House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was families.

Last in Parliament August 2011, as NDP MP for Toronto—Danforth (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 61% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Conservative Government June 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in the election Canadians clearly voted for change and they clearly wanted members of Parliament to work together. That emotion and sentiment was very strong. They wanted a focus on their families and the issues that were affecting them each and every day.

New Democrats have committed to work respectfully, to end heckling and to give this place the decorum that it deserves. Will the government commit today to do the same?

Conservative Government June 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating the Prime Minister, the government and all members who were elected. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind the Conservatives that 60% of Canadian voters did not vote for them. After the recent campaign, the Prime Minister said he felt an obligation to work with all members of the House. I agree with him on that, but the Conservatives' tone did not change at all in the throne speech.

Where is the government's desire to work with others?

Speech from the Throne June 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour as leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, and seconded by the member for Sherbrooke, I move:

That the debate be now adjourned.

(On motion of Mr. Jack Layton the debate was adjourned)

Election of Speaker June 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, a bit of history was made today in that it is the first time that a Speaker of the House has been wrestled up the aisle to that chair by a New Democrat. These special moments need to be noted for the record in Hansard. New Democrats extend sincere congratulations to you on your election today.

I also want to commend all members who took the opportunity to present themselves as speaker of this place and for the words they shared with all of us. If we could put them all together and follow the spirit that was laid out, Canadians would be very proud of what we have been able to accomplish. Let us set that as an objective.

Mr. Speaker, it is also important to reference the contribution over 10 years of your predecessor, someone who I know, as you earlier reminded me, had taught you so much. We want to take this moment to acknowledge the Speaker of the House for the last 10 years, the former member for Kingston and the Islands.

If your predecessor were here, I do not think that he would hesitate to tell you that his robe—which you are not wearing now, but will be wearing tomorrow—was not always easy to wear, especially in recent years. I have seen high school teachers leave the public gallery, clearly embarrassed by the behaviour of the elected officials their students were here to observe. That must change.

I have seen accomplished women from all of the parties face intimidation simply because they were women. Some of them have even told me that they now hesitate to rise in the House. That must change and we can do it. I want to tell all members of Parliament that we can do things differently in this 41st Parliament.

We will disagree passionately at times but passionate debate is essential in this place. We may disagree but we must show each other respect at all times because Canadians elected each and every one of us here. When we do not show respect for each other as individuals, then we are not showing respect for the Canadians who sent us here.

I believe that together we can restore civility to this place and that we can choose to focus on the values we share and the work we have to do.

I am here to make a commitment before all members today that we will change. We are committed to doing our best to fix what is wrong in Ottawa and, to start, we have agreed that there will be no heckling from the 103 members of our caucus in this House of Commons and we will do our very best to ensure that is the case.

With that commitment, Mr. Speaker, and on behalf of the official opposition, congratulations once again on your election and best wishes in what lies ahead.

We are prepared to make the House of Commons an institution of which Canadians can be proud.

The Budget March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, when we persuaded the Conservatives to put $1 billion forward to help the unemployed, we voted for it. They accepted our good and practical proposal.

I will match the Conservative stubbornness to not work with other people with a relentless focus on helping Canadian families, day in and day out.

The Conservative government does not have to go down like Joe Clark or Paul Martin. The Conservatives could change their ways and they could change their budget. However, they are just plain stubborn. If they are serious, we are ready to work.

Why are the Conservatives intent on provoking an election?

The Budget March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives actually had an opportunity this week to help Canadian families by listening to practical, affordable New Democrat proposals: to take the federal tax off home heating, because constituents do not like it and it is making life hard for them; to lift Canadian seniors out of poverty, all of them; to ensure Canadians can retire with some dignity and security by doing something significant about the Canada pension plan; and to take immediate action to help the millions of Canadians who do not have a family doctor.

Those things could have been done. Why not help Canadians instead of provoking an election?

The Budget March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's stubbornness is remarkable. He has been sulking in his office for three days. Why? If he truly wanted to avoid an election, he could have shown some initiative and some flexibility. He could have picked up the phone and called the others to try to find some common ground. But no. The truth is that the Prime Minister would rather have an election than—

The Budget March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I feel a draft coming from the other side.

New Democrats understand that getting results for people is job one and that is why more and more people are putting their trust in the NDP.

Let us recall that even Paul Martin, the Liberals' corporate tax cutter in chief, also with scandals hanging over his head, was willing to work with others. New Democrats negotiated a budget amendment for $4.6 billion for Canadians' priorities like transit, housing, and education.

It can be done, but the Conservatives refuse to do it. Why are they refusing to amend their budget?

The Budget March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is always prepared to work with the other parties to get results, and the Prime Minister knows that. I worked with him when we were both in opposition. We signed a number of letters together. Since he became Prime Minister, it has been more difficult, but we managed to get $1 billion for the unemployed over a year ago, as well as apologies for the residential schools. We have proven that we are able to work together.

Why does the Prime Minister now refuse to work with others?

The Budget March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the New Democrats put forward affordable, practical, reasonable solutions to take the pressure off family budgets, practical solutions that would have given middle-class families a break as they still struggle to come out of this recession, such as strengthening the CPP, taking the federal tax off home heating and taking action to actually hire more doctors and nurses.

Why has the Prime Minister refused to show some leadership by working together? Why is he rejecting getting results and instead choosing to provoke an election?