House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Surrey North (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Public Safety June 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I still did not get my answers.

The member talked about how we shamelessly voted against those 30 measures. Those measures are not working. The shootings are happening despite the 30-odd bills that the Conservatives brought in. That is why we voted against them.

What is really shameful are the the government's hollow promises to communities that it will provide safety for our communities. It has not done that. That is why parents in my community are afraid to let their children out.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has failed to answer my very simple question, so I will ask him again. Let us see if he answers.

It is on the record. I will come back again next week and ask the same question until the Conservatives provide very clear answers as to when we can expect those 100 RCMP officers and when and how that $3.5 million will be provided to help the gang prevention program.

These are very simple questions. I have not been hearing any answers from the parliamentary secretary. Will he please provide those answers? My community wants those answers.

Public Safety June 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise once again to call on the government to act now to address gang violence in my community.

Last week there was yet another shooting in Surrey. There have been 28 shootings since the beginning of March. Every week brings more shootings and more fear to my city. Parents are concerned about their children. It is simply unacceptable that there are communities in our country where parents are afraid for the safety of their children. The crime problem has reached crisis levels in my city. My community needs immediate help, but the government is stalling and playing politics with this very serious issue.

I have stood up in the House multiple times, and I am scheduled again for a late show next week. I recently demanded that the government take action on this issue. It seems like the Conservatives have to be pushed every step of the way to take any action at all. The mayor and the province have both asked the federal government for 100 more RCMP officers to help fight the escalating violence in Surrey.

The Conservatives had a big announcement with a press conference in Surrey where they finally, after much pressure from the New Democrats, approved the 100 RCMP officers. However, we have yet to see any sort of concrete plan. We have yet to see any action at all. With no description of where the money will come from, no timelines and no tangible steps for implementation, the announcement seems like yet another empty campaign promise. My community needs real answers and I am not getting them from the government.

More officers alone is not enough to fix the crime issue in Surrey, but it is certainly a start. It is going to take all levels of government to work together and make public safety a priority to stop gang-related violence in Surrey. That is why I have introduced a plan in Parliament that calls for long-term, stable funding for youth gang prevention and intervention programs. Youth gang prevention programs across Canada have demonstrated a direct impact on the lives of at-risk youth and reducing gang membership.

The Conservatives talk about being tough on crime. We see on the ground that the resources are not available for our communities to reduce or prevent crime in the first place.

The member across is going to get up and say, “We have introduced 30 new bills and that party didn't support them”. Despite the introduction of those 30 bills and despite us voting against them, because we knew they would not work, the violence is still happening in my community.

My questions are very simple. When, what exact date, will we have the 100 new promised RCMP officers on the ground? When, what exact date, will we receive $3.5 million for Surrey's wraparound gang prevention program? These are very simple questions. These are the questions that people from my constituency, the people from the city of Surrey and parents are asking.

I do not want to hear rhetoric. I have been hearing it for too long. I want some answers for my constituents and for the city of Surrey and I would like straight answers. When are the police going to be there? When is the money going to be delivered and for how many years?

Digital Privacy Act June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North to speak on Bill S-4, an act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act. I rise today because I oppose the bill in its current form.

Members from three parties proposed amendments to the bill so that it would stay within constitutional boundaries. However, the Conservatives rejected every single one of those amendments, even the amendments that were drafted according to the comments and suggestions from the witnesses.

As the official opposition, it is essential that we carefully review the legislation and voice dissenting opinions in order to ensure that each bill is thoroughly examined. In this case, as in most cases that I have experienced in the past four years, it is evident that the Conservatives are determined to push through their own agenda on their own timeline.

I feel strongly that it is important for Canadians to know that their privacy is being protected, especially in the digital age that we live in. However, just because the Conservatives have not conducted the mandatory five-year review of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA, does not mean that we should rush through an unbalanced bill.

I feel very strongly that the bill before us was not well studied and needs to be fixed before it is passed through the House. In fact, the Conservatives did not support or submit any amendments to the bill because they did not think that would allow enough time to pass the bill before the election. This sounds politically expedient to me. Canadians deserve better than what the Conservatives are giving them.

