House of Commons photo

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

41st General Election March 16th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, made public that he would like to make a presentation to the procedure and House affairs committee. He wants to update the House, through the committee, as to the status of the voter fraud investigation his office is conducting.

Will the government agree to let Mr. Mayrand appear before the committee? Will it commit that the hearing for Mr. Mayrand will be done in public, not in camera?

Business of the House March 15th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I was going to get up on another point of order on Air Canada because that last statement was not correct.

I would like to ask the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons what the House's plans are for the rest of this week and for the week of March 26.

I am particularly curious to ask the government House leader to confirm that the reason the budget is being brought down, as opposed to tradition, on a Thursday is that the next day, when the debate would start, is a Friday when we have little time. It is a way of hiding the budget from the Canadian people because of the negative backlash the government is expecting.

It is an ongoing pattern, the Minister of Finance ducking all sorts of questions in this regard. It is another technique. I just want the minister to confirm that this is just another technique by the government to limit debate around serious issues confronting this country.

Air Service Operations Legislation March 13th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I think people in the House, who may not understand what just happened with this motion, is that the House leader for the government is invoking closure, doing it on a bill that flies in the face of the long-standing practices of allowing collective bargaining to go on without interference from governments, whether it be the federal government or provincial government. It is also a continuation of a pattern by the government of running roughshod, using tactics like this, both time allocation and closure.

We look at this and ask what the urgency is on this legislation. The Minister of Labour has issued a directive that prevents a strike at this point, or a lockout, at Air Canada, for that sector of our transportation system. It is a situation where this is a duplication. The government has already made it impossible for there to be a lockout or a strike, an interruption of the operations of Air Canada, by a directive that she gave last week. Therefore, where is the urgency with regard to this legislation? How can Conservatives possibly justify invoking closure?

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act March 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the government has moved 17 time allocation and closure motions since it got its majority and this is now number 18.

Every time we do this, we set an all-time record in the history of this country and this Parliament going all the way back to 1867. The closest any government came to it was the Liberal government in the 2000 to 20404 time period and that Parliament sat for an even longer period of time before it set the record.

How can one possibly continue to justify it when the provinces do not do it and England, Australia and New Zealand do not do it? Those all have parliaments similar to ours. Whether it is on this immigration bill or on any number of bills where the government has applied the motion, how does the government possibly justify it and then still claim that we will continue to be a democracy?

Business of the House March 8th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I stood here in the same place last week and acknowledged that the government had gone a whole five sitting days without moving a time allocation motion and I encouraged the House leader of the government to continue that practice. Therefore, I am quite disappointed standing here today.

They moved not just one time allocation motion on Tuesday, but they moved two such motions. What they are doing is truly undemocratic. I urge the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons once again to put an end to this practice immediately.

For the coming week, there are a number of issues that are outstanding and unclear so I will list them.

I understand that we have a confirmation that Bill C-10 will come before this House for debate tomorrow and that the vote on Bill C-10 will be put off until Monday evening.

I further understand that Bill C-31, the attack on refugees bill, will come before the House on Tuesday. I would ask the House leader if that is still the case and if it will be before the House for the balance of the week.

With regard to other legislation, I will repeat a question I had earlier for him but never got an answer to. Where is Bill C-30, the Internet snooping bill? When will that be back before the House? Will we ever see it again or is the government just going to dump it?

Finally, could I have a confirmation for the House that the final supply day, which was originally scheduled for Monday, has now been put over to Wednesday and all the votes that will flow subsequent to that will be Wednesday evening?

Safe Streets and Communities Act March 7th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised by this motion. There should not be any reason why we should be surprised. It has happened 16 times since Parliament started. Since the May 2 election, this will be the 17th time.

It is a total abdication of the democratic responsibilities that the government should have, and every Government of Canada should have and has up until this point, to allow for meaningful democratic discussion and debate in the House. We are here for that. That is why it is called Parliament.

The government has never understood this. Since the Conservatives received a majority, they have run roughshod over that moral, democratic responsibility they have to the opposition parties and to Canadian citizens as a whole.

I understand the member will move another motion of this kind on Bill C-31. When will we see that one?

Criminal Code March 2nd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I will respond to the issue that has been raised with regard to problem gambling.

I was on the first public board for casinos in Ontario, which was an administrative board initially. I am proud of the work that I did in that period of time with regard to demanding, insisting and cajoling the provincial government to put additional resources into dealing with the problem of compulsive gamblers.

The point that always needs to be made when we are looking at this legislation is that this gaming is going on now. We also know, from a number of studies that have been done, that there is at least some reasonable expectation that once that form of gaming is legalized there is an increased opportunity and probability that the compulsive gambler will be, one, identified, and two, encouraged to get assistance. There are very few compulsive gamblers who cannot be treated. It is like any other addiction. With the right type of counselling and professional assistance, it can be beat.

