House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was community.

Last in Parliament September 2020, as Liberal MP for York Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Foreign Affairs February 26th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, we know that anti-personnel mines are senseless weapons that continue to claim too many innocent lives and seriously injure people who will forever bear their scars.

In fact, it was a Canadian initiative that led to the establishment of the anti-personnel mine ban convention in 1997. Could the Prime Minister update this House on the steps Canada is taking to achieve a world free of anti-personnel mines?

Foreign Affairs February 6th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, my constituents in York Centre regularly share with me their deep concerns about the BDS movement and the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in Canada and around the world.

Last month, as part of the Governor General's delegation to the World Holocaust Forum in Israel and the Auschwitz commemoration in Poland, I had the opportunity to reaffirm Canada's strong resolve to fight anti-Semitism, including by formally adopting the IHRA definition.

With this in mind, can the Minister of Foreign Affairs reiterate Canada's position on BDS?

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act February 3rd, 2020

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for opening up the debate for us this morning.

On his last note, he mentioned co-operation across party lines. That is not just with respect to political co-operation, but also co-operation across labour, business and indigenous groups, and the political co-operation that came together with respect to the NAFTA advisory council. I wonder if the hon. member would reflect a bit on how that all came together to get this good, hard work done on this new NAFTA.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day January 29th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, this past Monday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, when we remembered the murder of over six million Jews during World War II.

This year also marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

On Monday, at Auschwitz-Birkenau, I joined the Governor General, a multi-partisan group of MPs and over 200 holocaust survivors to mark this solemn day. The memory of the over one million Jews murdered there, relived on Monday through the testimony of those who survived, must never be forgotten.

On Monday, survivor Marian Turski urged the world to adopt an 11th commandment, “Thou shalt not be indifferent.”

For their legacy and ours, we must fight against a resurgence of anti-Semitism and xenophobia and ensure that our vow of “never again” is matched by our commitment to combat anti-Semitism and hatred in all its forms wherever it rears its ugly head.

Let us each pledge, this day and every day, to never be indifferent.

Business of Supply December 10th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I want to highlight the work of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights during the last Parliament. I had the honour and privilege of chairing that subcommittee for a number of years and also working with members in a consensus way on issues including the plight of Uighurs and human rights around the world.

That subcommittee does incredible work. It again can be highlighted today when human rights are becoming even more important and more at risk as we stand here on Human Rights Day. I suggest that the place to examine those issues related to human rights is the subcommittee.

Business of Supply December 10th, 2019

Madam Speaker, the member for Timmins—James Bay raises a very serious issue. He is absolutely right that this is affecting all areas across the country and constituents in all of our ridings.

As it relates to the debate we are having today regarding this special committee that would look at Canada-China relations, I question whether working with like-minded allies through other international fora might be the better place to deal with this serious and significant problem. The member highlights something that is a real concern. It is something that, as parliamentarians, we have to be aware of and seek to do even more to protect the interests of Canadians and our own constituents.

Business of Supply December 10th, 2019

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, I point out the good work we have done in a range of human rights issues. We know how delicate the issues related to the consular cases and to the relationship in general can be. Those consular cases have priority right now for Canadians, for the government, for so many parliamentarians and also for the families of those detained.

I ask again for members to consider what is in the best interests of moving this issue forward and bringing it to a positive conclusion. I ask members to dwell on that point as they make their decision and rise to vote on the motion later today.

Business of Supply December 10th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member of Parliament for Don Valley East.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the motion. Given that it is my first time speaking in the House in this 43rd Parliament, I want to take a moment to thank my constituents in York Centre for the honour and privilege of returning to represent them in this House.

On the topic at hand, I will start by saying that the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor is arbitrary and unjust, and they should be immediately released. While the debate on this motion has covered a wide range of issues related to the Canada-China relationship, it must not distract from the fundamental underlying question: What is in the best interest of the two Michaels as we mark the grim one-year anniversary of their imprisonment in China? We can have a broader discussion on the merits or lack thereof of this motion, but we must come back to reflect on that question. It must always guide our actions.

The Canada-China relationship is important to our government and to members on all sides of this House. That relationship is important to Canadians across the country. Right now, nothing is more important in the Canada-China relationship than securing the immediate release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The Prime Minister, the minister, the whole government and parliamentarians across the spectrum continue to work tirelessly to that end.

As chair of the foreign affairs committee in the 42nd Parliament, I had the opportunity to work with the member for Durham in committee, including on this issue. In fact, the member was vice-chair when we studied the issue of consular affairs and tabled a productive report, which the Conservatives supported. One of the fundamental things that we heard, and that members from all sides of the House know, is that sensitive consular issues, like the detention of Canadians abroad, should not be arbitrated in public. It is not in the best interest of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, not in the best interest of their families, and not in the best interest of Canadians.

