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

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech very carefully. He talked about the Liberal Party being consistent in a number of areas. I can say that the only thing it has been consistent about is inconsistency.

The member went on a rant about the CETA agreement. It was the Liberal leader who stood in the House, without even reading any detailed text of the official CETA agreement, and clapped and supported the Conservatives on this deal without seeing any details of it.

My question for the hon. member for Winnipeg North is this. The Liberals always talk about how consistent they are. They have been advocating a child care program for the last umpteen years. Will they support a child care program, when the NDP forms government in 2015?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would agree with that quote. In fact, this is a wrongheaded approach. In the last federal election, we said that the only way to generate jobs is by supporting local small businesses, and that is what we will do. That is what generates jobs in this economy. The Conservatives have failed to do that.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would have to agree with the member for Winnipeg North that the government talks about infrastructure and does not deliver. It has not delivered. Equally, the Liberals also talk about infrastructure funding but actually never deliver.

I have talked to many members in my community in the city of Surrey, to councillors in the city of Vancouver, and to the FCM. Across this country, there is a lack of funding for cities to improve infrastructure, whether it is building roads, improving transit, or other needs that are being downloaded to the municipalities. I can assure everyone that New Democrats will deliver in 2015 for cities and provinces across this country.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was a small businessman before I became a member of Parliament, and I know the very issues that concern small businesses. It looks like the Conservatives never get outside the Ottawa bubble. This demonstrates their Ottawa bubble.

I will tell members what small businesses want. They want the Visa and MasterCard fees to be lowered. They are being gouged by those corporations. They want bank fees lowered for Interac and all of that. They want small business taxes reduced, and that is what New Democrats will bring to Ottawa in 2015 when we form the government.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North. Today I will speak to Bill C-43, the budget implementation act.

Given the track record of the Conservatives, it is no surprise to me that they again have moved time allocation on this bill. I am lucky enough to get a chance to speak on behalf of my constituents, however, I know many members from the NDP and Liberal side, and maybe the Conservative side, will not get the opportunity to represent their constituents.

There is no possible way that a 460-page bill, which contains more than 400 clauses, could be adequately studied, analyzed and debated under this type of time restriction. Is that a surprise? Well, I am not surprised at all. Under the government, omnibus bills that amend dozens of acts at a time and pushed through the House under time allocation are unfortunately becoming the norm. It is unfortunate that the government insists on following this anti-democratic process time and time again. However, after three and a half years, I have recognized that the Conservative government is not planning on changing its ways any time soon.

There is a laundry list of things in the bill before us. It talks about temporary foreign workers, pay-to-pay fees, airports, the Canadian Polar Commission and the EI job credit. The Conservatives are also beating up on refugees in the bill.

However, I want to talk about what is important to my constituents. When I go back to Surrey, I like talking to people and finding out what their issues are, but none of those issues have been addressed in the bill.

I often say when we are on the Hill, that Ottawa is like a little bubble. We need to get outside of the Hill and hear what Canadians want. However, I get the feeling that the Conservatives are still living in that bubble, because what Canadians are saying is not being addressed in the House by the government.

I come from Surrey North, which is a dynamic, vibrant and fast-growing city in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. I am extremely proud to represent a portion of such a diverse and interesting city. However, Surrey is facing many pressures and challenges that require action and assistance from the federal government to solve.

Surrey's challenges range from a lack of affordable housing, aging infrastructure, inadequate public transit and serious issues around crime and poverty. Federal funding and support is sorely needed to make inroads to address these challenges in my city.

I continue to hear from my constituents on the problem of public transit in Surrey, and I have to agree. Surrey is the second largest city in British Columbia, soon to be the largest city in the upcoming years. It is growing at a rate of about 12,000 to 13,000 new residents annually. As one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, and the fastest-growing city in metropolitan Vancouver, there is a clear need for infrastructure funding to support this growth. Public transportation is increasingly a problem for a such a fast-growing city. Although the population of Surrey continues to grow at an astounding rate, public transportation has not kept pace.

