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

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, absolutely there is a role that Canada can play. As one of my constituents said to me today, we have traditionally played a role of peacemakers and of humanitarian aid. We can play that role. We can help the very refugees who need our help in Syria. That is a role Canada has traditionally played, and that is how we brought the world together. We were able to resolve and lead in that field.

Unfortunately the Conservatives are meeting their 2013 targets for Syrian refugees in 2015, which is two years late.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

I want to thank the hard-working Minister of National Defence for his question. He has actually been working way too hard over the last number of years.

While the Minister of National Defence was asking a question, I had a chance to tweet and find out what has been happening. I googled his name, and voilà, what comes up? This is what the Minister of National Defence said the other day. He was pressed by one of the journalists at CBC, who asked him whether he has an exit strategy, whether he has a plan to get out of Syria, and whether the land that will be cleared of ISIL will be reclaimed by President Assad. This is what the minister said:

I don't have a crystal ball to tell you exactly how this is going to end but I can tell you that Canada has a responsibility to play a role with 20 other like-minded countries in degrading this organization.

Sometimes it is degrading. Other times it is that we are going to finish them off. Is the minister's exist strategy to tweet his way out of Syria?

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North to speak on the government's Motion No. 17, which seeks to extend Canada's combat mission in Iraq and further extend it into Syria.

I talked to many of my constituents over the last two weeks and I will summarize some of their concerns today.

The issue that we have at hand is deeply concerning and should not be taken lightly. With the motion before us, the government is basically asking the House of Commons, myself as a member of Parliament, and Canadians as a whole to commit to war. The motion, if passed, will require our brave women and men in uniform to risk their lives overseas. A decision like this needs to be carried out with the utmost responsibility and should not by any means have any political motivations.

There is no doubt that the crimes perpetrated by ISIL are appalling and deeply concerning. We are witnessing heinous acts of oppression, kidnapping, rape, ethnic cleansing and cultural targeting.

There also other conflicts around the world. We have ISIL in Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the conflict in Ukraine, civil war in Syria, and there are tensions in the Balkans and other parts of the world with violence happening as we speak.

However, what the Conservatives are asking from us today is to risk the lives of our soldiers for a mission that is not defined. It is not part of an international response, and clearly has not been taken into consideration with the seriousness and responsibility that it deserves.

As a representative from Surrey North, as I said, I have talked to many constituents. I cannot, in good conscience, agree to blindly commit the lives of our women and men in uniform to a mission that has no plan and no exit strategy.

How can we support this mission when the Conservatives have misled Canadians about our role in Iraq since day one?

It was not too long ago when the Prime Minister insisted that we were only sending troops for a month, and it was only to advise and assist deployment. On September 30, we all saw the headlines when the leader of the opposition, the member for Outremont, stood in this House and asked the Prime Minister specifically whether Canadian troops would be involved in directing air strikes in Iraq. The Prime Minister denied it. However, the mission has quickly escalated to a potential year-long conflict where Canadian troops have been on the front lines exchanging fire with ISIL. Now the Prime Minister is openly considering a massive expansion of the mission into Syria.

The Syrian President Assad has committed heinous crimes against civilians. Now the Prime Minister wants to treat him as a friend. Assad is not an ally. He is a war criminal who uses chemical weapons against his own people and bombs schools and hospitals. We have seen this on television stations. Canada should not be allying itself with Assad or strengthening his hand in any way. This is why none of our western allies, except the United States, are conducting air strikes in Syria.

Paul Heinbecker, Canada's last ambassador to the UN Security Council, was quoted in The Globe and Mail on March 23. He said:

If out of fear of Islamic State and of a desire to stop them, the Coalition were to ally itself, de facto or de jure, with Bashar al-Assad for fleeting tactical advantage, it would be the ultimate betrayal of the Syrian innocents. And of our own values.

Simply put, our women and men in uniform have no place being in Iraq and they certainly have no place being in Syria. It is very disturbing to see that the Prime Minister is willing to sleepwalk Canadians into a war without accountability.

The Conservatives have been very dishonest about our role in Iraq since day one, but for the Prime Minister to still deny Canadian troops are involved in combat is simply disrespectful to our forces. The Conservatives continue to mislead us about our soldiers being involved in ground combat, and now they want to put our troops in danger.

They have not gained our trust for us to commit to this mission. They have not gained the trust of Canadians because they have not put out all the facts for Canadians to judge. They have not done that for parliamentarians to be able to look at the facts and decide whether this mission should be approved. The Parliamentary Budget Officer is having trouble getting some facts and figures from the government with regard to how much this war is going to cost.

The recent death of Sergeant Doiron reminds us of the risk of deploying troops to the front lines. History has shown us the dramatic horrors that war can bring. Let us not repeat history. The Prime Minister does not seem to be at all concerned about the risks or lack of clear objectives. He seems to want his war in Iraq just as he wanted George W. Bush's war in 2003. However, history showed us that Canada was right in not participating at that time.

