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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Victoria (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Return May 1st, 2019

With regard to housing investments and housing assets held by the government: (a) how much federal funding has been spent in the riding of Victoria on housing over the period of 1995 to 2017, broken down by year; (b) how much federal funding is scheduled to be spent on housing in the riding of Victoria over the period of 2015 to 2019, broken down by year; (c) how much federal funding has been invested in cooperative housing in riding of Victoria over the period of 1995 to 2017, broken down by year; (d) how much federal funding is scheduled to be invested in cooperative housing in the riding of Victoria over the period of 2015 to 2019, broken down by year; (e) how many physical housing units were owned by the government in riding of Victoria over the period of 1995 to 2017, broken down by year; (f) how many physical housing units owned by the government are scheduled to be constructed in the riding of Victoria over the period of 2015 to 2019, broken down by year; and (g) what government buildings and lands have been identified in the riding of Victoria as surplus and available for affordable housing developments?

Petitions May 1st, 2019

Madam Speaker, I rise with an electronic petition as well. It is petition e-443, initiated by a constituent of mine, Mr. Darren Francis, from Victoria. I applaud my constituent for his efforts. His petition calls on the government to change the tax legislation, and it has garnered several hundred signatures.

I encourage all residents of Victoria to put forward their ideas for building a country where no one is left behind, and I look forward to rising in the House again to honour my constituents' tireless advocacy and deep-rooted community spirit.

Criminal Code April 30th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I wish I could speak with the brevity and clarity of my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

I want to get on with it as well. I support this initiative. The NDP supports it wholeheartedly.

I respect that the parliamentary secretary has quite properly pointed out the all-party support this bill has received, from Senator Ataullahjan, who has been a crusader for it in the other place, of course from the member for Etobicoke Centre, and from the hon. Irwin Cotler.

I wish to lend my support to the bill. I seconded it at second reading. I am not entirely sure all the amendments are necessary or warranted, but in principle we want to get it to the other place. We want it to be a legacy of this Parliament, so we can address what my friend the parliamentary secretary properly called a “horrendous crime”. I support this without reservation and urge all members to support it as soon as we can get it out of here.

Expungement of Certain Cannabis-related Convictions Act April 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleague from Trois-Rivières. He gave a passionate speech, although it did come a little early.

I want to thank my colleague as well, the member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, for his very passionate and clear support for my initiative. I am grateful to him for the clarity and for demonstrating the very obvious distinction that the government seems to wish to gloss over between what are now called record suspensions or pardons, and the notion of expungement, which, of course, is at the heart of my bill.

As a private member's bill, members would know that I was not able to talk about the automatic expungement, because that would cost money and private members' bills are not allowed to do that. Therefore, I was left with an application process of my own. What troubles me is that the government is trying to conflate expungement and pardon as if there were no difference, and to make an argument, frankly a legally baseless argument, that expungement is somehow to be reserved, as the Liberals have chosen to do with Bill C-66, for activities that violate the charter. First of all, as I pointed out in my speech on Bill C-93 on Monday, going through a number of scholars like Professor Roach, Professor Berger and others, there is absolutely no distinction for that. More importantly, the government itself continues to acknowledge that it has no choice; it is from government records.

However, this law, which has been around since 1922, the prohibition on cannabis, has had a disproportionate impact on indigenous people and black people in particular. The government admits that, yet the Liberals are content to stand here six months after they brought in the law that made cannabis legal, in essentially the dying days of Parliament, to bring forward a half measure that likely will not get on the order book. It is something they can check off, I presume, during the campaign. Whether it gets through the Senate, the House and all of its committees before then, I have my doubts. Nevertheless, they have chosen to do this. This has an impact on real people's lives. The government acknowledges that, but the Liberals are prepared nevertheless to do this application process.

The Liberals pejoratively say that I recommended there be an army of summer students. I did no such thing. There are ways to deal with it. If it costs money and it is inconvenient, let us talk about what it means to that black person in Toronto who cannot get his or her foot on the social ladder and has to perhaps be on social assistance, or that indigenous person who cannot rent an apartment because they have a criminal record. The government will say that the Canadian Human Rights Act has an answer for that, but that is not living in the real world, as far as I can tell. It is disappointing.

With regard to the government's initiative, the welcome that it is waiving the fees and making it faster, I would characterize it as a good first step. However, it is too little and it is certainly too late. It is disappointing that we here on this, and it is disappointing that the government has not done the full measure. I was hoping that my bill could go to committee along with Bill C-93, and people of goodwill could try to find a solution which would involve expungement, and make the changes that even the government admits are necessary. However, this measure simply will not do the job.

