House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was public.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Etobicoke—Lakeshore (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Foreign Affairs May 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Ramin Jahanbegloo, Iranian philosopher and also a Canadian citizen, has been detained in Evin prison in Tehran for the last three weeks. There is worldwide concern for his well-being.

Does the minister not agree that the time has come for Canada to stop doing quiet diplomacy, switch to a more active role that involves public denunciation of this flagrant violation of intellectual freedom and demand Ramin Jahanbegloo's immediate release?

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan May 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I want to express my personal sorrow and the sorrow of all members of the House at the death of our brave soldier today. I also want to express my unequivocal support for the troops in Afghanistan, for the mission and for the renewal of the mission. However I do so in explicit disagreement with the New Democratic Party.

I support the mission precisely because it is the moment where we have to test the shift from one paradigm, the peacekeeping paradigm, to a peace enforcement paradigm that combines military, reconstruction and humanitarian effort together. I have been to Afghanistan and I believe this new paradigm can work.

I have three questions for the minister. First, I support the mission but I want to know whether it is the mission that the Liberal government signed on to or whether it is a new mission. Therefore the questions are: Does the renewal of the mission imply more troops? Does it imply a change in the strategic direction of the mission? Does it imply a change in the balance between the military component, the reconstruction component and the humanitarian component?

My support for the renewal of the mission is dependent upon believing that this proposal is continuous with, and not a departure from, the existing mission of the former government.

Research and Development May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, last week's budget gave the three federal councils that fund university research their smallest annual increase since 1993, only $100 million in new spending. Under the Liberal government Canada led the G-7 in such investment.

Given the crucial role that federal investment in R and D plays in Canada's future prosperity, how can the government's paltry commitment to research and development ensure that Canada remains a world leader in learning and innovation?

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Constituency April 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my gratitude to the people of Etobicoke—Lakeshore for electing me as their representative in this Parliament. I am honoured to be their voice in the House of Commons, and I will serve them to the best of my ability.

Nearly one-third of my constituents are first generation Canadians from many backgrounds, especially Italian, Polish and Ukrainian. I hope to serve all of these communities with affection and respect.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore can be especially proud of the strength of its community organizations: Lakeshore Community Partnership, LAMP, the food bank, Stonegate Community Health Centre, Mimico Residents Association, and New Toronto Good Neighbours.

This riding can take special pride in the école Félix-Leclerc.

They all serve their community with devotion. I will do my best to enhance their capacity to do so and serve all the people of this wonderful riding.

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan April 10th, 2006

Mr. Chair, I take the sense of the question to be what ought our objectives as a Canadian government to be in Afghanistan, particularly as we transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to a NATO led operation.

My sense here is that we cannot be all things to all people in Afghanistan. As I listen to my hon. colleagues on this side and on that side of the House, there is a Canadian consensus around human security and development in the Kandahar area. That may take all of those 2,000 troops.

Where there is doubt and question is an unlimited pursuit of the Taliban and al-Qaeda into the mountains. My sense is that is an unlimited goal, where realizable objectives are very unclear, and that we should concentrate the activities of the Canadian Forces around the development and PRT activities in the Kandahar region.

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan April 10th, 2006

Mr. Chair, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. It is not up to me, but the government, to reopen the agreement signed on December 18.

Like my colleague, I would fully support having the Canadian government take responsibility for visiting Afghan jails and prisons to make sure that detainees transferred by Canadian soldiers are being well treated. This is the responsibility of the ICRC, but I think that as Canadians, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that, if we transfer a detainee to an Afghan prison, our allies will respect that person's rights.

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan April 10th, 2006

Mr. Chair, I think as I tried to make clear in my statement, I am deeply committed to the idea of a combat capable military combining the protection of human populations with development assistance. As the hon. member points out, this is a substantially different mission than the traditional peacekeeping that we saw in the 1950s and 1960s, where one interposed oneself between combatants who were ready to make peace.

We are in a world, and Afghanistan is the perfect demonstration of it, where there is no peace to keep, where, if we want to pursue development goals, as the hon. member well knows, we have to provide cordoned security for human populations and cordoned security for our own development personnel.

The paradigm has shifted, as I said in my remarks, and I support that shift of paradigm.

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan April 10th, 2006

Mr. Chair, I thank the hon. member for Nipissing--Timiskaming for sharing his time with me.

I rise for the first time in the House of Commons to lend my support to Canadian soldiers, service personnel, diplomats, police, and aid workers who are risking their lives for the sake of Canadian and Afghan security in Afghanistan.

I wish to pay tribute to the Canadian families who have lost their sons there. I spoke last month to Jim and Sharon Davis of Nova Scotia, who lost their son Paul. I am sure members of the House join me in saluting the courage of this tremendously brave Canadian family.

Promoting human security for the people of Afghanistan is a goal worthy of the best Canadian effort. Training Afghan police, demobilizing ex-combatants, building health clinics and schools, all these have unquestioned support from Canadians on both sides of the House.

But some Canadians ask, and I heard this from the hon. members of the NDP, why development assistance requires troops and why these troops should have a mandate to return fire. This new paradigm appears to move Canada away from its traditional peacekeeping role. I support this change of paradigm.

I have been to Afghanistan myself. I have been to Afghanistan twice, once under Taliban rule and once since then. What I learned there is that we cannot do development in Afghanistan unless we control the security situation. The schools and clinics we build by day are burned down by night unless we have the troops to secure the development gains we have made.

Canadians, I think, also appreciate that states like Canada cannot be safe if we let Afghanistan fail, if we let it become a failed state, become a base for terror attacks. We all know that Canadians died on 9/11 and those attacks were planned in Afghanistan.

Canadians support our troops. There will be no firmer support for our troops than on this side of the House, but I think we all have two pressing concerns. The first is the possibility of torture and abuse of detainees handed over by Canadian Forces to our allies. As a former teacher of international human rights myself, I add my voice to those others, and some of those are in the gallery tonight with us.

I am speaking of international experts who voice their concerns, wanting the government, and I direct this toward the government side, to insist that the Canadian military do everything in its power to guarantee that detainees taken by Canadians and transferred to third parties receive the full protection of the Geneva conventions and receive visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross. I have been in places of Afghan detention myself and have seen the work that the International Committee of the Red Cross does, and I believe it is the best guarantee of their safety and freedom from abuse. All Canadians would agree that our mission there, which we all value, should not be sullied by human rights abuses committed by third parties.

The second concern of Canadians relates to the overall strategic goal of this mission. Our allies, the Americans, the Pakistanis and the Afghans, are engaged in an open-ended, counter-insurgency war in hostile terrain against al-Qaeda and Taliban elements. Currently, our operations are part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom. When this mission becomes a NATO responsibility later this year, will these strategic objectives change? If so, what position will the Government of Canada recommend to its NATO partners?

Canadians support reconstruction. We support the stabilization of a failed state. But we do question how far we should go in an unlimited counter-insurgency war led by our friends and allies. We are a country with a great military tradition, of which I am intensely proud, but Canadians want to know what is the goal of our counter-insurgency effort in Afghanistan, how long it will last and, most important, how we can keep this operation serving Canadian objectives, because we are nobody else's auxiliaries.