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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Davenport (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the priorities of Canadians and the residents of Davenport are to invest in a real family care plan and strong public pensions based on the Canada pension plan, brought in by a Liberal government, and support for learning and training, health care, housing, the arts and a universal child care program. Their priorities are not to pour $30 billion into buying fighter jets and borrowing $6 billion for corporate tax cuts.

I would like the hon. member to comment on that statement, because I think it speaks to the priorities of Canadians.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya March 21st, 2011

Mr. Chair, the world community has learned that it cannot ignore failed states, collapsing states or states that have no respect for the rule of law. Eventually they do create a mass refugee crisis throughout the region and do have consequences, especially if left in a vacuum, without a government, for terrorist organizations. There are not only domestic consequences but international consequences as well.

Canada's commitment has to be many pronged. My hon. colleague is right. It is not just an issue of military force. We also have to figure out the second step not just in Libya but in surrounding countries in terms of what type of humanitarian assistance Canada is prepared to step up and lead. If we are to be true leaders, we have to lead on many fronts. We have to act on behalf of the humanitarian crisis that is taking place in Libya and many places around the region. However, the immediate crisis right now is in Libya, which is the focus of this debate in the House. It requires specific attention and warrants this important debate.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya March 21st, 2011

Mr. Chair, my hon. colleague raises some very important legitimate questions. These are questions that we need the government to provide information on in a transparent manner.

As members, we take the issue very seriously when we make the commitment to deploy our men and women into harm's way. It is not an easy decision, but is the right decision and I fully agree with it. However, at the same time, we must ensure there is full transparency. The information my colleague is asking for regarding humanitarian challenges, long-term involvement and costs of the mission, all these things need to be brought before the House. At the end of the day, the House is responsible for acting upon the information that is provided in an accurate way by the government.

I fully agree with the questions raised by my colleague.

The humanitarian challenge is this. What we know from witnesses on the ground, from NGOs and other government officials who are still there, the situation in Libya is appalling. The Gadhafi regime is barbaric and willing to go to all costs to ensure its hold on power, including destroying its people.

The world community has acted in the right way yet in a difficult way. It is not easy to get the UN to agree on anything. I was pleased to see that even the permanent members, who have veto powers, acted in a responsible manner. It is a good step for humanity when the world community acts in unison. It is a good step for us all when the UN makes a decision under a chapter 7 mandate, which is very rare. It really makes up part of international law. The jurisprudence of the UN is so important for all of those who believe in international institutions, international law and the rule of law that is needed to safeguard the people who live in countries such as Libya.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya March 21st, 2011

Mr. Chair, the responsibility to protect doctrine came out just a very short time before September 11, 2001. There is no question that it is an important document, which has become part of our international discourse and an important part of international law. That doctrine specifies the responsibility states have to their people and that if they fail to do so, there will be consequences.

This came out of the brutal situations that took place such as the genocide in Rwanda, Kosovo and so forth. It is a signal for the international community that action needs to be taken when there are violations of human rights and crimes against humanity being committed and that they are no longer tolerable. There cannot be complete sovereignty for leaders to do whatever they want with their own people.

This is an important doctrine that has been recognized and used internationally by all governments. I have to say one thing. I try not to be partisan, but I am saddened by the fact that the government has refused to use the words “responsibility to protect” and the importance of that doctrine. The doctrine is something of which all Canadians can be very proud.

It is not a Liberal thing. It is an international document in which Canada played a very important role, but we should not be afraid to use the language “responsibility to protect” and state the fact that this is very important international jurisprudence at the moment, in which Canada played a very important role.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya March 21st, 2011

Mr. Chair, over the course of the last few weeks, the people of Libya and many other states in Africa and the Middle East have taken to the streets in protest. People are demanding respect for their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was the first international pronouncement of human rights norms and freedoms, justice and peace, including the inherent dignity, and equal and inalienable rights of all humans.

The subsequent International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights further enhanced the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedoms.

These charters, covenants and other international treaties establish the foundation for a state's responsibilities to its citizens.

I thank the House for agreeing to such an important debate on Libya and for the world community hearing the cries of its people. Colonel Gadhafi and his regime have brought the full might of armed forces to bear on his people and have used paid mercenaries to crush his own people.

In February, the UN Security Council agreed to resolution 1970. This condemned Gadhafi's actions. It imposed a travel ban and assets freeze on those at the top of his regime. It demanded an end to the violence, access for international human rights monitors, and the lifting of restrictions on the media. It referred the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court, so that its leaders should face the justice they deserve.

Gadhafi ignored the demands of UN Security Council resolution 1970, that it stop the violence against the Libyan people. His forces have attacked peaceful protestors and are now preparing for a violent assault on the city of Benghazi. Gadhafi has publicly promised that every home would be searched and there would be no mercy and no pity shown.

Human Rights Watch has catalogued the appalling human rights abuses that are being committed in Tripoli.

