House of Commons photo

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

Research and Development December 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, this morning the newspaper La Presse says that Montreal and Quebec City are the only two Canadian cities where private sector spending on research and development increased in 2003.

What has the Government of Canada done to encourage private sector research?

Canadian Association of Broadcasters December 7th, 2004

Madam Speaker, from November 28 to November 30, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters met in Ottawa for their 78th annual convention.

Some 600 of the country's most senior private radio, television and specialty and pay services broadcasters attended the convention that had as its theme, “Private Broadcasting: Putting Canada First”. Topics of discussion ranged from cultural diversity issues to the future of local programming in Canada.

During their two days of meetings, they participated in activities that centred on the role of broadcasters in promoting Canada's identity.

I am pleased to congratulate the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and its members on a successful and well attended 78th annual meeting.

Violence Against Women December 6th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on December 6, Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, it is important to recognize that gender based violence can take many forms. Trafficking in persons is a serious and growing crime, both domestically and internationally.

The United Nations estimates that one million people are trafficked throughout the world every year, mostly women and children, with most forced into prostitution. It is also estimated that the black market in the trafficking and smuggling of persons is so lucrative that it is quickly catching up with the trade in illegal drugs and firearms as a source of profit for organized crime.

Trafficking has its roots in the ongoing inequality of women. The failure to protect and promote women's civil, political, economic and social rights can result in situations in which violence against women is endemic and trafficking flourishes.

On this day dedicated to reflection and action on violence against women, may Canadians everywhere renew their commitment to advancing gender equality and women's human rights, both here and around the world.

Veterans December 6th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in the debate on this worthy motion. This is not the first time that memorial maintenance has been discussed in this place. If I recall correctly, similar private member's bills have been put forward in the past by my colleagues opposite. This time it is my friend from this side of the aisle, all of which is to say that when it comes to remembrance and commemoration, our debate is almost entirely non-partisan. Usually our disagreements are over matters of details, not intent.

This is, by definition, a worthwhile and interesting motion, and I weigh my words carefully.

I say it is worthwhile because all of us in this place feel the motion is appropriate for all the reasons that our intellect tells us. We are wise to heed the words of philosopher, Santayana, who said, “Those who do not know their history are condemned to relive it”.

We know that if we forget the stories of veterans we will lose our sense of place in history. We will be breaking the faith with Canadians who served and sacrificed for others and with the families they left behind.

Part of that storytelling surely lies in the memorials that can be found in most communities throughout Canada.

I also say it is an interesting motion, because I believe that it raises valid questions about the nature of commemoration and the best way to invest public money.

In fact, my hon. colleague referred to some of these issues in his remarks.

I should point out that it is not as if the government does not spend substantial money now for physical icons and markers of remembrance. Hon. members are quite familiar with the fact that the government is responsible for the maintenance of our glorious national war memorials. If ever anyone wants proof of money well spent, they only need to watch the reaction of our visitors to the amazing Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

It is clear that monuments and cenotaphs can have the power to move and motivate people to stop and think about the legacy they have inherited from those who were caught up in the maelstrom of war and destruction. Because Canadians' wartime sacrifice has been on foreign shores and because the monuments that arose from the ashes of the first world war are now disintegrating before our eyes, our duty is clear. We must meet our responsibility in the care and maintenance of the 13 great war memorials in France and Belgium.

Anyone who has seen the monument of Vimy Ridge, even if only in picture books, can see the reason. To not see the magnificent monument or any of the others would be unthinkable. That is why we are in the midst of a $30 million refurbishing to bring these wonderful witnesses to Canadians' sacrifices back to their original condition.

On the home front, there are 6,000 cenotaphs and monuments in municipalities across the country, some of which are in need of preservation and restoration. I know that the veterans are very pleased that the necessary maintenance of these cenotaphs and monuments is among the government's priorities. I also know that more remains to be done, but I think that, through this fund, it will be possible to put together the initial financial resources necessary to cooperate with individuals and community groups in restoring cenotaphs and monuments.