The issues surrounding online privacy and safety are not new problems. Rather, they are existing problems that have become increasingly harder to protect against as technology continues to advance. Therefore, given the changing nature of the problem, it is important that the legislation that we create also evolves.

I am glad that after so many years of inaction, we are finally considering legislation to address online privacy issues. My colleague, the member for Terrebonne—Blainville, tried to take action to protect Canadians' privacy back in 2012 with Bill C-475. Unfortunately, that bill, which was stricter and more effective than the bill before us although very similar to it, was voted down by the Conservatives.

The Conservatives have become very good at pretending they know how to do their jobs and protect Canadians. They are actually able to stand up in this House and lie through their teeth in saying that this is a balanced bill, and they believe that.

Online privacy and security breaches have the potential to significantly harm an individual. Protecting these rights is important for all Canadians so that we do not put anyone potentially in harm's way.

Some Canadians may feel that the bill does not affect them in their daily lives, but I can assure them that Bill S-4 would affect every single Canadian.

One part of the bill that I am very concerned about pertains to the sharing of our personal information. The bill contains a provision that would make it easier for companies to share our information without our knowledge or consent, without a warrant, and with zero oversight. It is troubling to me that there is no mechanism in place for oversight.

Do the Conservatives remember the ruling in Regina v. Spencer? I do. In this decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadians have a reasonable expectation of privacy online. More specifically, the Supreme Court stipulated that spyware data cannot be disclosed to a third party without a warrant.

In light of this decision, it is questionable whether certain provisions in Bill S-4 are even constitutional. There are limits on what the government can do, but the Conservatives seem to have forgotten that.

We are demanding that every clause pertaining to the warrantless disclosure of information be withdrawn out of respect for the Supreme Court ruling and the privacy of Canadians.

There is no doubt that the Conservatives have a dark past when it comes to protecting personal information, and this bill would only add to that darkness. The lack of oversight and the allowance of warrantless disclosure has led to 1.2 million secret requests from Conservative government agencies for personal information from telecommunications companies in one year alone. Under the current Prime Minister, staggering numbers like this show that something needs to change, and it starts with this bill.

The Conservatives' hesitation to accept amendments to this bill makes me question whose interests they are truly protecting. Are they protecting the interests of Canadians, who deserve to trust that their personal information will be protected, or are the Conservatives protecting their own self-serving interests?

We would like to see this bill contain a mandatory data loss or data breach reporting mechanism. However, the bill in its current form would most likely result in fewer breaches being reported. It would be up to the organization that suffered the breach to determine if the breach posed a real and significant risk of harm. Companies want to save their reputation and money, so why would they inconvenience themselves by reporting a potentially embarrassing breach of privacy that could cause consumers to lose trust in them when they could just hide it instead?

There would be no incentive to report a breach and no advantage to doing so. This is a conflict of interest that would deprive Canadians of the information that they need to make informed choices about which companies they decide to share their personal information with.

Furthermore, because of the Conservatives' inaction, PIPEDA, which is supposed to be updated every five years, is falling far behind international standards. Since the first statutory review in 2007, subsequent attempts to amend PIPEDA have died on the order paper. After this long wait to update PIPEDA, the bill would simply not go far enough to protect Canadians in this digital era. We as Canadians are getting the message that the government does not take the protection of personal information seriously.

I, along with my fellow NDP members, truly do not ask for much when it comes to this bill. We have long called for the modernization of Canadian privacy laws. They are not up to date. Instead of making it easy for companies to share our information, the government should put deterrent penalties put in place that would require or encourage these private companies to respect and follow Canadian laws. Following that, we insist that the provisions in Bill S-4 to allow organizations to share personal information without consent or a warrant be removed and that the loopholes in PIPEDA, which do the same thing, be closed.

The point of the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is to protect the very rights and freedoms contained within them. Warrantless access to our subscriber data and personal information most definitely poses a risk to Canadian privacy.