The SkyTrain is Surrey's most efficient public transit connection to other cities in the Lower Mainland, such as New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver. However, SkyTrain service in Surrey has not been expanded since 1994 when three new stations were put in—all in my riding—but nothing has been done since then.

Twenty years later, the face of Surrey has changed dramatically, and it is well past the time that the federal government commit to funding critical infrastructure, such as the expansion of public transit in Surrey. Residents in my community of Surrey North will tell members that the public transit system in Surrey is inadequate, and I hear that quite often. There are long wait times and convoluted routes to get from one point in the city to another.

The city of Surrey is currently working to secure funding for a light rail transit network that will connect different town centres in the city as well as connect Surrey to cities in our area, such as Langley. This is an important step forward for our city and a very important investment that is critical to ensuring Surrey remains a livable and connected city.

It disappoints me greatly to see that the budget does not allocate funding to important projects that are critical to continued growth and development of major cities, such as Surrey. Other cities across the country are facing similar pressures with regard to public transit. We hear from the FCM on a regular basis about the lack of funding for transit infrastructure development for the cities across this nation.

Just last week, my colleague, the member for Parkdale—High Park, pointed out the issues that Toronto had experienced with the transit system not keeping pace with the population growth. This is not an isolated issue. Investment in infrastructure is necessary to ensure that our cities continue to be some of the best and most livable in the world.

In terms of infrastructure, public transit is not the only issue facing my community of Surrey North. As I have mentioned many times in the House, the aging Pattullo Bridge is a major concern to my constituents. I have been very vocal in requesting that the federal government step in and play a role in regional infrastructure planning and development. The 76-year-old Pattullo Bridge, which was built for a 50-year lifespan, now poses a significant safety concern.

The Golden Ears Bridge and the Port Mann Bridge, which both feed either directly or indirectly into Surrey North, are the only toll bridges in western Canada and the only toll bridges coming into my riding.

Many Surrey residents continue to commute across the Fraser River to go to work. The future of the Pattullo Bridge will have a significant impact on the residents of Surrey, especially on the residents of Surrey North, as it is the last non-toll bridge that feeds directly into our city.

I have been anxiously waiting for the federal government to commit to participating in infrastructure planning and development in the south Fraser River region. However, this budget proves that this is not a priority for the government.

Municipalities receive only 8% of the tax revenue, but are responsible for 60% of the development. This equation does not add up, and it is clear that the federal government has a responsibility to allocate funding to regional development and infrastructure in a reasonable manner that creates sustainable and livable cities.

This is not being done right now. It is not being addressed in this budget at all.

Finally, I hear concerns about crime in my community very frequently. Residents are concerned about the impact that crime is having on our community and what is being done to reduce the amount of crime.

Frankly, the tough-on-crime government has done nothing to help people in Surrey North. Instead, we have seen funding for policing downloaded to municipalities. Practical and cost-effective solutions such as prevention programs are not being utilized to reduce crime. For example, research shows that community-based programs focused on gang intervention, after-school mentoring and after-school recreation are promising at preventing crime.

Programs like this are practical, cost-effective and contribute to community building, as well as to the goal of reducing crime. My motion on youth gang prevention takes a similar approach by calling on the government to provide stable, long-term funding for youth gang crime prevention and intervention programs.

However, once again, I see no funding allocated to these types of common sense prevention programs that could help reduce the amount of crime in riding of Surrey North and communities across the country.

This approach of the Conservative government is very problematic. I am not surprised in the least that the budget is out of touch with the needs of everyday Canadians. This budget is an opportunity to truly address the needs of Canadians, however, the government has again failed Canadians.

I want to take this opportunity to wish all Canadians right across our country a very merry Christmas and a happy new year, and be safe.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I do not think Conservatives ever get outside of the Ottawa bubble.

As a budget bill, one would think there would be something in there that Canadians would want to have implemented or addressed in the House. Members of my community of Surrey North certainly want to see jobs for them addressed. They certainly want to see health care addressed. They certainly want child care programs in their local communities addressed.

