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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

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act October 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-22. I think most of us in the House will agree that this is important legislation and an important tool for law enforcement officers to combat the criminal activities that are taking place by organized criminals who are preying upon our most vulnerable, the children of our society.

As legislators, we have an obligation, both domestically with our domestic law and as signatories to international conventions, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which we signed back in 1989 and which came into effect in 1990, to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect children within our society. This is another piece of legislation that is an important tool to do so.

The issue of child pornography has taken on a new importance in this new computer age. We are moving, as we all know, at rapid speed in terms of the new technology being introduced and we need to ensure that the laws are being constantly updated to meet those challenges that are being posed to us by the new technologies being presented to us in society.

The sheer proliferation of child pornography on the Internet poses enormous challenges as well to the laws of enforcement.

Some statistics show that the U.S. accounts for almost 50% of child pornography host sites; Russia is second with about 20%; and Canada, which is a small country by population, is third and accounts for almost 10%. That is not something we should be very proud of. We, as a country, need to do everything possible to ensure that does not take place here in our country. We need to work with our international partners to ensure there are international conventions and tools in place to ensure, internationally, that there is a ban on the hosting of child pornography sites and that we are working collaboratively to stop this situation.

Law enforcement alone does not possess the resources needed to meet the challenges effectively, although their efforts are commendable, but they need those tools and this bill would do that.

We need to place some of this responsibility to combat this issue with Internet service providers. Internet service providers possess the means to assist in this way and they must be compelled to do so. We have heard in this House today several members mentioning that Germany and Sweden have done an excellent job of doing so. We in Canada can be leaders but we can also learn from our partners about how to provide effective tools to combat this.

It is for that reason that I join with my colleagues in supporting this important bill. It is truly distressing to see the large number of cases of child pornography charges being reported in the media. This, unfortunately, is only a small fraction of child pornography to be found on the Internet. More must be done and this bill is a significant step forward.

My community has been directly touched by the scourge of child pornography. On May 12, 2003, 10-year-old Holly Jones was abducted and murdered. Her killer was caught and confessed. He also confessed to being consumed by images of child pornography leading up to the day he abducted this beautiful innocent child. This is unquestionably a direct link between child pornography that this perpetrator viewed and his decision to take the precious life of this young child, Holly Jones.

In 2008, I introduced a bill entitled Bill C-388, which was designed to penalize those who shared child pornography. It is this kind of approach that must be adopted to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to challenge effectively child pornography at all levels and on all fronts.

It was estimated in a 2003 study that 20% of all pornography traded over the Internet was child pornography, and we can assume that this number has increased since that study.

The United States department of justice noted that at any given time there are one million child pornography images on the Internet. Can anyone Imagine how many millions of images are being traded on a regular basis daily throughout the world? One million images of innocent children being victimized on the Internet.

In 2008, a review of the national laws across 187 nations showed that 93 countries still had no specific laws dealing with child pornography. This is totally unacceptable, and we in Canada must show leadership by putting in place laws that are effective and enforced. Effective laws and enforcement must be the basis on which we fight this scourge.

The law we are debating today would help us to assist law enforcement agencies by giving them an invaluable tool. Internet service providers must assume some level of responsibility for the information that moves through their systems. This laws makes Internet service providers part of the solution to this growing problem.

In fact, clause 4 states:

If a person who provides an Internet service to the public has reasonable grounds to believe that their Internet service is being or has been used to commit a child pornography offence, the person must notify an officer, constable or other person employed for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace of that fact, as soon as feasible and in accordance with the regulations.

Clause 5 goes further to state:

A person who makes a notification under section 4 must preserve all computer data related to the notification that is in their possession or control for 21 days after the day on which the notification is made.

The obligations and duties they must enforce is stated in the law.

I would remind the House that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child requires nations to take the necessary steps needed to combat child pornography. This proposed legislation is clearly a necessary step for us to take in this country.