I congratulate the hon. members on the motion and the government for making a positive response. A collective pat on the back is due to all who continue to pursue this matter to its fruition.

Department of Social Development Act November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, indeed, the issue of seniors is very important for the government and, as was outlined in the Speech from the Throne, the government is increasing the guaranteed income supplement.

In my riding of Davenport, seniors play an incredible role in community development. It is something that I have kept a very close watch on and have been quite involved with for a number of years. I understand the issues of seniors quite well. I understand the importance of seniors living out their lives with dignity and respect.

As I alluded to, the government in fact is reaching out to seniors and is now working to implement some of the details in relation to the increase of the guaranteed income supplement. Certainly the seniors in this country are a priority for the government.

Department of Social Development Act November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that this is an important issue for all members, not just Bloc Québécois members. I believe that all members here are very concerned about seniors. I can unequivocally state that, in our country, this government spends in excess of $63 billion annually on services programs for the elderly.

It is also important to mention that public pensions have helped reduce the proportion of seniors living below the poverty level. Indeed, the percentage went from 20.8% in 1940, down to 7.3% in 2000.

We continue to try to reach more and more people. I am proud that our government made it a priority to help vulnerable people in our society, including seniors.

Department of Social Development Act November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise to add my voice in support of this bill to formally create the new Department of Social Development, because I believe it will do much to improve the lives of Canadian seniors.

As we all know, life expectancy in Canada has risen substantially over the past century. As a result, the number of people 65 and older is expected to double, from 4.6 million last year to 9.2 million by 2041.

One obvious consequence will be felt when the baby-boomer generation hits retirement age. Instead of contributing to pension funds, they will be drawing on them. Already nearly five million Canadians receive benefits through the Canadian pension plan and old age security programs and that number has nowhere to go but up.

Is this cause for alarm? No, it is not. It simply requires us to recognize the reality and to prepare for it.

What is more, we ought to focus on the wonderful contributions that seniors make to our families, our communities and our society. We should be figuring out ways to encourage and promote their active engagement.

That is one of the key purposes of this new department of Social Development Canada: to serve as a focal point for initiatives for seniors, initiatives including income support programs to prevent seniors from living in poverty, and other programs to involve and engage them in their communities.

Seniors need enough money to live on, to be sure, but they need something else as well. They have to feel that their lives are full and worthwhile.

Social Development Canada, working with its many partners in the provinces and territories, municipalities, the private sector, the voluntary sector and learning institutions, is taking important steps to achieve both these ends.

The Government of Canada currently spends more than $63 billion a year on programs and services for seniors. This includes almost $21 billion for universal old age security pensions, nearly $16 billion for Canada's pension plan for retired workers, $5.8 billion for the guaranteed income supplement for low income seniors, and more than $4 billion for other survivor and death benefits as well as health care.

It is reassuring to know that our public pension system is there for our most vulnerable citizens. Indeed, public pensions have helped reduce the proportion of seniors living below the poverty line from 20.8% in 1980 to 7.3% in 2000. As OECD statistics confirm, Canada is a world leader in alleviating poverty among seniors.

Social Development Canada will continue to administer these programs with the same level of professionalism and courtesy that Canadian seniors have come to expect.

A secure source of income is critically important for all our seniors, but with men now spending more than 17% of their lives in retirement and women close to 28%, we need to take the broadest view possible. We need to think about quality of life.

We know that seniors can easily get cut off from the rest of society. This is not uncommon after somebody loses a spouse, especially when their children and grandchildren live far away, yet social engagement is essential because it translates into greater physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Fortunately, many seniors do keep very busy. A few, about 6%, remain in the paid workforce after they reach 65. Nearly one in five give back to their communities through volunteer activities. Many more provide transportation and child care and run errands for friends and families.

We need to support such engagement and expand on it to give as many Canadian seniors as possible a chance to remain active participants in our society.

That is why Social Development Canada has unveiled the new horizons for seniors program. The new horizons program will support community based projects to encourage seniors to participate in social activities, pursue an active life and contribute to their communities.

