House of Commons photo


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

Committees of the House May 1st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the report on tax evasion and the use of tax havens, as tabled in the House, successfully details the problems of tax evasion and inappropriate use of tax havens. Unfortunately, the recommendations in the report failed to adequately confront these problems and for this reason, New Democrat members of the finance committee have submitted a supplementary report.

The New Democrats' greatest concern is that Conservatives will persist in their ineffective approach in dealing with tax cheats, despite the overwhelming evidence that a stronger evidence-based response is necessary. It is our sincere hope that the government will implement our strong and clear recommendations.

Canada Revenue Agency May 1st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about almost $30 billion in uncollected taxes, and all we hear from this minister is self-congratulation. Her own plan cut $68 million from the accounts receivable and returns compliance department alone.

How can the government make these cuts, when there is $29 billion in uncollected tax debt? Then there are the billions of dollars in tax havens, which the Conservatives are taking baby steps to go after.

When will the government listen to the Auditor General and get serious about tax collection?

Canada Revenue Agency May 1st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, they are doing everything they can to keep the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from doing its work but nothing to recover money associated with tax evasion.

The Conservatives are sitting on $29 billion in unpaid taxes. Instead of allocating the resources needed to recover this money, they are cutting CRA's budget. Nothing they have done since coming to power has yielded any results.

What real plan do they have to recover the money?

Business of Supply April 25th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend referenced research, the Arctic Council and the record of research in Canada. He also spoke of adaptation planning in his remarks. I would like to ask him if he agrees with his natural resources minister colleague that “people aren't as worried as they were before about global warming of two degrees. Scientists have recently told us that our fears...are exaggerated”. Does he agree with those comments that we can afford to wait and depend on adaptation?

Business of Supply April 25th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, one of cornerstones of environmental law is that the polluter pays. It is the requirement that the people who are proponents of projects, be they governmental or private sector, internalize, to use the jargon, the costs of projects that could or do cause harm to the environment.

I would suggest that if it is clear that there needs to be an investigation, if there is a prima facie case of a problem with that product, and leaching into the natural environment is occurring, one would expect that Environment Canada officials, in conjunction with Ontario officials, where warranted, would get to the bottom of this and take the necessary steps through enforcement.

However, that is something the Conservative government is woefully inadequate at doing. It passes laws that look wonderful on paper, but where is the beef? Never does it enforce those laws.

Business of Supply April 25th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Minister of Natural Resources also went to the United States as recently as yesterday, where I am advised that he insulted one of the world's great climate scientists, which I really do not believe he had the expertise to do. I thought it disrespectful to an ally of Canada. For NASA, which is taking strong action on behalf of the world by doing world-class research on this issue, to be insulted by our Minister of Natural Resources is really quite embarrassing, and as a Canadian I find it deplorable.

As for Keystone, even the Minister of Finance has acknowledged where the jobs would go from that project. They will go predominantly to the United States. That is how the Conservatives are selling it in the United States of America.

As for pipelines, such as the Enbridge northern gateway project, I stand here on behalf of my constituents, the vast majority of whom recognize the reckless nature of this project, which the Minister of Natural Resources is supporting aggressively.

Business of Supply April 25th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, while I thank the hon. member for her question, I do not think my comments reflect a lack of serious debate or a lack of concern about this issue. In contrast, I think this is a matter that should engage the attention and concern of all Canadians and all parties. To suggest that this is a partisan issue, that we are using this as some sort of stunt, if I understand her properly, is very disturbing indeed. This is a matter that should engage all of our attention.

The government of the third party engaged in the Kyoto protocol at the time but did nothing to deal with it over the many years it had the opportunity to do so. Action is required, not words.

I recognize that this is only one small step to be part of the debate on this crucial topic, but to suggest that we are trying to politicize something, when all Canadians should be united, is simply false, and I reject the accusation.

Business of Supply April 25th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, when the break occurred I was emphasizing that people are most definitely and rightly worried about the climate change crisis and the tipping point for irreversible damage to the planet that a 2o increase could precipitate. Yet the Conservatives have been systematically dismantling environmental laws since they were elected and using their omnibus legislation to weaken environmental protection.

The Minister of Natural Resources has vilified those of us who oppose the government's position as radicals. I am proud to be among the vast majority of people in my constituency who, for example, oppose the Enbridge northern gateway project.

The Minister of the Environment has also accused unspecified Canadian charities of “money laundering” and yet has refused either to retract or apologize or to name names. As critic for national revenue, I constantly hear from environmental organizations that are charities that are wasting precious time and precious resources trying to answer these ill-founded claims. They are angry and upset with the government in this regard.

The Conservatives have gutted environmental assessment legislation, the Fisheries Act, weakened protections for endangered species, muzzled and fired scientists, de-funded critics like the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, and more. As a Canadian, I am simply ashamed. The government's actions are unacceptable and they do not represent the position of the majority of Canadians on this important topic.

Canadians understand the need to take urgent and immediate action to avoid catastrophic climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to keep the global average temperature increase below 2° Celsius notwithstanding what the Minister of Natural Resources happens to believe.

The government passes environmental laws that look great on paper but simply refuses to make an effort to enforce them. It does not seem to understand or care about the polluter pay principle.

As an environmental lawyer and advocate, I have spent my life fighting for environmental protection. I was sent here and proudly represent the views of my constituents in Victoria. For people in my community this is not a simple story. This is a critically important story. It is one of the crises of our time to address.