However, we must remember why we are taking these steps. Children are the victims of child pornography. Innocent lives are devastated by this terrible crime. Psychiatrists speak to the shame and guilt these young victims experience and the profound impact this has on their lives. Most, if they survive, will spend their lives dealing with the fallout of the crimes that have been committed upon them. Their lives are forever diminished and, because of this, any society that does not take effective action is also diminished.

The nature of the Internet lends itself to ever-changing forms of abuse. We are all aware of the recent case in British Columbia where a young girl was assaulted by a group of men at a party. Having had to endure this terrible crime, she also had to deal with the posting of the video of the crime online. This is simply intolerable. The police are to be commended for their quick action in the case but they need help. They need the tools that will strengthen their arsenal for fighting this crime. This bill would ensure in law the responsibility of Internet service providers to be partners in this battle against child pornography.

The scope of this problem is truly astounding. Over the past three years, we have seen charges laid against thousands of people who cross every demography of society. The problem is widespread but there are ways to fight it. One such example is that of Toronto police detective, Paul Gillespie, who recognized the problem of anonymity on the Internet for those who traded in child pornography. He wrote to many organizations and groups, including Microsoft. The result was Microsoft developing a tool called the child exploitation tracking system that allowed police to track the activities of hundreds of child pornographers at one time. This reduced duplication of work and made enforcement much easier.

It is these kinds of initiatives that show we can effectively meet this challenge and that we are dedicated to finding a solution. It is for these reasons that I am proud to vote in favour of this bill. I encourage all members of the House to support this bill.

Governor General of Canada October 1st, 2010

Madam Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues in the Liberal caucus, I would like to salute Governor General designate David Johnston and his wife as they begin their new roles today.

Mr. Johnston has had an impressive career as an educator, legal scholar, athlete and university president of both McGill and Waterloo. Governor General David Johnston has inspired Canadians in the classroom and has brought international recognition to Canada's capacity for science, research and development. As a renowned academic and university leader, he has shown his tremendous dedication to post-secondary education and its role in building an innovative, highly skilled future for Canada.

We have full confidence that Governor General David Johnston will perform his constitutional duties with grace and dignity, acting within the principles of Canada's parliamentary democracy. We know he will ensure continuous and stable governance in a non-partisan manner and continue the tradition of the excellence established by his predecessors.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I understand the member's question, but I have some trouble understanding in what direction he is going. Is he proposing that Canada should only sign free trade agreements with countries that have the same salaries as in Canada or higher? I am not sure what that does for countries like Brazil. His colleague said that we should probably look at Brazil. We know that the average wage in Brazil is not the same as in Canada.

The reality is we have an opportunity to move forward with a free trade agreement with a country that is stable, that has very impressive growth rates, that can offer opportunities for many Canadian companies to export their goods and trade with that country. Why not support Canadian companies and industries that want to do more business with Panama?

If the member has concerns, he is more than welcome to attend our committee meetings and raise those concerns as well.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have raised in our committee the importance of that very large giant in the Americas, Brazil. We have done a report on Brazil, but we also want to ensure the government pursues that relationship with Brazil to see if we can get a free trade agreement.

As the member had mentioned, it is complicated regarding the issue of Mercosur. Brazil was one of the founding and largest contributors to that common market. It is moving forward, along with Argentina, Panama and Uruguay. Now I believe Venezuela is also going to join Mercosur.

There is already a partnership and it is probably more complicated to enter, just like there are complications in Canada entering with the European Union, because we are entering it with a larger market. However, it is one that is in Canada's best interests. I would encourage the government to do everything possible with an agreement with Brazil, to see what obstacles are in front of us and if we can all work together to achieve that end goal. Brazil is an emerging market. I very much appreciate the fact that the member had also raised this issue in the House.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my hon. colleague that I consult my constituents on a regular basis. In fact, I did that over the summer and spent a great deal of time with my constituents on a whole host of different issues. I also attended different meetings and events with them.