Privilege April 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I know that you have heard many questions of privilege over the past while, and I will not waste your time or the time of the House with lengthy quotes about what the privilege means or why it is important. In this case, my reputation as a member has been damaged as the result of speculation about the source of the unprecedented leak of this personal information about this prospective member of the Supreme Court. Until the party who did the leak is found, there remains doubt about who leaked the information in question. We have asked the Attorney General to investigate this, with no reply. Both the hon. member for and I are under a cloud of suspicion. We are essentially collateral damage as a consequence.

I will cite one relevant section of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, by Bosc and Gagnon, at page 112.

It is impossible to codify all incidents which might be interpreted as matters of obstruction, interference, molestation or intimidation and, as such, constitute prima facie cases of privilege. However, some matters found to be prima facie include the damaging of a Member’s reputation,

This was also dealt with by Speaker Fraser who, on May 5, 1987, at page 5766 of Debates said:

The privileges of a Member are violated by any action which might impede him or her in the fulfilment of his or her duties and functions. It is obvious that the unjust damaging of a reputation could constitute such an impediment.

In conclusion, I believe the leak, wherever it originated, has shown a distinct contempt of Parliament and has had a direct impact on me and my privileges as a parliamentarian. Should you rule in my favour, Mr. Speaker, I will be prepared to move the appropriate motion to have the matter investigated at the standing procedure and House affairs committee.

Privilege April 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a question of privilege related to my work as deputy justice critic for the New Democratic Party. My question arises out of that role in the process of making recommendations for appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada. I will be very brief.

I am concerned about the implications for me as a parliamentarian arising out of the inappropriate and likely illegal leak of very sensitive information in that context about a prospective appointee, namely the chief justice of the Manitoba superior court. As a consequence, I was given access, under a non-disclosure agreement, to a number of very sensitive documents and to very sensitive personal information in respect of that prospective appointee. While this deeply disturbing matter is now officially being investigated by an officer of Parliament, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, my question of privilege relates to my role as a parliamentarian.

Mr. Speaker, I know you have heard many questions of privilege in the last while, so I will not waste your time on—

Tax Evasion April 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, since we learned from the Panama papers the enormous scale of overseas tax evasion three years ago, $1.6 billion has been recovered globally, yet there has not been any charges or any convictions in Canada. The minister never tells us how much she has actually collected.

Last week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said he cannot get the CRA to give him the data to measure how much we are losing to tax evasion and has threatened to take the Liberals to court.

Canadians are fed up with the lack of tax enforcement for the one per cent. Recovered revenue could be used to fund pharmacare, build housing and invest in infrastructure. Nine out of 10 CRA professionals have agreed, “It is easier for corporations and wealthy individuals to evade and/or avoid tax responsibilities than it is for average Canadians.”

Tax experts agree that my private member's bill, Bill C-362, would help but again the government is silent.

Will the Liberals please get serious about our tax evasion crisis?

Criminal Records Act April 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the member for Hochelaga made an excellent point, which, frankly, I had not thought of before. The cost benefit of this is staggeringly in favour of expungement. If people cannot get jobs, they are likely to be collecting some sort of social assistance, employment insurance, or the like. Whereas, if they can get jobs, because one no longer has a criminal record and can say that truthfully to the employer, then obviously the benefit to the economy and to individuals, their self-worth and so forth, is self-evident. I could not agree more with the member's helpful suggestion.

Criminal Records Act April 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, people in the riding of the member for Vancouver East are seven times more likely to have a record for cannabis possession if they are indigenous. That is particularly acute in Vancouver East. The notion that parole officers will help people fill out forms when they are overburdened already is ludicrous. A new government could come in and take away those officers. It could have gigantic cuts and that would be gone as well.

The barrier for applications cannot be overstated. It is real. If one understands marginalized communities in Canada, one will know that it is real. Why will the government not recognize that and do the right thing?

Criminal Records Act April 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I really would like to have this go to committee. I hope there would be a will on the part of the government to do the right thing and amend it.

Normally, I would agree with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. However, the problem I have found is that after months of effort, the government seems to have a closed mind to expungement. Therefore, I do not see that there will be any uptake on this. As a consequence, I am loath to simply say that. Maybe there is a procedural way with the private member's bill, if it gets to committee, and this Bill C-93 at committee, to be somehow amalgamated. Perhaps there could be a positive change out of that.

However, I cannot support a bill that does not do the job and will continue to affect the lives of so many people.