Seniors' organizations, volunteer groups, community based coalitions, municipal governments and aboriginal groups will be able to propose a variety of projects eligible for funding under the program budget of $8 million this year and $10 million in the year ahead.

Initiated and led by seniors, each project will harness the skills, experience and wisdom of older Canadians in activities that will benefit their local communities. That will be good for seniors and good for everybody around them.

It is true that neighbours and families have vital roles to play in keeping older Canadians connected to their communities, but this does not mean that governments cannot help as well. Social Development Canada's role will be to provide the resources to turn good ideas into reality. It will also serve as a clearinghouse for those good ideas so that one community can learn from another.

I think we can all agree that there are real and tangible benefits for a society that looks after its older members. The well-being of seniors is a priority for the Government of Canada. That is why the Prime Minister created a new cabinet position and appointed the hon. member for Trinity--Spadina as Minister of State for Families and Caregivers.

Seniors with strong connections to their families and communities are well positioned to share the wisdom of their experience with others, whether informally or more formally through voluntary activities or paid work. Healthy and socially connected seniors are more likely to live independent lives, an outcome that the Government of Canada is working to support.

Social Development Canada will coordinate policy work at the federal level and in cooperation with the provinces to ensure that seniors' programming is aligned to achieve the best results for current and future seniors.

As a society we are enriched by the wisdom and knowledge of our older citizens. The Speech from the Throne put it best: “Canada's seniors have earned the right to be treated with dignity”.

Support for our country's aging population is an important priority of the Government of Canada. Under the leadership of Social Development Canada, we will have the mechanisms to bring all the partners together, to focus on the challenges and opportunities of an aging society, and to ensure we have the programs and services that will allow all Canadians to live the final years of their lives with comfort and dignity.

Seniors are vital members of our communities. They have earned the right to be treated well by the society to which they have contributed so much.

By passing this legislation to create Social Development Canada, we will create a means for all Canadians to express their respect and appreciation.

I would like to state, as I asked the hon. minister today in the House, what the government's priority for seniors is going to be. He clearly outlined the government's priority. It is one that respects our seniors, our voluntary sector and people who are afflicted with handicaps.

In my riding of Davenport and across this country, seniors play a vital role in community services. Seniors are the backbone of the volunteer sector. They are the ones who contribute most to our society. Because of that, because of their contributions to this country, we strive to make their lives better, to have them live in dignity.

Through the various announcements the government has made and the creation of the new ministry and department, this is an issue where the government has a focus on seniors, on people with disabilities and of course on people who are volunteering and giving so much to our communities.

I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.

Seniors November 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as members of the House know, the number of seniors is growing in our country. Seniors within my riding of Davenport and indeed across the country will want to know what the government plans to do to address issues of concern to them.

Could the Minister of State for Families and Caregivers assure seniors what action plan he plans to put in place?

Toronto's Alliance Française November 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, Sunday, November 14, 2004, will go down in history as an important date for French culture in Ontario. That was the day the Alliance Française de Toronto opened its third campus to teach French language and culture. Toronto's Alliance Française, founded in 1902, has become the largest in North America.

The ceremony, under the patronage of Her Excellency the Governor General, was attended by 300 people and presided over by the hon. Minister of National Defence and His Excellency Daniel Jouanneau, ambassador of France.

I would like to take this opportunity to make special mention of the unfailing support France provides for the Alliance Française network in Canada.

I salute this initiative by the board of directors of Toronto's Alliance Française—of which I am an active member—and offer my congratulations on the excellent cooperation between France and Canada.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act November 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be a part of ushering in the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Last December when the Prime Minister reorganized the former Human Resources Development Canada, steps were taken, pursuant to the Public Service Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act, to permit the creation of two new departments.

Today, with the legislation before the House, we are providing the department with the legal power and tools needed for the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to fulfill his mandate, and what an important mandate it is. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, or HRSDC, plays a key role in meeting the Government of Canada's commitment to improve the social and economic well-being of all Canadians.

