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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was regard.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Windsor—Tecumseh (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Social Security February 23rd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister may feel satisfied with the way he has dealt with the legitimate concerns of British pensioners living in Canada by saying the matter is being dealt with in the U.K.

However, perhaps he would explain why his government continues to ignore a problem clearly within the scope of his government: thousands of Canadian citizens facing crippling taxes on their U.S. social security benefits. They have been calling for relief from the government for over four and a half years without success.

Both the finance minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have acknowledged the problem yet have chosen to do nothing about it. When will the government take action to address the gross injustice faced by the Canadians asking for social security fairness?

Canada Elections Act February 23rd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, at the outset of my comments today I made it clear that I was in support of the number 12. I felt that the legislation as far as it went on that point was appropriate. We need to have some number. I think as a House we have accepted that, and the Ontario Court of Appeal has made it clear that the number 50 was unreasonable. The use of 12 seems to be appropriate. It is in keeping with the acknowledgement of party status in the House if that many members are elected.

Should the number be 10, 14 or 15? I suppose arguments could be made in that regard, but 12 seems to be accepted because of the historical significance of elected members within the House. I thought I had made that clear at the start of my comments but if I did not, I apologize to my friend across the House.

I will go back to the point the member raised about the way the debate has gone and the fact that so many people have raised other issues. I think that is the inadequacy of the legislation. It does not address a number of other very crucial issues, some of which I have spoken to. Enumeration, in particular, should have been addressed. I thought we had some sense of that from the House leader earlier in the session, that something more extensive would be forthcoming.

I reassert all the comments that I made in my original address, but to address his particular question, I made it obvious that we do support the number 12 in order to achieve party status for electoral purposes.

Canada Elections Act February 23rd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I made my first address in the House yesterday. You were not in the chair at the time, so I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election. I wish you well in your position and I wish you the best in terms of dealing with the stress that the job creates.

With regard to the legislation before us I wish to make several points. We are in support of the thrust of the bill to provide party status to those groups that can muster 12 members to run on their behalf.

Our concern is much more with the inadequacy of the bill on a number of other points. Recognizing the time I have, I wish to address the lack of updating the permanent enumeration list from the perspective of the experiences I have had. I have now ran on three occasions, and on each occasion I was confronted with similar problems that resulted in the inability of people in my riding to vote on election day.

I will use one example. As a result of the unfortunate death of Shaughnessy Cohen, there was a byelection in my riding in 1999. There was construction going on at the time in the town of Tecumseh in one of the suburban areas.

When I ran again in the November 2000 election, I happened to be canvassing door to door in that area. I was knocking on doors of some people that I had met in the previous two election campaigns, but then I crossed the street and I began consistently running into residents that had clearly not been put on the voters list. I was with a couple of supporters and we decided to cover the whole area to see who was not on the list. It turned out that it was a new subdivision and well in excess of 100 voters were not on the voters list.

The point I suppose I should emphasize is that at this stage it was only about seven or eight days before the election and all these people had some significant difficulty voting on November 27. If a regular enumeration had been conducted prior to the vote and during the election period, these people would have been easily picked up and they would have had minimal or no difficulty on election day.

I should make a point that the returning officer in our area was not somebody who neglected her responsibilities. In fact I thought she was quite positive in the way she did her job. She did it as effectively as she could but was hampered both by the shortness of the election period and by the other tools that she did not have.

There were other areas where we had trouble. The one of particular concern to me was with immigrants to Canada who had only recently achieved the ability to vote under the Canada Elections Act. We have had a major in-migration in my riding, particularly from the Middle East. There are some difficulties with language. As a result a number of people in two areas of my riding where they tended to settle were not on the voters list. If an enumeration were conducted we would have been able to identify those people, get them on to the voters list and facilitate their ability to vote.

In many cases, when these individuals did go to the polls, they had particular difficulty because of language. Often they spoke English or French but they had difficulty with the language. They needed extra support in order to work their way through the system and had to bring the proper identification in order to vote on election day. Again, a good number of them ended up being disenfranchised.

There are certain areas in my constituency with people who are of low income. We have, as is the case in a number of other major municipalities, a housing problem. These individuals often have difficulty affording housing and are moving on a regular basis. The lack of enumeration of these individuals during the election period again tends to disenfranchise them. They end up being disenfranchised almost on a class basis because they are forced to move often due to the cost of housing. We are caught in a situation where we disenfranchise them.

A number of these people often have difficulty with their identification and are not able, even if they are determined enough to go to the polls on election day, to produce the necessary identification.

