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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Welland (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agricultural Growth Act November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I can explain to my hon. colleague across the way why we are against it, but I will do my best.

The reality is that it is not what farmers asked for. They simply said, “No, thanks. We'd like to see some amendments.” We did not pull them out of the sky. We took what folks gave to us and got some good help from folks who know how to craft legislation and how to craft amendments. Based upon what farmers told us, we did that, and then presented it back. Even the government's own minister said, “We got it wrong. We are going to have to make amendments.” I think there were five or six amendments, because the Conservatives rushed in with an omnibus bill. Instead of simply working on UPOV '91, they jammed a bunch of other stuff in with it. They simply said, “We have made a few mistakes here. We are going to have to make some changes.” Even on the farmers' privilege aspect, the minister said, “We didn't quite get it right.”

The problem is that the government did not quite listen to exactly what farmers were saying. Farmers said more than what the minister finally came back with as his amendments. That is why we are against it.

If the government is not going to listen to the folks it is writing the legislation for, why on earth would we support it? Why would we support legislation when the government has a deaf ear when it comes to listening to what folks have to say? If it is not going to listen to them, then I guess we have to tell the government again, in this House of Commons, “This is what they said, and you are getting it wrong”, and vote against it. There is no other way to do it.

Agricultural Growth Act November 17th, 2014

moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-18, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing line 4 on page 7 with the following:

“—the right referred to in paragraph 5(1)(g) cannot be modified by regulation and do”

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 14.

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 15.

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 16.

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 17.

Motion No. 19

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 20

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 19.

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 20.

Motion No. 22

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 23

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 22.

Motion No. 24

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 23.

Motion No. 25

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 24.

Motion No. 26

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 25.

Motion No. 27

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 26.

Motion No. 28

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 27.

Motion No. 29

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 28.

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 29.

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 30.

Motion No. 32

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 31.

Motion No. 33

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 32.

Motion No. 34

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 33.

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 34.

Motion No. 36

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 35.

Motion No. 37

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 36.

Motion No. 38

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 37.

Motion No. 39

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 38.

Motion No. 40

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 39.

Motion No. 41

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 40.

Motion No. 42

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 41.

Motion No. 43

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 42.

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 43.

Motion No. 45

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 44.

Motion No. 46

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 45.

Motion No. 47

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 46.

Motion No. 48

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 47.

Motion No. 49

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 48.

Motion No. 50

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 49.

Motion No. 51

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 50.

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 51.

Mr. Speaker, let me say congratulations to you. I realize I should have told you ahead of time I might say this. Taking a risk of perhaps embarrassing you and of you then asking why I did this to you, I am going to take the risk anyway. I saw that you were awarded the Charlie Brooks Award last week in your hometown of Windsor and I want to congratulate you in the House on behalf of members in your party and all members here.

For those who do not know of Charlie Brooks, he has been gone now for a number of years but was a great trade unionist in the city of Windsor. He clearly set a standard that is extremely high. To be given such a distinguished award is a credit to you, sir, for the hard work you have done on behalf of your constituents, on behalf of Ontarians, and, indeed, on behalf of Canadians across this land. To you I say congratulations and thanks for your hard work.

I will return now to the matter at hand, the amendments on Bill C-18.

Bill C-18 is clearly an agricultural bill that the government has brought forward. New Democrats had great hope for the bill initially. Even though we saw some things in it that we did not like or believed needed to be done differently, we, in a spirit of co-operation, voted for it at second reading to get it to committee because we wanted to talk about it.

To be fair, the chair of the agriculture committee did a great job of making sure there was a balance of witnesses. That is to be commended. Every chair should try to do that. He did an excellent job.

What the committee heard from a preponderance of witnesses—in fact, a majority of them—is that there needed to be amendments to Bill C-18. Many of the amendments were not identical to what New Democrats proposed, but they were certainly very close. The majority fell into one class, for the most part, under what is called in the act “farmers' privilege”.

We know in this place that words are very meaningful, because we write legislation with words. They have a great deal of meaning and carry a great deal of weight because they enact laws, and from the get-go, the idea of a farmer's “privilege” to save his or her own seed struck New Democrats as the wrong terminology. We thought it should be a farmer's “right” to save seed. It should not be a privilege, because one can earn a privilege or lose a privilege. What we see in this act is that through the Governor in Council farmers could indeed lose what the government has now decided to call their privilege. We find that unfortunate.

As we looked through the act, we discussed things with witnesses and gleaned from them opportunities to make amendments. We made a number of them. I have to admit that the minister came to the committee and recognized that under farmers' privilege, farmers were not getting much of a privilege and needed to be given a little more. We clearly said, as many stakeholders across the country said, especially farmers, that although we were giving farmers the privilege to save seeds, they could not clean them, they could not store them, and they certainly could not resell them.