I am proud of my record over the years. I like to take a bit of credit. I have been elected there six times over. I believe I probably know best what is in the best interests of the community of Davenport.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I agree and concur with my colleague. Delaying this for six months does not make any sense. Nor is it of any benefit to Canadians and Canadian businesses. As I mentioned, there is a major expansion taking place in the Panama Canal. We want to be good partners and ensure we are part of that development.

On the six month delay, I am not sure what would be accomplished. If at the end of the day I believed that the NDP would be supportive of this after six months, then maybe I could see it as a rationale, but in reality we all know that is not the case.

I ask my colleagues to move this to where it needs to be, and that is at the committee stage, so we can hear from stakeholders. Right now we are depriving Canadians, Canadian businesses and stakeholders from all communities to come before committee. As parliamentarians, we should give them the opportunity to speak on their issues and concerns.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the international trade committee, I am pleased to speak on behalf of Bill C-46, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement. As we will be studying the bill in committee, I think it is very important to listen to the debate and the concerns of members in the House. However, it is also important to get the bill to the committee so that we can hear from our constituents, from the communities that are concerned, and from different stakeholders. I think the appropriate way to deal with issues of concern in the House is to have the committee study, consult, meet with our stakeholders, and have a full discussion. That is why I am supportive of the bill, but there are also many things I believe very strongly we should be pursuing as we move forward with this particular agreement, which Canada entered on May 14, 2010.

As we are all aware, Canada is a trade dependent nation. Although 70% of our trade is with the U.S., there is a growing need for us to diversify our trade with our partners throughout the world. The Americas are a growing market. They are our neighbours, and it is an area we have to focus on. We have, over the last few years, been focusing on the Americas.

Mr. Speaker, 80% of our economy depends on access to foreign markets for Canada's exports. I support this initiative, because I think it will improve Canadian businesses' access to these different markets.

In 2009, we exported about $90 million in goods to Panama, and we imported about $40.7 million. Bilateral trade in total was about $132 million. It is small. Panama is a country of a little over 3.3 million people, and it has a relatively small GDP of about $38 billion. However, it is an important country in that region, and not just because of the strategic importance of the Panama Canal and the investment that has been made in the Panama Canal. It is also a hub for business in commerce. It is a stable country and is a partner with Canada.

We have to recognize the fact that Panama, given its long, turbulent history, has become, over the years, a very stable and progressive economy, and it is looking for partners throughout the world. Certainly other countries have made inroads into Panama. It is only fitting that Canada, as well, would want to be a partner in that economic growth.

I would say that the growth in Panama has been nothing but phenomenal. The GDP grew by about 10.7% in 2008. That was one of the highest in the Americas. The projected rate of increase for the GDP this year is about 5.6%. These are impressive numbers given what has happened globally during the incredible economic crisis facing the world. We see a country that has really withstood the recession and the economic crisis and has moved beyond and exceeded most developed countries. We are very pleased to see that a country like Panama, in which we have taken an interest, is doing extremely well. It bodes well for the future of Panama and for our trade agreement, which can grow and provide our businesses in Canada with access to Panama.

I just want to focus on some of the issues that will be of concern and that need to be raised, particularly in terms of the issues that will be affected by this particular trade. The primary Canadian merchandise exports to Panama include machinery, vehicles, electronic equipment, pharmaceutical equipment, pulses, and frozen potato products. Canadian service exports include financial services, engineering, and information and communication technology services. Merchandise imports from Panama include precious stones and metals, mainly gold; fruits and nuts; and fish and seafood products.

There are a variety of different products we would engage with. As I said, it is a relatively small economy, but it is one that is growing. We need to ensure that we are part of that growth and that Canadian businesses share in the profit from that growth.

The Panama Canal is at the moment going through a major investment. It is a passageway for thousands of vehicles each year and plays a tremendous role in international commerce and the world economy. It is a vital, strategic canal that is expanding. It is slated to be completed in 2014. That project alone is an $5.3 billion expansion.