The transitional national council was the first to call for protection from air attacks, through a no-fly zone. This was followed by the Arab League.

On March 17, the UN Security Council, acting under paragraphs 7 and 8, adopted resolution 1973 by a vote of ten in favour to none against and five abstentions. The resolution demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all acts against abuse of civilians. It establishes a ban on all flights in the airspace of Libya in order to help protect civilians and it authorizes member states to take “all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban”.

Crucially, it says in paragraph 4:

Authorizes Member States...acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack...including Benghazi.

The council authorized member states acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libya.

Resolution 1973 provides legal authority for the international community to use force to protect civilians.

It further demands that Libyan authorities comply with their obligations under international law, take all measures to protect civilians, meet their basic needs, and ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance.

The foreign minister of France, Alain Juppé, said, “The situation on the ground is more alarming than ever, marked by the violent re-conquest of cities that have been released”. The Security Council could not stand by and “let the warmongers flout international legality”. The world was experiencing “a wave of great revolutions that would change the course of history”, but the will of the Libyan people had been “trampled under the feet of the Gadhafi regime”.

The resolution both authorizes and sets the limits of the international community action, and that of Canada. It specifically excludes an occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.

Now that the UN Security Council has reached its decision, there is a responsibility for Canada to act with other nations.

The Security Council resolution 1973 is measured to restore international peace and security under paragraph 7 of the United Nations Charter.

As the member for Davenport, I am pleased that the overall will of this House is to support the UN Security Council resolutions.

States have a responsibility to deliver political goods, security, health and education, good governance and rule of law, to their people. Today the Libyan government has been outlawed by the international community as a failed state for no longer being willing to carry out these functions, as well as for massacring its own people. Libya has refused to meet a specific set of conditions, to respect human rights and adhere to the UN Security Council resolution.

The UN Security Council, in resolution 1973, has again confirmed the doctrine that sovereignty is a right that comes with responsibility. One cannot have sovereignty in the absence of responsibility and the doctrine of responsibility to protect. The Westphalia definition of state sovereignty no longer applies.

Afghanistan and Somalia have demonstrated the danger of ignoring failing or failed states. State failure not only presents considerable challenges for those states in decline or collapse, but also for the international system as a whole. Humanitarian challenges arise from the fact that states fail. We all remember too well the lessons learned from the acts of genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Libya leader Gadhafi is unwilling to safeguard minimal civil conditions of peace, order and security for his people. He has brought war, anarchy and destruction upon his people and has lost the legitimacy of governance both domestically and internationally.

Under international law, Libya has an obligation to protect its citizens and ensure that human rights are protected. If it fails under the new doctrine of responsibility to protect, in which the leader of my party played an important role in the drafting of that document, the UN will act in demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute crimes against humanity. The Security Council has demonstrated these actions are no longer tolerable and I applaud the Security Council for this action.

Adjournment Proceedings February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is important for Haiti that Canada and all nations of the world demonstrate determined and prolonged leadership in assisting this country.

The recent return to Haiti of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier only serves to create more instability. I am regularly in touch with Haitians who are presently working to assist in the prosecution of Duvalier. Human Rights Watch, just days ago, stated that:

The government of Haiti should be encouraged and supported in its decision to move forward with the prosecution of the former dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier—

The Government of Canada needs to lend assistance to this process.

Haiti can benefit from unprecedented levels of international support. Work to build government structures, security and sustainability, as outlined in many UN reports and other studies both before and after the earthquake, must take place.

Our shared history with Haiti is rich and our shared culture is still growing. I would encourage the government to forcefully and with greater resolve undertake every possible action to assist the people of Haiti and to reverse the country's longstanding trend toward failed state status.

Adjournment Proceedings February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, since the January 2010 earthquake, the people of Haiti have struggled to rebuild their country after over 200,000 people lost their lives and millions were left without shelter. Canadians watch with growing concern as the already frail infrastructure and the societal structure of Haiti literally fell to pieces.

Canadian opened their hearts and their wallets and donated time and money to Haiti. Donations totalled over $220 million matched dollar-for-dollar by the Government of Canada.

Haitians have had to endure innumerable challenges over the course of their country's history. They have endured a lack of development, a shattered economy, a ravaged environment and a corrupt political system, along with the recurring natural disasters. Many of these problems appear insurmountable. Although Canadians offered immediate financial assistance, it has taken a long time for it to arrive in Haiti.

Canada's military did a wonderful job in Haiti despite the challenges. Our troops were vital to clearing rubble and reopening roads. However, requests for Canadian troops to stay in Haiti past its mandate of six weeks were rebuffed by the government. The reality today in Haiti is that the country is completely dependent upon external support structures. When the Canadians left, a void was created as we took back our heavy equipment and expertise.

Canadians made significant donations to groups like the Canadian Red Cross and Humanitarian Coalition, a group of NGOs that came together to deliver the humanitarian aid more effectively and efficiently. There needs to be a more effective process for delivering this aid.