We also need to remember Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Just like our current mission in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan started with Canadian Forces participating in a very limited operations. We know what happened in Iraq and in Afghanistan. It was the longest mission, which was 10 years. New Democrats stood in the House and opposed both of those wars. Today, after 10 years, we can see why the NDP made the right decision, because NDP members make their decisions based on principles. We do not base them on fear or political motivations. We stand up for what is right.

There is a lot we can learn from our military intervention in Afghanistan. Only a few days ago, March 5, the Minister of Foreign Affairs actually said in the media, “Being in this for the long term—it’s similar to what we did in Afghanistan, for instance”. That is what the foreign affairs minister said. I would like to point out for the minister that the deployment in Afghanistan is nothing Canadians want to see repeated. It was the longest mission, 10 years, cost billions of dollars, and resulted in 166 soldiers, brave men and women, being killed, more than 1,000 injured, and thousands of others who suffered and are still suffering today from post-traumatic stress disorder.

We ask our soldiers to go overseas. We ask them to fight for our country, to defend our freedoms, to ensure our right to practise religion, to freely speak in the House, and yet when those soldiers come home, we have seen the record of the government over the last number of years on the treatment they have given our soldiers. That is shameful. It is time we invested in various services that our soldiers require when they serve for this country.

The Conservatives do not like to look after our veterans, but when it comes to war, they seem to be more than willing to blindly spend money to ensure that we go into some sort of war with no plan and no exit strategy. We must learn from history so that we do not repeat it. Another example is the Libya situation, and we know what happened there. There is a lawless society there. There is no rule of law. We continue to see the same pattern of the Conservatives following in the footsteps of the United States and sleepwalking into military interventions.

I want to quote Mrs. Jaisri Margaret Lambert. She is a constituent of mine, and she sent me an email that came to my office.

Canadians are peacemakers, not warmongers. This is a critical time to disallow the government to even seek the right to kill and find a way of making it “legal”. Canada is historically wisely governed by a foreign policy of peacekeeping. Let not my taxes be used to bomb. Help! Life and death issue most important. Please make my voice heard in the House of Commons!”

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the public safety minister is in charge of the RCMP. If $10 million is not being spent, does the public safety minister not know that this is happening in his department, especially when this is concerning the safety of our children? Is the public safety minister asleep at the switch when it comes to the safety of our children?

I am glad the member brought that question up. If we are going to protect children and ensure safer communities, we need to ensure that the government and the public safety minister pay more attention to ensuring that we take steps to properly train those people in a timely fashion and provide resources to the community.

Perhaps the member across the aisle would like to ask the public safety minister where he has been and why he has not been paying attention to the $10 million that had not been spent and was clawed back into general revenue?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, certainly, we can do more. We had $10 million earmarked for the RCMP to deal with child exploitation which went unspent. The current government clawed it back to put it into general revenue. If we are really concerned about ensuring safety in our communities and the safety of our children, the least we can do is provide those funds to the various front line service providers that need these resources.

I have spoken with a number of RCMP officers and front line workers who deal with families and children. I can assure the House that there is lack of funding and commitment from the government to ensure that the safety of our children is put first and foremost.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

It is a honour to speak to Bill C-26, which amends a number of acts that deal with sexual offences against children. I would like to speak as a father, as an uncle, and hopefully someday as a grandfather.

I have two children. Any time the subject of child exploitation comes up, I think all parents across Canada would have zero tolerance for any sort of child exploitation that occurs in our society.

The bill is a good step in the right direction; however, a number of amendments and a number of recommendations from expert witnesses and stakeholders introduced at committee provided very good evidence to amend the bill. As usual, the Conservatives failed to entertain any of them.

That said, when I and all my colleagues talk about our children, there is no doubt that whether one is on this side of the aisle or the other side, every single member of the House is dead set against child exploitation. Not only that, in the last number of years the House has brought in a number of initiatives that have tightened the laws regarding child sexual exploitation, and we were happy to support those initiatives.

Members will remember Bill C-10, an omnibus crime bill introduced by the Conservatives. We actually wanted to fast-track the sections that dealt with child exploitation. One side of the story is to bring in legislation to ensure that our children are safe, and as parliamentarians we should be doing that. I am very proud of the record of the NDP, the official opposition, in supporting initiatives that enhance the safety of our children.

It is one thing to be tough on crime, but we cannot be soft on community safety. That is the record of the Conservative government. The Conservatives have been soft on community safety. If we really want protection, laws alone will not provide it. We need to provide additional resources. Money must be invested into communities to ensure that service providers, other stakeholders, and law enforcement agencies have the tools and resources to ensure that our children are safe from predators. Earlier the member talked about the money that was unspent, and I will talk about that in a second.