It is expected to generate opportunities for Canadian companies in construction, environmental engineering, and consulting services for capital projects. We have a great opportunity to play a major role in the expansion of the canal. Canadian companies can have a stake and would profit from this particular expansion.

Some of the issues that will be covered by this free trade agreement with the Republic of Panama include market access to goods and cross-border trade in services, telecommunications, investment, financial services, and government procurement. These are some of the basic issues we will be dealing with.

The deal will have the added benefit of eliminating about 99% of tariffs on current imports from Panama. It will also address non-tariff barriers by adopting measures to ensure non-discriminatory treatment of imported goods and the promotion of good regulatory practices, transparency, and international standards.

As several members in the House have stated, there are also side agreements on both labour and the environment. These agreements would be signed with the Republic of Panama. They will cover issues such as the right to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, and the elimination of discrimination. These provisions in the side agreements that would be signed by the two countries would in many ways ensure that both Canada and Panama have a stake in the development of human rights and labour rights in that country. We would be a partner to make sure that they were in compliance with those international obligations. Canada would not just be signing a free trade agreement with Panama. As a country, we would also have a duty and an obligation to make sure that the particular provisions that specifically deal with labour and environmental issues are, in fact, enforced. This is not just a moral obligation; it is a legal obligation on the part of Canada to ensure that if this agreement is enacted, those provisions will be looked at.

Although I support where this is going, I think we need to move forward with more robust and comprehensive free trade agreements with some of our larger partners, and not just the European Union, with which we are presently negotiating. The European Union is a very important market, and there is probably very broad support in the House to move forward with that agreement.

There are also countries that play a major role internationally. Two I would like to speak about are Brazil and India. They are important partners for Canada, and we need to move forward with some type of free trade agreements. Brazil, as we know, is a dynamic and growing economy in our hemisphere. It has a very young population and a large and growing middle class. It will also be hosting both the Olympics and the World Cup.

There is an incredible boom of investment in that country. Over the next 10 years, it will be over $100 billion. We would like to be there to ensure our construction contractors, engineering companies and different sectors of the Canadian economy play a major role with the growth in that economy. Not only stadiums and new facilities are being built, but a fast-rail link and a new metro system is as well. There is incredible opportunity for us to show Canadian know-how in a very dynamic country like Brazil.

India is the largest democracy and Canada has a very large Indian diaspora. India is growing, not just in south Asia, but across the world. It has a major influence in buying companies, certainly in the area of high technology and engineering. It is playing a major role internationally and we are very proud to see the success of that country.

India is a partner of which Canada is very proud. Yesterday the minister mentioned that he had an opportunity to meet with his Indian counterpart last Friday in Parliament. I believe he had an opportunity to discuss the possibility of some type of free trade agreement in the future. I would encourage Canada to move in that direction.

I mention those two countries because they are very large and substantial countries. We need to move forward beyond agreements with important countries but small ones. We are talking small in comparison to Brazil and India. We have signed other deals with Chile and we are now looking at Jordan. These are important countries, but nothing to the size and scale of those two superpowers of both Brazil and India.

This is where we as parliamentarians have to make a decision. I do not see what good would come out of a delay of six months to be honest. The appropriate thing to do is to move this forward to committee so that I, as a member, and other members of the committee have an opportunity to hear from stakeholders. That is the reason why I would like to support the bill and move it forward. I encourage other members to do so.

The time is now. I do not think by delaying it six months, I do not think much can be achieved. The appropriate place to raise these issues is at the committee level. There is a lot here that I have already raised and enunciated from this agreement, which merits it going forward to committee.

September 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments, but the federal government is still providing a significant portion of the funding for this project. For this reason, it is essential that the government actively pursue the electrification of trains along this corridor and it is the Conservative government that has the means to ensure this happens.