I bring members' attention to a column in today's Globe and Mail by our esteemed former colleague, Bob Rae. He rightly notes that Canada and China are two very different countries. China is not a democracy, and there are serious human rights issues that must be addressed, but the response to that cannot be yelling into the wind. The response has to be diplomacy and engagement. It is not always easy, and it takes time, but it is what is necessary as Canadians, and we know it is essential.

Today is also Human Rights Day, which marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At a time when leaders around the world are challenging the idea that human rights are universal, we must continue to uphold and protect human rights.

The promotion and protection of human rights are fundamental to Canada's foreign policy and remain an unwavering priority. As we know from our experience at the foreign affairs committee in the last Parliament, Canadians care deeply about international human rights, and our foreign policy reflects that priority.

We are deeply concerned about the ongoing intimidation and repression of ethnic and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups in China, including Tibetan Buddhists, Uighurs and other Muslims, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, women and girls, and members of the LGBTI community. Our government has also expressed concerns about the shrinking space for civil society in China and the troubling and continued intensification of actions against human rights defenders, like lawyers, journalists and civil society actors.

At every opportunity, the government has consistently called on China to respect the fundamental freedoms of opinion, expression, assembly, association and freedom of religion of all Chinese citizens. We continue to raise human rights and rule of law issues with our Chinese counterparts at all levels. The Prime Minister has done so. The former foreign affairs minister, who is now Deputy Prime Minister, has done so. I know that the new Minister of Foreign Affairs will do so, because human rights are fundamental Canadian values which are fundamental to our foreign policy. Publicly and privately, in multilateral forums and bilateral settings, Canada has consistently called on the Chinese government to address these concerns.

We should also reflect on the cases that the Canadian government, under both parties, have sought to remedy, such as the imprisonment of Canadian Uighur, Huseyin Celil, who has been detained in Xinjiang since 2006.

In my work on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, we studied Canada's engagement in Asia. As part of that study, a group of us, including the member for Durham and the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, travelled to Beijing and Hong Kong. We had very frank meetings where we discussed human rights and raised these issues directly with Chinese officials. We know there is a productive way of addressing these concerns that furthers the cause of human rights, but there is also a counterproductive way of doing that. We should be careful that we are not undermining the cause we are seeking to support, particularly when it comes to securing the release of arbitrarily detained Canadians.

When we were in Beijing, we raised a number of issues related to human rights. Canada remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Tibet autonomous region, including increasing restrictions on the freedom of language, culture and religion; freedom of expression; freedom of movement; destruction of historic buildings, temples and mosques; and forced patriotic education of ethnic Tibetans.

Canadians are deeply concerned by the credible reports of the mass detention of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including re-education camps under the pretext of countering extremism. I know that the government shares those concerns and has voiced them publicly.

At China's universal periodic review last year, the government called on China to uphold its human rights obligations and release Uighurs and other Muslims who have been detained arbitrarily, and to end the prosecution and persecution on the basis of religion or belief, including for Muslims, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong.

This past July and October, Canada joined over 20 countries in calling for unfettered access to Xinjiang for international independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Last, I know that many Canadians, including my constituents, are concerned about the situation in Hong Kong. With 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong, we have a vested interest in its stability and prosperity and we will always support the right of peaceful protest and Hong Kong's autonomy under the basic law and the one country, two systems framework.

In my former roles as chair of the foreign affairs committee and before that as chair of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, these issues are dear to me and reflect essential Canadian values.

While this motion and today's debate have covered a wide range of issues, I want to come back to my initial point. We cannot be distracted from the fundamental issue which is what is in the best interests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. I would ask all members to reflect on that as they consider the motion in the House today.

Committees of the House June 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, before I begin presenting these reports, I would like to thank the committee assistants, translation staff and, of course, our clerk, Erica Pereira, and our analysts, Brian Hermon and Scott McTaggart, for all their hard work over the last four years.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 30th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, entitled “Democratic Strain and Popular Discontent in Europe: Responding to the Challenges Facing Liberal Democracies”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 31st report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, entitled “Human Rights Situation in Russia”. Following the testimony of Mr. Mustafa Dzhemilev, the committee supports recognizing the Crimean Tatar deportation of 1944 as a genocide and designating May 18 a day of remembrance for the Crimean Tatar deportation.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 32nd report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, entitled “Situation in Sri Lanka”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Finally, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 33rd report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, entitled “The Human Rights Situation in Iran”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Canada Labour Code June 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask for leave to please return to committee reports to present the reports of the foreign affairs committee.