Haiti faced significant and prolonged challenges even before the earthquake. The UN report by Michel Forst identified six areas where Haiti needs the assistance of the international community, including the penitentiary situation and prison overcrowding, violence against women, lynching, human trafficking, deportation and the lack of economic, social and cultural rights.

These are specific areas where Canada and the world can help. In order to foster improvement in Haiti we should work to assist Haitians in establishing the rule of law. We also need to work with the Haitians more closely to stop criminal activity so that Haitians can feel secure.

Only 25% of the $600 million it had promised Haiti has been appropriated. These realities are taken in the context of the government spending almost $27,000, which is 55 times the gross national product of the average Haitian, on a single-use backdrop for its conference on Haiti just days after the earthquake.

This is also the government that promised to fast-track family reunifications for Haitians with relatives in Canada. Just last week we learned that the government rejected almost half of the so-called special applications. Recently an Ottawa resident who wanted to bring his daughter and granddaughter to safety applied to have his family reunited, only to have the application rejected even before the deadline to submit the documentation had arrived.

What remains is a country still in desperate need of help. Millions are still living in tent cities where real cities once stood, in squalid conditions with rubble resting where it originally landed over a year ago. Fetid and bacteria-laden water gave rise to the epidemic of cholera that has killed over 4,500 patients to date.

The political system is in chaos and there is still no clear winner of a presidential election beset by fraud and irregularities. Violence against women and children is rampant and the threat of rioting in the streets is constant.

On November 19, I asked the Conservative government why it was not showing leadership and why we were not hearing anything from it in this regard and on the ongoing humanitarian crisis. I ask again, when will the government report to Parliament and give us an update on its promise to help the people of Haiti? When is it going to honour the terms of its pledge to expedite family reunifications?

Human Rights Situation in Iran February 16th, 2011

Mr. Chair, I want to commend my hon. colleague on his excellent speech and the work he does in the committee.

The member stated very clearly what is faced by a lot of the minority groups in Iran, whether it be the Baluchis, the Baha'is, or some of the minority Christian and Jewish communities, and how they are being persecuted by the Iranian government.

One community the member knows very well is the Baha'is which appeared before our committee. They documented the incredible persecution they face on a daily basis by that regime, without any access to the media, without any access to any type of state protection.

In fact, the minister of intelligence of Iran, the prosecutor general, said:

The administration of this miscarried Baha'i sect at all levels is unlawful and banned and their ties to Israel and their opposition to Islam and the Islamic regime are clear. The danger they pose to national security is documented and proven and therefore it is necessary that any substitute administration that acts as a replacement for the original be confronted through the law.

In other words, he is making it very clear that this is a group to be targeted. Just as they targeted Israel and the Jewish people, they want to target the Baha'is. They almost put a target on their foreheads and say that it is okay to shoot them, that it is okay to kill them, because it is a sect that they want nothing to do with.

That dehumanization of Iran's own people continually goes on. The Baha'is are peaceful people who originated in that part of the world, in Iran. They are just as much Iranians as are other Iranians. I am struck by the sheer violation of human rights against such a targeted group.

He also mentioned the gay community, which is also targeted by the regime. It continues to target its own people.

It is a country that has an incredible wealth of history. It is a country that has many incredibly intelligent people. Luckily for Canada, many of them are here in Canada because many of them have left that regime. There still is a very young, vibrant population there. They want to see change. They see what is happening around the world. They want to know what we can do, how we can act in solidarity with them.

Does my hon. colleague want to add anything further about the human rights abuses taking place against those communities?

Human Rights Situation in Iran February 16th, 2011

Mr. Chair, first, I want to thank the member for Mount Royal for his excellent work, not just on this file, but specific on that issue of the State Immunity Act, which he has put forward to ensure that the government in fact allows the legislation so that we can get after those individuals who are creating and perpetrating both genocide and hateful language. That particular legislation needs to be enacted as soon as possible by the government.

Human Rights Situation in Iran February 16th, 2011

Mr. Chair, I want to thank my hon. colleague for the question and also for the excellent leadership he provides as chair of our subcommittee. It is a great pleasure to be a member of that committee because we tend to find consensus in most issues, unlike some of the other committees where there is a little bit of antagonism. I feel very close to the members of the committee and I am very proud to sit on the committee.

The member makes a very important observation that we have also discussed in our committee, which is the genocidal tendencies of Ahmadinejad's Iran toward the state of Israel and the Jewish people. That is one of the reasons why we are asking that the government make sure that in relation to our obligations under the Geneva Conventions and the specific obligations that Canada has as a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, to enforce them.

We are talking about also raising this with the permanent members of the Security Council. We are asking that this be brought before the human rights council and other agencies. We also request that this issue be raised at the highest possible level, because we have a responsibility through the genocide convention, specifically article III, which I mentioned before, that this matter be dealt with and appropriate action taken to hold Iran accountable for its actions.