In the previous Liberal government, the then Prime Minister made public transit a cornerstone of the new deal for cities. What is the Conservative government prepared to do to continue to make safe, environmentally friendly public transportation a priority for projects such as this one in Toronto?

When the member speaks on behalf of the government and talks about the electrification project, is the government also prepared to provide funding and have a mechanism in place? When we have the ability to in fact electrify the line, will the Government of Canada be a partner in the electrification of this line?

September 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in May of this year, I raised a question with the Minister of Transport regarding the electrification of trains that will be running through my riding of Davenport.

Residents of my riding of Davenport, as well as many others who live in this area of Toronto, face the prospect of having to contend with literally hundreds of diesel trains travelling through the neighbourhood each day along the Georgetown corridor.

I share the concerns of the residents of the West Toronto Diamond community who have, to their credit, consistently made their concerns known on this troubling issue. These residents support public transit, but what is being proposed here is simply beyond anything even reasonably acceptable.

Any initiative like this must be an environmentally friendly undertaking that respects the quality of life of those who live along the route. Beyond environmental considerations, this is also a health issue for residents. Families live, work, and play along this train route, and there are clearly going to be health impacts if hundreds of diesel trains are permitted to run alongside these homes every day.

Since the spring of 2009, I have been working with and advocating for my constituents and other concerned community leaders in this area. I have repeatedly approached the agencies involved on issues ranging from the unbearable noise of pile drivers to the potential impact of using diesel trains instead of electric vehicles.

I have spoken and written to officials at the Canadian Transportation Agency, Metrolinx, and provincial counterparts to find an acceptable solution for affected residents.

It is essential that we deal now with the issue of which trains will be running along these lines. Postponing this decision is not a solution. In fact, it is the problem.

I join with many residents in my community in demanding that electric trains be used along this line. Across the world in urban communities, from Europe to Asia, electric trains are being used, because they are the best method at every level.

People in my constituency and in communities across the region are deeply concerned about this issue, as am I.

Let me say again that public transit is a priority for all those living in the greater Toronto area, but these transit options must operate in a way that does not destroy communities and threaten the health of those who live there. That is why it is absolutely necessary that this project be created for use with electric trains. The downtown-to-airport corridor is important, but it is no more important than the health of families who live along the route.

Now is the time to electrify this line, not at some later date, when even more expense will be involved and after communities have been negatively impacted for years. Now is the time.

For this reason, community leaders and elected officials from across Toronto and from all levels of government have signed the Clean Train Pledge to press for electrification of this line.

I am proud to sign this pledge, and I will continue to advocate for the residents of my community at all levels of government involved in the funding of this project to ensure that electrification of the corridor is the method chosen to operate along this line.

What specifically is the government prepared to do to assist public agencies and the Government of Ontario to ensure that this line uses electrified trains?

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-8, which is the legislation to implement the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement, and to lend my support in sending this bill to the trade committee.

As many members know, I have been on the trade committee for some time. The committee has had an opportunity to deal with a variety of issues, some of them contentious, some less so. The committee does good work in providing a forum for people to present their views and concerns on trade and the different trade agreements with the possibility of amending some of the legislation. The committee has had some success in doing so.

The trade committee is now considering the agreement with Panama and the agreement with Jordan, which is before the House. After members have spoken to this bill, we hope that the committee will have an opportunity to hear from the different sectors about their concerns as well as the positive aspects of this legislation, and how they would like the legislation to be implemented.

Canada and Jordan enjoy good economic and trade relations. We are good friends and good partners. Jordan has shown itself to be a country that we can deal with not just on trade and economic issues, but also on issues regarding peace and prosperity in the region.

Following a visit of His Highness King Abdullah II to Canada in July 2007, Canada and Jordan committed to explore the possibility of a free trade agreement. At the conclusion of King Abdullah's visit, a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement and a new air services agreement were announced. Canada has a bilateral air services agreement and a nuclear co-operation agreement as well as the FIPPA, which was signed at the same time as the FTA.