The University of Victoria is at the forefront of research. It has the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, the Environmental Law Centre at the Law Faculty, and the Environmental Studies Department. We are proud of what it is contributing to this important crisis.

We understand, as Canadians from coast to coast to coast understand, that it it is time for real action to tackle climate change. The New Democratic Party is the only party with a real record of standing up for urgent and effective action on climate change. We will have the possibility to do something real about it when we become government in 2015. We will take action on climate change because we cannot afford to wait a minute longer.

Business of Supply April 25th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to an extremely important motion brought forward by my superb colleague, the member of Parliament for Halifax, our NDP opposition critic on the environment.

The motion in the House asks that three things be done: first, that this House agree with many Canadians and with the International Energy Agency that there is a grave concern with the impact of the 2°C rise in global average temperatures; second, that this House condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments; and third, to call on the government to immediately table its climate change adaptation plan.

It is almost trite to observe that climate change is the single most important environmental issue of our time. Canadians know that; people in Victoria know that. Personally, I have dedicated my professional life to environmental protection, because I understand that if we do not ensure an ecologically sustainable future for the next generation, we are condemning it to no future at all.

Unfortunately, members in this House of the Conservative government are locked in a dangerous pattern of climate change denial. They have embarrassed Canadians on the world stage, doing incredible damage to our international reputation, pulling Canada out of major treaties like the Kyoto protocol and, most recently and shamefully, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

I am immensely proud to be part of a New Democratic opposition that has fought and will keep fighting for urgent, international, science-based action on greenhouse gases to avert catastrophic climate change and to advocate for national plans to mitigate and adapt to climate impacts. I am also proud to be part of an official opposition, because the NDP has a real chance to come to power and actually take real action on these crucial issues.

Canadians from coast to coast to coast understand the urgency of this issue. It is just this Conservative government that is out of step. It is out of step with Canadians and with our closest allies internationally. It refuses to take meaningful action. The climate change crisis is now. There is no time for Conservative stalling. Canadians understand the need to wake up.

I am calling on all members of this House who seem stuck in some kind of uninformed stupor of climate change denial. They must wake up and support this motion. Climate change is real. Denying it will not make it go away. The time to act is now.

The science is undeniable. The effects of climate change are already being felt all over the world. The 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. Between 2001 and 2010, global temperatures averaged almost .5°C above the average from 1961 to 1990 and were the highest ever recorded for a 10-year period since the beginning of instrumental climate records.

Here in Canada, temperatures have increased by 1.3°C since 1948. We know that ocean acidification is picking up pace, threatening entire marine ecosystems such as those in my part of the world in the Pacific Ocean. Disastrous weather events are increasing in frequency around the globe. The obvious economic impacts are devastating.

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy suggested that the economic impact on Canada alone could reach $5 billion a year by 2020 and between $21 billion and $43 billion a year by 2050. Sadly, the government simply abolished the round table. The round table took climate change seriously. It tried to find real solutions. It was not part of the Conservative agenda, so I guess it had to go.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a 2012 report entitled “Too Late for Two Degrees?”, stated that business leaders have been asking for clarity and political action on climate change. It warned that one thing is clear: Businesses, governments and communities across the world have to start planning for a warming world, not just by 2°C, but 4°C or even 6°C.

Yet in an interview in La Presse with the editorial board, the Minister of Natural Resources actually said, “people aren't as worried as they were before about global warming of two degrees...scientists have recently told us that our fears (on climate change) are exaggerated”.

He also said that he was unaware of a recent International Energy Agency warning that two-thirds of the existing known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground to prevent average global warming of more than 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This is coming from the Minister of Natural Resources. It is simply unacceptable. Unfortunately, it is what we have come to expect from the Conservative government, which is intent on ignorance in the face of a problem, while governments around the world are preparing for the reality of climate change.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy after New York City experienced its worst storm surges in reported history, the Governor of New York state and Mayor Bloomberg of New York City said that they needed to prepare for and respond to the reality of climate change-related disasters. By contrast, the Minister of Natural Resources would say, “Don't worry. Be happy”. That is just not acceptable. Canadians get that this is a crisis. Every day I get asked why the Conservatives castigate our job-killing $20 billion tax on climate or whatever. Shallow and false rhetoric will not help us have the adult conversations we need to address this crisis.

Climate change experts said Hurricane Sandy provided a first glimpse of the kind of challenges our coastal communities would face as sea levels rose and extreme weather events became more frequent. In Canada, a one metre sea level rise would inundate more than 15,000 hectares of industrial and residential land, more than 4,600 hectares of farmland and the Vancouver International Airport could be affected. The bill to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy is estimated to be over $42 billion and Hurricane Katrina over $100 billion. Contrary to what the Minister of Natural Resources would have us believe, the 2° Celsius threshold is a dangerous tipping point for irreversible damage to our planet's ecosystem.

Canada Revenue Agency April 17th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, we reject the premise of that answer.

The minister needs to check with her department before repeating herself. Her own report on plans and priorities, the one with her portrait on the front, says that $120 million and over 250 staff are going to be cut from the reporting compliance section, the ones whose job it is to detect non-compliance through “risk assessment, audit, investigation”.

How can the minister not agree that she is cutting back on investigation? How can she say that these are only internal matters?