There was some minor tweaking, even though the minister said the government was going to come back with very substantive changes and amendments to the bill.

There was indeed one hugely substantive piece near the end, which had to do with how to pay back what is called the advance payments program. If I remember correctly, I believe the amendment that the government brought forward was six pages long. It was about how to get the advance payments back if a farmer went bankrupt. It was a very technical clarification, and the good folks in the agriculture department explained it all. They said that if people could not quite understand it, they should think of how to repay student debt. It was actually taken from the student debt handbook on how to deal with the debt if it could not actually be paid back. I had these really awful, vivid flashes in my mind of all the students who have horrendous amounts of debt and saw that we would be giving farmers the same options that students have, which is being almost bankrupt.

In any case, that was the major amendment.

It is under what we call UPOV '91, which is really about intellectual property of seeds. A company that does a great deal of research and development of a new variety of a seed, whether it be wheat, canola, or some other seed, can then reap a reward, basically a dividend, from its investment.

Fundamentally, we do not disagree with that. A private corporation goes into the business of producing that variety, it has taken the time and effort to go through the process, has put the money in, and then it decides it will charge whatever it happens to be for that seed. We do not disagree, and UPOV '91 speaks to that.

We are a signatory to UPOV '91. The “91” signifies that it was in 1991 that the agreement came about. This House has been challenged by UPOV '91 on a number of occasions. It started with the previous Conservative government, and it became part of a Liberal government issue. Now it is back to the Conservatives again.

Clearly there is an opportunity here. Many countries have signed on to UPOV '91. A great thing about it, in my view, is that it can be amended to suit the needs of a country and still fall within the framework. Countries do not have to accept carte blanche everything in UPOV '91; they can take pieces of it. Countries can fundamentally accept pieces and move pieces out. They can do that. A number of countries that have accepted UPOV '91 have actually done that. Many countries have stayed with the UPOV of 1978, which in the eyes of investors who develop seeds is actually more onerous for them to make a profit.

The whole idea was that they would lose out on research and development if they did not get UPOV '91. We understand that. The dilemma is in how to balance the interest of those who want to go into the research and development, which is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. This is expensive research, which means that the money invested deserves some kind of a return, unless of course it is done in the public sphere. We have seen with the government that it has actually taken money from the public sphere, public research.

Competitors for the big industries on the block are becoming fewer all the time. In fact, in this legislation one of the recommendations from one of the stakeholders was a question around balance, so that the small seed producers would not be swallowed up or disappear. We proposed an amendment to the legislation, but unfortunately at committee my friends across the way decided they did not like the amendment and it was defeated. In that regard, balance has not been attained.

What we see at this point is that the government has decided it is going to take UPOV '91 carte blanche, making no changes to it of any significance. We would end up simply taking it as is. Farmers across the country and those in the industry are all asking for a way to balance it out. They want a Canadian farmers' solution to UPOV '91.

One of the things we tried to explain, and the agriculture department was in agreement, was around the fact that there are a variety of seeds that right now are compulsory licensed and on the market. Farmers may like it, but the company that has the licence can decide to go to CFIA to withdraw the licence. There is a process. The licence cannot just be withdrawn. There is a process, as the agriculture department and the CFIA talked about, to deregister the licence.

Once the licence is deregistered, it is gone from the marketplace. Normally it happens when farmers no longer want the product. It is deregistered because no one wants it anymore. It is not available, and it is deregistered.

However, if the company that owns the registration develops a new one, under UPOV '91 it can exact a greater amount of money and greater royalty from it because it is new. There is nothing to stop them from asking for the other one to be deregistered. In fact, the department said that is absolutely right; there is nothing to stop them. They can apply, and if the process is followed correctly, it could disappear.

Even more than that, the legislation allows those companies to then appeal to CFIA when they develop a new seed to ask that it not have a compulsory licence. That means it could be taken off the market if it does not make any money for the company, even though farmers might actually like the seed.

Ultimately, with the lack of competition, we will be stuck with markets that are driven by a handful of large companies rather than having a multitude of choices across the country as farmers have today. That would not be helpful for farmers nor for the marketplace in general. If we were stuck in a place because of intellectual property and get rid of those who might compete—the small seed producers and the government, which used to do public research for the public good that farmers could then utilize down the road—it would not be helpful.

It is unfortunate that the government did not hear us on the amendments and chose not to accept them. Hopefully, it has a second chance through you, Mr. Speaker. You read the amendments out earlier. The government has a second opportunity to correct what it did wrong the first time. It can vote for the amendments this time, and not against them.

International Trade November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as negotiations for the trans-Pacific partnership enter their final phase, the U.S. trade representative has singled out Canada and is putting pressure on us to dismantle supply management. In the past, Conservatives have sworn that they would protect supply management, but recently we have seen them roll over and make concessions that undermine our system.