To give some background on this free trade agreement legislation that we are embarking to send to committee, on March 24, 2010 the Government of Canada introduced legislation in Parliament to implement the free trade agreement on goods only, and parallel agreements on labour co-operation and the environment. Free trade agreement negotiations were concluded in August 2008 and the parties formally signed the agreement and made it public on June 28, 2009.

Upon implementation of this legislation, we will see the immediate elimination of tariffs on over 99% of recent Canadian exports to Jordan. This will directly benefit Canadian exporters. Jordan will eliminate all non-agricultural tariffs and the vast majority of agricultural tariffs as well.

Once the free trade agreement comes into force, Jordan will immediately eliminate tariffs in the 10% to 30% range on many key Canadian exports, including pulse crops, frozen french fries, animal feed, various prepared foods, certain forestry products and machinery. These are sectors in which Canadian companies are world leaders.

Once the agreement comes into force, Canada will eliminate all tariffs on Jordanian goods, with the exception of over-quota tariffs on dairy, poultry and eggs, which are excluded from tariff reductions.

Canada and Jordan will commit to ensure that their laws respect the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration of Fundamental Principles of Rights at Work, which covers the right to freedom of association, collective bargaining, elimination of child labour, forced labour and workplace discrimination.

Canada and Jordan will also commit to protect occupational health and safety, maintain acceptable minimum employment standards and provide compensation for occupational injuries and illness. Migrant workers will have the same legal protections as nationals in respect to working conditions.

Many members in this House have raised the issue of human rights and the importance of making sure it is not overlooked but very much integrated into discussions and negotiations within our free trade agreements.

When we look at this legislation at committee, we will have an opportunity to hear from the business sector and also from the human rights community.

Our party has a very strong view on labour and human rights issues. We have done everything we can to ensure that labour legislation that is put forward in this House has the widest respect from all the communities and specifically addresses human rights issues.

The labour co-operation agreements also include effective enforcement mechanisms. Failure to respect International Labour Organization principles and domestic laws could result in an independent review panel assessing a monetary penalty as a last resort. Any such assessment would accrue to a special co-operative fund. The funds will be used to support the implementation of an action plan to ensure that identified problems are rectified. There will be a mechanism in place to look at labour law, human rights conditions and workplace safety. Health and safety and respect for human dignity are key components in this legislation and the trade committee will ensure that all those important key elements are part of the agreement.

The agreement also has a component that deals with the environment. It will commit Canada and Jordan to pursue high levels of environmental protection and to develop and improve environmental laws and policies. The agreement will also oblige the two countries to enforce the domestic environment laws to ensure trade and investments are not encouraged at the expense of those laws.

Canada has a golden opportunity to work as a partner not just with Jordan, but with other countries on environmental protection and stewardship. Canada is a country of rich resources, natural resources in terms of the very large mining and petroleum sectors, but also its abundance of water. We have very large and vast water resources. Water management is very important. Respect for the environment is something that we in Canada cherish. We have to ensure it is always at the forefront of these agreements.

Canada and Jordan will also ensure that environmental assessment processes are in place and will provide remedies for violations of environmental laws. The two countries also agree to encourage corporate social responsibility and to promote public awareness of engagement in environmental issues.

The agreement focuses on consultation and co-operation to address any matter arising under the agreement with access to an independent review panel as the last resort. Again, as I stated, the same type of process is in place for the labour laws that we hope to be part of the agreement.

In 2009 two-way merchandise trade totalled $82.5 million with the value of Canadian exports reaching about $65.8 million. This is not very large when we compare it to some other countries with which Canada trades. Our largest trading partner is the U.S., and there is the European Union as well. Our trade with Jordan is still significant in the sense that it is a partner we very much are trying to reach out to, and a partner which for many years has had very good relations with Canada. This is not just an act of friendship; we also hope that our trading relationship will grow over the course of a number of years once this bill has passed.

