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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

Earth Day April 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, on April 22, 1970, the world celebrated its first Earth Day. On this the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, I commend all Canadians in communities across this country for their efforts in demonstrating their care and concern for our natural environment.

I know that in my riding of Davenport various events are planned around the community, including the planting of tree seedlings. These actions are practical and important ways for all people to show that they honour and have concern for our environment and the world.

It is what Earth Day is all about. This is our home. Today especially, we are reminded of our obligations to take care of it.

World Expo 2015 April 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, Toronto is a city known throughout the world for its vibrancy, diversity and rich cultural traditions. Due in part to these attributes, I am pleased to join with many fellow residents and public officials in supporting a Toronto bid to host World Expo 2015.

If successful, Toronto will have the opportunity to show millions of visitors what most of us who live there already know, and that is that Toronto is truly one of the world's greatest cities, known for its culture and entertainment facilities, and the fact that it is simply a great place to live.

I invite all my colleagues in the House to support Toronto's bid and encourage all residents of our city to prepare to host the world.

National Defence April 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the recent announcement by the Prime Minister confirming the government's policy not to participate in the ballistic missile defence program is a courageous and commendable decision.

The ballistic missile defence program would not have contributed in any way to the security of Canada. It only would have served to contribute to a greater sense of insecurity and concern around the world.

Despite considerable pressure to participate in this program, the government chose wisely instead to protect Canada's vast national interest and in so doing, to promote real and meaningful security both at home and around the world.

I have always been opposed to this misguided and impractical initiative. I am proud and honoured to be part of the government led by the Prime Minister that has said no to ballistic missile defence.

Oscar Romero April 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, on March 24, 1984 in El Salvador, the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero was brought to an end by an unspeakable act of violence.

Archbishop Romero was the epitome of courage and integrity. He spoke out at great personal risk against economic and personal injustices that had combined to precipitate a devastating civil war in El Salvador.

As he concluded his homily in his church, he was brutally killed in front of those for whom he had worked so hard: the poor, the disenfranchised and the weak. In his own words that day he stated:

One must not love oneself so much, as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us, and those that fend off danger will lose their lives.

Archbishop Romero took those risks and in so doing lost his life, but he also changed his country, his people and indeed the world.

Pope John Paul II April 5th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, since last Saturday we have all had an opportunity to reflect on the life of a truly great and noble man, Pope John Paul II.

For Catholics and non-Catholics alike, Pope John Paul II was truly a man who touched the lives of millions of people across the world. He lived an exemplary life of service both to his faith and to humanity. He helped to bring about the end of communism. He opposed the war in Iraq. He called upon all people to accept and promote social justice in every part of the world.

In 1984 he visited our country and we celebrated his vision and commitment to bettering the lives of all people. I was pleased to be closely involved with his visit to Toronto in 2002 for World Youth Day. Like all those who participated, I will forever cherish the memory of that time.

With his passing the world has lost a spiritual leader, a humanitarian, an activist for peace and justice, and a unique human being who changed the world. He will be aptly remembered as John Paul the great for he certainly was that.

International Day of La Francophonie March 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, each year francophones on five continents celebrate the international day of La Francophonie. March 20 is the day millions of people get together to promote the French language.

This date was chosen to commemorate the founding of the Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie, which aims to develop cooperation programs that put the spotlight on cultural and linguistic diversity.

Just days away from the 35th anniversary of the founding of the international Francophonie, I would like to add my voice to those of my colleagues in this House and pay tribute to the initiatives taken by our Prime Minister, Mr. Paul Martin, to establish and maintain democracy and respect for human rights around the world.

Civil Marriage Act March 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to have this opportunity to address the House with regard to the civil marriage act, which represents a new frontier in equality and respect for all Canadians. In the life of parliamentarians, there are times when we are called upon to strive for higher ideals and to embrace change that often challenges long held and deeply entrenched beliefs.

Throughout history many of the greatest achievements in the cause of advancing human rights have had to contend with the most intense resistance. This is not necessarily because those who oppose are of poor character or choose to act out less than noble motives. Indeed, I believe that most people are at their core good and honourable.