That is what I am hearing, but there is nothing in this budget implementation bill addressing those issues. What does the member hear from her constituents and is it included in this bill?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, protecting civil liberties and public safety are both Canadian core values. We can do both. They are not either-or propositions. I think we can do both at the same time. I know the Conservatives have trouble doing that.

As parliamentarians, people send us to this House in Ottawa to scrutinize the bills being passed by the government. We had an opportunity to listen to the witnesses. We could have brought in more witnesses, but this bill was actually rammed through the committee in only four hours. Two of those hours were for the ministerial staff. There was no opportunity to properly look at the bill and some of the implications of the changes being offered by the government.

Time after time we have seen time allocation in this House and legislation being rammed through at the committee stage. That is not what Canadians expect from us. They expect much better.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt.

The Conservatives rammed this bill through the committee. It would have been nice to hear the Privacy Commissioner. He stated his position. He basically said that any new tools should be accompanied by a beefed-up role for the watchdogs who keep an eye on these spy and police agencies.

I do not think the Conservatives wanted to hear this in committee. The commissioner has been very clear, as have a number of inquiries looking into some of the lapses over the years. Unfortunately, Conservatives do not want to hear these kinds of issues about civil liberties and protecting Canadians' rights.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, here are the facts, which the Conservatives actually do not like.

This is providing resources to our security agency. What have the Conservatives done? They have actually cut the funding for these organizations that provide for the security and safety of Canadians. This is what the Conservatives have done. I know these are facts. This is taken from the ministry of Public Safety. The Conservatives have been cutting funding for our public safety programs for three years now, for a total of $687.9 million by 2015. There are ongoing cuts. For CSIS, it is $24 million by 2015.

How is the government planning to protect Canadians and provide resources to these agencies if it is cutting their funds?

I thank the member for his question.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I know they are chirping because they do not want to hear the truth. They do not want to hear the facts.

People in my constituency expect me to bring their views to the House. Those members can talk as much as they want, but they are not going to stop this member from speaking for his constituents.

What are some of the things we need? I feel strongly about the need for strong civilian oversight. It is critical that enhanced civilian oversight accompany any new powers that we give CSIS. The Security Intelligence Review Committee, SIRC, does not have the powers necessary to properly oversee CSIS, and the Conservatives used an omnibus bill in 2012 to eliminate the position of inspector general at CSIS.

Let me give the House a bit of history as to where we are and where we need to go.

Bill C-44 proposes to modernize CSIS and provide additional powers to the organization. However, there are no proposed improvements to the oversight that is desperately needed in the modernization of the service. Recommendations were made in 2006 by the Maher Arar commission of inquiry calling for new accountability measures for Canada's intelligence agency. Eight years later those recommendations have yet to be put in place by the government.

The Conservatives talk about protecting public safety and civil liberties, but when it comes time to deliver on some of these public safety issues, such as civil liberties for Canadians, time after time the Conservatives have failed to deliver. This was another opportunity to bring in more transparency, accountabilit,y and oversight of our intelligence community but again the Conservatives have failed.

The privacy and information commissioners of Canada at their annual meeting asked the government to ensure that effective oversight be included in any legislation that would establish additional powers for intelligence and law enforcement. I am not making this up. I will quote the privacy and information commissioners of Canada: “We acknowledge that security is essential to maintaining our democratic rights...”. All of us in the House would agree with that and I would say that 99% of Canadians would agree with that as well. But, they continued, “At the same time, the response to such events must be measured and proportionate, and crafted so as to preserve our democratic values.” That is where the government has failed.

Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner, also said that it was understandable that the government would want to consider boosting the powers of law enforcement and national security agencies to address potential gaps, but that any new tools should be accompanied by a beefed-up role for the watchdogs who keep an eye on spies and police.

To me, it is not either/or. To me, it is pretty clear if additional powers are to be granted to our spy agency.

Six years ago we heard calls for proper oversight but that is not proposed in this legislation. Here, I could go on and on about this legislation, about the lack of oversight, the lack of commitment by the Conservatives to ensuring the protection of Canadians and civil liberties.

I will be voting against this particular legislation. The Conservatives had an opportunity to make improvements, but have failed again.