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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was manitoba.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as NDP MP for Elmwood—Transcona (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply April 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I think that the minister and the government basically are covering their tracks for their failure over the last few years to publicize or make more available the NEXUS cards and the pass cards that would make it easier for people to cross the border.

I would like to know what the member thinks will happen come June 1 when people will be rushing to get passports in such a short order. Does he think that the government should have been on this file earlier? Perhaps it should reduce the cost of a passport, or provide free passports for a 90 day period to get us through this problem, which has partly been created by the government's own inaction.

Business of Supply April 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, recognizing that the government has dropped the ball and failed to promote NEXUS or cheaper passports, I would like to ask the member what he thinks the government should be doing in the short run to make up for past failures and to get more passports into the hands of people who need them at a much lower cost than currently is available?

Business of Supply April 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the government has failed miserably to promote the NEXUS program, an enhanced driver's licence which would speed traffic across the border. The government has failed to promote cheaper passports which would help alleviate the problem. I would like to ask the member from Windsor what he thinks the economic consequences will be as of June 1 because of the government's inaction over the last couple of years?

Business of Supply April 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, in just over a month, Canadians will be required to produce a passport or an enhanced driver's licence when they cross the border. The government has seriously dropped the ball on this whole file.

A year ago, when the Manitoba government was exploring enhanced driver's licences, it approached the passport department here in Ottawa to get it to issue a, more or less, passport light solution so the government would not need to duplicate services that should be provided by the passport office. Manitoba received no positive response out of the passport office or out of the federal government at the time.

The result is that Manitoba and British Columbia are developing their own enhanced driver's licence solution that will cost people $30 for a card that will only get them across the border. A passport is the most sensible thing to have because it gives five years of protection and an individual can go anywhere in the world for a little over double the price of $85.

We suggest that the passport office should be issuing passports at a much lower cost. As a matter of fact, passports for certain people, say those under 18 years of age, should be free. The government should be subsidizing the process by maybe cutting the price of a passport in half.

We will have a huge mess at the border in only a couple of months. I hold the government responsible for what should have been done a year ago.

Business of Supply April 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I first want to congratulate the member for his resolution. I agree with him that it is very frustrating to deal with the Americans on these issues. They are referring to the case of Ahmed Ressam, which is now 10 years old. They in fact caught him when he tried to bring explosives across the B.C. border. I believe his intention was to try to blow up the airport in Los Angeles.

I have been dealing with this issue through the Midwestern Legislative Conference for a few years. We have to keep vigilant and keep pushing the point that in fact the answer is not to thicken the border. Certainly, legislators in the midwestern United States know that there are wide open expanses of area where people like Ahmed Ressam could cross the border. We cannot possibly be policing every square inch of the border.

I want to deal with the issue of the passport office. The B.C. and Manitoba provincial governments are bringing in enhanced driver's licences when in fact the passport office under the present government should have been doing something for the last couple of years to get ready for the problem we are going to have in July.

In Manitoba very few people are actually taking up the government on enhanced driver's licences because--

Government Assistance April 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer has assured residents north of Winnipeg that they would receive financial aid for damages from the floods. In addition, 300 homes have been damaged in the Peguis First Nation community and the cost of damages may exceed $1 million.

The communities of Manitoba need a federal government that will step in and act now. Can the President of the Treasury Board indicate the level of financial support for Manitoba residents, and more important, when will they see help?

Criminal Code April 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I have to agree with the previous questioner who is a medical doctor when he observed that we have to go after the financial underpinnings of this issue. The best thing we can do to fight organized crime is to take away the proceeds of crime, the benefits and gains they make as a result of crime. The Conservatives really enjoy the public relations bump they get from talking about how tough they are on crime, and we see that they are not really that tough. It takes them forever to get actions before the House and they fail to deal with the root causes of the crime. In this particular case, the member is dead on when he says that if we can take steps to fight organized crime, that will help solve this problem.

In Manitoba, we had one day last month where we had zero auto thefts, after being the auto theft capital of Canada for a number of years, because we set up a system whereby we have enforced immobilizers in cars. The auto insurance company in Manitoba pays for the installation of immobilizers and gives people a reduction in their car insurance. We have a suppression program, too, to chase down the chronic car thieves. We have managed to cut that down to having no car thefts over a 24-hour period last month. So there is proof that we can actually achieve results if we are determined to do something about the problem.

Business of Supply April 23rd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, my comment is directed as much to the previous Conservative questioner as it is to the member who just spoke.

A number of years ago I remember being in the United States and putting a number of charges on my credit card, only to find out, when I got my bill, there were some extra charges that were not spelled out and seemed to be excessively high. When I contacted the credit company, I found out that there was an extra charge for currency conversion. I do not know whether anyone is aware of that.

That is an issue, and I am still not certain it has been resolved as far as information is concerned. Whenever I go to the United States, it is still never spelled out on my credit card statement that there is an extra hidden fee of what I believe is 1%, 2% or 3% for conversion. Everyone should be aware that this is a practice that credit card companies have been doing for a long time. Nobody knows about it. I contacted the company, and it did admit that there is a fee for conversion--

Business of Supply April 23rd, 2009

Madam Speaker, it seems to me that the horse is already out of the barn. We have had previous Liberal governments for many years and now the Conservative government for the last three years. As people were accumulating the debts, the previous Liberal government just sat by and let these companies do what they were doing and let people get into the debt they are in right now. I am very happy that the Liberals are supporting the motion today but one must wonder who was in power for the last 15 years while all this debt was being amassed.

Does the member have any comments about that and about the track record of previous governments in this whole area? As I said, the horse is out of the barn. People have huge amounts of debt to pay and they are having to pay it off at the worst of all possible times. With the job losses and the economy and the situation they are in right now, they should not need to deal with all these problems coming together at one time like this.

Business of Supply April 23rd, 2009

Madam Speaker, the member made an excellent presentation of the facts on this motion. I am very concerned about the credit card companies' approach to young people, basically trying to hook young people into a life of debt that will take them years to get out of. They are actually making them comfortable with debt, something that we, when we grew up, did not need to deal with.

When people get into debt at any age, but particularly when they are young, it leads to all sorts of stresses in their life that they should not need to deal with. We do not need to have any more stress in our lives than we have right now. Something must be done to cause the credit card companies to stop this crazy idea of promoting to young people as soon as they turn 18 years of age to try to get them hooked on credit at a very early age.