Through the department's efforts to support human capital development, enhance access to post-secondary education, promote workplace and skills development and foster a culture of lifelong learning, the quality of life for all Canadians, including the most disadvantaged, will be greatly improved.

If we, as a nation, are to participate fully in the 21st century economy and society, then we must have the means to ensure that all Canadians can pursue lifelong learning and skills development opportunities.

Starting with schooling, we are working with our provincial and territorial partners to enhance the accessibility and affordability of post-secondary education. We want Canadians to have access to post-secondary education, but we also recognize the need for working-age Canadians to improve their skills and learn new ones. To help Canadians achieve this goal, HRSDC supports a variety of programs from basic literacy to apprenticeship to on-the-job training.

We all know that the best security is a job but the reality is that many Canadians need help getting started in their careers or returning to the workplace. That is why HRSDC directs substantial funds to employment insurance programs through active measures that are designed to assist unemployed workers participate in the workforce. Through such components as employment assistance services, job creation partnerships and labour market partnerships, the department has helped almost 700,000 Canadians in 2003-04.

As hon. members can tell from the names of these programs, partnership is key to ensuring the best outcomes for Canadians. It is for this reason that HRSDC is working with other levels of government, employers, unions and sector councils to develop a workplace skills strategy.

The workplace is increasingly important in a business environment characterized by rapid technological innovation. Under the workplace skills strategy, we have set three objectives: to help build a highly skilled, adaptable and resilient workforce; to see a labour market that is flexible, efficient and productive; and to work with employers to ensure that Canada's workplaces are productive and innovative.

The department is committed to looking at issues such as literacy training and essential skills upgrading for workers as well as encouraging apprenticeships in the skills trades. The workplace skills strategy will focus on the workplace for action because that is where workers' skills come into play.

In our last budget we kick-started the strategy by providing new resources for union-employer training centres. Over the next three years we will invest $25 million in a pilot project to help replace outdated equipment for trades training. The Government of Canada will match employer and union investments in new machinery in selected training centres.

Right now we are working to increase Canadians' levels of education, but Canada is undergoing a shortage of skilled workers in some areas. If we couple this with the aging demographics of the population and the moving of the baby boom generation out of the labour force, it is clear that Canada needs workers.

A key element of the workplace skills strategy will therefore be the focus on foreign credential recognition. The fact that immigration is expected to account for all net labour force growth between 2011 and 2016 and the fact that many immigrants' skills are underutilized means that we must act promptly, and we have.

To address this challenge, the Government of Canada has created the foreign credentials recognition program. To implement this program the 2003 budget provided $40 million over five years to improve the foreign credentials recognition process in Canada and followed up with an additional $5 million per year over four years in the 2004 budget.

We know that health care is a number one priority with Canadians. With this in mind, we have reached an agreement with the provinces, territories and key medical stakeholders on improved procedures for licensing foreign trained doctors. Similar initiatives are underway for foreign trained nurses and other occupations related to the health field.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is helping newcomers to have their skills recognized; supporting families so that children get the best start in life; facilitating access to post-secondary education; and encouraging learning and skills development in the workplace.

We know how important it is to help Canadians prepare for, find and keep work, but we also recognize that there are times when all a person needs is temporary assistance to help bridge the gap between jobs. HRSDC administers employment insurance to provide relief for those temporarily unemployed.

The department is also responsible for the employment insurance compensation care benefit. This benefit helps ease the stress faced by Canadians who must choose between their jobs and caring for their gravely ill family members by providing six weeks of employment insurance benefits.

In my riding of Davenport and across the greater Toronto area, HRSDC provides funding and support to many programs that assist people to improve their lives.

The services and leadership offered by HRSDC directly impacts communities like mine all across the country. Whether it is work on foreign trained doctors or employment insurance benefits, these are the kinds of things that are important to people in Toronto and across Canada.

From the broad range of programs and services that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada offers, we can see just how crucial the department is to promoting Canada's social and economic well-being.

HRSDC has an ambitious and important agenda. This legislation gives the formal authority for the new department to pursue it.