In one area of my riding it is a financial issue. If people show up at the poll and do not have their identification with them, they have to actually take a bus, because the poll is so large, go back home, get their identification and then come back. Those few dollars that it cost them is often enough to dissuade them from voting on election day. So we disenfranchise them.

The University of Windsor, although not located in my riding, has a number of students who come in from outside to vote in the riding where they may be residing while they go to school. The lack of enumeration restricts a number of them and they often have difficulty on election day producing identification that would make it possible for them to vote. They end up being disenfranchised.

We all know the figure that has been publicized, the one million plus voters who were not on the voters list on election day on November 27, 2000. That, by any standards, is unacceptable in a democratic country.

We would ask the government to reconsider the legislation and to provide additional amendments that would make it possible to have enumeration conducted during the course of the election.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act February 22nd, 2001

Health Canada: I support your position that it really has to be looked at. Health Canada has a very high standard of tolerance for manganese. Dr. Mergler, I think, would clearly set a lower one.

It would be very nice if this matter could be referred to committee and if more evidence could be brought forth. The Mergler study was done in the middle part of 1998. I would suggest that more studies have been done since then wherein we might find more clear evidence in this regard.

Let me go back to the precautionary principle. In the bill, the member for Lac-Saint-Louis has specifically invoked it. I again want to commend him for that. The preamble states:

And Whereas on the basis of the precautionary principle, it is imperative for the Parliament of Canada to take immediate action to protect human health and the environment by banning these harmful or potentially harmful automotive fuels;

That is very much what the precautionary principle is all about, a principle that not only Canada but all the world has adopted. To suggest that we treat MMT in the same category as Tim Hortons doughnuts is ridiculous.

Let me conclude by encouraging the member for Lac-Saint-Louis to pursue his cause in this regard. We certainly intend to support him. Hopefully other members of the House, government members in particular, will see their way clear to in effect push this legislation through and ban MMT.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act February 22nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I want to echo some of the comments some of the other members have made with regard to the member for Lac-Saint-Louis. It is to his credit and his long term commitment to the environment that he has brought forth this bill today. It is unfortunate that it is a non-votable one. Perhaps as this draws more attention, the government may see its way clear to meeting some of the commitments it made over a period of time and dealing with some of the fiasco that has occurred around the use of the MMT.

I want to re-emphasize a number of points that have been made by the member for Lac-Saint-Louis. The reality is that most of the industrialized world does not use MMT in gasoline. It is banned in a number of states in the United States and, in fact, 85% of the U.S. refineries do not use MMT. I think everybody in this debate recognizes that there is a concern with regard to the use of the MMT in terms of a serious potential risk to human health and a risk to the environment.

Specifically with regard to the environment, there is no debate. The scientific evidence on this is clear: the use of the MMT does inhibit and in fact in a lot of cases renders useless emission control devices in automobiles, resulting in a number of toxins being released into the atmosphere.

MMT was initially banned in the U.S. because of concerns around hydrocarbon emissions, but there were further studies and there has been some reference made to them today. Again, there is no debate within the health and scientific communities that high concentrations of manganese can cause neurological damage. The debate is about at what level it is safe.

With regard to that and there being no evidence, as alleged by some of the other members in this House, I want to quote from a study that was done by the neurotoxicologist Donna Mergler at the University of Quebec. This was an EPA sponsored study of a 306 residents in Quebec. The results suggest that even low levels of manganese can have deleterious affects. She is quoted as saying:

In large concentrations, airborne manganese does pose a risk. What we don't know is at what level does it not pose a risk...We should know a lot more about it before we use it.

I want to spend a few minutes with regard to the whole farcical history of how MMT has been treated by the government, the embarrassment that Canada has been put to and, to some extent, the shame of having to pay that $18 million plus to an American corporation when in fact in a number of states in the U.S. it is already banned.

However, because I think it is more important to deal with the health and environment issues and not so much with the trade component in this issue, let me go back a bit. In 1992 Canada committed to applying the precautionary principle. In fact we have not had a very good history of doing that. The NDP has strongly advocated that the federal government abide by this commitment and apply the precautionary principle. To my mind, this is one of the clearest cases where we should in fact be doing that.

Taxation February 22nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it seems the Minister of Finance is more concerned about protecting the big oil and gas companies.

By introducing this surtax that my friend has suggested, it would be cost effective and it could be used to develop environmentally sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. Why will the minister not consider that at least as a possibility?

The Economy January 31st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's throne speech was little more than a rehash of tired Liberal platitudes, offering little for Canadians to cheer about. While the government is busy patting itself on the back and telling us all is well, thousands of workers in the city of Windsor and in communities like it are facing layoffs and plant closings.

Will the finance minister today commit to introducing a budget with concrete measures to address the impending economic downturn and crisis in our auto industry?