Modernizing the laws that govern the protection of personal protection is an important issue in the digital age. However, ramming through a bill that has huge holes, such as this bill, is not a fix that can make up for years of inaction by the current government. I urge the Conservatives to accept the amendments to this bill so that we can work collaboratively to ensure that all Canadians can trust that their personal information is being protected to the best of the government's ability.

One of the other things that was very troubling was seeing time allocation moved for the 97th time. Time allocation basically puts closure on this bill. It does not allow for all of the members to bring the views of their constituents into the House, which is one of our primary jobs.

This is the 97th time the Conservatives have done it and I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, they are not going to get the chance after October 19, because Canadians are tired. They have seen democracy and the workings of democracy crumble. These guys are going to be out.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will give the member an even bigger picture. I know that 70% of the Canadian population disapproves of the current government. I can assure Canadians that come October they are going to have a government that is for Canadians, for consumers. It will work in the interest of Canadian families, not in the interest of the big banks, which the Conservatives have been doing over the last seven years. If they are sincere about helping Canadian families, let us get this done before we rise for the summer.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will stick to the federal issues. I deal with a credit union, Vancity, and it provides wonderful service.

One thing I will let this House know is that the Liberals and the Conservatives have been hand in glove with the big banks over the last 148 years that we have existed. I can assure members that it is the NDP, the New Democratic Party, that stands with Canadians, that will stand with consumers, to ensure that their pockets are not being picked by the current government, or as it was previously, by the Liberal government.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what power does the little guy have? The power rests within this group here, the NDP, because we will fight on their behalf in this House. The gouging that is taking place has gone on for long enough. We have had that third party in the corner there, and we have had the Conservatives ganging up on Canadian consumers for far too long. It is time to stop. It is time to stop this pay-to-pay that has been going on. It is time to stop paying the big fees that they charge consumers to even take out their own money.

Come October 2015, I can assure members that we will be standing up for Canadian families, and Canadians will recognize that. The Conservatives and the Liberals will be sent packing outside of this House.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to speak in the House on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North. Today, we are talking about pay-to-pay fees. The motion states in part:

—the government should ban all pay-to-pay practices by banks operating in Canada, through the enactment of a mandatory financial code of conduct to protect consumers.

To explain it in simple terms, pay-to-pay fees are not only charges from the bank to send people their bills, but charges for people to pay their bills. It is a payment on top of a payment.

It sounds ridiculous. We should not be discussing this in the House. The Conservatives should have banned this practice a long time ago. They have been in government for nine years. Before that, we had the guys in the corner. None of those members chose to address this issue over the years. The banks have been gouging Canadians, trying to take their hard-earned money just to receive a bank statement.

Under the Conservatives, Canadians are paying millions of dollars to their friends, the big banks. Estimates from research show how big an issue this is. It is $180 million of the hard-earned money of Canadians that the friends of the Conservatives, the big banks, have pickpocketed from the very people who need the money to make ends meet.

Instead of cracking down on these excessive fees, the Conservatives have refused to take action over the last nine years, siding with their friends, the big banks. It is the New Democrats who are standing up for Canadians. We are fighting on behalf of Canadians to ensure they are not being gouged and that their pockets are not being picked by the banks, with the help of the Conservatives.

In 2011, Canadians started noticing this extra billing. The banks were starting to charge Canadians for getting their bills through the mail, and it was not only the banks that were doing it. Utility companies, telephone companies, Internet and cable companies were also doing it. All of these companies started to jump on the bandwagon, looking at it as another way to gouge Canadians, waiting to see if anybody noticed. The Conservatives did not notice it at all. In fact, they were helping the big companies that were gouging Canadians. It was the NDP that raised this issue first, back in 2012. We have been trying to get the Conservatives to come on board and help protect Canadians. They have not been paying attention to any of that, so it is good to see them supporting this motion.

My question for the Conservatives is whether they will have this amendment in the budget implementation bill, or will they want a unanimous motion in the House so we can get this done before the House rises for the summer? We are willing to work with the Conservatives and the third party to ensure that we put a stop to this gouging and picking of the pockets of Canadians. We can do this right now. We can do it today.