All of the big casinos in Ontario have locations on site where compulsive gamblers can go to or be directed to. I do not think we spend enough money on it. I want to be clear on that. I have said repeatedly, as I have worked on this project, that the provinces that deploy this should be morally compelled, if nothing else, to look at the problem of compulsive gambling, to see how much they are spending in their provincial jurisdictions and to seriously consider increasing the amount they spend so professional counselling and treatment is more widely available.

I have looked at some studies that break it down province by province and the per capita spending is quite dramatically different. Ontario and Quebec lead the way. B.C. is fairly far behind in spite of the amount of legal gambling that goes on there. It would be in the best interests of all of the provinces if they looked at the issue and dedicated additional resources.

The final point I want to make, which I meant to make in my opening remarks, is that, as we all know, assuming this bill passes and goes to the other House, I have spoken to members of the other House and I have a sponsor. Senator Runciman has agreed to sponsor the bill in the other House. I know he is looking forward to it getting there so that he can encourage its rapid passage at that level.

Criminal Code March 2nd, 2012

moved that Bill C-290, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, the bill itself is a very small, short bill. It would delete one small clause of the Criminal Code that prohibits anyone from wagering on a single sports event. It has been long standing in Canada that we can place bets on multiple sports events. Most people who are like me tend to follow one team, know a lot about the one team and do not know a lot about other games in the same league. The bill would do away with that prohibition. It has been in the code for a long time. It goes back to English history.

There are two reasons for my pushing for this change and for the widespread support that it has garnered.

One is the economic development tool that it provides to communities, particularly those with existing casinos or racetracks and other gaming operations. We have heard from some provinces, as they are the ones responsible for deploying this tool, that they would be placing the operations at one of those centres, some more broadly and others on a more limited scale. We had a study done by the Canadian Gaming Association last summer and it showed, for instance in my region which has a very substantial commercial casino, that it would either save or create 150 to 200 new jobs. The same is true for the casino in Niagara. The focus on those two casinos is because we are immediately adjacent to the American border. A number of bets would be placed by our American neighbours because this practice is illegal in the United States, with the exception of Nevada. It would be a good economic tool that would draw gaming dollars in from the United States and potentially from other parts of the world, depending on how it is deployed.

The other major reason was the inspiration for the initiative. This gaming is going on now but it is almost exclusively offshore. In Canada it is completely controlled by, and is a major revenue source for, organized crime. We have estimates of billions of dollars being gained in Canada and tens of billions of dollars in the United States because it is illegal there. This would strike a blow against organized crime by taking revenue away from it. We know one of the major tools a government can deploy to fight organized crime is to take away financial incentive. This would help us do that. The extent would depend on how many provinces use this resource and to what extent they use it.

I want to acknowledge the support I have had for the bill. I want to start with members of Parliament from all of the parties. We have had very close to unanimous support for this, for both reasons that I have already cited: the economic development and the fight against organized crime. People understand that. Members of Parliament understand it and are supportive that this is a good step forward. I also want to acknowledge the work by provincial governments, particularly Ontario and British Columbia. They have been very strong. They have already been working up plans, if this bill goes through, as to how they would deploy it in their provinces. I want to recognize the Canadian Gaming Association. It has done a fair amount of the background on this, including the study I mentioned. I want to recognize the Canadian Auto Workers Union. It represents a number of people at some of the casinos across the country and it has also been very supportive in pushing this bill forward.

Finally, I want to recognize both the City of Windsor and the City of Niagara Falls. Their municipal councillors have passed resolutions in support of the bill.

With regard to the process, we are at third reading stage now. At second reading the bill passed with no opposition at all in the House. It went to committee. It was supported unanimously at committee with one amendment.

There are still some negotiations going on in consultation with some of the provinces. The government felt the need to hold off giving royal assent, assuming it gets through the House and the Senate, until it finalizes those consultations. Members of the NDP are strong supporters of extensive consultations with the provinces. The legislation should not go through unless the provinces are fully aware of what the bill will do and its consequences. I anticipate that the consultation process will finish some time this year.

Now the bill is back in the House and looks like it has substantial support. I am not going to say anything further because my voice is about to disappear. I want to again thank all members of the House, both those who are here and those who in the past have supported it. I appreciate that widespread support.

Criminal Code March 2nd, 2012

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.

41st General Election March 2nd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I certainly know how my riding got on the list. It is because I got a call directly at my home, which was turned over to Elections Canada on the same day, as opposed to what the Prime Minister has suggested.

The Conservatives are getting their stories mixed up. Yesterday, the Prime Minister confused a Canadian company with a company in North Dakota. All week, the Conservatives have been denying their involvement in the fraudulent phone calls. They defend themselves by saying that the Liberals did the same thing. Even if that is true—which is not impossible—that does not justify the Conservatives' actions.

We want the truth. When will we get the truth?