Change can be difficult at times to embrace and there is a temptation to choose to do nothing in the face of the call to embrace a new way of thinking. Some may even react contemptuously to change of any kind and work to counter progress already achieved. The debate on this issue of civil marriage will be peppered with reference to freedom, equality and tradition.

However, at the heart of this debate is the reality that we are dealing with the lives of people who have for so long heard the message that they are different or even unworthy of equal treatment before the law. This debate is about the very foundation of our civil society, not about religious beliefs or the freedom to part with traditions as any citizen chooses.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms extends to religious persons the freedom to refuse any action that is inconsistent with their conscience or beliefs. As a parliamentarian and a proud Canadian, I would sacrifice everything to preserve these inalienable rights. However, as a representative of all my constituents, I am also compelled to support measures that bestow equal treatment under the law to everyone.

Freedom and equality are not the exclusive purview of the few, but the cherished gifts of all citizens. One cannot be equal and unequal at the same time. Either we are all free and equal or none of us are. Let us ensure that freedom's call is answered once again and that we are not only the guardians of our nation's legacy of tolerance, but also that we count ourselves among the daring who have chosen not the easy path but the just road.

As the debate continues we are asked to remember that in the long struggle for greater human dignity and equality we are called upon to defy fear and to confront confidently those who obstruct our path. The road ahead is indeed challenging, but the greatness comes not when we are certain of the path but when the journey allows us the choice between fear of change and the hope of daring to begin anew.

As a young man I recall the sense of accomplishment that Canadians experienced over 20 years ago when we watched the Charter of Rights and Freedoms become the foundation upon which our collective individual rights were enshrined. It was a great step forward for us as a nation and it showed that we had come of age.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has become part of the fabric of our nation and we all ought to abstain from attacks on this profound statement of hope and tolerance. The bill before the House extends to same sex couples the rights to have their unions recognized by civil authorities as valid relationships. In so doing, our civil society bestows recognition on these people, which they are entitled to as equal citizens under the law.

This bill by no means diminishes the value and worth of traditional marriage. The civil marriage act does in fact extend choices to all Canadians that until now have been exclusionary. Who among us would deny human beings the right to express their love and commitment to each other? I invite everyone to consider realistically the current status of same sex marriage legislation in Canada.

In jurisdictions across the country the right of same sex couples to marry already exists as a result of long fought court challenges. In Ontario, for example, we have seen the provincial attorney general already move to change laws to reflect this new reality. I ask all parliamentarians to consider the implications of refuting this legislation currently before us.

Are we suggesting that thousands of marriage licences already issued by municipal and provincial authorities be rescinded? Do we now maintain that these unions already acknowledged by legal jurisdictions are no longer recognized? Are we prepared to take away rights that have already been extended to gays and lesbians? Indeed, neither option is possible and we must accept that failure to pass this bill would ensure that the existing patchwork of legal approaches would continue to confuse the issue, and no doubt with further court challenges and more years of discord.

The civil marriage act creates an environment where British Columbians are treated with equality to the same degree as an Albertan or an Ontarian or Nova Scotian. Surely the role of a national government is to protect and ensure that all citizens are treated equally regardless of where they live in this great country.

During the national debate on this issue there have been expressions of rhetoric that have been divisive, sometimes less than forthright. It has been suggested this is not a matter for the courts and that their will is being cast arbitrarily on an unreceptive nation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The mere fact that we in this House are debating this matter underscores the supremacy of Parliament.

The courts have shown us that it is patently unfair to deny the full rights of participation to any citizen of Canada. These judicial decisions are not limited to one jurisdiction, but should apply to court rooms across the country.

We have sought the advice of the highest court in the land in order that we might benefit from its wisdom. The ultimate choice remains ours and history is asking us to render a verdict which upholds the virtue of equal treatment for all.

There have been suggestions that Parliament invoke the notwithstanding clause to overturn the decision of the courts. Imagine future generations looking back on these times and wondering how well meaning people would have ever used this mechanism to deny the rights of full citizenship to any Canadian.

My colleagues in the House are being asked to take a giant leap forward on the road to equality. This is not a time to evade our responsibility, now or for future generations. I call upon members to be bold in spirit and in action as we confront this challenge.

