actually put it into deeds, into justice and into funding to stop these things.

I speak wholeheartedly in support of the member's motion and I encourage all the members of the House to pass it.