Will the minister assure farmers that he will not make any further concessions in the supply management system, especially behind closed doors?

Petitions October 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition today on behalf of members of my riding and surrounding areas. The petitioners call on the government to support the bill from my good friend and colleague from Nickel Belt on a national dementia strategy.

All members of this House are well aware of family members or friends who have been affected by dementia. Indeed, this country needs a national strategy on dementia, because this problem is only going to be exacerbated and get worse as the aging population gets larger.

Agriculture and Agri-Food September 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the United States has been asking for a reciprocal payment protection program for American producers for years, but the Minister of Agriculture has failed to act. Now the Americans are threatening to revoke protections for Canadian farmers. This would be a disaster for producers and for consumers.

Will the government keep the commitment it made in 2011 under the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council to protect Canadian producers and consumers from being gouged when the Americans close the border?

Agriculture and Agri-Food September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Conservatives have proven that they are unwilling to defend grain producers. When the pressure was on, the Minister of Agriculture stood up in the House, before committee and as part of the order in council, and said that we were going to fine those rail companies $100,000 a day.

Here is today's reality. The Minister of Transport says no, hang on, it is only going to be $100,000 a week. So much for tough talk.

I have a simple question for the minister. Why did he back down and when will he finally stand up for farmers?

Brock University September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Welland that includes Brock University, I am pleased to offer my sincere congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of Brock's 50th anniversary.

From its humble beginnings in 1964 in the basement of St. Paul Street United Church, Brock has stood as a testament to the hard work and unrelenting spirit of the people of Niagara.

It was because of their efforts and the weekly payroll deductions of workers that enabled Brock to establish itself in those early years. As a Brock alumnus, I take great pride in having attended a university with such a rich community tradition. I want to thank not only those faculty members who have taught there for 50 years, but more important, all of those whose dream it was to have a university in their local community where their kids could get a post-secondary education.

As my father once said to his five children, “If I'm gonna pay, one of you is gonna go”.

For the faculty and students, both past and present, I hope they take the opportunity to reflect on the many achievements of our university and look forward to the great many who come in the future.

National Defence September 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canada's navy will soon decommission four aging ships, including Canada's two remaining supply ships, but thanks to Conservatives' mismanagement, replacement of the resupply ships is at least a decade behind. We are facing gaps of years in our navy's resupply capacity before replacements will actually be seaworthy.

Conservatives are long on rhetoric, but the legacy for the navy is going to be what? Will it be fewer ships that can actually sail the world's oceans?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to pesticide residues in tea: (a) what method is used by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to test pesticide residues in dry tea leaves; (b) for which pesticides does the CFIA test tea products, and do these tests include all pesticides approved in Canada; (c) how often does the CFIA test tea products for pesticide residues; (d) how many tea products were tested for pesticide residues in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and thus far in 2014; (e) how many tea products were found to contain levels of pesticides exceeding the allowable limits in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and thus far in 2014, and what action was taken by the government in relation to those products; (f) what policies do the CFIA and Health Canada have in place for tea products containing the residues of multiple pesticides; (g) what analysis has the government undertaken of the potential risks to consumers posed by pesticide residues found in tea leaves, and what were the results of this analysis; and (h) how often does Health Canada assess the safety of pesticide residues in food products approved for sale in Canada?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to salmon farming in Canada: (a) how many outbreaks of infectious salmon anemia have been reported in 2011, 2012, 2013, and thus far in 2014, broken down by province; (b) how many outbreaks of infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus have been reported in 2011, 2012, 2013, and thus far in 2014, broken down by province; (c) how much money has the government paid out in compensation to producers who were ordered to destroy salmon infected with infectious salmon anemia in 2011, 2012, 2013, and thus far in 2014, broken down by province; (d) how much money has the government paid out in compensation to producers who were ordered to destroy salmon infected with infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus in 2011, 2012, 2013, and thus far in 2014, broken down by province; (e) how much money has the government paid out in compensation to producers who were ordered to destroy salmon infected with other diseases in 2011, 2012, 2013, and thus far in 2014, broken down by province; (f) how much money has the government paid out in compensation to companies headquartered outside of Canada which were ordered to destroy salmon infected with diseases in 2011, 2012, 2013, and thus far in 2014; (g) what plans does the Canadian Food Inspection Agency currently have in place if there are more outbreaks of diseases resulting in compensation to salmon producers; (h) what biosecurity measures are salmon producers required to take in order to be eligible for compensation for the destruction of diseased salmon; (i) what cost-benefit analysis has the government undertaken concerning federal compensation to salmon producers; and (j) has the government examined the cost differential in federal compensation to salmon producers using open-pen systems compared to salmon producers using closed containment systems, and, if so, what were the results of this analysis?