I want to quote Steve Sullivan at the committee. He is the former federal ombudsman for victims of crime and he would certainly know something about resources in the community. He wrote:

...the federal government recently announced it was cutting the measly $650,000 in funding Corrections Canada provides. [The Circle of Support and Accountability program] also receives funding from the National Crime Prevention Centre; that's also set to end this fall. In total, the program costs $2.2 million a year.

He went on:

Like most community-based victim services, [Circles of Support and Accountability] is a fairly cheap program. It has 700 volunteers across the country; they meet with offenders after their release, help them find jobs and places to live, meet with them regularly for coffee. They support offenders as they settle into normal lives, ones that don't involve new victims. They hold them accountable.

This program has shown success. Here are some of the statistics that have come out. Circles of support and accountability numbers are impressive. One study found a 70% reduction in sexual offences recidivism for those who participated in circles of support and accountability compared to those who did not. Another study found an 83% reduction in child sexual offences recidivism.

This is the record of the government. If we are really concerned about ensuring safety for our children and safety in our community, why is the government cutting the very programs that have shown success in communities? They provided 700 volunteers. These are Canadian parents that are willing to volunteer their services to ensure that our communities remain safe, yet the government pulled the rug out from underneath this very successful program. We can create all the laws we want. We can say we are tough on crime, but it does not work if we are soft on community safety. That is the record of the government.

We had a couple of cases in Surrey, British Columbia. There was a young lady murdered by a sex offender who was known to the RCMP and who was on the list of those likely to reoffend. My heart goes out to the family. My heart goes out to the parents. What we did as a society, as a government, was let this happen in our community. Where was the support? How are we monitoring these people when they are released into the community?

If we know these people are likely to reoffend, why are they being dropped into the community without some sort of support, whether we provide resources to the RCMP or to the very front line workers who provide these services to monitor these individuals? We had programs in place where the recidivism rates for sexual offences were reduced by 83%, yet the government is cutting these very programs.

In fact, the mayor of the city of Surrey has called for more resources to ensure that once offenders are released, if they are released, that we have proper resources to ensure monitoring and ensuring there is support in place to ensure the safety of our children.

I often talk about this. Facts and research are not something Conservatives believe in because we know where they get their facts from. We have seen them pick their facts from Kijiji rather than relying on science or what works in the community. What works in the community are programs like circles of accountability and support.

I want to talk about the changes. I do not understand this as a parent. I do not understand as a member of Parliament. The government wants to enact a high-risk child sex offender database to establish a publicly accessible database that contains information that a police service or other public authority has previously made accessible to the public with respect to persons who are found guilty of sexual offences against children and who pose a high risk of committing crimes of a sexual nature.

If the offenders pose a high-risk of repeating crimes of a sexual nature, why are they being released into the community in the first place? That is how idiotic the government is.

If we are really concerned about ensuring the safety of our children, we need to provide resources. Bill C-26 does not provide any resources to ensure the safety of our communities.

Citizenship and Immigration March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the government cannot continue to ignore the Komagata Maru tragedy. The Prime Minister has refused to agree to our demand for an apology in the House. It is a shameful moment in Canadian history that must be honoured with a formal apology from the Canadian government.

Today the Punjab assembly passed a resolution seeking an apology from Canada. It is clear that until there is an apology this wound cannot be healed.

The Prime Minister sidestepped this question earlier today. Here is another opportunity for him. Will the government finally apologize for the Komagata Maru tragedy?

Petitions March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I join other members of the House in presenting a petition on cuts to our postal service that have been taking place all across Canada.

Petitioners are calling on the government to reverse its decision to eliminate home delivery for millions of urban customers and slashing rural hours, which would unfairly impact seniors and people with disabilities.

My constituents from Surrey North would also like to voice their concerns in regard to the postal cuts that have been happening across the country.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member is talking about numbers. He is talking about giving $3,400 to families. That is great, but what he is not telling Canadians is that the Conservatives have so many fees. They have reduced transfer payments for our health care. Not only that, and I talked about this in my speech, they have left Canadians with $176 billion in debt. How much is that per family? That turns into tens of thousands of dollars. This is their economic record.

To sum it up, in the last 100 years, Conservatives have balanced one budget. This is their record. Since the year the Titanic sank, the Conservatives have balanced one budget. That is their record.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the very hard-working member for Victoria.

The member is absolutely right. The unemployment rate for youth is particularly high, yet we have seen nothing in the last three or four budgets from the current government that would stimulate the economy to help employ young people who are graduating from our universities and colleges.

I know for a fact, from a number of students I have been in touch with over the last few months in my constituency, and in fact from my own nephew, who is in the process of graduating, that the job prospects for youth are not very good right now. Yet the government has failed to take any concrete steps to help the bright future of our country.

I urge the government to include concrete steps in the next budget to ensure that there is something for our young people.