However, I doubt the sincerity of the Conservatives' pledge, because they have not done it for the last nine years. Is this another gimmick before the election? I hope not. I hope the Conservatives are sincere and get this done before we break for the summer.

The Conservatives did include an item in the budget implementation act and the throne speech because of the pressure we have applied over the last three years. We have talked to consumers and to families about the very fees that have been extracted from them.

Because of pressure from the NDP, the Conservatives backed off and eliminated pay-to-pay fees for the telephone, cable, gas and utility companies. Why not the banks? Is this because the banks have a very special relationship with the Conservatives? The five big banks made $16 billion in the last two fiscal quarters. The Conservatives say that they will put money back into the pockets of Canadians. Here they are helping to steal money from the pockets of Canadians to give to their friends. This is their record. Are they really interested in being on the side of families? My colleagues and I in the New Democratic Party are on the side of Canadian families, of seniors, and of people who are making ends meet. The current Conservative government is not on the side of the average or middle-class families. In fact, it is helping to pick the pockets of those very families it pretends to be helping out.

I have often talked about this. I owned a small business myself. I know that small business is the economic engine of this country and generates the majority of the jobs being generated in the Canadian economy. When it comes to protecting and fostering small businesses and helping them create new jobs, the Conservatives lack any sort of motivation to help the very people who are creating these jobs.

The Conservatives borrowed one of our ideas. The NDP said we would cut the small business tax by 2 percentage points and would do it sooner. The Conservatives borrowed that idea, which is fine. However, they will back end it so that it will start a few years later than what we had proposed. This was our idea to ensure that consumers are protected. Now the Conservatives are getting on board, but I feel uncomfortable as to how sincere they are in bringing about this change.

Small businesses the economic engines of this country. Having been a business owner I know first-hand about the very merchant fees being charged or how small businesses are being gouged by the credit card companies and the big banks. I am not talking about small charge here, I am talking about 3%, 4% to 6%. That is a lot of money. That sometimes is the difference between making a profit or not making a profit. I know that because I experienced it first-hand when I watched thousands of dollars being racked up by the credit card companies under the guise of merchant and other fees. That sometimes was the difference between whether we made money one month or the next month.

If we look at the other fees that the banks are charging, they are anywhere from a couple of dollars to $3.00 or $4.00 when we try to withdraw our own money. This is not someone else's money but our own money. We have been asking and pressuring the current government to ensure that Canadians get reasonable service. We know the banks have to make a profit and that they have to deliver. However, gouging is something that we on this side of the House will not tolerate.

I can assure members that come October 2015, Canadians will be looking for a leadership that protects their interests and are looking to the NDP. The Conservatives will not be here come October because they have failed to protect Canadians and have failed to protect the very pockets of the families they are helping to pick out of to give to their friends.

With that, I am ready for any questions from the Conservative side.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened to that speech very carefully. The member talks about the NDP and the Liberals raising taxes. The only tax I see in this is in the guise of fees on consumers.

The Conservatives are helping their banking friends to pick the pockets of Canadians. Instead of putting money back in their pockets, they are actually helping the corporations to pick the pockets of Canadians to the tune of $180 million. They have had nine years to bring in legislation to help protect Canadians and help Canadians keep their money where it should be, yet now they are saying that they will be looking into this.

My question is simple. Will the Conservatives do that before the House rises in a couple of weeks?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech very carefully the last number of minutes. When it comes to facts, that is not something the Conservatives really want to discuss.

The member talked about how the Conservatives wanted to put money back into the pockets of Canadians. In this case, they are taking money out of the pockets of Canadians and giving it to their friends, the big banks. That is a lot of money, $180 million a year, that they are taking from Canadians, giving it to their friends and helping them steal from Canadians.

What would an NDP government do after October 19?

Public Safety June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last week there was another shooting in Surrey. That is 28 shootings in just over two months. Every week brings more shootings and more fear in our community. People should not have to live in fear. Immediate action is needed, but the Conservatives are stalling and refusing to commit to a timeline for the arrival of new RCMP officers in Surrey.

Will the minister please provide a clear timeline today for the deployment of new officers in my community?