When the House votes on this bill, we will do more than record our decision on this matter. We will redress generations of Canadians who have felt the pain of inequality. What we say to them on that day will be supported by how we vote. Will we be inclusive? Will we invite all Canadians to the table as equal partners? The decision is ours. The hour will soon approach when what this country strives to achieve will be reflected in a single vote.

I ask all members to ponder the importance of this decision, to search deeply within ourselves, so that we may move forward with commitment and understanding, secure in the knowledge that we are being called to convey to the world all that this great nation can be now and in the years to come.

In many parts of the world gays and lesbians have to contend with repressive measures that range from mild to the most extreme. Let Canada be an example of equality and tolerance that demonstrates to all nations our commitment to fairness and equality. Let us be the voice of equality, that example of tolerance that is the highest order of leadership. Who among us cannot comprehend what it has been like for those forced to travel the road of inequality and isolation, who have for so long been denied acceptance?

As we move nearer to a vote on this issue, I ask only that members reflect on the essence of this debate. It is about fellow Canadians who wish to take their rightful place as equals. History will remember those who follow their conscience during this debate, but we may be assured that generations to come will hold us to account as we forge ahead.

I express sincere gratitude to my colleagues for their abiding commitment to do what they feel is right. We all know that these are courageous personal decisions. In the final analysis I intend to vote in favour of the bill, not because the choice is easy but because it is just.

We are a nation of people who can demonstrate to the world that we can shine as the example of tolerance and compassion. I intend to vote yes because I owe it to those who have fought for this so valiantly, to those who await our verdict on the equal value of their citizenship and most importantly for generations of Canadians to come.

The world sees Canada as a nation of unimaginable beauty with endless flowing rivers and mountains that reach to the sky. We are also a nation that instills hope for the world that so desperately needs it. This is the hope of those who seek tolerance, understanding and fairness. Let us be the Canada that we have always known we can be.

Let the light of Canada's soul cast its glow across a troubled world and be the beacon of freedom and equality that all nations will dare to compare themselves to as they too strive for higher ideals. I intend to support the civil marriage act not because the decision is easy but because it is the right thing to do.

Status of Women March 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, nations across the world have just marked International Women's Day, yet women in every region of the world continue to be oppressed and discriminated against. This past week has given us various examples of this oppression and discrimination. Women are struggling the world over for equality and justice.

I would ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs what action he has taken to demonstrate internationally Canada's commitment to equality and justice for women in every corner of the world.

Colorectal Cancer March 9th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, colorectal cancer is one of the least talked about forms of cancer. As a result, many Canadians are unaware of its prevalence and its symptoms.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related death among men and women in Canada.

Regular screening can help prevent over 90% of colorectal cancer by allowing for treatment in the earliest stages. There is also a need for greater access to treatment and faster approvals for new medications.

March is Colorectal Cancer Month. The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada is pleased to invite all members of Parliament and senators to an awareness breakfast tomorrow morning, Thursday, March 10, in the parliamentary restaurant beginning at 7:30 a.m.

I encourage all members of the House to attend this important event.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004, No. 2 February 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I feel compelled to ask a question of the hon. member as I feel there has been a little bit of rewriting of history.

We should note the fact that it was the provincial Liberal government that issued a freeze on tuition and it was the NDP government in Ontario that allowed tuition to more than double when it was in power. This government has put in $5 billion annually into the transfer students assistance programs and $15 billion into the hands of provincial governments to deal with post-secondary education and other issues.

On the issue of housing, again there is obvious great concern by all of us, but we should remember, and it has been stated incorrectly many times in the House, that it was a Conservative government that eliminated the national housing policy in 1992 and not the Liberal government. The Liberal government struggled for many years in Ontario under the Harris government to get a housing policy in that province. There has been over $600 million already committed by the government to the province of Ontario alone. Many of those projects are still yet to be fulfilled.

Certainly, when I was a city councillor in the city of Toronto, the issue was not the money. The issue was trying to get the program going. It was a struggle because many of the programs had been killed by the provincial Tory government at that time.

It is very important that we get our facts correct in the House. As I see it, it is our government that has been working very diligently with the provincial and municipal governments to get housing going across this country.