Top exports between the two countries include vehicles, forestry products, machinery, pulse crops, mainly lentils and chickpeas, ships and boats, and plastics. Imports from Jordan totalled about $16.6 million in 2009, led by apparel, jewels, vegetables and inorganic chemicals.

The Minister of International Trade has said that the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement, once implemented, will open doors to the growing economy and give Canadian businesses a real advantage in the broader Middle East and North African markets. This is an important gateway to many of those countries. As pointed out, this agreement will open doors to those particular markets in the Middle East and Africa.

Upon implementation, the free trade agreement will eliminate tariffs on over 99% by value of recent Canadian exports to Jordan, thereby directly benefiting Canadian exporters and workers. Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Jordan was about $2.5 million but there is a great potential for growth in the future.

Mr. David Hutton, director general of the Canada-Arab Business Council, stated:

The potential for expanding that network across North Africa and throughout the Arab peninsula is exceptional. I certainly believe that the potential for Canada in that part of the world is as great as it is anywhere, if not greater.

The parallel agreements on labour and the environment will ensure progress on labour rights and environmental protection.

The agreement is part of a broader international trade strategy that the trade committee has been looking at. I am very much a part of that. In the past we have been successful in many of our trade agreements with Chile, Costa Rica, Israel and Peru, and the European free trade agreement. The agreement with the U.S. and Mexico is one that is well known to most Canadians.

Canada is continuing trade talks with other members of the European Union as well as the Caribbean community, Central American countries, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Sweden, as well as pursuing closer trade relations with India, Morocco and Ukraine.

India is an important emerging market. The BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China, dominate the markets. India, as the largest democracy in the world, has played a major role in that region in terms of expanding its trade.

As the vice-chair of the Canada-India friendship committee, I will take this opportunity to congratulate India and wish it all the best as it hosts the Commonwealth Games. Notwithstanding some of the negativity that we hear in the news, I think India will showcase its best to the world. I have had the pleasure of visiting India twice. It is an incredibly beautiful country with lots of history and wonderful sights to see and great people as well. It is a true partner with Canada.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a relatively small country. Unlike India, which is one of the largest countries in the world with over 1.5 billion people, Jordan only has about six million people.

We need partners large and small, because Canada is a trading country. We are a small country as well with only about 33 million people. We have to make sure that we have partners in the right places.

Jordan has been a committed, dedicated partner with Canada and a dedicated partner in the Middle East peace talks. Many of us in the west have a better understanding of the relationship with the Arab world.

It is also an emerging country. It is a small country that actually pulls beyond its weight in many ways, especially on issues of peace and leadership in the Middle East. It is certainly a country with which, justly so, Canada should be pursing free trade, notwithstanding the fact that I believe this still has to go to committee and we still have to hear from the public.

However, from what I have been able to read from this agreement and what I have seen thus far, I think it is something to which we should lend our support. Certainly we as a party have taken the position that we support that this go to the committee and at the committee we would have an opportunity to take a look at this.

With everything that is going on, I have to say that it was an incredible summer where I had an opportunity to speak with many of my constituents and attend many events. The issue at hand for them, of course, is jobs and the economy. Unlike some parties, we do not fear trade agreements. We believe trade agreements can be a very important component in job creation and we can see different sectors that have, over time, developed thanks to free trade agreements and the opening of markets. We have to ensure that Canada as a free trade country aligns itself with different partners in order to allow access to our goods and services and to allow our companies to grow.

When my constituents, at their doors, spoke about jobs and job creation and their concerns about the economy, we have to ensure that we respect and address those issues. We as parliamentarians have an obligation to ensure that we are constantly fighting for Canadians, for our people and for all our constituencies across the country. Opening markets is certainly one way of doing it, and opening ourselves to a market that is growing and is a good friend and partner of Canada makes a lot of sense. So I will be lending my support for this initiative to go before committee.